"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!

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If you have a question not covered in this blog feel free to send it to me at my email address, i.e. "snow" dot here "covered" dot here "bamboo" AT symbol here "gmail" dot here "com"

"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour

"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

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.

Reader's of this Blog

Multiple Style Training, Is it Beneficial?

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Systems and styles, for me, seem to be more about variations in the application of principles. It would therefore answer the question, is the training in multiple systems or styles beneficial.

First, multiple systems and styles rely totally and completely on fundamental principles where the differences of a system or style become preferences.

Second, multiple systems and style presentations are beneficial to self-defense if for no other reason the exposure, exposure that makes that presentation an awareness so when encountered it will not come as a surprise causing your mind to freeze because you don’t know that is coming at you.

Third, if one truly focuses on the principles then the first and second comment become mute. Focusing on principles then applying them under the adrenal stress conditions of reality focuses your mind of your goals of applying principles to stop damage, etc. 

Here, let me put it this way, every martial artists has heard the old maxim that if you learn one system or style completely, if you master it, then all other styles are understood. That is only true if you look beyond those other styles to see the principles underneath. The old saying applies even more to kata, to learn one kata well means you learn all the other easily and quickly.

In truth, regardless of the model and method, if you spend your time learning the principles and apply that knowledge to achieve understanding the system or style is superfluous to that study, learning, practicing and understanding. A person who has studied and mastered the fundamental principles of martial disciplines can then expose themselves to the various systems and styles and will in essence know them as they are applied through the same principles. 

The maxims of old were the best way to explain the study and learning of principles for the kata is one of the best ways to learn those principles for to teach kata properly is to teach the principles, not just technique based training for performances, etc. The limits of technique based training are just surface fluff and principles cross over all other models and methods, they take you past the book cover of kata or style or system and present the story itself of the principles. 

Modern times and the advancement of understanding along with higher ability of humans to articulate due to advancement in communications, sciences, etc., provide us the ability to convey the complexities that didn’t exist in times of old. Through the advancement of modern times we have found the key to open doors that once kept limits on how knowledge and skill was taught and passed down. 

Now that we can see principles through the efforts of the sciences we can now articulate and teach them without a need to assign them to any kata, system or style. Principles make systems and styles obsolete except in fulfilling the needs of humans, tribes and societal distinctions toward our nature and natural way. 

Example, MMA was a modern attempt to bring together a variety of different systems and styles into one. It failed to achieve true cross system status over singular styles due to nature, human instincts and a focus on those principles over a collection of technique based models, i.e., karate + judo + jujutsu + wrestling, etc. When the recognition and acceptance of principles without the borders created through models or styles or systems is achieved then humans will be able to create  the “One true principles based system” born of the efforts of the many. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Is Guān Yǔ (關羽), the Chinese God of War and of Martial Arts?

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Guan Yu died circa 220. A general serving under a warlord named, “Liu Bei” of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Guan Yu played a significant role in the civil war that ended that dynasty. It lead to the creation of the Shu Han dynasty during the three kingdom period in China. 

It just so happens that his connection to the Chinese God of War was something that came from the Wester world because of his notariety as a military general held in high regard by the Chinese. This is considered by many who study Chinese classics to be a misconception of his role. In general, as to worshipping, he is bette known as the “Emperor Guan,” or “Lord Guan” by some. 

As to his supposed role as a Chinese God of Martial Arts, there does not seem to be any references to attribute such a status to General Guan Yu. 

In general, most of what we know about General Guan Yu is from the book, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” that is more fictionalized rather than true life stories. 

“In the Western world, Guan Yu is sometimes called the Taoist God of War, probably because he is one of the most well-known military generals worshipped by the Chinese people. This is a misconception of his role, as, unlike the Greco-Roman deity Mars or the Norse god Týr, Guan Yu, as a god, does not necessarily bless those who go to battle but rather, people who observe the code of brotherhood and righteousness.”

Understand, most of the references found in my limited and personal research do attribute this status to his life but those sources are all Western in origin with little or no reference from Chinese literature as a source except the mostly fictionalized book mentioned above. Many sources found are also from Gaming Sites, ergo the games created and inspired from the book already mentioned. Many of those same western oriented sources tend to describe him in a fictional way similar to the actual fictionalized stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms book. 

When you research the statues you will find a large variety of poses and renditions of Guan Yu. This also brings to question as to the authenticity of those variations. Although very similar one would not truly know if that is a proper representation even when seen in the most obvious locations, Chinese Restaurants. I have found upon further inquiry at such restaurants the owners, Chinese, tend to put such objects in because of their beauty and rarely know who Guan Yu is, etc. but that theory is very limited and questionable as well. 

In the end there is no real proof from reliable Chinese sources to say that this is true or false. I like the representation and stories around Guan Yu as they symbolize what we all would like to feel is true of martial arts and the origins of those who may have affected the discipline in both a realistic and historical effort but in truth, who the heck knows.

Would I relate Guan Yu to my martial arts practice even if it is a practice toward civil self-defense over others like sports, etc.? Not really and I would not try to assign it any cultural value toward my martial discipline as to its origins on Okinawa other than its possible influences through the trade relations Okinawan’s had with China over its illustrious history. 

Honestly, there is no real definitive proof either way but if you like it, you appreciate the association with a considered great Chinese General of Ancient Chinese times and you want it to symbolize how you approach your training, practice and application of martial discipline - you go for it!

If you are going to express and teach it as a historical fact - NOT! As relevant to martial arts today - NOT! Nice stories all but not reality based as a provable fact, theory or even philosophy. But then again, ?


Bibliography (Click the link)

Is it Guan Yu or is it Memorex?

Does the ken-po goku-i contain 8 trigrams?

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I addressed this belief once before in the following article, i.e., “ http://kenpo-gokui.blogspot.com/2011/03/8-ken-po-goku-i-8-trigrams.html “ but when I read another inference that the gokui actually contained eight trigrams I had to do a bit more research. In the end I found that in truth the gokui DOES NOT have eight trigrams contained therein but most who profess this are actually and loosely trying to relate the eight kenpo gokui to the eight trigrams by the reference of, i.e., “There are Eight Trigrams in the I Ching, Eight directions, Eight Precepts in the Kenpo Gokui, and Eight empty hand kata of Isshin-ryu.”

When I say loosely, I do mean loosely. As can be readily perceived there are a lot of things that number eight as there are a number of things that reference to the number three as well but to say, “all of them contain or are connected to the eight trigrams or any number of hexagrams” is ludicrous to say the least.

I believe and have little doubt that Tatsuo-san, as a known fortune teller and user of such tomes as the I Ching, was influenced by those studies along with some references and connections to other references such as the Bubishi where an original eight laws are provided but as to a direct and solid connection to the trigrams, hexagrams or even the I Ching, loose and arguable. 

I accept the influences that can be loosely perceived since a lot of references and history, also loosely documented, do hint at or refer to the Ancient Chinese Classics and when you relate the close relationship to Chinese and Okinawan trade along with trade to other Asian countries you can see how such things influence how they are perceived and later trained and practiced. 

Literally tho, the eight kenpo gokui DO NOT CONTAIN the 8 trigrams, they do have a loose connections with them such as the references to the earth, the moon, the sun and heaven that can be represented with four trigrams. There are also inferences to man and other uses within the gokui when one studies the eight precepts called the “Gokui.”

When you study the ken-po goku-i as it was meant to be related to a practice of the fist, karate or Te or Ti as referenced toward early Okinawan karate, you can see that holistically speaking the gokui does not contain direct inference or reference or contain actual trigrams and/or hexagrams. Maybe in some translations of the I Ching you can find closer connections but the study and understanding of the I Ching is a huge and daunting task even for the most dedicated student of Ancient Chinese Classics. 

Regardless, if I do desire I can create connections to all of this as it relates to the gokui, practice of martial arts and those same classics including tomes like the Tao Te Ching and so on but that does not make it so, true or correct. It is nice and cool and relevant to each persons interpretation and understanding as to their personal, individual and unique study, training, practice, teaching and application of martial arts but it don’t make it true for others.

This is why I make such studies as the ken-po goku-i a personal one and present my studies in my articles as an inspiration to do the study on each persons own because it is not a group thing but a personal one. 

In closing, the gokui does not CONTAIN trigrams. The first two of the eight do make a tenuous connection the the I Ching if you take them alone but since all eight are meant to be one whole that kind of makes that questionable. There is no way to know for sure since almost all information in this regard is lost because of a total lack of documentation, any significance that could be attributed to it for martial arts died with the creators and finally word of mouth is not an acceptable means of conveying historical facts, etc., simply because human memory is just no reliable over time.

NOTES: Review of the eight trigrams it can be see to represent some inferences in the gokui for soft wood, the sun’s brightness, eyes and heart, the moon but overall only a few connections can be seen to the gokui but I have not looked for interpretations beyond one or two sources that may change dependent on translations and the translators. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. Heck, bet I can relate the ken-po goku-i to the Firefly, Serenity and Whedon-verse fiction too but that don’t make it so. :-)

Click for large view.

Click for large view.

Is it the aim of karate to achieve perfection of character?

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The old saying, source is always questionable but … , goes that traditionalist of Okinawan karate believe that “Kata” is the soul of karate.” Guess what, I am going to question these things in this article - surprise! surprise! :-)

First, what is the aim of karate? From my chair it ain’t the perfection of character although that goal is considered a part of the fourth fundamental principle of martial disciplines, the philosophy. Ultimately, the aim of karate is self-defense. Don’t assume the definition in this article is the one I tend to articulate through these articles as a modern form of self-defense. It is the aim of karate to provide humans a means to defending the self, i.e., the body and the mind since both are affected in violence, without weapons.

Consider this, since time began with human existence we humans have always sought out the use of weapons be it a stick or a modern missile launcher to do our battles with but on rare occasions the use of our bodies are needed. In some cultures they mandate individuals learn and apply such empty handed models as a pre-requisite to learning and using weapons. It may explain why karate, a solely empty handed model if you go by the naming convention, that also includes, at least as far as modern thinking, weapons such as the Bo, the Sai and the Kama, etc. as used on Okinawa.

Now, as to the perfection of character, it is NOT the aim of karate - that has been determined and articulated by the terse written word above - but rather a more philosophical addition brought about through the forced peace of Asia after World War II, etc. when the Japanese needed to find some other means to justify the continuance of Budo, a modern term itself, where the practice of a deadly system of combat could be accepted and still practiced to overcome an effort to force Japanese to discard any and all combative forms as perceived by the conquering Americans and the World at large. 

The essence and aim of karate as with any martial art is defense in a combative scenario with a preference for weapons as extensions of the human body. It is about brutal applications of physical techniques as guided by fundamental combat principles resulting in an adversary suffering grave bodily harm and even death to meet the goals of the practitioner and applicator of karate, etc.

The philosophical principles as appended to karate and other combat systems simply provides two things, first is a means to practice something considered deadly for other purposes more acceptable to a modern society averse to conflict and violence of that level while second, as a means of character development so if and when such expertise is applied in defense of self, family and tribe it remains a socially accepted means and level of force necessary to stop the threat and maintain safety, security and socially driven conditions toward group survival dynamics, etc. 

Finally, “Kata is the Soul of Karate,” is one of those maxims or meme’s that sounds really good and gives undefined reasons readily accepted to most in the study and practice of such a violent and dangerous discipline. It allows one to change the aim of karate toward a more recreationally driven sport oriented study and practice where one does not require exposure to conflict and violence except in the controlled safety oriented competitive model that has become sport karate. 

If kata is the soul of karate then it meets the requirement that its practice makes for the very essence or embodiment of a specified quality that is karate. In that narrow and precise view I would agree that kata along with other distinctive practices such as basics, hojo undo and kumite make a triad of disciplinary practices that do embody the very essence that makes karate, karate, regardless of whether for spiritual growth, physical and mental health and well-being or self-defense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

What is it to “Be A Man?”

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When I started to contemplate this was after reading the article posted or shared on Marc MacYoung’s FBWall, “Our Kids Don’t Need Gun Control Laws, They Need Fathers.” In one of the comments that followed Mark Burns mentioned, “be a man.” This reminds me of the constant discussion and disagreement as to what is considered “Traditional Martial Arts.” Emphasis on the definition of traditional. 

Being a man seems to be a very subjective phrase that results in as many different thoughts than does the discussion of traditional martial arts what ever that really means. I began to contemplate as to what it takes to “be a man.” 

Being a Man: First, do a search on being a man and at the top of the google search I used it gave the stats of about 1,680,000,000 results in only about .65 seconds. Second, amazing time to achieve that many results in so short a time, thanks google search engine. Third, this simply means that defining what it is to be a man is subjective and dependent on each individual, that individuals perceptions and distinctions according to the various influences such as their fathers, their families, the social structure of that family in its local social tribe and so on. Don’t forget that for all of these it does include the cultural belief systems at each and every level. It also comes from the longer line of ancestry involved because ancestry has a lot to do with how that cultural belief system evolved over a long period of time, say at a minimum of three hundred years. 

Every man must become the man that his social community requires as to that groups survival. Think of survival as what each generation teaches the one that follows so that it maximizes that groups chance of survival. If any one generation fails to transmit that social cultural belief system, including what it is to be the man in that group along with other beliefs, then they have allowed a weak link to effect that groups chance of survival. If the group actually has its shit together that weak link will be readily detectable and therefore the group will either correct it or remove it but in modern times this part may not be available now. 

Being a man has a lot more involved than merely acting in a macho manner. There are all kinds of descriptive terms and phrases that would give some modicum of information toward what it is to be a man but to remind you, that changes according to the social construct and the survival instinct of that same social entity. There is a huge amount of diversity in that thought and it also provides me a theory as to why humans should have remained in those ancient groups or tribes. Such descriptive terms as, “Selflessness, consistency, humility, integrity, respect, courage, honor, compassion, honesty and sincerity as well as duty and loyalty.” All of these then therefore depend heavily on how that particular person, family and social community defines them and then that definition is instinctually modeled toward the tribe or groups survival. 

Then there are how such definitions are affected by group dynamics such as where a person, a man in this case, sits within the groups hierarchy, their status at that level within the tribe and finally their duty and responsibility to the tribe or group with emphasis on its survival. 

Now, I would add in how the effects of the society at its current standing effects being a man. Modern society compared to a more simplistic social standing such as Medieval times would create what it is to be a man to self, the group and the social tribes involved. Modern times seems to me to have put a socially conditioned different spin on what it is to be a man.

For instance, being a man to me means having the intestinal fortitude to solve your own issues, problems and obstacles but modern man as of this time seems to be conditioning men to seek others in solving issues, problems and obstacles. Modern society is actually distancing everyone, men especially, from the natural human instincts that provided for survival of the tribe making for men who no longer have the knowledge, understanding or tools to cope and resolve conflicts along with the sometimes resulting violence. We are forgetting our ancestry and roots especially those aspects that have not been removed by nature through evolution. 

A complete lack of knowledge, understanding and the resulting tools to cope with conflict and violence, a very natural state of human existence that is not going anywhere any time soon, means when the natural human conflict arises we either try to force its resolution onto others so we don’t have to deal with its stresses or we try to ignore it until frustrations rise to a level causing anger, escalation and violence, more violence than what we originally wanted to rid ourselves of to begin with by sticking our collective heads in the sands of ignorance. 

In that light lets say that to be a man is to learn and understand what it is to be human, collect adequate tools and knowledge and especially understanding so each man can deal with human conflict and violence, at all levels. A man does rely on others to assist but deflecting the entire situation to others is simply cowardice. A man then through knowledge, understanding and awareness knows how to properly apply the coping skills to avoid, deescalate and resolve said obstacles, issues, problems and obstacles. A man knows when to “hold-em, fold-em and when to walk away” as Kenny Rogers song, The Gambler, would say. 

Being a man is accepting the world for what it is, having the courage to deal with the world and then finding ways to make for a better world using the tools the world has and works under. Hiding and othering and ignoring and forcing others to take on and handle our responsibilities is cowardice, stupidity and just plain wrong. 

Maybe being a man is as simple and as complex as understanding we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and our tribes to do the best we can for our survival. Maybe those are the underlying principles of being a man while all the others such as being “Selfless, consistent, with humility, with integrity, with respect, with courage, with honor, with compassion, with honesty and sincerity as well as with duty and loyalty,” will help each man to understand what it takes to be a “Man.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

How tight should the fist be when punching/striking, i.e., from the hip chamber position to target?

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

Let me begin by addressing the chamber position on the hip, not a good fight or self-defense position. It is great as a novice level teaching tool but it behooves the practitioner and sensei to move away from this chambering as soon as they learn the principles involved in punching and striking. This chambering gives your adversary way to much time and distance to see it, to defect it and to kick your bloody ass. Economy of motion while achieving power and force with the movement of your mass, etc. while allowing that to be achieved by a drop step process exploiting gravity to your favor and so on. 

Chambering is a teaching tool and a process to provide judges something to critique and score for kata competitions. Some will say it provides more power but in realty the extra distance the fist has to travel just takes away some advantage and provides your adversary opportunity to prevent your fist from reaching its target. Chambering, traveling more distance thus requring more time and the inherent energy loss and bleed because of the bleed off points along the line from shoulder girdle, to arm and elbow, to wrist and into fist have to achieve certain principles all at the same exact moment the fist reaches the target. The further the fist has to travel the longer you will need to take to achieve that power and force chain of events that culminate into that one burst of power and force to the target. If you chamber your adding to many variables to the striking process. 

All this explains somewhat why striking and punching are not effective and efficient as striking arts would have you believe. It is geared toward a more social way of violence meant to communicate and not truly injure or kill. There are other and better ways to apply grave harm toward an attacker with appropriate levels of force. 

It is interesting how this concept of tightness of fist, etc., to explain hitting and being hit (yes, a pun on Marc MacYoung’s book on this very subject) is a huge topic with many threads, theories and concepts that are derived not from reality, self-defense fighting or even sport fights (hitting here with the fist is different than hitting in a self-defense situation or street fighting).

Here follows some of the answers provided to the person who asked this question with some comments from me after each.

Some of the answers:

“ … relax as much as possible until impact, focus more on tightening the pinky and ring, and take into account what your specific style requires you to do.”

Comment: The relaxation to flex/tighten needs more to fully understand that concept and should include a full and comprehensive explanation of the “hard-to-soft/soft-to-hard” maxim in hitting and being hit. The place I lose it is at the tightening of the “Pinky and Ring” statement because I cannot even fathom how the pinky finger works in this dynamic tension type thing for a fist and striking let along what the “Ring” has to do with anything unless they are actually referring to the ring-finger then I don’t see the connections. When it comes to taking into account your specific style requirements that also means nothing to my view especially if you train principles over technique because the principles teach this without any connection to any system or style. Principles are universal to all of them.

“If your punch starts at the hip then it really doesn't matter.”

Comment: Ok, what the heck does that mean. Don’t just put that out there and let it hang on the limbs of “Assumptions.” Don’t let students assume and don’t assume that students will automatically understand because then they will just assign something pretty much random to the meaning in the hopes they are right and don’t end up making Sensei angry. In a nutshell, in self-defense or in the fight if you are chambering your losing. 

“This depends on your level of experience. The longer you've trained the more you relax. In chamber: fist should look tight, but actually be relaxed. Fist turns as it is seeking target, last quarter of twist as knuckles strikes point, tightening fist and stance.”

Comment: Text book explanation of a system that utilized the twist punch in karate. Read the comments and article to address this quote or statement. Don’t rely on the length of time in training to arrive at a relaxed state because if you are not actively addressing such things from the novice to the student levels you do disservice to your students. If this is for self-defense and not just to impress or display or demonstrate for trophies and points the twist punch may or may not be good in self-defense but more importantly almost all of this will most likely go in the toilet when the adrenal chemical dump hits when attacked. 

“ … when I was a beginner I was taught to have my fist as tight as possible. … I do not close or tighten my fist until just before it hits the target. Then I only tighten it 30% to maybe 50%. i am told by others I have worked out with that my hands are heavy. They say I hit hard. When you tighten your fist, you tighten your forearm and to a lesser extent your shoulder. It is said that you can move a relaxed muscle faster than a tight one. By being as relaxed as possible until the end of a punch you can punch faster. Even partial tension in any of the muscles involved will result in a punch being slower than the same type of punch being executed with muscles being more relaxed. Also tension held when not necessary will sap your endurance and energy quickly.”

Comment: Remember, when you tighten the fist or the body you are bleeding off energy and slowing your speed down, not good. There is enough bleed off as it is in hitting so don’t promote such tightening. This tightening of 30% to 50% is just one of those things done to give more credence to the concept. When you do that instant of tightening at the target trying to trian to limit it to some arbitrary percentage makes for good conversation between Sensei and Stup, ops Student but doesn’t mean a lot, call it a meme of good but irrelevant information to make things feel and appear legit. Beginning at the comment of “When you tighten your fist, …,” it begins to take on importance and relevancy but there is more so continue on that explanation. 

“On impact...tighten then relax.”

Comment: Yea, ANDDDDDD …. ????

Bibliography (Click the link)

Is Prolonged Dynamic Tension Beneficial?

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Beneficial as to health and/or beneficial as to martial arts and then how is it beneficial regarding both? All of these are hard to answer and, honestly, it depends on a variety of factors.

One such factor is the individual, how will prolonged dynamic tension effect them physically? I don’t mention mentally/psychologically because I truly do not believe that it directly affects our mental state except as it might if certain physical effects are caused through say, “Blood pressures on the brain, etc.”

Caveat time: I am not a medical professional and as far as I know there are not research papers on the effects of dynamic tensions against the body, etc. I make my comments in this article from personal experience and judgments from my experiences in martial arts where I do practice a form of dynamic tensioning. It is more on how I do it and mostly it is not prolonged. 

In the martial arts communities there are those who perform various forms of dynamic tensioning. In general, I find dynamic tension exercise beneficial but where things tend to fall short is on “How one does the dynamic tension exercises.”

Let me get this out now, dynamic tension as to applications or goals of self-defense are not conducive to proper applications of the fundamental principles of martial disciplines toward the application of physical self-defense. It bleeds off our flow of energy and wastes it thus making its practice as to intent important. 

Some might argue that using dynamic tension in the application of techniques is about power but except in cases where other factors actually achieve said power over a direct power generation through such dynamic tensions is present and of great concern. In general for self-defense we NEVER want to rely heavily and solely on such singular applications. 

So when talking about health and fitness we can argue that dynamic tension is of benefit but then the application of prolonged dynamic tension comes into question. I feel that the practice of prolonged dynamic tension is pretty much based on the misconception that if dynamic tension is healthy, creates fitness and works toward power and force generation if we “Do more of it” is a misnomer based on feelings, feeling stronger and powerful. It is proven that such feelings are not actually strength and/or power. 

If we accept that dynamic tension exercise is good for our health and fitness without all the other amendments, feelings and conceptions then it is good to practice it along with other fitness and health related exercises and programs. As I have done and train I left off the, “Prolonged dynamic tension” process and use a more seemingly beneficial practice of yin-yang application, i.e., an equal and rhythmic and cadence driven process of dynamic tension to positive relaxation and so on, i.e., kind of like training the physiokinetic principle of sub-principles of, “Sequential locking/unlocking, breathing, structure and alignments, etc.” 

Others have argued vehemently that their practice of prolonged dynamic tension has resulted in lower blood pressure; healthier life; being fit; and more powerful and so on but cannot, will not or are unable to provide the kind of research toward that one aspect vs. the possibility of genes being the actual source of such health benefits. 

Caveat Two: I also cannot produce any such evidence as to my viewpoint other than what I believe I gain from my use of dynamic tensioning and readily admit and accept that my current physical and mental state of health and fitness may well be due to genetics and my healthier lifestyle that includes exercise benefits of the practice of martial arts. I walk a lot and that may be my actual beneficial exercise while not experiencing any health and fitness degradation from prolonged or not prolonged dynamic tension efforts. 

In closing out this particular discussion and topic I have to say in the end how one practices, trains and applies martial arts is an individual decision and I would just add that when taking up such disciplines it is best to seek out advice from medical authorities as to benefits or detriments to such things like, “Prolonged Dynamic Tension” exercises and practices. 

Oh, as to force and power or other benefits in applying martial arts, prolonged dynamic tensions overall doesn’t really provide all that much benefit in fighting the good fight in reality. The training is just not complete and comprehensive enough one way or another to say it is a benefit. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Why Do Martial Arts Dojo Use Japanese Terms, etc.?

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Well, it makes them feel good, it makes them feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves, and it also makes them feel connected to the mystical, exotic and more interesting culture and life then what they live in already. These and other reasons drive practitioners into the use of Japanese terms, characters and ideograms. 

What those terms actually do for us when properly translated and defined is provides us with a bit more insight as to the what, when, where, how and why of these interesting teachings from their culture and beliefs on martial arts. Granted, most terms are not translated correctly but with the advent of translations sites from the vasti-ness of the Internet Verse or Cortex, for you firefly friends, that ability to correctly translate simple terms increased ten-fold.

Terms are limited in use yet one of the benefits is that when translated we often find, as a direct opposite to English terms and words, the term, character and ideogram have “Several different” translations and meanings. 

Example: Isshin [一心]

The characters/ideograms mean "one mind; wholeheartedness; one's whole heart." The first character means, "one," the second character means, "heart; mind; spirit."

Note: I remember that most never truly understood who, why and how the term, “Wholeheartedly,” became a part of the system practiced until someone pointed out the various definitions from the use of Japanese characters/ideograms, etc.

When you look at the group of defined English translations you will see, and as it is taught in the actual dojo that uses this term, that it deals with “Heart and Mind and Spirit” where further definitions and meanings can and do come from how practitioners interpret, perceive and gain perspective on from the study of the system and the martial discipline. 

Yet, using them in the dojo, verbally, such as counting repetitions, etc. is more an ego self-soothing pride boosting and associative need from survival instinctual meaning not often conscious to the individual type thing. 

I remember once a very prominent Koryu Practitioner said, “When I left Japan my Sensei told me that I should teach in America as I would for Americans, the teachings in Japan are for Japanese (and of course visiting guest students like this practitioner).” Now, I don’t have that quote exact but the meaning in his post/article was that one should use the cultural etiquettes of the Dojo and Sensei and Country/Culture/Beliefs where you train but when you go to another then train, practice and apply your knowledge and experience to that Dojo, Sensei (if not you), Country, Cultural belief system and that means using here English, American style clothing to train in, and so on. 

Be aware that many also pick and choose, cherry-pick, what they want that relates to their needs and perceptions so that they benefit personally and directly rather than actually mimic that cultural belief system complete “Way,” to practice, train and apply said martial disciplines. We non-Asian martial artists don’t seem to be able to let that go, it has become ingrained and encoded as “What martial arts are,” when in fact it is about, “What we WANT martial arts to be!”

Here is the rub, in general, even those who want to totally and completely absorb the martial arts along with its cultural belief system heritages by traveling to the country of origin to train and learn are in for a huge disappointment. Those venues and avenues have succumbed to world commercialism to the nth degree. Almost all of it now caters to what we, the American or Non-Asian customers, want and need at the “Low, low price of …”

Then there is the conception of learning from the proverbial, “First Generation Students” of the masters from which they learned their martial arts but in reality, as to my experiences and research only, they were not exposed to those cultural beliefs as they pertain to marital arts and they were actually exposed to the more watered-down educational sport oriented forms of martial arts. 

Except for the very few who truly were exposed, over long periods of time that span decades “In-country” practicing what we understand as “Koryu,” to traditional martial disciplines practically none of the modern martial artists were ever exposed to and trained in that more traditional martial disciplines.

One solid and positive aspect to all this is there are a few, and growing in numbers, who actually are taking the time and effort to seek out the traditional aspects and incorporate that, at least academically, into thier training and teachings. It is a bit like the martial arts self-defense world that lacks reality there is a concerted effort of the few experienced professionals to teach us “Reality-based adrenal stress conditions training” to get us closer to “Reality,” and the “Reality of Conflict and Violence.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Is Kata Training for Self-Defense?

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A person once stated that Okinawan’s didn’t practice contact practice like kumite because it “Eschewed the concept because their techniques were too potentially lethal.” I get this itchy feeling whenever I hear someone spout the deadly applications of karate. Granted, at one time long, long ago - historically speaking of the early 1600’s - the techniques applied as Ti or Toudi may have been devastating but as to deadly I perceive that as more a result of gravity or weapons over Te (karate as it is called today). 

In the early years as karate was introduced in this country it was almost exclusively about kicking and striking. Seldom was any other, regarding karate in a strict sense, methodology referenced toward self-defense. Mostly, it was about competitive aspects and we all know that competitive aspects has nothing to do with self-defense, fighting or combatives of the empty hand, i.e., hand-to-hand, kind. 

Personally, as I have come to understand, karate as to striking and kicking has its human limits governed by survival of the tribe and the human instinct to communicate through violence, when necessary, in a way that is guaranteed to prevent grave bodily harm or death, i.e., those proverbial potentially lethal applications. 

Striking and kicking are about getting what you want and enforcing rules that often govern human interactions be they in a family environment or a more tribal societal family like environment. It was not meant to be a deadly lethal system. I repeat, karate in its bare educational sport oriented form, was not meant to be a deadly lethal system. 

If you goal is to cause grave bodily harm or death then your best bet is to get a weapon and apply it with a killer mind-set/mind-state because unless you accidentally cause an adversary to fall where gravity kills them karate ain’t going to get the job done. Violence, except in rare cases predation violence, seldom results in grave bodily harm and/or death (here agin is where accidents happen). As one source indicated, it is about communications. 

Bunkai, Henka, Ouyou-bunkai, Omote-Ura and Embusen are being touted as the way of self-defense but in reality those training paths are about learning concepts and principles but fall way short of providing the kind of defensive goals one needs in conflict and violence. They are paths a novice needs to open the conepts up for interpretation and understanding but are NOT about defense against violence of a predatory nature. 

This brings me down to self-defense. SD is about avoidance, avoiding the socially emotionally driven monkey dances almost all humans, especially males, endure from their testerone overloaded youthful interactions that don’t often end in grave bodily harm and/or levels of lethal force that would end in death. This comprises what I would say is about 98% of modern violence. I would also say that 98% of martial arts in modern times is about sport competition rather than self-defense. I would go a bit further to say that the teachings of modern martial arts is about 98% ineffective in real self-defense, i.e., a predatory resource/process situation. I would say that for 98% of martial artists who believe they know self-defense that only about 2% of those will ever deal with a predatory resource/process type assault. I will go even further to say that 98% of martial artists who believe they know self-defense that only about 2% of those actually know and understand the full comprehensive understanding of self-defense. 

I will also say that 98% of all martial artist who believe they know self-defense have no experience nor have they received training from anyone with experience in self-defense, fighting and combatives. Lets add one more, 98% of all bunkai taught as being applicable self-defense, fighting and combatives is not valid, i.e., they won’t or don’t work in self-defense, fighting and/or combative situations. 

Kata is not training self-defense. Kumite is not training in self-defense. Sport competitive participation is not self-defense. Bunkai do not teach self-defense techniques. Martial arts self-defense models do not teach self-defense that works. 

I could go on but I sense that it may be overkill. Karate, all martial arts, have benefits and are beneficial to all who partake of its studies but as to kata or other distinct parts they are not the means to achieve proficient ability in fighting, combatives or self-defense (especially SD).

Note: Such terms used in a teaching model like bunkai, henka, ouyou, omote/ura and embusen are just excuses to tell ourselves we are actually learning a combative fighting defense system. Yes, they have purpose but in the end they are just ways to describe things so the initiate can achieve greater understanding toward actual hands-on ability to fight, defend and apply combatives in a violent way. 

Note II: Being traditional or classic or even modern does not equate to ability in the fight. It may get you started but it won’t take you the entire way. This stuff has been a bane of discussion since the first moment the caveman lifted a piece of tree to club an attacking beast over the head for protection. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

What are the differences between Okinawan karate and Japanese Karate?

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“Okinawan Karate Vs. Japanese Karate. The differences and why … “ is the original question asked by Charles B. Stanley on the Ryukyu MA Research and Discussion Facebook group. It inspired this article.

These are my thoughts and mine alone. If you wish to see the research behind it simply review my bibliography but understand that those contributed to my personal feelings in this article.

First, understand the differences between the cultures because that is the very essence in the differences between Okinawa and Japan. In a nutshell the Okinawan culture is similar to Japanese only in the sense they both sought out and absorbed what they felt was beneficial to them from all the surrounding cultures over their history. You can say that the Chinese influences were one of the greatest for both but more so for Okinawa as can be understood by the study of Okinawan history.

Second, what was absorbed by each differed. In general the Okinawans although part of their culture involved militaristic philosophies and disciplines that took a back seat to other more socially and philosophically and peaceful oriented cultural influences. In general the Japanese focuses heavily on their militaristic oriented (think of bushido and samurai here) influences of which the concept of “Shikata” dominate even today. 

Third, when I look at Japanese culture in martial arts vs. Okinawan culture in martial arts - at least in what was taught late 1950’s and onward - I see differences such as Okinawans using sparring/fighting contests vs. an almost exclusive use of kata, forms that come from the shikata concepts in their society, as a means of learning how to defend, fight and apply combatives. There was also a much higher military like discipline in the practice hall in Japan vs. Okinawa where a very relaxed family like atmosphere existed. This will be hard to prove historically as well as disprove ergo why it is my theory, view and belief.

The differences have become harder to perceive simply because of the concerted effort by Okinawa to have their martial arts accepted and approved by the Japanese budo-like societies/organizations. Remember that the Japanese orgs changed drastically after the war ended simply because of requirements made by American leadership as a requirement/part of the surrender agreements. 

As to teaching a modified version to the Japanese I think that was a result of the Okinawan need and effort to gain acceptance and approval, nothing more and nothing less. It seems less about what was taught then how it was taught. The focus on kata become dominant vs. applying it in a fight contest and so on. As I stated earlier on in this thread the educational version effected both cultures and since it was driven by strong suggestions from the Japanese government both instances, Japan’s schools and Okinawan schools, the end result was pretty much the same except I would expect the Okinawan teachers to have a certain Okinawan flavor of an influence on their own. This also leads to the possibility that no matter what when said and done the end result was a more homogenous version of karate that encompassed the needs, wants and requirements of both societies making its cultural essence a mixture over either one being a dominant influence. Remember, both Japan and Okinawa have a history of absorbing what they wanted and needed into their way and that way differs between Japan and Okinawa only in general ways as far as I can tell.

In the end, it is not actually a matter of Japan vs. Okinawan karate but the study of the actual fundamental principles of those varying disciplines because in truth that is the real connection between them that levels the playing field. Principles actually transcend any societal cultural belief system since they are all the same since all human physiques, etc., are kind of identical, i.e., we all have blood, we all breathe, we all have a skeletal system and we all have muscular systems, etc. that need alignment, structure, etc. in order to work and in karate apply force and power to achieve our goals in self-defense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Innovative Practice, when can it be acceptable vs. detrimental?

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“At what point is innovation (in regard to the practice of karate) acceptable and when does it become detrimental?” asked by Kyle Pjd on Ryukyu Martial Arts research and discussion Facebook group.

First, an excellent question if I do say so myself. The answer I would give is, “It depends.” It does depend on a variety of factors and one critical factor is the practitioner, the individual learning and practicing. I can only say, from my perspective; my perception; my experiences as limited as they are, etc.

Second, a practitioner can only reach that level of practice if they have an excellent mentor in their system of practice. It is this dual symbiotic relationship that leads one to achieve a level of proficiency and expertise that allows such innovational understanding allowing one to stretch, reach and achieve innovative practice of say, “Karate.”

Third, to achieve this level both the deshi and the sensei must understand concepts such as “Shu-ha-ri and Shin-gi-tai.” I don’t need to go into this here because there are others more qualified who have published excellent literature on the subject such as Sensei Michael Clarke of Shinseidokan Dojo of Australia. I will say that most practitioners achieve a solid understanding of the “Shu” levels but rarely go beyond into the “ha-ri” levels. 

Finally, as per my perception and perspective, one does not have the expertise and proficiency to move to the higher levels at the sho-dan or lower yu-dan-sha levels, it is just to early and today’s gratuitous awarding of black belts kind of muddies the waters on this subject. In my limited experience I believe that, all things being perfect, one cannot, does not and will not have that innovative mind-set and mind-state until they reach the following as to levels and criteria:

1. Go-dan levels in a perfect world (it doesn’t exist but it is a good gaol to set).
2. A certain level of maturity that in my opinion cannot be achieved until one reaches the age of fifty years.
3. A level of symbiotic mentoring with others that also relates to age as in mentoring age, i.e., about twenty years as a mentor (not to be compared to the age of the individual as indicated in no. 2.
4. A certain level of knowledge, understanding and most important experience. (Note: the experience level must include a certain level of proficiency through actual hands-on like experience dealing professionally with conflict and violence both social and asocial in nature along with experience through adrenal stress conditions)
5. A complete comprehensive understanding, knowledge and application of the fundamental principles of martial disciplines. (Note: it does not have to be martial art oriented but some form of hand-to-hand defensives systems)

This is the bare minimum and only when one achieves some level of understanding, knowledge and expertise here and through continued studies will they reach a level that allows them to be innovative. It is also important that they reach a level where they can perceive and determine what is innovative and what is simply change for change sake. Too many have simply made cosmetic changes to their practice so they can self-promote and create a “New System” so they can be masters with all that entails from a strictly commercial standpoint.

As can now be seen herein to achieve a level that allows for innovative change is also a very complex model that is often too complex to explain fully and completely in an article or comment but you can at least see through this effort that it is not a simple nor easy answer and to actually achieve it is rare indeed. Asking the question is a good start but only a start for the road is long, treacherous but achievable to at least a few. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

What is Jutsu, Do, SD and the Chemical Cocktail?

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JUTSU: Principles of Physiokinetics and Technique

PRINCIPLE TWO: PHYSIOKINETIC PRINCIPLES (Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, possibly the chemical cocktail???see below)

PRINCIPLE THREE: PRINCIPLES OF TECHNIQUE (techniques vs. technique, equal rights, compliment, economical motion, active movement, positioning, angling, leading control, complex force, indirect pressure, live energy and dead energy, torsion and pinning, speed, timing, rhythm, balance, reactive control, natural and unnatural motion, weak link, non-telegraphing, extension and penetration, Uke.)

The combination of physiokinetics and technique are the physical or YANG aspects of martial arts disciplines. In whole and mostly in part all martial arts tend to teach this aspect of the discipline while few encompass all the principles as a basis of martial discipline instruction. 

DO (Doh): Principles of Theory and Philosophy

PRINCIPLE ONE: PRINCIPLES OF THEORY (Universality, Control, Efficiency, Lengthen Our Line, Percentage Principle, Std of Infinite Measure, Power Paradox, Ratio, Simplicity, Natural Action, Michelangelo Principle, Reciprocity, Opponents as Illusions, Reflexive Action, Training Truth, Imperception and Deception.)

PRINCIPLE FOUR: PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mind [mind-set, mind-state, etc.], mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-yang, oneness, zanshin and being, non-action, character, the empty cup.)

The combination of theory and philosophy are the YIN or psychological aspects of martial arts disciplines. It is sad to write that most martial arts teachings fail to address these principles with any sort of depth and breadth. This YIN aspect is what balances out martial arts training, practice and application. It is what allows us the intestinal fortitude to act morally and justifiably against conflict and violence. 

SDCC: Principles of Self-Defense and Chemical Cocktail

PRINCIPLE FIVE: PRINCIPLES OF SELF-DEFENSE (“Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence (Social and Asocial), Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Predator process and predator resource, Force levels, Repercussions (medical, legal, civil, personal), Go-NoGo, Win-Loss Ratio, etc. (still working on the core sub-principles for this one)”Attitude, Socio-emotional, Diplomacy, Speed [get-er done fast], Redirected aggression, Dual Time Clocks, Awareness, Initiative, Permission, )

PRINCIPLE SIX: CHEMICAL COCKTAIL: (Attacked Mind, Train It, Breath It Away, Visualize It Away, Sparring vs. Fighting, Degradation of Technique/skills, Peripheral Vision Loss, Tunnel Vision, Depth Perception Loss/Altered, Auditory Exclusion, Weakened legs/arms, Loss of Extremity Feeling, Loss of Fine Motor Skills, Distorted Memory/perceptions, Tachypsychia (time slows), Freeze, Perception of Slow Motion, Irrelevant Thought Intrusion, Behavioral Looping, Pain Blocked, Male vs. Female Adrenaline Curve, Victim vs. Predator, The Professional, Levels of Hormonal Stimulation, ???)

Although martial disciplines only have need for theory, physiokinetics, technique and philosophy to achieve their goal of Yang-Yin or Jutsu and Do it is these last two that drive home the modern need to balance out applications toward conflict and violence with broad spanning of all those things before, during and after violence that are required to prevent practitioners from suffering often unknown obstacles and dangers throughout the self-defense, defense. If not for these two modern jutsu would not be available for self-defense, combatives or fighting dependent on their individual distinctions, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

“Which is more important, the jutsu or the do?”

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A great question that came up on the Ryukyu Martial Arts (Research and General Discussion) Facebook wall by Brian Veach on July 18th, 2015 at about 6:26am. Here is my comment/answer to his question: 

Actually, BOTH. Using the tai chi model of yin-yang where everything in the Universe is made up of a yin side and an yang side martial arts also must have both to remain in balance. Especially balance because of the potential of its violent side being used for more nefarious things. Think of this like the recent post here of “The Pen and the Sword” by Patrick McCarthy. 

My perception of the pen and sword it the need to balance out the physical potential of martial arts regarding violence with a more academic but a lot of philosophical learning to keep our moral compass pointing in the right direction. 

The fundamental principles are laid out in this yin-yang balance format, i.e., you have theory: the theory of the discipline as to history, culture, the way and the applications; physiokinetics: as in the body mind mechanics that make all martial disciplines work especially in applications of force and power to stop a threat; the techniques: the various principles used in conjunction with physiokinetics that allow us to combine them wholeheartedly in applying in violent situations; and finally philosophy: where things like mind-set, mushin, yin-yang, character and others rounds off our selves and our practice, training and application of the martial disciplines.

When we focus on such principles over other more easily taught and tested models we can begin to see how both the Way or Do along with the Jutsu can achieve our goals. A good example is modern self-defense where our well-balanced study of martial arts gives us the tools and philosophies along with the complete and comprehensive knowledge so when in the actual violence we can make the decisions on how to handle the conflict along with what decisions are necessary to stay within the laws governing self-defense, i.e., having the appropriate emotional intelligence. understanding our three brains, JAM and AOJ along with the five stages, adrenal stress conditions and conditioning as well as other to include force decisions. This is what keeps us within the square and out of jail along with other repercussions.

If you are in the sport oriented martial arts this also applies under heading such as sportsmanship, fairness, and other aspects that make for a great athlete, competitor and social model to others. Think about that!

Bibliography (Click the link)


PRINCIPLE ONE: PRINCIPLES OF THEORY (Universality, Control, Efficiency, Lengthen Our Line, Percentage Principle, Std of Infinite Measure, Power Paradox, Ratio, Simplicity, Natural Action, Michelangelo Principle, Reciprocity, Opponents as Illusions, Reflexive Action, Training Truth, Imperception and Deception.)

PRINCIPLE TWO: PHYSIOKINETIC PRINCIPLES (Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, possibly the chemical cocktail???see below)

PRINCIPLE THREE: PRINCIPLES OF TECHNIQUE (techniques vs. technique, equal rights, compliment, economical motion, active movement, positioning, angling, leading control, complex force, indirect pressure, live energy and dead energy, torsion and pinning, speed, timing, rhythm, balance, reactive control, natural and unnatural motion, weak link, non-telegraphing, extension and penetration, Uke.)

PRINCIPLE FOUR: PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mind [mind-set, mind-state, etc.], mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-yang, oneness, zanshin and being, non-action, character, the empty cup.)

Principle’s One through Four: 
Pearlman, Steven J. "The Book of Martial Power." Overlook Press. N.Y. 2006.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: PRINCIPLES OF SELF-DEFENSE (“Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence (Social and Asocial), Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Predator process and predator resource, Force levels, Repercussions (medical, legal, civil, personal), Go-NoGo, Win-Loss Ratio, etc. (still working on the core sub-principles for this one)”Attitude, Socio-emotional, Diplomacy, Speed [get-er done fast], Redirected aggression, Dual Time Clocks, Awareness, Initiative, Permission, )

Principle Five: 
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979. 

PRINCIPLE SIX: CHEMICAL COCKTAIL: (Attacked Mind, Train It, Breath It Away, Visualize It Away, Sparring vs. Fighting, Degradation of Technique/skills, Peripheral Vision Loss, Tunnel Vision, Depth Perception Loss/Altered, Auditory Exclusion, Weakened legs/arms, Loss of Extremity Feeling, Loss of Fine Motor Skills, Distorted Memory/perceptions, Tachypsychia (time slows), Freeze, Perception of Slow Motion, Irrelevant Thought Intrusion, Behavioral Looping, Pain Blocked, Male vs. Female Adrenaline Curve, Victim vs. Predator, The Professional, Levels of Hormonal Stimulation, ???)