Please take a moment to read this post first, i.e. "A Different Perspective," before diving into this blog. Your comments, suggestions and participation are greatly appreciated.

Please take a look at Notable Quotes, enjoy.

Please take a look at the bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

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Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Challenging the Status Quo

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Yeah, that would be what I feel I am doing for myself and if that causes others to do the same through my articles, posts and comments than all the better especially if that happens in a forward progressive way. 

We, as a species, are very comfortable with status quo as it provides security in a psychological way that says comfort while providing fodder for our beleif systems all tied to the survival instinct as well as the one the drives our procreation. Now doesn’t that sound grand?

Regardless, if we get too comfortable and rely to heavily on that comfortable patterned way then we open ourselves to being vulnerable and susceptible to grave harm and death. Remember, there are gradients to that last of harm and death, we are subjected to all sorts of levels that cause us harm and harm comes from both the physical as well as psychological. 

The only way to learn, to grow, to progress and to create is to open the mind and way to things that will make you uncomfortable. The only way to learn, to grow, to progress and to create is to exchange, communicate and group-analyze all sorts of data and experiences because, wait for it, that is the only way our species evolves and that evolutionary process is the only way our species survives. 

Now, I hear the mind churning out there reading this and want to express this, “If you think this more aggressive view is not also exactly what happens in every day life and every day stimuli, etc., then you need to step back and open the mind.” When our species ventures out of the bubble that surrounds each of us to allow others to encounter us then friction gets involved and with friction comes the obstacles that often lead to the very things we assume are now “safe.” 

In particular, in the martial arts communities with emphasis on Okinawan Karate (I started out with Oki-Isshinryu in 79 after a decade dabbling), I tend to challenge things if I perceive something out of kilter. Not to disparage or refute the practices and beliefs of any sources that I question but to create a communications channel between all parties to fact check, analyze, discuss, practice and test, apply in as realistic way according to the intent of said practice then synthesize it into something appropriate for the times, cultures and environment in which it is utilized. 

I don’t advocate changing the core or essence or cornerstone of your beginnings, i.e., style or system since you chose it to fit your needs, desires and personalities. But, as I wrote about in another venue, you can create a more appropriate model using your original as the foundation. If you don’t then you remain stagnant in something that was appropriate at one time but may not be for you now. 

It is about learning those things that are easily passed on so that we evolve, evolve as a species and as martial artists and as karate-ka.

Try it, you’ll like it and remember that if anyone, especially Sensei, balks at your questioning the status quo, it is likely that he is actually fearful and assumes you are challenging him or her rather than the system. We all as practitioners tend to dedicate a lot of effort both psychologically and physically in what we do to sometimes the point that any change seems like being challenged as to self rather than the model involved. 

I believe wholeheartedly in Isshinryu! I practiced the way Sensei taught me as his Sensei taught him and almost fell into that dogmatic adherence to the way resisting any challenge or change until one day, I experienced an “Oh Shit Moment.” Since that day, I challenge the status quo, I question things and I challenge concepts and applications and philosophies - It Ain’t about YOU - so that I may understand, progress, grow and apply my understanding in all that I do - The point here is that we as a species and as a society have one inalienable right, to make decisions and to change. 

“Make it So!”

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Okinawan Isshinryu - It’s in the Brand Name

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Branding is a concept we are all familiar with here in the America’s and elsewhere as well, it is what we use to symbolize things that are important to us as individual, as groups or clans or tribes as as a culture and society as a whole. 

In recent conversations in the karate, and especially the Isshinryu, communities there has been various thoughts thrown around about Tatsuo-san’s Isshinryu as a name brand for his karate. Some say that if you change anything, as if the old adage applied “if it is good, don’t change it” holds special significance especially in the karate and Isshinryu communities. There is the belief, held near and dear to many, that any change in what we all feel Tatsuo-san taught as Isshinryu karate warrants a complete change in the name out of respect for him and his work.

Then, while mourning the loss of a family member today, the creative side of me in an effort to deflect certain feelings that one like me, a Intra-stoic (introvert-stoic) person, led me to think of Isshinryu as a brand name symbolic to the very creation of Tatsuo-san - I feel that is good.

Here is one for you and we all of a certain age can relate to it, Isshinryu is a brand and so is the automobile, “Ford.” Now, everyone knows and recognizes Ford and all of us of a certain age have fond memories of all the Ford’s we chose as our car. The great thing is this, when Ford, the man, first created and built the very first Ford it set in motion something that would span decades and lead into a variety of avenues such as racing cars and so on. 

Now, if Ford and his followers had taken the mind-set that any change to the Ford required, in honor of Mr. Ford, one change the name then would we still have Fords? What to do, what to do, and the answer came through the creative processes of Ford and his staff, models - create models that hold to the very basic fundamental traits that make Ford, “A Ford.” We will call them models such as, “Ford Fairlane or … wait for it … Ford Mustang!” 

Regardless of any changes that come on purpose or naturally by those who practice Isshinryu in truth and essence the very foundation, the core or corner stone of the dojo that Tatsuo-san built, is Isshinryu. Even when changes are instituted it doesn’t really change the very core of Isshinryu, it means the person or people have taken, “Isshinryu,” and created a model of that brand and system. 

This seems to me to be honorable way to honor Tatsuo-san who himself continued to make ongoing changes in his perception and belief of Isshinryu all the way up to his final days. Yet, even he didn’t change the brand, the name, the title of “Isshinryu.” He simply changed the cosmetics of Isshinryu to suit is continued creative analysis and synthesis of his way of karate. We all accept that as truth, fundamentally, and yet some of us refuse to follow his way, as he professed he wanted all of his students to do, by owning Isshinryu and making it an American way while paying tribute to him, his beliefs and his culture - both personal and societal. 

Remember, as I do, that all the luminaries, i.e., “Mitchum, Nagle, Long, Armstrong and Advincula” all have provided different versions of Isshinryu while all claiming to have stayed true to the original taught to them all by Tatsuo-san yet, “Why are there differences?” In truth, because all of them as we are all human and as a species unique in many ways where perceptions, intentions and applications in life and the dojo affect the very Isshinryu they practiced and that, in truth and reality, was paying homage and honor to Tatsuo-san.

In the end, as long as the essence of Isshinryu is there, there is no need to change the name but it might serve all of the Isshinryu community both historically traditional and the modern by using in the Dojo name something unique to the dojo while keeping Isshinryu as the inspiration and foundation that makes that dojo, unique.

One of the reasons I branded my dojo, a long time ago, “Isshin-do.” It was Isshinryu and it was my interpretation even tho, at that time, I worked hard to remain steadfast in the way it was passed to me by my Sensei.

Don’t make the mistake of making the Isshinryu brand anything other then a symbol of Tatsuo-san’s creative energetic creation but do adjust the model you teach to both give due to Tatsuo-san’s Isshinryu and to your own efforts as I tried to do so long ago.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Tradition - Traditional Martial Disciplines

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Traditional is bandied about a lot in the martial disciplines but seldom do we get a solid accepted definition of what you think is traditional in martial arts, martial disciplines and karate. So, I came across a writing newsletter that talked about tradition and another term but we are going to stick with tradition. 

She wrote, “Tradition comes from traditionem, referring to an act of delivery or handing over; the adjectival and adverbial forms are traditional and traditionally. (Trad occasionally appears as a slang abbreviation of traditional.) Adherence to tradition is called traditionalism, and one who advocates that philosophy is a traditionalist.”

In all my research trying to put a handle on the title of traditional no where does it specify anything other than what you read in the last paragraph. 

Another definition of tradition goes like this, the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.” Now, this takes us closer to what we think of as, “Traditional Karate/Martial Art, etc.” 

After a lot of mindless meandering contemplation and consideration going back to my previous definitions and explanations I have come to the conclusion that all of the forms of martial practices are all “Traditional.” 

There is the more ancient teachings of martial disciplines called, from the Japanese perspective as we understand it, “Koryu.” Koryu teachings work very hard to stay true to the old teachings as best as humans can do and since the passing of said teachings are an act that delivers and hands down those teachings it is a traditional form of Koryu. One point tho, unless you were born Japanese, live in the culture and have trained and studied a Koryu it may not be the ancient koryu you think it is but a different set of “Traditional Teachings” that you received and now pass or hand down to your students.

Let me provide a view of Okinawan Karate, there are a lot of traditional forms of that discipline. You have one traditional form that was practiced before WWII’s influences; you have one practiced after WWII; you have the sport version; and you have the educational version and so on. All of those, except the pre-WWII version that seems to have disappeared completely, are traditional forms of karate from Okinawa. Every one, a tradition that is delivered and handed over to students both Okinawan and American, i.e., during the fifties and onward. 

If your style is taught to you and that sensei passed along what they understand is the system, even if he or she changed things, then it is a traditional form of karate being handed down to successive generations. Even if not exacting to the original sensei teachings it is still a tradition, traditional, being passed and handed down to those who follow, successive generations.

MMA, is a traditional mixed martial art that is practiced and applied today while being taught to students who are passing it along to their students so, “MMA is a Traditional Mixed Martial Art.” Get it, every single form of karate, martial art, or other as a fighting system; a competitive sport system; as a means of self-improvement, i.e., the way; as a system of self-defense; as a system of combative’s and so on are, “ALL TRADITIONAL!”

Now, using the style of karate I first learned while stationed on Okinawa as an example, Isshinryu, I can say emphatically and with great confidence that it is a traditional form of karate. Now, even in that system or style there are a variety of forms that are also traditional. There is the original Tatsuo-san traditions; there are Mitchum Sensei traditions; there are Long Sensei traditions; there are Nagle Sensei traditions; there are Uezu Sensei traditions; there are Armstrong Sensei traditions and there are Advincula Sensei traditions. Every one is a traditional form of karate from Okinawa simply because the entire community and structure of them all began, were born from, Tatsuo-san’s efforts and creation. 

Where the argument begins due to a lack of understanding is this, everyone argues theres is the traditional form and the tendency to refute all others is a personal egoistic born of ignorance status type of argument while in truth every single one is correct in their belief that what they practice and teach is a traditional form. 

If we could let go, good luck with that with humans, of our need to have a unique we are traditional and you are not attitudes we can then accept that every single solitary form and model of ancient and modern martial disciplines are traditional forms and models then we have accomplished something great. 

Good luck with that, right?

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It’s Not About the Teacher

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

It’s not about the teacher, instructor or sensei, it is about the individual. Yes, teachers, etc., have an influence with the students but in the end the students proficiency, knowledge, understanding and expertise comes from within the student themselves, not from their teachers, etc.

Even the best of the best teachers cannot force, coerce or inspire a student if the student does not take the initiative and proactive effort for it always, always, comes down to the ability, attitude and EFFORT of the student. 

Connections with others be they a teacher or a fellow student is just one aspect of the learning process for to have a group exchange provides a student with varying perspectives, perceptions and beliefs so they can personally analyze and synthesize their own way. 

I know of some very good martial artists who excel beyond others who have famous names they can drop as to teachers, mentors and friends. This does not make either one better or worse; greater or not; expert or not; proficient and efficient or not. It is the student and it is the student alone.

Why then, does the connection to a famous martial luminary hold so much weight? Well, simply put it comes down to nature’s social survival drive … ‘STATUS’ within the tribe, clan, family or group. We humans use such things to establish status and a pecking order within a group dynamic such as a dojo, an association or in Isshinryu’s case, like many other systems or styles, the style itself where the ‘status’ of being either a ‘first generation student of Tatsuo-san’ or a direct student ‘of a first gen student’ places the individual in a perceived higher status as if that association allowed them to gleam some special understanding and abilities others just cannot have, obtain or understand. 

I learned a long time ago, in the dojo, that those types often were not as proficient as they thought of themselves. Understand, many were still most excellent martial artists but from my perspective and perceptions they didn’t hold any greater or lessor ability and understanding then those who say were my students over a first gen’s. 

When you strip away all the non-wheel barrow items and leave behind those items that actually physically fit in a wheel barrow you find either a good martial artists or a not so good martial artists. In the end, regardless, it depends. 

Example: My sensei is a first generation student of Tatsuo-san. He said he trained in the honbu dojo and often saw Tatsuo-san sitting on the side lines observing. Now, depending on how you define training under Tatsuo-san the mere fact he was in the presence of Tatsuo-san and may have received personal instruction at one time or another could mean his status as first-gen is authentic. Then one day I came to realize that simply being in the dojo when Tatsuo-san was without extensive hands-on training with Tatsuo-san may mean that only those with this experience can or could say, “First-gen student of the Master.” 

Example continued: So, if true, then my sensei is not a first-gen student. Simply association in a physical sense without hands-on personal training under close guidance of the master means he and a lot of others are NOT first-gen students. I also understand that my sensei was a student of Nagle Sensei then like the above example I came to realize that, yes, he trained under the Nagle Dojo but like Tatsuo-san never had hands-on personal training under close guidance of Nagle Sensei. His brother tho, did and his brother taught him Isshinryu. 

Example continued II: Yet, if I wanted to, I could say that I am a student of a first-gen Isshinryu’ist and that he was also a first-gen student of Nagle Sensei but in truth that would not be accurate. 

You cannot attain any special understanding and ability simply by association but you can gain special understanding and ability through hard work, EFFORT, study and EFFORT and gain exceptional martial arts understanding if you put forth EFFORT. 

Now, if you accomplish all this and you just happen to have such connections then you can, if you feel this is necessary for your expertise and abilities, gain a higher STATUS within your dojo or your group or your style. In the end, that is all up once again “TO YOU!”

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Measuring a Black Belt

Note: All of this post comes from my perception and understanding of what I read of Mr. Miller’s book (see bibliography at the end) and it is highly recommended the reader, read the book in its entirety for clarity, knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Know that this post is merely the tip of the sword on his material, all a critical body of knowledge any self-defense instructor must know and understand in order to teach the individual self-defense. At least in my eyes!

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Not the length/size but the qualifications so that it may be packaged, presented, sold, tested and awarded in machine built on societies product packaging machine. We as a species especially in the America’s make the assumption that what can be measured can be improved. The problem with black belts it has noting to do with one’s applied ability but how one studies and memorizes for the testing processes. 

The complexities of modern martial defense applications are very easy to test and grade the practitioner but to measure success in applying those very same complex applications is hard at best and totally inappropriate and inapplicable to reality at worst. 

This is why what is used, taught and tested in dojo around the world are fundamentally irrelevant and arbitrary in nature with nothing what so ever to do with getting the job done in an aggressive, adrenal and violent world that is the basis for both martial arts and self-defense. 

What is, then, measurable of a black belt? It is the doing of things, it is survivability into situations where you either survive or not. This cannot be measured and tested or even laid out in a curriculum/syllabus for study and testing. 

To try and test one for the ability to do the very things that would result in survival is something no dojo can do if for no other reason that ethics and danger to the practitioner and their training partners. 

In martial arts teachers and students not in a profession, military and police, etc., have yet to realize that when under the pressure of the adrenal stress conditions of aggression and violent reality simple works and the complex fails. Again, the unspoken and unrecognized reasons why the industry rewards complexities through the secret or advanced techniques taught to the higher grades as a natural progression of the simplistic ‘beginner’ techniques taught to novices. In life, this is the exact opposite of real life. 

That is why the great question presented in Rory Miller’s new book on principled teaching of self-defense goes to ask the question about how one would measure the black belt requirement of “doing.” 

Rory Miller wrote, “In martial arts (except for sport arts) things tend to be judged by how they looked, not what they did. The karate sensei judges the alignment of the forearm and the stance and whether it looks right - and looks have little to do with how much kinetic energy is delivered. When a kinesthetic things is judged visually, that judging will always be arbitrary.” 

Just think about that a minute then look at how one visually and arbitrary assumes a technique is powerful from how they muscle it and tense in performing techniques then think about how power, energy and force is applied in a real attack. The trouble even with this question is that most of them, if not all, don’t have any experienced reference to base an assumption or perception or manifestation of that kind of power.

Miller, Rory. “Principles-Based Instruction for Self-Defense (and maybe life)” Amazon Digital Services LLC August 2017.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Breathing for Everything

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Seems an obvious statement but for many, especially in adrenal stress-conditions of conflict and violence, becomes a critical part of what they do, practice, train and apply to overcome those same effects so they may function adequately. 

It is being stated that, Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior.”  Breathing is everything is a blanket statement that drives all the various breathing disciplines such as found in Yoga, Zen and other practices so that the practitioner can advance and achieve a mastery of themselves through breathing. 

It was further stated that, the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.” 

In martial disciplines to include karate rhythm, cadence and patterning all tend to balance our minds and bodies to the very world around us. In a recent article by one of the leading, and greatest, scientists it was said that the Universe itself is distributed uniformly throughout space. They, the galaxies, gather and cluster together that are formed because the galaxies attract each other into groups. 

Groups much like how humans gather and survive and propagate so that in essence the very galaxies, solar systems and planets all move in a rhythmic rotating flat circular attracted way that binds them into groups and the groups, a separate and distinct galaxy of stars and so on are families that survive by their rhythmic patterned existence. 

This somewhat unscientific observation and study simply means to my philosophy and belief systems is that there are rhythms, cadences, patterns, etc. that exist in our many galaxies down to the planet Earth as well as to each living species. Even further down to the very atoms that make us up and deeper into those depths to pure energy, the energy called by the Chinese, “Jing and Chi” that make us alive. 

In recent theorists public speaking venue’s it was thought that deep down to the lowest ‘element if you will’ the very atoms of protons and such go even further down to the proverbial base element of life, ‘pure energy,’ that is believed to survive when our bodies end. Giving rise to what the Chinese refer to as Jing/Chi that is governed by the very Universe tied together through string theory. 

The goal of martial disciplines regardless of the factions or distinctions or ‘branches’ is to develop and connect with nature’s rhythms, cadences and other spiral like forces that balance the body, mind and spirit with the natural rhythms, etc., of the body, our environment, our Earth as it connects to the “Heavens” or nature and Universe. Making the connection provides us the connections we need to the very principled base methodologies and levels of force, energy, to ‘get-r-done’ be it sport, fighting or self-defense, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Style vs. System

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

I have written on this before, it is often the style that is taught and that is good at one level but not so much at attempts to achieve higher levels in martial arts and karate disciplines. If you have studied well then refer back to things like shu-ha-ri and shin-gi-tai concepts to better understand and lead to further research. 

Styles are often set in stone in regard to, “Techniques or technique based models.” This is good because those basics, drills and paired kata drills are about teaching principles and once principles are ingrained properly then it is about reaching beyond technique-based models into a more creative application of principles to a multiple methodology model where your creative spirit can make use of principles toward appropriate methods to get the job done regardless of it being avoidance, deescalation or self-defense. This is a system not tied to any particular technique or combinations directly connected to a response of any other applied attack technique or combinations. Technique-based models teach you to act and react to specifics while a predatory, process or resource, attacks are chaotic, unpredictable and totally surprising in nature. If your technique-based model does not detect its counter-part you get … wait for it … the FREEZE!

Look at styles that teach technique-based models as the prerequisite to the system principled-methodology based creative models. To tie yourself and your self-defense capabilities to specific things does not leave you the ability to create appropriate responses in accordance with unique, chaotic, situations. 

Take a look at the following for additional information on this difference and remember, styles are more about identity, status and other such trappings with a bit of modern economic drivers that make them so important. They tend to feed the human nature to gravitate toward groups with similar identities, cultural beliefs and survival traits. The real shame is that one does not actually require the others but can exist or coexist in the dojo, the tribe, the style and in all systems. It is about acceptance, tolerance and understanding without borders, obstacles or hinderances toward the collective betterment of self, dojo and system (while styles can still exist but more relevant then restrictive). 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Traditional Karate: Beliefs

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

This subject has and will always be a bone of contention especially when each person and group picks and chooses what they want to be traditional and what they don’t want to be traditional. We, all of us, cherry pick those things our dissonance and biases want to be traditional to confirm our biases toward our self-soothing personal and group belief systems. 

We humans suffer from a great many biases and dissonances all created by ourselves and influenced by others in the same fashion so it seems, to me, natural and expected. This is why I believe there are so many factions in the karate and martial arts communities and why I believe traditional aspects along with things like the dan’i system are always going to be in contention and arguable according to each system of belief. 

For instance, in what I perceive as tradition to martial arts, not necessarily karate of Okinawa, there are titles used indiscriminately in the Wast such as Shihan, Hanshi and Kyoshi, etc. that traditionally speaking are not used but in very narrow and certain circumstances. So, in a nit-pickin/cherry-pickin way those groups and individuals choose to use them traditionally incorrectly because those titles feed their belief systems regardless. 

They claim a traditional way but only follow those ways the suit them and their beliefs and call it, “Traditional.” Don’t get me wrong, at one time I did it too but in the last decade or so of study I have come to my conclusion that I do NOT practice a traditional karate or martial art simply because it isn’t. 

I do practice and train and study martial arts and karate that is based on and in a traditional way of those who came before me but different. 

I use a term that you seldom see, “Eclectic Martial Art and Karate Way.” Eclectic because what I study and train in is a compilation of experiences, knowledge and understanding influenced not just from a traditional way but one that is derived from ideas, styles, systems, and beliefs of a broad and diverse nature and range of sources. All of us at one time or another select and selected doctrines, beliefs and traditions from various sources from various cultures, beliefs and people (Sensei, Kohai, Senpai, etc). 

Setchū-tekina Karate-do [折衷的な - 空手道] Eclectic Way of Empty Hand!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Strong Foundation

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

What comes to your mind the moment you hear someone reference having a strong foundation in karate or martial arts?  In most cases it is reference to assuming a strong connection with the ground as demonstrated by the sanchin dachi when performing sanchin kata. It is thought of as taking an appropriate kamae and rooting oneself down again to the earth, the ground. So much so that many sensei have taught or passed on such teachings as, “Lifting the toe,” alluding to a source of power generation also touted through the term and system called, “Chinkuchi.” 

Lets say many meme’s or platitudes abound on the subject of foundations such as the old Chinese saying, “To build a strong house, you must have a strong foundation.” Again, when you hear this what comes to mind? It is also thought of as taking a kamae and rooting oneself. This has led to many assuming that to take such a stance and root is how you generate power and force to the target. Is there something wrong with this way?

Yes, it is very limited and filled chock full of misunderstandings and inappropriate and ineffective applications. Lets discuss one in particular, to generate energy to power and force in a technique you need to move, move you mass in appropriate ways using appropriate fundamental principles along with appropriate applied force to get the job done. That does not come from rooting except in very specific ways, i.e., best example is moving using a drop step coordinated and sequenced along with application of a method, say striking or punching, to the target where mass and energy equal, through movement and the step, to power and force transmitted, so to speak, into your target - what ever that target may be. 

Then we do into the true depth and breadth of having a strong foundation:
  • A strong foundation in fundamental principles with a bit more emphasis on physiokinetic’s.
  • A strong foundation on knowing, understanding and applying principles based multiple methodologies and appropriate force levels. 
  • A strong foundation of a system rather than a goal oriented technique based set of memorized applications. 
  • A strong foundation of a philosophy representative of a cultural belief system driven by the needs and conditions of the self, family and especially of a social entity. 
  • A strong foundation of understanding of concepts such as the OODA process including especially the, “Data-mining, analysis, hypothesis and synthesis toward your system.” 
  • A strong foundation of health, fitness, intestinal fortitude, honor, attitude and application of your system. 
  • A strong foundation of training, practices and applications of your system based on karate and martial arts, etc.
  • etc.
  • A strong foundation of understanding of self-defense, defenses.
  • A strong foundation of understanding of articulation of defenses in self-defense. 
As can be readily seen one can now perceive that foundation in the traditional sense needs some adjustment while opening the mind beyond the basic, initial and limited understanding of foundations in karate and martial arts to include the many facets of foundational solidity to also include spirit, character and personality conducive to apply the full spectrum of self-fense and combatives by professionals. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hard Black Belt Test, Trust Me …

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

A note was posted on Facebook about a young karate-ka being awarded the sho-dan level belt and the comment was that his tests was very hard and we should trust the author. Now, I do trust the individual as to their perspective and perception of the test and it being hard but where I diverge is the definition of what is hard and its purpose overall as to the distinction of that belt as to relevant standards according to the intent of the teaching and the students objectives in karate. 

For instance:
  • Is it for the sport intent?
  • Is if for the educational intent?
  • Is it for the philosophical intent?
  • Is it for the fighting intent?
  • Is it for the self-defense intent?
and so on because that intent is important and it governs the standards for the belt and the meaning be it traditional or non-traditional and so on … yadda yadda yadda. 

Here is why, “Black belts as a new thing not more than a skosh over one hundred years or less depending on perspective and teachings are not the level of perceived understanding they were when the first American service person earned that coveted black belt. It has, over the years, been subverted by the very business and economic needs, desires and requirements that have built the martial arts, karate and the belt system into its current state.” 

When one says hard, I find in my observations that hard is relevant to a more, mostly, physical manifestation outwardly symbolized by the amount of sweat profusely jettisoned during the test, the amount of pain perceived on the face of the person tested and the QUANTITY of material and physical requirements one must memorize to achieve a passing grade on the test.

Now, add in the duration of the test much like a marathon of physical strenuous required actions of the person tested then you have somewhat defined a perception of hard testing. I ask, “Is this actually the standard we want to test, impress upon and require to wear the coveted black belt?” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spirit and Character: The Missing Elements

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In a recent article written by Michael Clarke Sensei of the Shinseidokan Dojo blog fame he wrote about the principles of shin-gi-tai or, Shin means your spirit, Gi means your technique, and Tai means your body.” His premise in this simple yet complex statement, or meme if you will, is that in modern karate the emphasis is almost exclusively on gi-tai or technique-body development. I feel he is speaking to the missing, critical, elements or principles of karate or any martial art that of, “Spirit and Character.” 

When we speak of spirit and character we are talking about certain principles that make these two terms to have substance, depth and breadth toward the training, practice, application and most important of all, “The Understanding,” of the discipline/art. 

When we speak of certain more metaphysical and philosophical aspects we sometimes refer to the systems “goku-i” such as having, “Balance.” Balance is not just that ability to remain upright, mobile and able to apply multiple methods to achieve your objectives but a mental and spiritual one as well with a basic meaning that if we don’t balance our all aspects to include one’s spirit and one’s character then all we are doing is performing routines with emphasis on strength that fosters one’s ego, pride and status. 

If we are to truly embrace the martial arts and karate of the Asian culture, that many modern dojo pay a lot of lip service too, then we have to embrace a cornerstone of that social culture in, “Harmony.” Harmony is achieved at all costs with even doing or saying things to return the balance of harmonious social order. Therefore to achieve a harmonious state of spirit, body-mind and physiokinetic in the manifestation of multiple methodologies of applied fundamental principles of martial arts and karate we must harmonize our shin and gi and tai, “Our spirit, technique and body (note: technique does not mean what one thinks in this instance).”

When I speak of spirit I think of the production of said spirit from a model that is one’s character along with their personality, i.e., character+personality+mind-body=spirit (fundamentally, but more). 

Take maturity, think of what that means and then add in a strong mix of cultural social beliefs along with other factors that make one mature, i.e., emotional maturity, etc., then we have a foundation not just for martial arts and karate but for ourselves and our tribe or dojo or family or community. 

We, the modern dojo, stress the physical because it is both the easiest and the hardest to master. It is the path to strength and all that brings with it. It is that something more concrete than a philosophical, i.e., theory, physiokinetic, philosophical, self-defense and chemical cocktails. 

We see our bodies because it is that which can be seen and felt while the philosophical that feeds, builds and strengthens the mind-body manifestations that are a foundation of spirit and character are not seen and are the most difficult to define, teach, and understand simply because of the individual and differences between them.

Fundamentally speaking, “Your ability to do karate techniques comes from your body and your knowledge and practice of them, but wisdom comes from your mind, and your heart. Your ability to make the techniques work comes from your feeling for karate, not only your knowledge of it.”

Although I really feel that Clarke Sensei has more understanding then I on this subject I still have strong feelings that would warrant me to say instead, “Your ability to do martial arts/karate come from your mind, your heart/spirit, your knowledge as to applying it proficiently, and your ability to connect to the body while wisdom and maturity toward spirit of character are a product of your mind-body, your heart and your philosophical cultural social belief system.” (needs work)

This can best be exampled by saying that for self-defense from karate one often leaves out the shin as well for the technique and body while a plethora of educational material must be presented, learned and ingrained in order to understand the application of gi-tai or technique and body of self-defense whether by karate or martial arts or other means. If you don’t know and understand things like, “JAM” and “Force Levels” and “Avoidance -n- Deescalation,” etc., along with, “Types of Violence” and “Monkey vs. Human Brain,” then simply learning the technique based material is tantamount to the missing elements of both, “Spirit and Character!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Censorship or Genron dan'atsu [言論弾圧; Suppression of Speech]

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Censorship is the suppression or prohibition of any parts of words, deeds, and expressions; books, films, news, etc., that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat.

Suppression of one’s speech; suppression of one’s actions; suppression of one’s deeds; suppression of one’s words, ideas, theories, beliefs, etc. In Martial Arts and Karate communities there is a huge amount of censorship. It comes when anyone talks, writes, or demonstrates an opinion, idea, theory or concept that does not meet the beliefs of another in receipt of said information, data or practices. It comes with an emotional immature reaction of loud, screaming, spittle producing in your face responses inappropriate to communications so that one is literally forced to believe without mutual productive discussions and communications toward a sole goal of knowledge, understanding and change (when appropriate to the shift of any paradigm). 

For instance, I was once a member of a Facebook wall of a very proficient karate-ka until it got to a point that person could not accept any counter-communications that would refute or challenge their beliefs so that led to my being let go of said wall and group. It was stated in some form that, “I was always dissing him,” so I could not be his friend anymore on FB. Before I continue, that is and was his privilege and as I have a great deal of respect for him and his ability, knowledge and experience in karate I did not take it personal. 

In another instance I spoke in words that were perceived by the wall owner as disparaging remarks about his Sensei’s family member. In truth, the remarks were not kind but they were true as can be attested by those who accompanied me on that occasion when the event occurred. I have a great deal of respect for that person and his feelings on the instance in question but here is the critically important part. He sent me a personal text message and politely explained to me his feelings and his actions would be to remove the comment that offended him. I agreed and thanked him profusely for his letting me know but here is the kicker, he DID NOT unfriend me or remove me from the group. I can and do still comment and participate on his wall while respecting his wishes as to the content of comments. 

It becomes apparent quickly in such media types of communications as to whether one or the other is going to censor your stuff according to their set beliefs, etc., and they often spell our rules to say the same. Most have rules that are general such as not political stuff, no disparaging remarks and not profanity, etc., so it is easy to see when you cross the line but where my line resides is when the communications exchange is censored because it factually or theoretically refutes something written, said or taught without further communications and the accepted possibility that what is said or written or taught is factually true is censorship. Yes, if the theory or idea or fact is presented in a way that is personally attacking another then set that person straight but don’t censor the information. Refute it back, present the facts to your side and allow a proper relevant communication exist so all parties can participate, learn, understand and shift/change for the better. 

I once held a most dogmatic restrictive belief in my karate and its traditions, history and other such teachings until one day another person presented information that triggered a mind shift, a paradigm shift in thinking, that allowed me to grow, prosper and better understand all aspects of martial arts and karate that led to the more relative way of the tao, so to speak, to better grow in depth and breadth my karate. 

It has led to my effort to question everything regardless, regardless of whether it is my sensei, another sensei or some luminary sensei who holds many years of proficient mastery over the subject because what I have learned is this, “We are human and subject to human foibles such as memory, biases and other effects that make a dogmatic adherence to a supposed belief and system questionable at all times.” Such an effort is about avoiding as many biases as possible including both cognizant dissonance and confirmation bias so one can grow and prosper and no remain mired in the quicksand of set traditional dogma, etc.

Recognizing when a tradition and/or belief is holding someone back vs. driving them forward to growth, prosperity and enlightenment is paramount to this effort of study, practice, application and understanding. If stagnation is perceived then it is necessary to seek out that which holds us back and change or remove it even if it is classified as tradition. The only set true tradition is a tradition of relevant change. Simply seeking out that which just self-serves confirmation of set static beliefs is non-productive. Challenging your own beliefs especially when they are uncomfortable and trigger the monkey brains, “I am gonna die if I do this” effect is necessary to stay relevant and productive and efficient to the times, the moments, of life. 

If you are challenges in what you believe take a moment and recognize the monkey kicking in to say, “Not my beliefs,” but letting the anxious stress feeling run its course then ask ourselves, “what is making me uncomfortable with that comment, fact, theory, or idea?” Then ask, “Is it possible then go about doing a fact check with one eye remaining on the confirmation biases so you don’t just seek out confirmation of your belief, etc.” 

Censorship or Genron dan’atsu is not productive, beneficial and supportive to growth in any endevor especially martial arts and karate for the more defensive intentions of practice and training. 

I have and always will invite and expect comments no matter how presented because in almost all cases there are always gems of fact and truth to dig out and check. If what I write, say or do goes against what you believe simply comment and present your side for consideration. You never know just how much more you grow when you are open to the possibilities. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Karate Lifestyle

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

生活様式 Seikatsu Yoshiki meaning, “Way of living.” Add in karate [空手] and you get, [空手生活様式; Karate seikatsu yōshiki]

In our culture a life style is a typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture. A person seeking a particular lifestyle is one who is developing a way to live life. In our species of human beings that involves socially driven and acceptable lifestyles that make for the social cultural belief systems that promote security, safety, and overall survival along with our genetic disposition to procreate. 

Lifestyle can include interests, opinions, behaviors, and behavioral orientations of an individual, group, or culture; or any combination of same dependent on the needs and objectives of the group and individual members collectively toward the groups survival. 

It is and has been stated that, “Lifestyles are determined by intangible and tangible factors, i.e., Tangible factors relate specifically to demographic variables, i.e. an individual's demographic profile, whereas intangible factors concern the psychological aspects of an individual such as personal values, preferences, and outlooks.” -

Now, that is how it is perceived fundamentally regardless of group dynamics, culture, beliefs and hierarchal controls both implicit and explicit, this article is going to try to associate lifestyle to what I term, “The karate lifestyle.” 

A lifestyle fundamentally in karate or any martial art is about a social position, a way of thought as to philosophy, and the actions derived by the study, understanding and application of said lifestyle. Since we are all human and certain factors of modern times affects both social and karate lifestyles, a karate lifestyle also reflects people's self image or self concept; the way they see themselves and believe they are seen by the others. Our social dynamics in the dojo connect to the very same drives of our species toward survival and procreation at the bare essential cultural needs system that often drives everything else. 

This is where the article diverges from the general or basic or foundational aspects and drives into my personal karate lifestyle as an example of, “Just one way,” an individual must first adhere to that lifestyle taught by sensei then into the next stage where one compares, studies and creates their individual lifestyle until finally that lifestyle become unique to their beliefs and ways in karate to enhance, build, create and apply their lifestyle to their lives, their practices and their applications toward their socially driven lifestyle outside the dojo yet connected dynamically to that microcosmic lifestyle in the dojo. 

Now, first and foremost, karate or a karate lifestyle is not about fighting, combatives and no where near self-defense. It must be clear to practitioners that distinctions such as these are critical toward ensuring the practice, the studies, the understanding and especially the applications must be appropriate to the distinction such as self-defense. 

In my practice/studies I focus about 80% on the self-defense aspects with a foundation of fundamental principles toward the application of multiple methodologies and force levels, etc., for the application of self-defense - not just the physical but the entire spectrum as explained on NNSD ( and the books by Marc MacYoung, Rory Miller and other professionals (see bibliography).

 Since the principles, i.e., theory, physiokinetics, techniques (not what you think of as techniques), philosophy, self-defense and chemical adrenal effects, etc., are the mainstay I also spend a great deal of time with the more philosophical and theory of study toward understanding. Understanding, in any lifestyle and discipline, is that foundation the drives our logical and emotional maturity for understanding things like, anger for example, teaches me that anger is a very useful tool when controlled and a dangerous escalational effect when left to run on its own willy nilly. 

Anger when used properly and at appropriate levels toward coping with variables of life can be a true benefit so understanding that anger has its uses and understanding those uses along with understanding how to use them and when, etc., will be a useful anger tool. 

To understand something is to bring it forward and out of the darkness of emotional immaturity toward both logical and emotional mature ways and means to achieve objectives in daily living and no where else is that more pronounced then in disciplines where the mere practice and training exposes the practitioner to injuries and damage. 

After understanding I put in, “Analysis, Hypothesis and Synthesis,” as critical to understanding and knowledge that leads toward application in life as in the dojo as in life. Once you gain a certain level of experienced understanding, i.e., living life while experiencing and being exposed to the environment with its social cultural dynamics leads to experiences, that intertwines in a way that leads, like Boyd’s Loop, to a better construction in our mind of reality where we apply that understanding and experience as gained by study, analysis, hypothesis, synthesis and application to learn and create. A complex loop that can be one stream that branches off into two or multiple streams, i.e., karate/MA being the main stream branching off into self-defense stream, fighting (social and competitive) streams, combative (military professional, etc.) streams and then the philosophical (the way or Dao) stream. They are distinctly separate, often do not work together except in very basic ways, streams that require individual understanding with a commitment and ability to apply according to circumstances while adrenalized and able to not drop out of one stream to be influenced by the other and so on. 

Note: Very, very, very few can adequately apply more than one stream effectively although many try. 

The reason I do 80% self-defense and 20% philosophical is because to apply the one properly you have to have the mental/philosophical mind-state and mind-set so they are applied appropriate to any given situation that in and of itself is not just critical to SD but about the most difficult if you don’t live/work in that violent social dynamic. 

As you can perceive at this juncture of the article the karate or martial art lifestyle is a complex creation done through the training, practice and application of the discipline. There are so many ways and so many differences and so many applications that one can end up on any number of streams where knowledge and understanding are the absolute corner-stone of the entire structure where just one ingredient not proper or adequate will cause the entire structure to fall into a rubble of mortar, stone, brick, blood and lives. 

Meditate on this!

Bibliography (Click the link)