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

Hey, Attention on Deck!

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

Search This Blog

Thursday, March 30, 2017


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

Satori-wo-hiraku [悟りを開く] to achieve enlightenment; to attain enlightenment. First character/ideogram translates to mean, “enlightenment; perceive; discern; realize; understand,” while the second one translates to, “open; unfold; unseal.” 

The ultimate goal of our pursuit of the disciplines of conflict and violence, i.e., karate and martial arts, is to open the mind, to unfold the mysteries of the three levels that take us from the technique-based basics all the way up to the chaos of creativity that spans beyond technique into the realm of conditioned reflex responses of multiple principle-based methodologies that would transcend the mere logical thinking process into the realm of the mystic-like responses according to the situations, moments and times where we are confronted with and by obstacles of conflict and violence regardless of levels and severities, etc.

To unfold our potential and allow the full range of possibilities within us that blossom into great oak trees of discipline, confidence and ability beyond what our initial open minds can comprehend without the experience, knowledge and understanding study, analysis and synthesis can produce. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Variations in Performance

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

In all disciplines, I mean all, humans will experience both extreme performances interspersed with less extreme ones. Humans, simply because we are human, will not achieve the same top results but rather a system or state of, “Variations in Performance.” It is a matter of, “The mean,” meaning, “the average of both extreme performance and less extreme.” In truth, it is a matter of timing where one who enters a match does so with the thought and intent to reach the higher level of the mean, extreme performance, so they can do their very best and succeed to the top spot in that match. We will call this one a milestone where the practitioner works to achieve his extreme performance level at the exact same moment they participate in a match, contest or competitive endeavor. 

The way to achieve this goal is to train and practice with a system that embraces the upper, mean and lower levels of the performance with a milestone of elevating the overall performance to levels where the lower end is less of a lower end, elevating the entire system so when the actual less extreme performance level exceeds the higher performance level of those who are competing with him or her. 

To ignore this regression of mean can lead to less than optimal consequences. When you hear someone say, “I threw bad darts but after I practiced for five hours over the weekend my Monday game was spot on.” In reality, the practice may have exceeded the optimal practice interval for true progress and the person merely traveled the path back into the upswing of his performance level to extreme performance. Often, such marathons of practice are more a feed into this fallacy of regression of mean. 

What this means is the practitioner of any discipline where performance be it mental or physical or both is about understanding that we all have this system the travels the path as if a set of waves ebbing and flowing with upside waves we ride like a surfer and the downside waves that literally throw us under the water and willy nilly to the shoreline. You can’t ride the perfect wave on top all the time, you will always slide down the front and endure the cascade of the wave top tumbling you down as if you were a novice surfer. 

Variations in Performance are like breathing, it is what humans do naturally and according the nature and its physics. Like being full of energy during the early hours of a day, and early  energy person, then slowing down in the afternoon, not a late day person, until your energy level is at its lowest. The Chinese medicines all teach this diurnal system of the human body, i.e., patterns of the body and mind from full energy to falling and into resting energy toward recharge, etc.

We call this the, “Circadian Rhythm,” where the bodies biological processes oscillate during a twenty-four hour span much like the ticking of a clock. These circadian or diurnal rhythms are set according to the environment in which the human lives to included its weather, etc., such as light, temperature and other effects. Add in the environmental effects of the tribe, clan or social order along with culture and beliefs then you get a system that dependent on other factors to the individual provides a clock where you may be at your best at 8am and worst at 8pm. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Evolution - It’s a Group Thing

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

It consists of cooperation, amiability, learning, etc., all involving an efficiency that starts with the group, the tribe, the clan or whatever group and family designation one uses according to the groups cultural belief system. 

When anthropologists look back over human history and trace, as best as they can, human evolution from the humanlike ape, to apelike human, and finally through the various stages to the state of humans today, the anthropologists were struck by an important realization: that cooperation and competition both are responsible for our evolution, our very existence. This, and other factors, puts a new spin on our competitive nature of today. 

One must note, as expressed by those same anthropologists, is that evolution of man from what ever origins such as animals is that the process of evolution is gradual, continuous and very, very slllloooooowwww. This gradual process did not proceed in straight lines or in some arborizing fashion as believed but rather resembles a reticulum in which there were lots of crisscrossing along with new developments. There is some evidence that humans evolved faster that generally believed/supposed.

Here is where I feel group dynamics is explained, i.e., it is now recognized that the evolutionary process is a result of whole populations of humans who changed over that period. Evolutionary processes took place within groups sometimes widely separated from each other. 

Our evolution involved a need to adapt to many different and changing conditions, accidental genetic mutations useful to our survival according to specific places at specific times that were retained, learned patterns of behavior that were to become a part of the culture that are then transmitted from generation to generation. Then we add in one more item, chance (sometimes luck too). 

In such groups there had to be cooperation and mutual aid. If not for those two it is believed that humans who, as many thought, depended on competition and mutual hostility that our species would never have evolved to a state of humanity. Had we been natural born killers with an innate aggressive and hostile ‘instinct’ then we would have had a much harder time surviving. 

It is because of cooperation and mutual aid, to provide necessary services to the tribe or group, humans would not have developed the physical attributes and the intelligence to cooperate with each other, they might well have been killed off by other predators. It is a required attribute of our species to evolve through cooperation among individuals; without it we would not have evolved.

Ever wonder why we have both eyes in the front of our heads vs. one eye on each side? This type of vision is called, “Binocular.” It is a type of vision that makes it possible for us to see in three dimensions, and that means the ability to judge distances and depth. Ever hear of, “Arboreal?”  Since we are believed to come from a type of man-ape and that our ancestors came out of the trees it is, “Us, living in trees.” Such a life was good regarding brain development: it was a life filled with surprises, every surprise called for quick response, the reward for correct response was living to another moment and incorrect response could possibly mean a fatal penalty. 

In short, the ones with the quickest response (OODA :-) ) and the greatest ability to make correct decisions and to survive incorrect decisions is the one creature most likely to live long enough to pass on those genes and that comes from the development of our brains. 

A side note: primates are either or not our ancestors but it is believed that among those very primates were the “Australopithecines,” what some believe are our close relatives if not ancestors. They were what I have already termed, from the anthropologists, etc., who did this study, ‘ape-men. Ape-men that were men non the less who were about four feet tall, with a brain larger that that of present-day chimps and they may have had the power of speech. Primarily vegetarians - fruits, nuts, seeds - who on occassion also ate birds eggs when they came upon them, and the experts say we can add small slow moving animals to their diet. 

Since these Australopithecines were considered more than apes, they stood up and moved about on their hind legs, etc., which gave their ever developing hands freedom to explore, to hold things, to poke, to squeeze, to reach, to grab, and thus to feed the curiosity that even then was becoming an important tool or mechanism for “Learning and Understanding and Adapting.” 

Now we can look at another important mechanism that fed the evolutionary process, “Sociability.” It is believed and understood that one of the major reasons we have survived and evolved is our group dynamic of sociability. The dual concept is, “Sociability and Amiability” because they, like a yin-yang thing, go together often. Humans to survive live in groups, spend most of their time in groups, and carry out almost all their projects - eating, copulating, raising young, and protecting the group from predators - in groups. 

Humans being of this nature tend to apply punishments short of death that maintain the order and discipline of the group by meting out the worst possible punishment of our species - put in solitary confinement. Loneliness is widely considered the most severe malady one can suffer, we all have an emotional reliance on one another. This characteristic has had great significance for the evolutionary development of our species. Evolution would not have been possible in any form like it did without emphasis on cooperation and mutual aid. 

Example, Hunting: To hunt could never have developed without a high degree of cooperation among members of the group who were working together for the mutual good. Groups that hunted together and shared food were healthier; the individuals in these groups tended to live longer than individuals who went out alone, and groups that did the best job all around tended to prevail. 

The same principle - that groups are better than individuals - applied when it was necessary to protect themselves from other hunters. A group is clearly better equipped to stand off predators than a single individual. 

Speaking of flight-or-fight, etc., fighting among australopithecines is unlikely to have been any moe frequent than it is among apes because they had already developed the ability to ‘FLEE’ from dangerous situations and flight rather than fight would, in many cases, have been to their advantage. Flight of a group is safer by far than flight alone for each individual in that group. This brings us to a mainstay of this article, “Learning.” 

LEARNING: “The most important function of the tribe, the group, in the evolution of early humans was in the area of ‘learned behavior’.”

It is possible to learn alone, by trial and error, but it is much easier and faster to learn from ‘watching others’. Often times, learning by trial and error is way to slow. There is no question that learning from other members of the group is an important component of evolution and survival. 

When threatened by lions, fleeing to trees is good and such behaviors obviously represents several kinds of learning - from observation, from adult to adult, from adult to young. The advantages that accrue when many learn from a single experience is evident and obvious. It is also understood from research and studies that long before the emergence of the first true human beings, the patterns of cooperative living had been established and individuals were helping each other survive. 

Remember, evolution depends upon circumstance and environment, upon the challenges met and surmounted, and upon chance mutations in the genetic material in each group. As we now understand as to our history, the development of hunting among early humans and it later extension to the hunting of large animals probably served to intensify the importance of cooperation in the lives of the group. Cooperation enhanced their chances of developing and evolving and eventually becoming something more. 

Side note: The whole question of division of labor, i.e., hunter-gatherer where men hunted and women gathered along with caring for young, etc., between the sexes evidently goes back to our earliest days as humans. During prehistoric times such an arrangement was necessary for survival. Natural selection, in fact, greatly favored those individuals and those groups who cared for their young for extended periods, and whose tribal lives were organized on the highly cooperative principle of mutual support between men and women. 

Bibliography (Click the link)
Montabu, Ashley. “The Nature of Human Aggression.” Oxford Press, New York. 1976, 78.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lip Service

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

What is lip service? How does this apply to martial arts and karate regardless of intentions in practice and training? Lip service is an, “Insincere agreement; to, “pay lip service” is to consent in one's words while dissenting in one's heart.” I have and still see a huge amount of lip service being used in martial arts and karate, i.e., “Sensei support the consolidation of the arts while never committing him or herself to the implementation of it in any substantial way.” 

One example of reality is the phrase bandied about in dojo, “Ichariba Chode [行逢りば兄弟] or Once we Meet, we become Brothers and Sisters.” Many dojo promote this as the institutional belief of a brotherhood often found in military services and other such professions. It is touted as a means of establishing and promoting things like respect, social interactions for the benefit of the dojo and its members, and a camaraderie of practitioners that glue them together much like the human group dynamic of survival.  

One definition actually states: 

Ichariba chode (行逢りば兄弟) is a Japanese phrase meaning “though we meet but once, even by chance, we are friends for life”.

Ichariba Chode, as a work of fiction, is a story that follows the unnamed and scrapped concept of a female protagonist for the first generation games – one commonly referred to in fandom as “Beta Blue” or “Classic!Leaf” and one referred to in-story as just “Blue” - as she travels alongside Red and his Charmander, starting in Pallet Town and ending at the Hall of Fame.

and another says:

( "Ichariba-chode" is an Okinawan saying and approach to life, meaning "once we meet, we become brothers and sisters."

Now, here is where I get a bit concerned as to its true meaning, the characters/ideograms when translated at one site gave me the English words of, “Yukiairiba kyōdai,” with a translation of, “brothers.”  Another less concise translation is, “Journey, meeting elder or big brother or younger brother and those faithful to elders.” I can’t use the word clarity on the last but you can come to a conclusion that it could, may and might mean when traveling one can encounter others where friendship is found. A stretch I might add but …

Some of the strangeness in translation may come from the belief that it is an Okinawan phrase used when meeting someone new, i.e., meaning though we meet but once, even by chance, we are friends for life. Where this means more to my views and theories is in my studies of the Okinawan’s throughout their history and from sources of others not Okinawan, even European, it is always said of them just how friendly and kind all Okinawan’s are. Even today, the phrase is being used to convey the friendly atmosphere of Okinawa in regard to visitors for the promotion of tourism so even if it dose not originate in some ancient form it is meant to be relevant and accurate toward the modern views both of Okinawans and those not of Okinawan origins. 

It is interesting that my research didn’t actually find any sources that state in some form that the phrase is used in martial arts and karate circles even tho, in general, it is a cultural use so naturally would be in the dojo as it would in any other venue of the Okinawan culture. 

Lip service, is this actually something given to lip service in the agenda driven meaning that helps sell martial arts and karate commercially or its it really something believed in and lived in dojo’s around the country? 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Defining Survival

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

When you hear the word I would guess that it triggers specific pictures in your mind and I would go on to bet that many of those visualizations are from the entertainment industry, i.e., movies, television and books, etc. Am I right?

Defining survival is a bit more involved, survival in a narrow sense according to the dictionaries is, “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances; Survival is the act of surviving; to stay living; Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations; and then the definition provides examples in categories:”
  • Survival Analysis, a statistical technique to analyze longevity.
  • Survival rate, the percentage of people who are alive for a given period of time.
  • Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations.
  • Survival companies, organizations, bands, literature, etc.
In a fundamental way, survival is about:
  • Walking across the street without getting hit by a car.
  • Seeking a job that will pay enough wages to live, i.e., eat, have shelter, etc.
  • Developing character and personality skills to get along with others especially in our group, tribe, clan, family, etc.
  • Developing coping skills to live safely and securely.
  • Eating, exercising and developing an attitude that gets along with others. 
  • Gaining knowledge and understanding of survival especially as it is regard to conflict and violence - at all levels.
    • Conflict and violence from a discussion of a difference of opinion.
    • Conflict and violence from a heated discussion that may escalate into an angry exchange with loud voices up to shouting and posturing to demonstrate one’s commitment to the subject.
    • Conflict and violence where one used physical forces to communicate through damage and harm their commitment to some subject, etc.
Note: These bullet points are examples and not a complete, comprehensive or exhausting list. It is to convey the idea that survival spans a wide spectrum beyond what you might have pictured when you read the first paragraphs. 
  • Going to the store to purchase food, i.e., a form of hunter and gatherer where gatherer dominates by the act of shopping, etc.
  • Performing or engaging in activities that mimic or symbolize acts our species uses as primal reflexes toward a base survival. 
  • etc. etc. etc.
Yes, every day living efforts of all kinds, conditions, culturally driven social needs and services all fill the needs of our species toward, survival. It is the human ability to be aware then process stimuli through perceptions as to experiences accumulated in our environment so that we may make distinctions accordingly to act in appropriate acceptable social ways to avoid, deescalate, etc., those conflicts and violences that would hinder our continued survival and create obstacles to our evolutionary processes, also about survival. 

What we do focus on in martial arts and karate is survival skills and as with the above definition, “Survival skills, safety techniques used in dangerous situations,” we may also trigger specific visual-images also from entertainment media that do not span the full spectrum. We assume that safety techniques involve those technique-based instructions when in reality survival skills for safety and security involve communications skills for avoidance and deescalation, actions taken to avoid physical conflict such as turning away or walking away or running if the situation allows and then there are those methods and force options we take when things do go into the physical. 

Take for instance the teaching of fighting skills. It is often glossed over or simply avoided that fighting is illegal regardless of the level and forces used so even a school yard scuffle to communicate and convey information between two persons is considered illegal. Fighting skills are aggressive and aimed toward grave harm. Fighting skills are those necessary actions and deeds only used when the other avenues of conflict resolution are exhausted. Yet, fighting skills to modern martial arts and karate, even under the heading of self-defense, are sports competitive fights and have nothing beneficial to do with a predatory process/resource attack out of the dojo, out of the competitive arena and especially out of the entertainment and philosophical way. 

Once a long time ago while riding a deuce-n-half to the field I noticed a peculiarity in the engine, the way the vehicle moved and the efforts of the drive that the engine had a, “Governor,” on it. A governor is a device that stops acceleration of the engine/vehicle when certain conditions are reached such as a set top speed. It was an effort by the organization to control and govern how the drivers drove the vehicle with emphasis on safety through conditions set to ensure no one exceeded the speed limit. You can call it an inhibitor or a restriction set by device or any number of other descriptive words but in the end it was a form of social conditioning. 

Social conditioning is not something the individual can avoid, mostly. It is something, like the installation of a vehicle governor that is put in place without the driver’s consideration but as a control, an involuntary control, instead of training and other incentives to get drivers to voluntarily control their impulses so they stay within the speed limits. 

Social conditionings can be similar and if those creating and instituting such conditions themselves are unaware of what they don’t know and understand along with what they don’t know they don’t know and what they don’t understand they don’t know they don’t understand can lead to conditions and conditioning that does more harm than good. This seems to be where we are today even in the martial arts and karate for self-fense.

We just don’t know we don’t know this yet. 

Social conditions, conditioning along with rules both implicit and explicit must come from knowledge, understanding and experience. That means we have to take the uncomfortable and balance it with the comfortable. We have to accept that we don’t know and we don’t know what we don’t know so that we can communicate, discuss, debate and then decide as a society what is best for us toward our very survival. 

Extend this down into the microcosmic world of self-fense regardless of the systems used be it martial arts, karate or some other form of self-fense so that we talk, discuss, debate, etc., until a unified consensus is reached in creating a fundamental foundation that spans differences such as styles or systems or individual cultural belief systems. A neutral factual beneficial foundation that everyone can get behind for the benefit and survival of everyone and every tribe, clan or group. 

This is how I perceive and distinguish survival, survival that spans every aspect and facet of our human existence and drives every thing we say, do and believe regardless of differences, a foundation for survival through understanding and acceptance of a fundamental state of principles that are factual and unemotional in nature - logical, beneficial and neutral in nature. 

BELIEF: I firmly believe that “survival” is the very seed that spells out our species drives and those drives are conditioned in our environment as to the stimuli our sensory systems feed our brains. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Rule of Thumb

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

I write a lot, I do have opinions and ideas and theories and beliefs but in all that you may have perceived my pension to lean toward fundamentals and principles or in one view, “Fundamental Principles.” There is a reason I have gone this route and until I read the next quote in an article, you should click the link and read that article for clarity, it never occurred to me that his good rule of thumb really does explain fundamentals well enough to inspire interest and, hopefully, continued study, research and understanding. 

“A good rule of thumb is: A fundamental is something everyone -- regardless on their perspective on a subject -- can agree upon.” - Marc MacYoung, Breaking the Spin Cycle

When I read this, my hope became more, I hoped that in martial arts and karate communities although in separate tribes or clans called styles would see the very fundamentals that are style-less, holistic and embrace all styles regardless but what I fear is a thing called cognizant dissonance and conformation bias, to name the two primary ones, will obscure and block this fact and leave them in the current state of, “My style mentality.” 

I did not come to this conclusion quickly, it took time, effort and study to begin this paradigm shift. I don’t say or believe that we need to get rid of styles because we don’t, they are a most excellent human tool toward survival and they serve a purpose, i.e., “All bottles are good, they all serve a purpose.” Styles create social entities called dojo, tribes or clans as you wish and they provide a natural human conditioned survival reflex to collect into small groups conducive to learning, practicing and understanding of those like minded people that promote evolutionary improvement and change for progress. 

If only we can accept this rule of thumb, then apply it to everything martial arts and karate in all forms, and then see their value to our styles we can start to come together in a socially constructive way that would allow us to create cross-over fundamentals that would allow each style recognition, progress and to evolve - as a style with strong fundamentals and fundamental principles. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Wednesday, March 15, 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 physiokinetics.
  • 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.
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)

Click to see larger view.

Friday, March 10, 2017

On teaching!

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

I read a really wonderful and enlightening article this morning, i.e., 08:44 hours on 10 March 2017, from Mr. Rory Miller at his blog, “Chiron.” A link is provided below and you should read it in its entirety along with understanding that what I write in the following are my ideas about what he wrote as to how to be a good, solid and dependable Sensei. Here is the list I extracted from my reading as to my understanding at this moment of writing (for I reserve the rights to change as I study things a bit more and gain some experiences and better understandings).
  • “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”
  • “It's about the student, not the instructor.”
  • “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 
  • “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”
  • “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”
  • “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”
  • “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”
  • “ … there is no appeal to authority.”
  • “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”
  • “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”
  • “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”
Now, as a means of possibly learning something toward a better understanding I may make some comments after each extracted quote given above and that has absolutely noting to do with what Mr. Miller wrote, ergo read the article and draw your own conclusions useful to you. This is an exercise in learning and as he indicates should be tempered, like tempering fine steel, with experiences toward understanding. 

Some background: I have some experience and expertise as an, “Instructor,” and some as a, “teacher,” but I now begin to understand that what I did in those days was limited, stunted and missing some very important traits that would have made me a better one. I did continue to study such things but, except in one case, never received a formalized training on how to teach, train and mentor. I was left to my own devices and learned by “OJT” and through observation of those leaders I worked with and for. 

I formally taught a basic job specialty course to newly minted Marine boots at Camp Lejeune for the first four years of service. I then changed into a special job that trained me extensively in methods of recruiting along with several civilian courses meant to sales and public speaking, etc. I then followed in a job speciality where teaching was a good part of that work while outside that realm I learned and taught Marines, later military and dependents, the more combative and self-defense aspects of karate from Okinawa. 

I later took up providing the services of a IT tech service support person who also used skills to teach workstation users how to use, maintain and secure IT devices. I also taught formally physical security requirements, processes and actions for staff working in a secure and classified environment. 

In short, I do have some background and experience yet the following still rang my bell in one way or form or another because it simply takes me out of the paradigm of past understanding directing me toward a better and improved way of, “Teaching, mentoring and leading.” In short, it adds a lot to my current, varied, skill set. So, with that said, “here we go.” 

Extracted Quote: “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”

Comments: In a society where many ‘expect’ someone else to provide certain things for them along with the assumption that certain perceived rights means other things are provided especially when those perceived rights are thought to have been violated still confuses me because it means they have pretty much stopped learning and therefor tend to fail in understanding things in order to make their own decisions. 

Once, long ago, another black belt in a dojo where I was assisting in teaching said to me, “You explain too much, you should just demonstrate one time then let them go at it all on their own.” I thought about that for a few moments because I learned that I tend to jump in such situations and then I said something like, “Well, for them to learn and discover for themselves I do need to provide them with information that supports the actions demonstrated so they can think on their own how that all works - for them - and how that might work - in reality - then allow for the synthesis of questions and comments the entire dojo can address so we all learn to analyze as individuals while in a group we all take the analysis to higher levels so the group can synthesize something that benefits both the individual and group.”

I believe that what he was taught is that in Japan, the sensei doesn’t say much and expects the students through observation to learn. While that works for the Japanese due to their culture and beliefs that doesn’t work so well with Americans. The form of ‘shi-kata’ was established over many generations in Japan where kata are how they do everything, mostly, and since all things tend to be covered by patterned kata it is culturally understood that through observation one can learn, practice and come to understand how things are done without resorting to that harmony disturbing asking of questions we Americans need, want and require to learn. 

Because of shi-kata, Japanese learn by observation while we Americans learn by not just observation but through the use of our senses, if we are lucky, and through an exchange of communications and demonstrative effort by sensei, deshi, sempai and kohai relationships.  A bit of study of human anthropological studies explains how humans evolved where group exchanges and efforts lead to survival then we begin to understand how teaching, learning and understanding work with only changes and diversions brought about by the process itself according to the environment, group or tribal dynamics and cultural beliefs. 

Extracted Quote: “It's about the student, not the instructor.”

Comments: In my mind, humans get caught up in status, ego and perceptions from others all relating to that same status, ego and such other traits all related to tribal group dynamics of, at a primal level, survival. This is especially difficult for those not exposed to brotherhood like connections found in a lot of the violence professions so they have to learn through social conditions and conditioning - assuming the social group has that knowledge and understanding. 

As teachers or instructors or mentors our most difficult trait is to stop looking at ourselves through the old monkey dancing egoistic brain and look outward to how we can service and provide knowledge and understanding to, “Those who follow.” If we are truly one of those who came before, Sensei, then we need to focus our attentions and efforts on that student who with doe like eyes of admiration and awe of a black belt looks to us for guidance, teaching and ability. 

If you teach, truly teach as a service to your students, then focus outward on them, not on how you look; how many students you can collect; not on how many accolades, awards and trophies you can get. Focus on them and adhere to proper, expert and authenticate teaching principles. 

Extracted Quote: “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 

Comments: I can’t add to much here for me because I only recently realized just how critically important play is in this learning process. In my old life a certain serious stoic manner was the name of the game. My recent studies of the last decade have just begun to allow me to understand that such things are natural to our species toward our very survival. I avoided such things because I was an inward stoic person and that the connections in the dojo, much like tribal, were about a collective effort to learn things toward survival of that group including competitions such as done today for sport along with a collective communicative exchange that fosters our growth toward something evolving, if you will. 

Extracted Quote: “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”

Comments: In this I feel that because martial arts and karate are as physical, tactile, as it is most assume that one who teaches must be able to do as well as teach. Most of the schools I have known of look to see if the sensei has trophies and other trappings they feel indicate expertise and we who have a modicum of understanding know that more often than not those who have that may not be the best teachers. Sometimes, a good teacher who can communicate a concept, theory and principle can be ‘average’ in their own applications but understand that the student often can take it way beyond any level the teacher may have or done. 

I no longer get on the dojo floor, I have issues - no excuses. I did the dojo floor actively teaching for over two decades but now lean heavily, as to karate and martial arts, to the keyboard or as advisor in a dojo, without being deeply actively involved physically, to provide what services I can to assist students in their own discovery of their own way. Ergo, all my blogs and my participation in the current social media effort to pass on teachings, etc. 

Extracted Quote: “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”

Comments: Not just academic, but a visceral level of understanding that seems sometimes mystical, or better yet, “Primal.” I am taking my knowledge, past experiences or what I call my systems, and understandings, especially in the tactile world of karate and martial arts, to another mental-physical discipline to keep my faculties sharp (I am sixty-+ years along) that is much less tasking physically just so I can keep my mind sharp and actually use new knowledge to analyze, hypothesize and then synthesize skills toward teaching. 

I use the example of ‘golf’ with its long game, short game and mind games necessary to master that discipline but not actually golf. In golf, that at one time many decades past, appeared to the uninitiated to be a simple sport found after a time that actually it was a very, very difficult discipline. This discipline I am working on is similar that appearances and perceptions tend to give it that, “Child’s game,” view of the uninitiated. Since I began not long ago I have found this discipline to be as difficult as golf and even karate. 

Extracted Quote: “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”

Comments: I can now go back to my previous example of a fellow dan-sha who thought I was talking too much. The ability to answer questions and to explain things seems critical. It must come from within regardless of its source of either hands-on OJT experience, academics or even more critically from experienced professionals who, thankfully, give back by writing and teaching this stuff. 

One of the most difficult traits a teacher must discard from their tool box is this ego driven knee jerk reaction when something is asked of us that we truly don’t have an answer for and end up regurgitating fantasies to look good and maintain that presentation of black belt sensei. A true teacher knows they don’t know what they don’t know so I advocate a response of, “I don’t know and I will find out and get back with you!”

As a karate-ka and martial artist I know that even the most elder, the most advanced, the highest level of martial arts master and karate master cannot know all the answers to every question - we are human and that is not how our brains work. One reason groups are a human primal need, a reason why service to the group is critical toward survival and why the group dynamic of cooperation are so important because without it the species of us humans would not have evolved to the present state of life. 

Extracted Quote: “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”

Comments: I can only say that when I was doing some research on human social connectivity that the three things most caustic to human relations is, “Criticism (chronic is absolutely the worst), contempt and disgust.” When one, two or a mixture of the three is present, the relationship of humans is 98% doomed! So, criticism is one of those things if used sparingly and in such a way using influence compliance principles is a good tool but when used extensively and often - is destructive, caustic and dangerous especially in conflict with potential violence. 

Extracted Quote: “ … there is no appeal to authority.”

Comments: This takes me back to my military days of being an instructor. That was an easy task from one narrow perspective because in those days being in the military you had levels of authoritative power most outside of those domains would not understand. Students had to be there, they had to sit and listen (even if it never was heard or sunk in) and you, as the instructor (why I use this term in lieu of teacher) you simply spewed forth the material and as military expected them to follow orders and learn this stuff. Thankfully, things have changed a considerable amount since the early days of my military career. 

Ordering one to just practice basics is counter productive to learning and especially understanding. Think about that one for a while, you will come to a better understanding with a little effort, right? 

Extracted Quote: “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”

Comments: Actually, no comment because I need to contemplate this one and re-read Mr. Miller’s article a bit while waiting for a continuation on his presentation of the subject. 

Extracted Quote: “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”

Comments: Hey, I am just going to play with this one a while, have some fun, do a bit of research and testing then I can better present a understandable comment. ;-)

Extracted Quote: “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”

Comments: We, if I understand the anthropological stuff on this, tend to drive toward simplistic answers and actions to get things done. We naturally take the complex and work hard to break it down into simply terms but where I feel we drop the ball is when it comes time to take the many simplistic things and make them whole again - holistic so to speak as a whole. This is why I found the idea of analysis, i.e., breaking down of complexities to study, hypothesis so that one can be creative and finally after having some fun synthesize all the separate distinct renderings back into one whole thing that can be used. 

In closing, I really appreciate the work of professionals like Rory Miller, I like the exchange of ideas and theories and possibilities and I like providing my thoughts and mindless meanderings because after so many stoic steadfast adherence to standard dogma I find this new way kind of enlightening and learning has become a joy rather than a task that must be done - isn’t that kind of having fun?

Take a look, think about it, discuss this in your dojo and then come back and give me some data to crunch, it would be most appreciated!

Bibliography (Click the link)
Miller, Rory. “Vic and Toby.” Chiron Blog. Thursday, March 09, 2017.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Universe (Nature) has us in its Matrix

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

This may not be correct because it is limited to us and our planet, i.e., “ Phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.” We tend to forget that our planet is traveling at great speed through the very blackness of space within one of many galaxies also all speeding outward, it feels and appears to the sciences, taking us way out of the realm of nature into the realm of … what? 

Much like, or similar too, the movie, “The Matrix,” and its followup features humans are trapped in a software system that controls their lives in very interesting and unique ways making the movie an instant hit. So much symbolism and connections to our reality that we all can feel the DNA deep connection to its theme. But, what if the movie is closer to reality than we humans realize. What if, nature or the universe is only real because we are all in a matrix filling our minds with beliefs and fooling us into seeing, hearing, touching, feeling and tasting things that are just not there. So, much so, as our minds can already do, even the matrix like presentation to each mind can result in physical ramifications such as damage and death but, is it real or just the uni-matrix (universes matrix program). 

Consider that our minds, right now, see us as organic material with a life force and the ability to be sentient, is that really reality or is the uni-verse simply telling us it is as is the natural state of the human condition. You can or could really go nuts thinking of this shit but consider the discoveries found in the last hundred years such as, “There’s a study out there where scientists watching an fMRI could tell what decisions a subject would make as much as six-seconds before the subject consciously knew.” What the … 

Our brains are being fooled all the time and we tend to consider things as real that are manufactured by our minds to create a belief and existence that is somewhat comfortable, safe and secure yet if reality as it may be, according to our own minds exists, is not really reality but a uni-matrix effect of something far beyond our human ability to consider and perceive. Going nuts ….

Here, to ground ourselves in the subjects of my blogs, are articles I wrote about the matrix and how that plays out, philosophically speaking, in our disciplines of martial karate training and practices. 

Bibliography (Click the link)