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, April 27, 2017

It’s That Something

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

That something that triggers your spidey sense in that what you are experiencing or observing has something that sits just to the side of the consciousness leaving a puzzled look on your fact until suddenly like a flash of light, you get what it is. 

I observe and have observed kata practice both live on the dojo floor and via social media such as Youtube. I can watch and sense when someone is performing kata, performing kata ROTE and living the kata. What is “Living the Kata?” Well, being difficult to explain but it is a sense of spirit, understanding and intent within the practice and applications. 

Most know it when they see it even if they are unable to explain what it is they are perceiving. I say perceiving because that involves both the conscious and unconscious. When a true adept of karate practices there is something in the way they project their attitude, something in the way they move and something that is projected like the first morning rays of warm sunshine at dawn over a prairie with a backdrop of the majestic mountains of this wonderful world in which we reside. 

Another way to describe it is as if you were clairvoyant and can detect the tells that speak of something interesting, unique and spiritual but not religious in nature. It is like when you watch a couple in love you can perceive in their body language and the underlying aura that says to you they are truly in love or at least deeply infatuated with one another. 

Its’ that something similar to where you watch a group and you can feel, see, sense and even taste the connectedness that projects when the move together like watching military maneuvers especially those of spec-ops types, they instinctively know what each is doing and what they are going to do, etc. 

Likened to the Tao Te Ching or the I Ching, it is something that becomes instinctual in nature, a reflex that makes your eyes go wide and you intake a deep breath of surprise. It is that moment when you are in the wild and you come upon a predator stalking prey, the movement is likened to moving within the environment as if a part of it like the cool soft breeze causing the tall grass to move rhythmically. 

When I see kata today I see body language and facial expressions of boredom and ROTE, moving to meet a minimal standard of connecting various disparate techniques to make one long dance. It is as if one is merely moving haphazardly with no story, no intent and no meaning. It is empty, an empty shell of various individual movement to form a form, a form without substance as if copying a pattern onto material so you can take scissors and cut along the lines. 

As you can see it is most difficult to put labels and meaning on true kata being presented through moving meditative intent, purpose and substance. It is that something that you seek when you train and practice karate but can’t get exactly what that something is but with diligence, honor, consistency in training and practice, searching for more while absorbing deeply that which was found, and letting go of what must be let go then on that one day, that one hour and into that very moment you are suddenly thrust into understanding, a “Oh Crap, that’s it!” moment.

Karate is just a vehicle to get you to that something and it is your efforts that fuel karate until that moment, a solid valid beneficial and worthwhile wholehearted journey.  

Think “Living breathing sentient human vs. zombie Kata.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reframing to Refute (Martial Communications)

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

In a dojo, while assisting the Sensei, another yudansha approached me and said, “You're explaining too much.” In short, after a discussion to clarify is message and intent, he was saying that I talked too much. On one side I tended to agree and on the other side I tend to disagree and you ask, “How can you both agree and disagree?” 

It’s about communications, knowledge and understanding. First, I was trying way to hard to convey decades of study, learning, and understanding in one conversation. Second, I needed to parse the teachings down into what one media source would call, “Baby Steps.” Baby steps in that I should be more general in verbalizing a subject, etc., then follow up with more details as they progress in chunks that are more conducive to learning, and most importantly toward retention. A bit like giving a topic with a very short initial paragraph to cover the main points like they do in news stories or newspapers, etc., then expanding in the content that one can either read or not read as the moment dictates. At least the story is there for future reference and study if the practitioner so desires. 

Then, when warranted in training and practice as each moment presents some inspiration it could warrant another discussion of similar duration with follow up detailed discussion or written material or video, etc. 

Humans can only take in so much in one sitting ergo why lectures at University are often an hour where notes are taken, research is done as followup or homework, papers are written and reviewed with comments to direct effort and progression is achieved through this process. Over time, the practitioner/student will grow, expand and understand while building up a source of data they can rely on in their pursuit of martial and karate proficiency and expertise. 

In the art of, “Martial Communications,” as with conflict as well as social the techniques are the same while the discipline and subjects involved change, constantly. Humans are social and that social drive is about species survival through cooperation and evolving human communications skills are how we do that, survive and thrive. 

In martial arts as well as karate in modern times those who have come before are starting to recognize and realize how modern practitioners are now finding gaps in their knowledge, applications and understanding of martial arts and karate (emphasis on self-fense due to its inherent violent dangers).

It is because of this that I attempt to convey a new principle called, “Martial Communications.” Communications are about cooperation, i.e., in this instance about the exchange of information, theories, ideas and experiences to communicate what is needed and necessary to both evolve as martial artists and karate-ka but to survive in a world that still has conflict and violence (as I define it from a simply emotional discussion to the full blow all out wars humans endure).

The following notes are provided to present thoughts toward further research, study, practice and understanding. It is about presenting terse like information that triggers facts, ideas and theories you can study, analyze and then synthesize into a form of martial communications that will span not just the dojo floor but the world when applying martial self-fense skills in avoidance and deescalation, i.e., what professionals might call conflict communications (google conflict communications to learn about this). 


“Presenting facts that conflict with an individual’s worldview, it turns out, can cause people to dig in further. Psychologists, aptly, dubbed this the ‘backfire effect.' Learn how to communicate facts/information strategically.”

“In addition to presenting facts and figures, they appeal to emotions. This could mean not simply explaining the science of how something works but spending time on why it matters to the author and why it ought to matter to the reader.” 

“Communicators can be more effective after they’ve gained the audience’s trust.”

Refuting stories that deny martial beliefs by addressing each claim and explaining why it’s wrong is not that productive. In fact, it could be counterproductive: “If you repeat the myth, that’s the part people remember even if you immediately debunk it, she says. A better approach, she suggests, is to reframe the issue. Don’t just keep explaining why your view, theory, idea or belief is true and real - explain how your view, theory, idea or belief will harm and adversely effect practice, training and the practitioner. Communication that appeals to values, not just intellect, research shows, can be far more effective.”

INQUIRY: What is rhetorician? It is, “An expert in formal rhetoric; a speaker whose words are primarily intended to impress or persuade. The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques; language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.”

Create a model of, “Martial Communications.” 

Explain martial arts and karate strategically:
  1. Gain your audiences trust (be it many or just one).
  2. Don’t Refute, Reframe and present references to support your views.
    • Refuting stories that deny martial beliefs by addressing each claim and explaining why it’s wrong is not that productive.
    • Don’t just keep explaining why your view, theory, idea or belief is true and real - explain how your view, theory, idea or belief will harm and adversely effect practice, training and the practitioner. Communication that appeals to values, not just intellect, research shows, can be far more effective.
  3. Explain why it matters.
    • Explanations lead to curiosity and curiosity leads to study and study leads to connecting to others and conneting to others lead to communication and communication comes through cooperation and cooperation leads to evolving, growing and understanding of self, others and society. 
  4. Refrain from scientific like factual explanations and speak to the emotional side of the topic or subject under review/discussion.
  5. Don’t attack the belief system by reframing the subject, presenting the facts, explain how that hurts them and their practices and their beliefs, and appeal to values along with research, references and to intellect. 
  6. Use figures of speech and symbolism to persuade (compositional techniques).
  7. Be sincere and provide meaningful content.
Martial communications is many things but in short I would consider it as, “Communicative competence is a term in linguistics which refers to a language user's grammatical knowledge of syntax, morphology, phonology and the like, as well as social knowledge about how and when to use utterances appropriately.”

  • What is communicative competence?
    • Communicative competence is a term in linguistics which refers to a language user's grammatical knowledge of syntax, morphology, phonology and the like, as well as social knowledge about how and when to use utterances appropriately.
  • What is syntax?
    • the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language.
  • What is morphology?
    • the study of the forms of words.
    • The study and description of how words are formed in language.
  • What is phonology?
    • the system of relationships among the speech sounds that constitute the fundamental components of a language; the branch of linguistics that deals with systems of sounds (including or excluding phonetics), especially in a particular language.
  • What is social knowledge?
    • The collective body of knowledge produced by your community or social circle is what is known as social knowledge. In a social or cultural context, social knowledge can be the collective knowledge base of small groups, like a family, or it can be a massive and constantly evolving body of knowledge, like Wikipedia.
  • What are compositional techniques?
    • In the visual arts, composition is the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject.
    • Techniques and principles in composition? The placement, arrangement and proper collective creation of words to properly and accurately convey a meaning from one source to another. 
    • The act of combining parts or elements to form a whole; manner of being composed; structure; the act or process of producing a literary work.
What I am trying to do is create an atmosphere and dojo community that will foster and build a small group who come to understand the many myriad things that make martial arts and karate so fruitful, beneficial and provide us all the tools we can use not just for Self-fense or competition but in every day life itself. 

Becoming better people, better citizens, and better friends and neighbors is how we all survive; how we live in relative harmony with an enlightened sense of mutual connective social emotional maturity that helps us all, “Just get along.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

This article and my thoughts, theories, ideas, etc.,
have nothing to do with this book and I HIGHLY
RECOMMEND IT if you teach or work in a
profession that deals with conflicts and violence, etc. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Keiken soku (経験則) Rule of thumb (Empirical rule)

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

The rule of thumb is a vitally important physical signature of Isshin-ryū Karate gokui. The rule of thumb is a distinct key characteristic of Isshin-ryū Karate. Understanding its concept unlocks and locks one of the fundamental principle of Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei's teachings.
Passai no kamae. This kamae is in Sunsu kata.

It’s funny, I would venture to guess many wonder why I, “Question Everything.” Well, because it is the only way to fact find, fact check and understand what it is that people are trying to teach others especially in such a public venue like blogging or FaceBooking, etc. I especially question things that, “Don’t make sense; Don’t seem accurate; Don’t or Didn’t exist in the earlier days, for men anyway; Seem contrived; Seem something that tends to trigger the more academic side of me in logic and common sense.”

I admit, it is clever to use the Japanese terms and symbolically connect the meme, “Rule of Thumb,” to the symbolic connection of the thumb, as a rule, to a perception of the thumb placement, at one time considered unique to Isshinryu, on the fist as a direct connection to Isshinryu and its vertical fist. 

Long, long ago I wrote about the vertical fist along with the twelve traits of Isshinryu one of the Isshinryu Luminaries presented in those earlier years where the vertical fist and thumb on top as trademarks of Isshinryu. 

Read, if you wish, The Twelve Isshinryu Features

In short (good info in rest of article if you wish to read it);

10. A fist made with the thumb on top of the fist as opposed to the thumb being over the two fingers. Such a position, with the thumb on top, locks the wrist and serves to tighten the fist.

I will not address the exact physics of the thumb but will readily admit that even today this particular form of the fist and its use are still a distinctive feature of Isshinryu yet you will find that a good deal of today's Isshinryu dojo don't actually use it. 

11. A vertical punch, which increases speed and power. 

A vertical rising punch might be a bit more accurate. In reality when observing the use of the vertical fist you find that only in the rising punch does the fist actually remain vertical. In truth it shifts slightly to one side or the other depending on targeting and where that target aligns with the height of the person applying it to the person on the receiving end. This is pretty much truth to all forms of the punch.

Now, as to fundamental teachings this is a feature of Isshinryu that has since been adopted by many other systems except that most don't actually put the thumb on the top vs. down the side, etc.

You see, even with the above said along with the twelve features of Isshinryu, presented not by Tatsuo-san but one of his students upon returning to the States to teach, I still don’t get the connection it is the proverbial “rule of thumb” toward understanding all the aspects of the system that drives Isshinryu as a form of karate. I don’t see how it:
  • It holds a position of great importance as some physical signature (what does physical signature even mean?) of the ken-po goku-i or any other goku-i provided by Sensei? 
  • I cannot see how this proverbial rule of thumb is distinct as to any characteristic of Isshinryu except that its position seems unique in regard to other systems or styles who form the fist in other ways. Matter of fact, every fist formation has a purpose so they are all relevant but it may just be that Isshinryu practitioners are seeking out some unique thing that puts them and the system in a higher status but in the end, who knows?
  • How can understanding the thumb on top of the fist unlock or lock any fundamental Principle of Tatsuo-san’s teachings, i.e., what is unlocked and what is locked and what does that even mean and what principles because there are a plethora of principles in karate and martial arts that are and are not the first principles of physiokinetics, technique, philosophy, theory, self-defense and chemical adrenal stuff? 
    • Principles are what drive the fists and feet regardless of formation and applications, they are not dictated by any one physical physiokinetic sub-principle. 
    • The fist and thumb alone or even coupled with other structural principle based connection provides any holistic and/or wholehearted teachings conveyed by Tatsuo-san at least according to the research on those five luminaries of Isshinryu who brought it to the United States. 
  • The fist and any formation regardless is just one single entity of a huge collection of principled based multiple methodologies used in karate and martial arts so it eludes me as to how this one trait can be such a huge contribution to the overall teachings of any one Sensei or his system, style or teachings.
So, as with many of the Isshinryu Features the attribution of such importance to any one things is, in my mind, ludicrous and misleading. It does not promote a system of effectiveness and proficiency but smacks of the, “Twaddle Tendency, Information and Confirmation bias, etc.” 

Then I would ask, “What is the Rule of Thumb?” What I found is this, “The rule of thumb is a broadly accurate guide or principle, based on experience or practice rather than theory.”  It is also stated by some sources as, “A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination.”

Granted, there are many things within the teachings of Isshinryu or for any karate system or martial arts system that fits the bill of being a rule of thumb but to generalize it toward an “iffy” reference of Tatsuo’s teachings leaves a lot to be desired. Does the person advocating this believe it and how do they explain it adequately to themselves let alone to fledgling students? Or is this one of those things where they assume everyone will understand because,”That is how my Sensei told me so it must be true!” 

If one truly wishes to understand then it is best for them to look for, “just because or should, etc.,” in the explanation or for vagueness or questioning faces saying, I don’t get it but I ain’t going to ask and look the fool, type thing. You have to ask questions, you have to get answers, you have to fact check those answers, you have to analyze it and then you need to synthesize it into your own. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Morality in Karate?

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

In my many years of study toward a better understanding of my marital arts and karate I have come to the tentative (because things are in a constant state of flux) belief that many of the more esoteric aspects not being defined to a mutual understanding and acceptance are left to the individual whereas that understanding is of questionable nature due to the human frailties of perceptions, distinctions and beliefs, etc.

Lets take the belief or ideology of, “Morality.” We all assume we understand it but do we truly understand it and does it actually fit the criteria of a first principle that transcends individuals and ideologies and cultural social influences but rather sits underneath them all providing support? 

Generally speaking morality is defined as, “Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior; a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.”

“Morality (from the Latin moralis ‘manner, character, proper behavior’) is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion, or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with ‘goodness’ or ‘rightness’.”

I have a feeling that we all can accept that the two quotes give a good basic academic presentation of what one in our society would consider a basic meaning of morality. So, if that were true then why does it diverge, often drastically, when it is asked of individuals and groups?

In karate and martial arts the term morality is often coupled with philosophy so I asked myself if this were appropriate and good enough and the following is my tentative understanding.

Moral Philosophy: A branch of philosophy concerned with ethics. Ethics being defined as, “Moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity (the moral correctness of specified conduct); the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. Now we have to add in moral principles because it may or may not relate directly to morality or moral philosophies.” 

“Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) is the branch of philosophy which addresses questions of morality. The word ‘ethics’ is ‘commonly used interchangeably with 'morality,' and sometimes it is used more narrowly to mean the moral principles of a particular tradition, group, or individual’.”

“Moral principles are driven by the principles of right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group; a rule or standard especially of good behavior; the principle that conduct should be moral; (rule of personal conduct; the moral principle that behavior should be determined by duty).”

It is also of the belief that human morality is not innate nor gene driven but derived from influences one encounters from the moment of conception, i.e., if you believe that external stimuli the mother experiences is also experienced to a degree while in the womb, or birth from the environment, etc. As we develop and evolve, in that evolve meaning what we learn and absorb and understand each moment of life experience, we change accordingly and some where in all that stimulus we learn, develop, become aware of and follow our own moral beliefs, philosophies and understandings of morality. 

There is another theory and belief supported to a degree with research that can be read at the following reference, i.e., “Why Conservatives Can’t Understand Liberals and Vice Versa.” The article is about a set of political views but the underlying information of morality drives the article and that is the focus of the reference to this article. 

I provide a quote of the five primary categories of moral foundation in humans for emphasis:
  1. Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
  2. Fairness/reciprocity: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. [Note: In our original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as we reformulated the theory in 2011 based on new data, we emphasize proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives]
  3. Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it's "one for all, and all for one."
  4. Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and follower-ship, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
  5. Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions). 
For me, as a side note, I find it difficult to believe that we somehow have gene’s or instincts carried down through the generations that say we will naturally to care about others except maybe toward the learned primal conditioned ability to form into groups for survival where that survival depends on cooperation, etc. I can see that over time, as to group dynamics of survival, humans learned how to care and protect and secure one another. That would be passed along from generation to generation but I don’t believe, so far, that we have gene’s or instincts (instincts of this level would hinder evolution and survival as current theories and research would indicate) that we trigger somehow when we reach a certain stage of development, etc.

This goes to say the same as to the other four categories where I can see and perceive that all five come from the developed need of humans to band together for mutual benefit and these traits or principles were learned quickly to survive. 

The issue with morality in the dojo and in the application of martial arts and karate toward a socially and individual safety and security model called self-fense is that, “The human inclination is to believe in one’s own understanding of morality, and many people will live their entire lives without seriously attempting to understand their ideological counterparts.”

Here is where the divide come into play and individual dojo, like individual human collectives called social groups, come together in small groups to achieve a balanced and mutual beneficial survival and safe/secure group. This is why, I believe, we have such diverse differences in things like morality, philosophies and beliefs, humans were not meant to exist, survive and evolve in such large diverse collectives inherent in modern societies. Ergo, why martial arts and karate communities tend to exist in small groups often symbolized as unique due to the naming of its system or style regardless of the fundamental (first) principles and methodologies that exist regardless of style or system or dojo affiliations, beliefs or symbolized naming, etc. 

This therefore begs the question, “What is your moral code to the belief, understanding and application of martial arts and karate?” I ask, because even in the sport oriented practices of martial arts and karate a moral heart is required if it is to be applied in a manner conducive to its evolution along side that of the human species. 

Like many group dynamics starting from the family unit to the neighborhood, city, county, state and country we find that, “Even many intelligent and reasonable people, after all, will have a difficult time agreeing on anything if they view the moral underpinnings of society through vastly divergent lenses.”

That adds thoughts of, “Can such a diverse and divergent understanding and belief of a moral fortitude contribute to a larger group dynamic such as the larger country group lead to a moral existence without the more egregious conflict and violence of such things? Are humans, due to their very nature (what ever that may mean) able to coexist in such lager confines with such diverse peoples along with the natural friction between each that tends to lead to conflict and violence?” 

It comes to my mind that this is why martial arts and karate leans heavily toward styles and dojo entities because those tend to be in sizes that are more conducive to human group dynamics of a more positive, safe, secure and morally defined groups. 

In the end, moral turpitude is something that results when groups fail to live by and survive under a sense of justice, honesty, or good morals but end up in a state of moral turpitude, i.e., “An inherent quality of baseness, vileness, or depravity (the extremes of turpitude) with respect to one’s duty to others and to the group and to society.” We see this example in the best of cases microcosmically represented in dojo membership and members. 

Thinking of this from a stricter marital karate perspective where one assimilates a code much like the Bushido Code of Japan, the modern one since the ancient one really didn’t exist, where I personally see each of the seven virtues is what many would believe and assume are the very principles underlying a moral right of a martial artist and karate-ka. Take a look, don’t these eight virtues fit into the above definition, basic, of a morality toward the practice and application of martial arts and karate as well as life in general?

One of good moral fortitude is a person of courage with a strong sense of benevolence/mercy who is polite, honest and deals with the group and others with sincerity, honor, character and self-control. A person of considerable loyalty to self, dojo, dojo-mates and others. This seems to support a moral code that drives a person and groups morality in the dojo as well as in life. Without such a moral code it is too easy to have such aggression driven physical and mental and wholehearted use and applications to go down the deep and dark hole of morally questionable actions and deeds. 

Bibliography (Click the link)