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, June 29, 2017

Traditional Karate: Beliefs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography (Click the link)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Strong Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography (Click the link)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hard Black Belt Test, Trust Me …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography (Click the link)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Spirit and Character: The Missing Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography (Click the link)

Monday, June 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography (Click the link)