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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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Style vs. System II or Why I Like “Ti (Te)!”

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

Goju, Isshin, Shorin and its many factions and variations are all styles and that means they are all static or tied to one way, one person and one version of Ti. Ti, is just a symbol of a generic nature not tied to any one person, philosophy or way including individual perceptions and perspectives for it is so generic it falls under the heading of a, “System.” 

Ti, or Te in Japanese, is an excellent way to describe the indigenous system of self-civil-defense of Okinawa. It is and was considered a system because until individuals decided to make changes according to their individual perceptive distinctive ideology and philosophies then called them, “A Style,” the entire island in those early years didn’t differentiate according to any one person’s way but remained a way, a system, that the entire island depended on then one day, “Someone felt they had the answer, and they decided to teach it according to their way and because of egoistic influences needed to name it to fit their way.” 

To me, karate  is actually “Ti” without the segregation derived from naming styles. Ti is a system that works not on technique but on a system of principles, methodologies and force requirements that make it work in all situations, under all changes, in the face of chaos and without regard to any one thing but embraces all things in the arena of self-fense, fighting and combatives using the hand or hands. 

Te is a system while the various plethora of styles are … styles. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Styles vs. Systems

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

Styles are like goals, goals are hard coded exact results of some activity used to reach said goal. Systems are not like goals, they are the very thing used to achieve better outcomes from said efforts regardless of what is set if goals were used. A system is that which allows change when one learns something of value as the system is run. To be in a system allows you to tame the chaos over time as you learn. A system is a process that allows you to learn where all the buttons, levers and obstacles lie as you apply the system. Goals set specific results and when the chaos of change through changing situations in the learning process occur it changes the path your on bypassing the goals fooling the practitioner into thinking they failed because, as required in a goal oriented dojo, they didn’t attain that goal. 

In a goal oriented dojo when those goals are not met it is always point out that the problem could be at either end, i.e., either being unrealistic or the performance was bad. Likened to, “Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.”

Systems are like, … systems! Goals drive styles, styles are like goals because they point to a specific way according to one perspective from one’s perceptions of a goal oriented way that is practiced and trained and TESTED. Goals are always tested for success or failure while systems are governed on continuous ongoing changing results. 

Styles are about techniques and basics and drills specified in detail and unchanged. Systems are about multiple principled based methodologies and multiple levels of force necessary to make the system operational and successful in the chaos of self-fense or sport competition or the combatives of hand-to-hand in combat. 

If one practices a style they are governed by the atomistic and accumulation of things and if one gets immersed in the system it lasts a life time embracing the changes of each moment and each situation and each successive time and environmental experience. A style is unchanged and held in dogmatic adherence to some tradition while a system lives and thrives in the chaos of nature, the Universe, Life and Chaos/Change. 

Some practice a style and take tests and earn belts and ranks and accolades while other involve themselves in a system that is not influenced and governed by goals, tests, trophies, accolades, belts or ranks. 

Why others fight so hard to maintain their styles or adherence to a style is to belong, why the rest work so diligently and continuously in a system is to, “Drain the swamp while angering the alligators and getting swamp water on our pants” to master the system independent of the needs provided in a style. 

Think, feel, breathe system; make the system yours; become one with the system; don’t allow obstacles, bindings or other things hold you static and stationary, allow freedom, creativity and progress to come using the system to achieve mastery, enlightenment and successes as an ongoing ever changing process. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Propagation of Misnomers (Misinformation to Misunderstanding)

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

These little tidbits of terms and often phrases meant to mislead and to misrepresent facts that are legends made up from stories of a more fictional nature then sold as true, factual and reality when in truth it is nothing more than a myth or folklore, etc. We humans often take reality and modify it into tales, fables fantasy or folk tradition meant to make history and such heritages and cultures more palatable to the listener because after all we all, us the human species, love a good story even if it is stretched a bit beyond reality.  No where is that more obvious to us in the martial arts and karate communities than in the stories told about our martial arts and karate. 

Some Examples of terms or quotes:
  • The word was  "Karate,” the Art of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
  • When asked of the Sensei, if he knew Karate, his answer was, yes! But, he would not teach it to the Marines because they would go out in town and use it on "each other".
  • There was nothing Sport about Karate in those days - it was Survival and the "Art" of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
  • Training involved firstly-fighting anybody, anywhere, anytime … This was my most effective way of training and learning, by feeling it! If it worked, you knew it because there was a casualty count.
  • Control in those days wasn't even discussed. The only control that counted was to control the hit to target with a measured strike that would either "Break" or "Incapacitate". 
  • You see, in the fight (hard-core, not for points) is where the real essence of the Art of Karate-Do comes into focus.
  • When you see someone stacking up to break or if it looks unbelievable, it is!
Now, I will be the first to say a good story, especially a locker room testerone driven story, are great to hear, cheer and drink beer too BUT when those same stories are used to teach those who are often gullible and easily impressed then maybe not so much. The above examples came from one source of a more aged perspective and when you take in the times and the environments and other such trappings you can see why things were done that way and the stories told in that manner - but there are a whole slew of newbies out there that would read this type of stuff and believe - not so good. 

The art of communications when it involves a person exposing themselves to possible grave harm or death, it is incumbent on us as teachers to present reality as best as humans can and teach from that point. I remember how we all thought that full contact karate, at the time, was brutal and in a way it was but to allude that by just adjusting one’s punch, strike or kick they can “Kill, Maim or Disable” an opponent or adversary is irresponsible to say the least and legally liable in my book if a practitioner goes out with that attitude and uses it only to find themselves in deep quicksand of the law and legal system. Here are those points again with my personal responses:
  • The word was  "Karate,” the Art of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
    • In my last forty years of study and research on karate I have not found one true factual acceptable source to say that karate is the art of maiming and killing. Yes, if used and applied correctly there is a possibility of causing great bodily harm, even grave, but the possibility of causing death is not directly related to the applied methods of karate but to things like gravity when one hits a person they often lose balance and fall resulting in grave harm or death when the head hits this unmoving hard stuff called Earth when covered in asphalt or cement, etc. 
    • Yes, karate practices do harden the body and does build a healthy, fit and strong one too but as to its applications in competition, social violence and even predatory asocial violence this just provides us an edge to survive an attack and hopefully allow us to use skills, i.e., multiple methodologies and appropriate levels of force to survive. 
  • When asked of the Sensei, if he knew Karate, his answer was, yes! But, he would not teach it to the Marines because they would go out in town and use it on "each other".
    • Really, now how do we prove that and prove this is not just another egoistic boost to impress others of prowess that is often part of being male and especially a Marine. I am a Marine and understand the need to bolster the body and especially the mind-set and mind-state for our job, in the appropriate theater of combat is to survive and make the other guy die for his country and beliefs. 
  • There was nothing Sport about Karate in those days - it was Survival and the "Art" of Maiming or Killing an opponent.
    • Now, how do you prove this because to prove a method will either maim or kill, you have to maim or kill someone. Hitting a makiwara or breaking boards and bricks is a great entertainment and demonstration of what we can endure and how durable our human bodies are but when push comes to shove in a non-social violent situation I am not as sure and I have faced live and death by hand to hand in a civil environment. I know that it takes more than even the karada-kitae benefits of a hardened body to truly maim or kill. Killing is not just done, it takes a lot of effort to get to a point where you can like othering, stigmatizing or setting apart us from them (another way saying to other) and even then our natural human instincts is to NOT maim or kill ergo why social violence is not as dangerous as many assume and believe.  
  • Training involved firstly-fighting anybody, anywhere, anytime … This was my most effective way of training and learning, by feeling it! If it worked, you knew it because there was a casualty count.
    • I don’t really disagree with this in spirit but the types of fights I envision are more often than not sparring with limited safety concerns in the dojo or in competitive environments. It is more of a social type of violence but the reality based adrenal stress-conditions type of training and practice didn’t exist until recently and even the training of Marines in hand-to-hand was based on kata like methods that help you take that first step to harm others, a step that even under the best training and conditions is hardest to take the first three to five times in violence. Not many ever truly encounter a true predatory attack simply because you can see in the fight and fighting forms on the dojo floor and in other areas it is not realistic to that type of attack. This is not just me saying it, I am addressing my understanding of the teachings of those who live and breath violence such as reformed gang like people, police, corrections officers dealing with violent criminals, etc. It just is made to sound cool, and it does sound cool, and it may impress those who do the training and practice to be tough, etc. and it does do that but to step across that line or to believe your using a kill or maim technique just because someone says so is not responsible teaching. 
  • Control in those days wasn't even discussed. The only control that counted was to control the hit to target with a measured strike that would either "Break" or "Incapacitate". 
    • This one is possibly obvious to most of us as a oxymoronic statement to say control was not discussed, alluding to a meaning not even used, yet turn around and say that, “Control that counted was …”, is counter productive.
    • Take into consideration one fact, karate in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was experiencing a conversion by the leadership on Okinawa toward a more watered down version acceptable to both sport implementation and being made an educational version to train youth in the schools. There is no doubt in my mind that the karate taught to Marines in the fifties and later was that educational sport oriented version and that the mind of Marines were influenced by such compliance influential efforts to feel, look and be of a nature that supplanted the already esprit de corps of Marines being killing machines. 
  • You see, in the fight (hard-core, not for points) is where the real essence of the Art of Karate-Do comes into focus.
    • What is that, what does it mean? Often in such statements most people don’t question it because it triggers that male testerone egoistic need to be the warrior who takes care and protects the family and tribe, a survival thing. It triggers a lot of the social conditioning that went on during WWI and WWII along with Viet Nam, etc., that conditioned a mind-set of the male of our species so we will be able to fight and defend our way of life but … think about it and that. 
  • When you see someone stacking up to break or if it looks unbelievable, it is!
    • Not really, its physics and trickery and entertainment to impress and add mystic to those who observe so they will join the club, put up the dues and become acolytes to the sensei, it is a sales pitch based on influence compliance principles much like that used in propaganda, sales, and especially in the entertainment industry. 
    • Caveat: Tameshiwari is an art form, it does have its purpose and benefits in martial arts and karate but as to unbelievable, mystical or extraordinary is not true although to the uninitiated it seems that way, it is about physics and other such things because poor choices of materials for tameshiwari even when the body is hardened leads to injury, mistakes and embarrassment. 
Now, this is where everyone, especially the person who used this set of examples or uses this type of mythical legendary egoistic tough guy stuff (I liked it then and now but I feel a responsibility to those I teach as to self-defense, fighting and combatives). I am not trying to disrespect the person or attack their personal beliefs. Many of them have made it a good enduring business of it and I applaud them for that is the American way. But, when it comes to the teaching of one to maim and kill over applying multiple methodologies and force levels to survive, stay secure and protect self, family and tribe I find it a bit - lacking and misleading. Truth in advertisement or at least allow those exposed to it to have the tools to see the wheat for the chaff so they are properly informed before making the decision to apply it or not. 

Now, also, if all we are doing is following a way of life and it is not about self-defense but exclusively a philosophy and not about maiming and killing or even self-defense then who cares but in these examples that is not clear or even remotely about a philosophy that does not involve actually trying to kill or maim. 

It comes down to responsibility, that of one who uses and teaches this way but, and this is critical, the individual personal responsibility to take control and fact check the very sales pitches the hear even when their ego and excitement tends to lead them like the monkey brain to believe in the unbelievable. It is first and foremost our individual responsibility to look out for ourselves and to fact check things that would expose us to danger, damage and death. In SHORT, don’t just accept this article either, fact check things by seeking our references for and not for, analyze then synthesize your own end facts and then believe that but don’t assume even if from experts or masters that what is said or written is true or even factual. 

Hey, "In my day we …!"

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Manliness in Martial Disciplines

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

Honestly, I suspect - theorize - that the art of manliness is a fuse that will set off the explosive in conflict and violence. It is that belief along with the traits one perceives makes one a, “Man.” What is this thing we call, manliness?

Lets generalize, manliness is a tradition involving male qualities of being brave and strong. It involves what some call, “Masculinity.” There is this site that speaks to manliness, the site is called, “The Art of Manliness.” I have to believe that some of what they profess means manliness may be based on the fact that in ancient times manliness is found based on being a warrior but I tend to think it is about men who take on the social responsibilities of the tribe toward two major things, “Survival of the tribe and Procrastination of that same tribe.” 

Then we get into the whole set of traits used to denote and define a male who is manly. It may or may not involve the next set of traits, idea’s, theories and other such trappings but lets take a look:

A Manly Man must
  • Live by a code of ethics and honor.
  • To be the best man one can be.
  • To live a life of manliness through the cultivation of virtues like, “courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness.” 
  • The art of manliness then states:
    • Strive for excellence and virtue in your life. 
    • Fulfill your potential as a man.
    • Be the best son, brother, friend, husband, father and citizen as humanly possible. 
    • Cultivate and live a life of courage, loyalty, industry, resiliency, resolution, responsibility, self-reliance, integrity and sacrifice. 
Then there are those tenants used in martial arts that spell out manliness but as seen from a perspective of the samurai warrior, i.e., such as:
  • Live a life of frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial prowess, and honor until death. 
  • Live a life where one cultivates and lives by a code, i.e., a code of eight virtues being ‘Righteousness, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Duty and Loyalty, and Self-Control. 
  • To live with a strong sense of filial piety, to develop and live with wisdom and to create, develop and foster fraternity or a brotherhood of warriors. 
Here is the rub with all of this, when you read this you find an ambiguity of open translation, definition and perception as to what it is and what it takes to achieve this goal of manliness, of being a man. In truth, it always comes down to who you are and with what tribe you live and belong for it is the tribe and its associated social connections that drive what a man is, should be and what is required of them. It is the culture and beleif systems of the tribe, family and thus the individual. In short, modern gangs of criminals all demonstrate manliness and have a code and tribe like needs and requirements, etc., all geared by status and what they bring to the table in support of the tribes survival and how they propagate and absorb new blood to the group. 

Does the fact that to us, in our social communities, this is wrong, criminal and just plain inappropriate, etc.? No, it means they live and survive in an environment that is strange, bizarre and unfathomable to us in our world just as ours is totally alien to those who life in that social community. 

It comes down to this, manliness and manhood all depends on such socially driven mandates, requirements, beliefs and culture that drive its survival and ability to remain safe and secure while continuing to propagate the tribe without bringing down the house from all the other surrounding tribes or clans. 

In my culture being of socially correct moral standing, belief and way of life; being of integrity; being of courage and many others is what makes me a person of value socially, i.e., to the family, the tribe or clan and to the larger social group such as our country. 

One of the best benefits of a more traditional form of martial arts and karate is the value system that often comes with the discipline that ends up being a blend of Asian etiquette and culture along with ours of the West. It works and when others who enter the dojo come with an empty cup the brotherhood of the dojo provides a means, when done correctly and accordingly to social tribal standards, practices and requirements to which those empty cups fill up and brim over with manly like manliness, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On Kata

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

It is funny how all of us in the community, the tribe that is martial karate jutsu-do, have differing perspectives as to what martial arts and karate are, where it comes from in a more metaphysical/philosophical way, and how it is too be practiced. It is all so darn confusing especially when a lot of the information comes from people of integrity who have the respect and admiration of their martial karate jutsu-do peers. A lot of what I was first taught about karate in the mid to late seventies as well as what I found myself earlier turned out to be false. 

All of this is the fuel that fires up the often heated discussions, sometimes not so communicative, about things karate and martial as to basics, kata and especially self-defense. The debate, argument and fierce rhetoric - usually one way too - simply feeds the flames and even at times changes the fuel from gas to nuclear pellets. It is a shame too because in the end all of it really doesn’t matter as to just one thing vs. all the other personalized and emotionally driven things that make up what one believes. 

Now, the next two quotes from Dave Lowry, a honored and respected and admired proponent of Koryu and Karate, tell us a story that is significant to the history and heritage of our systems or disciplines called, “Karate and Martial Arts.” One speaks to the art of kata and the other to students and their perspectives and perceptions to the same. 

“All kata of the Japanese arts are dependent on a Confucian-inspired methodology. Confucius, when he wasn’t writing epigrams for fortune cookies, explained it best: Give a student one angle, and expect him to come up with the other three angles necessary to complete the square. In other words, the student must take the initiative in his martial arts education, at least to some degree. He has to study, think and observe—and see and appreciate connections that are not immediately obvious.” - Dave Lowry, The Art of Teaching

A huge factor to teaching, learning and building on kata is that most don’t even realize the true nature of the art form. They assume that the form and pattern learned by the mechanics of physical movement is the entire, complete and comprehensive kata. In truth, to my eyes and heart and mind and spirit, it is just a tool. A very, very IMPORTANT tool for the martial artists and karate-ka but still just a tool. It teaches, it is a enhanced way of teaching things the teacher needs to transmit that encompasses the past expertise of those who survived under the use of such skills while adjusting to the more modern needs of our species especially with the technological and industrial revolutions as they apply toward war and warfare. 

Most assume kata are just about karate and Asian karate/martial arts but in truth cultures and societies both past, present and long gone into the dust’s of time all used some form of the kata to train their men to fight, to survive and to protect the tribe, clan, family collective, etc. We all too often make assumptions because of the limited information learned and provided by those who speed past the reality of things for the gratification of being labeled and seen as, “A Sensei.”Then there are the students who are crippled from the onset because our teachers are mostly not informed well and rely heavily on what they were taught while seldom seeking out truth except in the form of human confirmation bias. 

“Students are accustomed to paying for lessons, and in return, they expect the teacher to work with them until they have learned the material. If they cannot grasp something, they take it for granted that the teacher will come up with another way to get the information across. This is not the traditional way of teaching. Martial artists who enter a traditional dojo expecting a modern instructional approach will quickly become very disappointed and frustrated.” - Dave Lowry, The Art of Teaching

The above speaks heavily toward our way of life and how we have socially conditioned our students to think, act and expect certain things in certain way for specified reasons and agenda’s often not under our control (they call this profession the “Compliance Profession and Professionals.” Attitude and other such things of importance in martial arts and karate teachings is skewed by our very conditioning as citizens under our particular social cultural restrictions. Not to say this is unique to us as the Asian’s and European’s all, as a species of the human condition, have to deal with the very same things, yet different. 

It is possible incumbent on us as students of the martial arts and karate to first understand where it came from, why it existed and what drove it to the state it was in when we were first exposed at the end of the WWII (some even before lived and studied MA in Japan, etc., but that is a minority). If we fail to exercise due diligence in our research especially overcoming our need and instinct toward confirmation bias on the discipline we will always succumb to the perceptions and distinctions set by the recent rather than synthesize the history, culture and heritage of the past with our needs, beliefs, drives and requirements of the present. One of the reasons kata exist and have survived history is due to their value toward two things, survival and procreation - the two driving forces of the human existence. 

It takes a need and drive of the individual to seek out and practice a true, as close as a culture not of the heritage and culture that birthed the discipline, martial discipline with dignity, honor and respect. Look at it this way, history if we are listening has always been the keystone to human survival for not paying attention to the past puts us in a position to repeat it, both when beneficial but mostly when detrimental to our survival. All the great sages and ancient tomes of philosophical relevance and importance speak to a mutual connectivity of the past with the present while both set the tone for the future. Yet, we still ignore it all and get stuck in things that make us feel good, result in self-soothing behaviors and finally into a bias that simply feeds the monkey in an infinite loop where in the end we will simply repeat our mistakes over and over and over ad infinitum. 

So, what can we do, well first and foremost we have to accept that what we think, believe and perceive is not always as accurate as we would like and as we as a species need. We then have to shift our minds toward an openness where differing views, opinions and beliefs can lead to change, change for the better while holding to the past in deference to our ancestors and our heritage. We then must data dig and accept, analyze to remove the chaff from the wheat, hypothesize how that can work and what obstacles are involved then do both synthesis and analysis to hypothesize until a final, tentative relevant beneficial end arrives where we implement it into our lives, our beliefs, our culture and our ways all to drive our survival and ability to procreate (Ain’t SEX grand) to keep our family, our tribe, our clan and our society living and contributing throughout the ages till the end of time. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Sun and Moon; Heavens and Earth; Man … 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What is a martial culture?

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

“A culture that bases a significant amount of its cultural energies on militarism/martial (military oriented) skills.”

Culture, generally, is defined as, “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively; the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group; the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group; AND A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next..” 

Martial, generally, is defined as, “Of or appropriate to war; warlike.” In Japanese, since this is the origins of the term martial for this article, the word, in English, is, “Bu [],” meaning or translated to, “the art of war; martial arts; military arts; military force; the sword; valor; bravery; military officer; military man.” 

A Martial Culture therefore is, “An  war-like attitude toward behavior that influences one’s way of life, i.e., their behavior, their beliefs, their perceptions, their values and the symbols used to represent those traits that are passed down from generation to generation.” 

I suspect everyone who holds membership in a martial arts and karate discipline assumes that they too belong to a martial culture but the real question I have is this, “Is that true?” I am not sure because taking my personal translated definition the mere fact it involves a war-like attitude means to me that a critical part of that martial culture is the training, practice, and experience gained by war and war-like experience in either or both reality based adrenal stress-conditioned training for war along with actual in a theater of war experience with bombs bursting in air or above ground, flags and other symbols waving to rally the troops and promote the brotherhood of man (not sexist but merely a means of expression without regard to actual gender) so that they can achieve goals of war. Only in this way can one create and achieve a war-like attitude and behavior toward a way in life that is based on the physical, mental and spiritual attitudes, beliefs, perceptions of such a life. 

In short, most supposed military disciplines or martial arts or martial jutsu’s cannot lay claim to having a martial culture, more like a sport culture based on a perception of fighting and defending and combatives derived from the teachings of ancient martial traditions, beliefs and experiences (that are watered down and obfuscated at each generation of passing without actual military war/war-like experiences, etc.).

Bibliography (Click the link)

Alternatives, It’s All About Alternatives

If we ignore or discard expressed alternatives we will fail, we fail to have data to analyze; we fail to develop the ability to hypothesize about the data we decide to analyze; and we then fail to synthesize new things from our hypothesis process. We all need to have alternatives and we need that data from as many diverse sources as possible. 

Now, in my way it may seem that I am criticizing the topic and I ask you to accept my apologies for you really don’t know me yet. In my way, I present alternatives to what is the topic so that one can consider my theories and beliefs, one can then data-mine the wheat from the chaff, one then can perform, “Analysis-Hypothesis-Synthesis” so that they can enhance the expertise they have already accumulated and encoded into their practice, their training and their way of it. 

It is best to remember that regardless of what is presented it is NOT about right or wrong. It is about learning, discovering and going through a creative process to better the discipline, the dojo and the individual in their travels along the way.  

So, although I may come across as righteous, as opinionated and as at least knowledgable, allow me to express my apologies up front because my intent is the exchange of idea’s, theories and beliefs not to change you or your way but to provide possible alternatives to supplement what you have accomplished already. After forty-one plus years and at the winter age of sixty-three I still find new things to consider and new ways to think, write, teach and act. I find my life and ways changing almost daily and the discoveries I encounter from young and old, new and experienced, as well as professional and expert to be enlightening to say the least. 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Threat of Accumulation

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

Building the martial arts on a personal level seems to be driven by the need and concept of more is better, to accumulate as much knowledge as possible and to hold as many different ways as possible. Is this beneficial to the proponent of such a way? That is the question that cannot be answered except through the way of the individual. I can only answer from my seat in the audience.

Keep it simple is an older maxim of our human history that speaks to the simpler ways of life and I think that those people understood what that meant. It has come to mind and attention that a vast accumulation of things simply muddies the waters blocking any attempts to drink of the clear, crystal and cool waters of life. 

It comes to the surface of my consciousness that when too much is stored in the shed then the difficulty of finding and understanding and making adequate use of things becomes impossible. We think that the more we have the better off we are yet in the essence of martial disciplines too much fogs the mind, leaves us indecisive and unable to act. 

I am constantly inundated with how others in the martial disciplines have trained in this system and that along this path or the other while achieving recognition from a variety of sources all in the endeavor to always grow in the martial arts but is this actually growth or just the accumulation of things like the collector who loves to collect things, many and many and many things. 

Having thousands of techniques; having many symbols of mistaken growth symbolized by the accumulation of higher numbers of things; having the recognition of those caught up in the same cognizant confirmation dissonance of bias seems just a means to fill up life so that one cannot think clearly and experience what is nature and the universe but we seek out more and more every day, every minute and every moment. 

What is it that is truly important and even critical to applying martial disciplines be it the way or in self-fense? All of the collected things used to value and validate ourselves, our esteem and our needs toward survival seems to have blocked out those few things that are the essence of the many. 

All the techniques, all the kata and the basics and all the trappings are merely productions of finite principles and levels of force along with those methodologies used to apply them in fense, you can count them all in one sitting while all the rest branch out like the branches of a tree and all the leaves and flowers that bloom, all pretty but not all necessary to get the job done. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wow! I am impressed. Really, I am.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Active Listening in the Dojo 聽

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Active listening is the type of listening very few humans actually engage when in group communications. Most when they hear the very first perceived personal connection to the comment immediately jump to their answer and then wait, sometimes, or interject/interrupt the speaker, most times, to express their point of view - a view often wrong and has nothing to do with what the speaker was trying to present, to communicate. For most, communications is most often a ‘one-way street’ where the signs, ramps and directions outside the mind of the person are often, mostly, ignored so the speed through the streets ignoring stop signs, walk crossings, and other warning signs of danger and trouble as they blindly journey along highways created in their own minds.

Where this becomes most dangerous to the health and well-being of our species is when conflict and violence is involved. Guess what, our species would not exist or survive if not for our very nature toward conflict and violence for both come in all shapes, sizes and levels of force, etc., it is the way of our species.

Active listening is being involved wholeheartedly in the communications system. Humans tend to lean heavily on what experiences they have accumulated so it is natural to have the mind pull up things related or possible related or directly related to what they experience in any given moment but where the rubber meets the road is when the tire has an appropriate amount of tread to squeeze the water off the road to the rubber grips the reality of the pavement. We do the same thing through active listening where data is extracted without biases, i.e., like cognizant or confirmation bias. To use an analysis and synthesis process to work out information to relevancy, validity and reality over succumbing to biases that will just hinder your ability to understand and survive.

Ok, you want to get laid. In order to get to that goal you have to make some decisions where you will have to actually actively listen to the other person because deep down inside you know that to connect to that person so they also connect will often lead to having SEX. The whole social process is tricky and full of landmines so in order to detect those and avoid being blown out of contention for that SEX you really have to actively listen to what is being communicated, i.e., words, voice inflections, etc., and body language all require an awareness and attentive focus because in the SEX game, to win you have to see the moves, hear the triggers and tells and then act accordingly or YOU WONT GET LAID. 

Now, what has been just described applies to all forms of communications so the goal here is to find your reasoning that says, I will actively and truly and completely listen in a conversation then in accordance with the message actively listen and participate to “GET LAID.” 

In the dojo, if your practitioners are there to learn self-fense or to learn a way then active listening in a productive form of communications is the only way they will learn and appropriately apply that learning in live and in self-fense. 

This article is not about teaching active listening and proper teaching methods, you can get that elsewhere in my blogs, in books and through experience attending seminars, etc. But in a nutshell active listening is, “Active listening is a communication technique used in counseling, training, and conflict resolution. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.”

Another source states, “Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding. Often when people talk to each other, they don=t listen attentively. They are often distracted, half listening, half thinking about something else. When people are engaged in a conflict, they are often busy formulating a response to what is being said. They assume that they have heard what their opponent is saying many times before, so rather than paying attention, they focus on how they can respond to win the argument.”

And that statement leads to active listening which is, “Active listening is a structured form of listening and responding that focuses the attention on the speaker. The listener must take care to attend to the speaker fully, and then repeats, in the listener’s own words, what he or she thinks the speaker has said. The listener does not have to agree with the speaker - he or she must simply state what they think the speaker said. This enables the speaker to find out whether the listener really understood. If the listener did not, the speaker can explain some more.”

Are you actively listening to your students, do you perceive the students as actively listening to the teachings in the dojo, and do they demonstrate an understanding of what was taught in the actions of practice and training? If yes, then active listing is achieving the goals of the dojo and the teachers, if not then look closely at the teacher because they set the tone of the dojo and those members tend to follow the teachers lead. What goes around comes around so if the teacher is spreading inappropriate teachings that will come back around sooner or later but if they are actively listening and applying the teachings then that too will come around with a more appropriate and efficient result. 

Choushu [聴取] is translated to mean, “Listening; hearing; audition; radio reception.” The first character translates to, “Listen; headstrong; naughty; careful inquiry,” the second character translates to, “take; fetch; take up.” 

Akira [] is translated to mean, “Hearing.” 

Choukaku [聴覚] is translated to mean, “The sense of hearing; to listen.” First character translates to, “Listen; headstrong; naughty; careful inquiry,” the second character translates to, “memorize; learn; remember; awake; sober up.” 

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