"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.

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What is Authentic Karate?

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Authentic, something of undisputed origin; genuine. Not false or copied but real. Its origin is of unquestionable authenticated and verified origin. It is believed to be authenticate from the acceptance or belief from known facts, experience and trustworthy sources. Its very practice is considered authoritative. 

It is easy then to define authentic karate, a term I first read and coined by the Shinseidokan Dojo author, Michael Clarke Sensei of an authentic country found down under :-) . I find using authentic easier then classic or traditional but as with those two the definition is still open to interpretation and perception of the individual. This means that even the commercialized sport oriented club like practice of the physical can also be thought of, by those who practice and believe that model, as authenticate karate and/or martial arts. 

Life and its concepts are never easy to define exactly, exactly enough to satisfy the many vs. the few. It comes down to what matters to each group. Each group may end up with a different perspective and distinction as to authenticate, classical or traditional karate but in the end it only matters to that individual and his or her group. 

I too, have a unique way of looking at my karate and I do see it in all three lights, i.e., authenticate, classical and traditional, but in truth I see it beyond what is seen and practiced in most dojo around the world, including the new Okinawan Karate Systems. I see it as a matter of yin-yang where the old traditional, classical and authenticate way of karate is the yang while the more philosophical modern view, not so modern just rediscovered old ways, of karate and martial arts. What I rediscovered is what I consider the authenticate karate, a more comprehensive and complete form of the discipline. Then again, others feel and see and understand it in other authenticate ways.

To use the terms with a limited belief and understanding does no one justice and inhibits the expanse one can achieve in karate so to my mind authenticate karate is a practice that should take us beyond the basics and way into the expanse of the karate Universe with all its matter, anti-matter and void or space. Its vastness is daunting but its pursuit will be a wonderful life long endeavor one who faces the challenge will never regret. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Editorial - Opinionated Opinions - Lecturing - Teaching - Mentoring

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There will be days like this and there will always be days like this but truthfully that means there will always be days like this that teach and where I learn. When I editorialize, where I provide opinionated opinions, theories, ideas, etc., where I lecture as a teacher, instructor and mentor, when I lean toward a teaching form my editorialization, opinions, lectures and lessons I am mentoring but with one caveat, a need to learn, a need to understand and a need to find out more so I can editorialize, express opinionated opinions, lecture, teach and mentor. Does that make even a bit of sense?

Editorials: an article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue. A part of a newspaper or magazine that are not advertising. The question is in our modern tech world, are blogs and other venues of electronic publication qualified to present editorials on issues, topics or in my case disciplines such as karate, martial systems and self-defense? Or are editorials a purview of only newspapers, news television, or magazine publications? There are political editorials, there are business editorials and there are debate type editorials but what are they really? Are editorials actually just opinions form authors/writers who have some expertise on the subject of editorials because I do have some expertise on the subjects I write about in my blogs? An editorial, in general, is an opinion piece written by that often expresses an opinion of a publisher and yet it can be any other written document that reflects an opinion of a periodical but can it also reflect the opinion of an author who writes on a subject they have extensive knowledge of? My blogs are of a single topic and theme with text expressed as my opinion and is often in a lecture format, is that an editorial piece?

Opinionated Opinions: first, an opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, like karate and martial arts and self-defense and philosophies of the three, etc., not necessarily based on fact or knowledge (my opinions and editorial articles tend to come from facts researched and knowledge gained from studies, practices and experiences). As to opinionated, that is a view of a person or material presented perceived as conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in one’s opinions. My question is who gets to decide what is opinionated and what is not for an opinion may be perceived as derived from that persons perception of their inner world and beliefs and may not actually be a correct perception of that opinions. There can be and seems to be a very fine line between an opinion presented in an editorial article, article or blog entry  based on an individual perception of conceited assertive dogmatic opinion. Can it be a misinterpretation of an confident presentation vs. an actually opinionated piece and how do you tell the difference? Opinion to opinionated seems to be defined by terms such as dogmatic, fixed views, dictatorial, pompous, self-important and arrogance but how can that be detected in a written piece without knowledge of the author/writer, a perception through sensory data input like body language, voice inflection or attitude? The written word is only a very small part of that communications leading a belief that when one feels a persons written word without a knowledge and understanding of the authors personality, etc., is a judgement as to the persons own personality in expressing and receiving opinions. If the author of an opinion piece, an editorial or lecture type written article, how do you determine if it is truly opinionated as to conceit and dogmatic especially if that person is presented with refuted information and/or opinions that stimulate change in the authors view, opinion and understanding and does one determine opinionated views of the author before or after making such determinations, I wonder? 

Lecturing: is a delivery of an educational lecture to a class or other audience that would include readers of a blog, of a Facebook entry, of a twitter submission or a forum site, etc. It is often used to present materials in a educational arena such as an institution of higher learning, a University lecture. Lecturing, dependent on the perceptions of an internal nature of the recipient, might be also a view of a serious talk or of reprovingly nature to someone but that too is about the recipient rather than sender although one would hope the sender or lecturer would do so after a connection is made such as an empathy connection, etc. It is a difference of a scolding, chiding, admonish like deliver that in all honestly cannot be conveyed or determined by just the written word especially understanding just how difficult it is to convey such views without first knowing the person more intimately and being in physical presence while lecturing to perceive their body language, etc., as the necessary additional sensory data output needed to make such a determination. 

Teaching: is an informal method of lecturing and discussing or a series of lecture on a subject of public interest or of personal interest to say, students in a lecture hall or participants of a tech social connection forum like a blog, a wiki or a FaceBook social site. Sensei teach and to teach such a complex and difficult subject of a skill based knowledge of karate, martial disciplines and especially self-defense you have to participate in prolonged periods of “Lectures,” speeches, and editorialized written materials, etc. conducted often without interruption by members of an organization like school faculty or invited guest speakers at other education institutions or when used as a technique in  a social protest, etc.

Mentoring: is about one who comes before or one who has a knowledge of a subject and/or skill who advises or trains someone in that subject, skill and/or discipline. A mentor promotes, advocates and is a resource for mentoring but is not all knowing of the subject or skill but rather a knowledgable person who has a good understanding of the discipline, skill and knowledge, etc.

In my blogs, in my writings and in my books I am a person lecturing and teaching on a subject and skill that is about karate, martial disciplines, self-defense and a philosophy on all of that so I mentor and I teach and I lecture and I am of a certain opinion but I am open to change when properly presented and later validated by my own efforts in research, etc.

Isn’t that they way it is? Does it mean that it is opinionated and does it mean that the lecturing is negative or is it just the excuse some give to justify remaining steadfast, dogmatic, in their status quo belief system? 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Why do they take of the uwagi when doing Sanchin Shime?

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A newbie question but a really good one. The idea is to have the ability to see the upper body to ensure certain sanchin principles are being utilized and applied in the kata. The particulars are not important as those tend to differ dependent on who and what system is explaining the shime of sanchin. I have some thoughts on the subject.

First, on Okinawa before the adaptation of the karate uniform, the geiko-gi, most practiced karate in shorts, what some would call underwear, with no shirt, etc. and the reasons were often about the heat of Okinawa rather than sanchin or sanchin-shime tests. 

Second, in those very early days women didn’t partake in training for karate, at least not so as one could see it openly. Today, we tend to overlook any need to view the upper body bare in shime testing when it comes to women. Hmmmm, if that is true then I asked myself is there truly a need to bare our upper bodies in sanchin and if so then why not remove the zuban or pants and allow underwear enough so we can view the entire leg along with the upper body, hmmm?

In reality, and after my study of Sanchin and Shime I have come to the conclusion that baring one’s body to test in sanchin shime is not necessary or even needed. I see sanchin twofold, i.e., one is the training and learning of physiokinetic principles and two is to use a dynamic tension form to create strength in our bodies that is also done by other means such as weights, etc. 

To detect principles applied in sanchin does NOT necessitate slapping, pounding or hitting the body, You cannot actually see all that much as to principles applied except in a broad sense. You do have to feel but that is a tactile touch sense way, i.e., you feel the shoulder position, you feel and look at the structure of say the arms and hands or the legs to hips to waist, etc. Some times you push, pull or twist to see if their dynamic tension is adequate and that the movement resulting from that effort shows the structure and alignments are good and solid when tension are applied in the kata.

So, back to the question, why take of the top and bare our chests. Other than the old pre-uniform hot as heck way of practice usually outdoors I consider it more about ego and a way to show off your physique when in tension. We humans think that when tensed up like body builders to display our musculature we are demonstrating both strength and power. In a small way that is true but overall - not-so-much. Strength as to force and power can be a bit off in relation to one another. 

Take strength and our structure and alignment as well as say, punching or striking. The strength is about stability of that structure and alignment where force and power tend to come from things like body mass movement and a bunch of other principled based actions and moves, etc. It ain’t all that much about how strong you are and yes I admit that strength and size matter but I have witnessed and experienced much bigger and stronger guys hit me with not all that much damage or even pain. Go figure. 

So, even women can still be tested in sanchin shime and it does not require removing any of the uniform because honestly, if a sensei cannot determine principled tension effects through the uniform, they shouldn’t be testing shime anyway. 

Bibliography (Click the link)
Click for larger view and readability :-)

Is Karate a Civil Self-Defense?

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A most excellent question brought up in an article written by Andreas Quast at the Ryukyu Bugei blog. The article was about the Itosu Ten Maxims of karate but the last line asked the question, When exactly did karate become a ‘civilian self-defence system?’

My studies, not exactly scientific or historical or translative in nature, indicate that karate was never considered as a civil self-defense system. In one aspect it was a prerequisite to training in weapons. In another aspect it was simply a fighting system. I feel strongly that the times in which karate was present was a time where conflict and violence were prominent and dominant in social connections. Most of the security people for the more upper classes and those who ruled used karate as a foundation for the use of arms to enforce security and protect the ruling classes including the King and the court members of government. 

Self-defense, as a term, seems to me a more modern use toward the social conditioning and the laws and legal systems that govern today or even in those early years when Americans were exposed to karate and martial arts, i.e., after WWII during the American occupation. 

As our modern society supposedly evolved and moved further away from the very nature of humans it created a social condition that looked badly upon types of conflict and violence whereby the resulting laws and perceptions of society and the legal systems created a need for self-defense, defense. 

It comes down to most of what is believed of karate and martial arts today, i.e., legends, ideas, and beliefs created by the ignorant American practitioners and teachers to fill in gaps they failed to assimilate or even be exposed to in order to create a commercialized sport oriented unique sellable product that exists today. It is a matter of our acculturation of karate and martial arts, i.e., in other words, we modified it and filled in the voids to fit a cultural need of individuals followed by groups whereby we borrowed those cultural traits that titilated us and attracted others merging in a process that created a newly viewed cultural belief befitting the commercial needs of most modern dojo. 

One such need that created the karate is a civil self-defense system was the victimization of others in our society causing a need to find a way toward feeling safe and secure, the self-defense industry driven by the mystique of Asian karate and martial arts. The use of civil in the self-defense grew out of the need to differentiate and sell what started as a military combative oriented sales pitch when the first dojo’s opened by those military returning home from duty in the East. As it prospered and spread then the next generation due to the loss of the draft never experienced military life and could not relate so a more civil attitude took root and today we have, “Karate is a civil self-defense.” 

Historically as I have mentioned already, there is no real evidence to show that karate at any time from the 1600’s on to present time came about for a purpose of self-defense be it civil or otherwise. In addition, there is an outstanding article by Andreas Sensei mentioned at the beginning that goes into decent historical information about translations that speak to this subject. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

What does karate and martial arts means to me?

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My Response: Yeah, it is going to be a long one because this particular question tends to change from moment to moment or in the case of a karate and martial art lifestyle it means from month-to-month/year-to-year. 

In the beginning, mid sixties, I needed to learn how to defend myself from bullies. Literally, although this type of story seems to abound in the karate and martial art communities, I was a 125 pound skinny target for bullies. I remember the one time a group of football players in junior high school saw me, ran over, picked me up and literally flung me up on top of the overhang of a walkway at school - I need to do something. A friend, at the time, was a buffed up strong ex-con who said, “If you want to hang with me you need to toughen up.” That was how I came across karate and martial arts, via my first exposure through the “B” Kung Fu chop suey movies with titles like, “Fists of Fury,” etc. 

I also boxed a bit but later as a Marine I wanted to not only kick ass but have the skills to survive combat. I joined toward the last segment of U.S. involvement in Viet Nam thinking I would need something and I started in karate, martial arts and a bit of Judo. 

Now, here is where things begin to change for me and my practices. I had a temper, still do but a bit more controlled, and being a Marine meant I had a lot of testerone filled tough guy Sergeant Rock mentality that needed more - control. I was tough and it showed during my tenure as an active duty Marine, at least in the first seven or so years. 

I found that the discipline of karate and martial arts had value more than an ability to fight. I started to inquire and many of my contemporaries told me of things like, “Bushido and Tao Te Ching and I Ching, etc.,” and as I got into that study along with others who practiced and trained with me I began to see things a bit different. I got philosophy in my training and practice.

Now, here is another change that occurred. I began to see and learn about things like the, “Ken-po Goku-i,” and other stuff like principles that also changed the way I looked at K&MA, like the fact after I went to inactive Marine status I had to deal with civilians and self-defense. It took me a while to discover a fuller and comprehensive aspect to those two and it told me that if I had not changed and created a philosophical oriented way of training and practice that the old way of tough Marine combative both physical and psychological, etc. would have led me down a different path toward a more convict style of living. I found the more traditional way I had learned, practiced and applied my K&MA would have been seen in a civilian side as aggressive dangerous violent and now, just stupid, way of self-defense. 

In other words, fundamentally and overall, karate and martial arts meant to me a way to “Change,” and change is a corner stone to such endeavors because without that willingness to change you don’t grow, you don’t become humble and with serenity and you don’t become a mentor, teacher, Sensei, etc. therefore you don’t apply your skills in a manner best suited to a more socially acceptable belief and cultural system that we live in today. 

Karate means to me something like a tool, a means of discover of my self before others. A way to look within using a physical meditative study and practice that allowed me to change and implement those things necessary to become something more useful. Granted, any other mental, physical and spiritual (not religious in nature) type of endevor and discipline has the same ability to influence a life but karate and martial arts just fit my personality. I  know of folks who get the same things from disciplines like football in High School and Collage like my nephew who found Rugby and now plays semi-professional in Washington State. The best part of karate and martial arts is that particular discipline is one that does not need a youthful fit body but tends to change with you as you age as long as you have that ability to see within yourself, change accordingly (a hallmark of self-defense) and continue all the way through the winter years (where I am at now). 

Karate and martial arts tends to open the mind to all the possibilities, not because it is karate and martial arts for those are merely the tools I chose but how well we allow our minds and spirits to see beyond the comfortable, the patterns and the obstacles our minds can put up in the name of safety, security and comfort. 

Anyway, the question although simple does not allow me to provide a simple answer, it is complex yet simple because it is that tool I use to be myself, to become a self that is more amicable to life and a whole lot less damaging. 

In short, “It depends on the moment, the day, the week, the month and the age in which I now, stress now and moment, live and breathe and love.

Bibliography (Click the link)

In a word or two, what does Dojo mean to me?

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Dojo is not a place to socialize although the social connections dojo brings about is at the very core of karate practice, training and application be it for self-defense or simply as a means to achieve mastery of oneself. Dojo are not places where you come for entertainment, it is a place where one finds the path toward greater strength of spirit as well as intestinal fortitude. 

Dojo, the creation, development and use of such places is a very personal journey not to be influenced by others or other organizations or even others within the same system or style. 

Dojo simply are a personally created environment where one looks deep within themselves and teaches themselves about themselves especially when such disciplinary training and practices involve the use of karate for self-defense as that requires such a huge responsibility. 

Dojo is a place in our hearts where we strive to establish a dojo; where we can feel the importance of our lives as it relates to the self-imposed importance of our karate to seek out and provide space for nothing else but practice and training, and to immerse ourselves in the pursuit of goals significant to karate and martial arts. 

Dojo is not about commercialism, customers or teaching syllabus oriented concrete concepts toward egoistic accoutrements, accolades and ego gratifications. Dojo are those places that each individual uses to find the truth of each persons mind, heart and spirit. 

Dojo are about perseverance, integrity and guts. Dojo is the place where maturity and enlightenment are possible. Dojo are doors to which we find keys and make the step into other places of possibility. 

Dojo are special and unique to the individual therefore finding what it means to any one individual is about that personal journey we all have to make especially when we connect with others but still makes us adhere to our own personal philosophy toward the journey. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Is there such a thing as, “Bubishi Master Rank?”

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Every once in a while ranking comes up or rather “Titles” tend to float out there that just amaze me, i.e., in that we come up with this really weird, stupid, stuff. I can only guess that it comes from a low self-esteem driven egoistic mind of those who just have to have some unique way to label themselves in order to build up said esteem. You know, come up with something that separates them from “Others” so they become the defacto best of this or that. Ain’t it crazy as hell. 

So, since I advocate checking stuff out at least to see it maybe it has value and can be validated I did a search (love the internet data-mining with a smidgeon of salt) to see what comes up about so-called bubishi master rank.

The first site I found actually had the following, the rare Bubishi Grand Master rank and associated honorific certifications directly from the late <name here removed> Sensei in Japan in 2007.” It also stated, “Received the rare Bubishi Master rank and Shidoin teaching license directly from <name here removed> Sensei in Japan. He holds official registration as a senior instructor with the Japan <style name here> Federation.”

Second, my search only provided the one site that actually referred to this bubishi master ranking as the above quotes indicate above. I suspect that this particular group came up with it. I didn’t even get a hit from the search on either the sensei involved or the Federation indicated. Interestingly enough only one site appears with that name associated with the bubishi master rank title. 

So far, there is nothing associated with the federation in Japan and this bubishi master ranking. When I found the federations site I wrote them an email in the hopes they would address this seemingly new teaching certification, etc. but to date I have not received any responses to my query.

In closing, I have provided my feelings on this ranking or teaching certifications and believe it is simply something the style site I found created to connect their practice of that style of karate to their studies of the bubishi. As to their group that may be a valid certification but the effort to give it some sort of validation from Japan, especially since it involves a sensei who is deceased now, seems kind of iffy to say the least but if that group, style and local federation feels it is valid and all of its members do as well then it is a “Valid certification” for that group with one caveat, it ain’t really valid to say it came from some dead guy to a federation or association that cannot, will not or just doesn’t care does not mean it is validated from Japan. 

Just another attempt at making something into more than what it actually is, kinda pitiful from my perspective and actually takes the practitioners further away from what I see as some of the principles that make karate, “Karate.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)
The One Site to Reference this certification: http://yonshinkai.com/instructors.html

Don’t you have to fight dirty to win one?

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Someone, somewhere out there is karate-land quoted the following, “The dirtier the kata, the more realistic it’ll become.” It made me think of several questions because I see this as some agenda driven sales gimmick.

Q1: When stating that, “dirtier the kata” what exactly does dirtier mean? 
Q2: When you promote karate as something that should be ugly, what does that mean?
Q3: When you say and promote karate as having to be dirty to be reality, what does that really mean? Whose reality and dirty means what?

We are left to make a lot of assumptions and we all know that in the sales game those assumptions, if tickled just right, along with the customers perceptions and beliefs will self-lead them to open up the wallet and chuck out the bucks to get the, “Authenticate reality based dirtier karate kata for fighting, defense and combat,” sales pitch from what is not said nor explained. Ain’t life just grand?

First, generally speaking, you do NOT have to fight dirty to survive. Fighting dirty could mean using methods that would be viewed and considered too aggressive and to high of force levels for the situation. Fighting dirty tends to be seen as such and do you want the first responders to view you as a dirty fighter, an aggressive view as well often assumed when fighting dirty, who then will be influencing the local prosecutor toward criminal charges vs. just releasing you? 

Second, what is dirty kata or dirtier kata, is it also about training someone to a mind-set that makes them feel and beleive they are justified in what they do to get the win or is it merely making a sale to a product that is actually unnecessary and inappropriate. 

Third, what is needed here is a mind-set to train for defense using those principles and methodologies along with appropriate force levels, etc., to apply legal self-defense rather than fighting dirtier. 

How things are presented and how they are received along with how they are perceived does make a difference and as often as not a HUGE difference. 

I want those who train, practice, learn and teach self-defense whether karate or martial arts or boxing or Jujitsu, etc. to do so correctly, adequately and in accordance with societies laws and requirements and toward avoiding stepping out of the SD Square. 

Fighting dirty is a child’s fantasy, fighting “SMART” by defending rather than fighting using principled-based multiple-methodologies of defense seems more appropriate, beneficial and with the least chance of other not so nice ramifications. What you put in your mind matters as to how you implement your actions especially in a situation involving grave bodily harm and even death. 

Grow up!

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. of course, if necessary you may actually fight what some think is “Dirty” but in reality the only way to survive. Nothing is dirty when life is on the line. 

Are Weapons Extensions of Karate (the body)?

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Directly, I would say yes, weapons are an extension of the body. Directly speaking, I would say no, weapons are not the extensions of karate. Weapons are preferred over empty hand combat, fighting and self-defense but as to why they are or not is … complex. 

First, karate itself as I have come to understand it is about, first a means of social communications even in the beginning of its history in the older, starting in the 1600’s or so, Okinawan culture where it was born. Second, it comes to light from some historical sources that empty handed practices were a requirement and a prerequisite to training and learning about weapons. This is not necessarily applicable to modern times especially as to the military.

Granted, forms of what is called martial arts have been implemented into military training. What is great about it is the training now extends beyond the eight hours of hand-to-hand often taught in boot camp. The Marines created their MCMAP or Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Yes, to the observer it is more about a more sport oriented methodology but since the goals of the program are not necessarily their use in combat it still holds high regard and purpose and benefit to our Marines. 

Someone actually provided a quote, can’t find it but when I do I will add it, from a Marine D.I. concerning MCMAP and hand-to-hand where in essence he stated his goal was not to teach them to use it but rather teach them the discipline and confidence to simply fight. 

As to civil defense of weapons as extensions of karate or the body or both, not so much. I see it more as a meme to pass on some agenda that is not about self-defense or fighting successfully or even in combatives. Weapons are and should be preferable over empty handed strategies and tactics. As to kobudo, they really don’t serve any purpose for defense except in a academic historical sense. Kobudo weapons don’t really provide you much extension as to using your empty hands in self-defense. This comes from a technique based training and teaching model. 

Kobudo, weapons, of the karate origins are old and not very useful in defense civilly speaking especially toward levels of force, force disparities and legally acceptable self-defense use. Weapons must depend heavily on force levels and decisions. Exceeding those levels with inappropriate force decisions leads to legal ramifications that can be worse than just getting the crap beat out of you (this also depends on social vs. asocial conflict and violence as well - it ain’t all that simple).

Kobudo, weapons, are fun. They are interesting and challenging to say the least. As to following the way through study of things like theories and philosophies they are great. The benefits are great and worth the effort to study,. but as to self-defense or as extensions of the body and/or karate - not so much. 

Yet, if certain distinctions as to weapons, kobudo, to self-defense applications being made do provide practitioners with many ways to analyze and theorize weapons work for defense. Not that you will carry such things around in the event you are attacked but making certain distinctions allows you to learn how to recognize environmentally available things to be used as “Enhancers” in an attack then you benefit and they are good, i.e., like Bo training allowing you to pick up almost any object of like construction be it a broom handle or a large tree branch, etc. as long as the force levels and disparities allow, the use would be justifiable. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

What is the Karateka lifestyle?

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The answer to this question is, “It depends.” You have to establish the reasons and goals involved in your decision to learn, practice and apply your karate. This question could be narrowed down by adding more information toward the distinction in the mind of the person asking, i.e., adding in their reasons for taking up karate such as for sport, for self-defense, for the camaraderie and social connections it can bring, etc., and is their practice and training about a philosophical aspect, one of the six fundamental principles address this aspect in a basic way, or are they looking for self-improvement, self-confidence and self-analysis toward betterment, etc. All of these would lean heavily toward an understanding of a karate-ka lifestyle. 

To me, living a karate-ka lifestyle is about that philosophical aspect toward a deeper understanding of myself where the lessons found through practice in the dojo associated by my studies outside the dojo then used to change the way I live and the egoistic-self toward becoming a better all-round person that is lived, breathed and displayed through actions and deeds over lip-service, etc., so that I become a better person in every waking moment of living seems to be a lifestyle. 

Lifestyle is about how one lives in the daily living as a way of living. It permeates every part of who we are and can be perceived through the interests one has, the opinions and behaviors one displays in every facet of their daily doings, and how they behave when alone; with others; in our culture and toward a belief system of a personal nature. It reflects a person’s attitudes and values not just when in the dojo but when the wake in the morning all through the day until they fall asleep at night. It is the forging of self creating a personal identity of moral right symbolized and projected to others and to the self.

Karate-ka lifestyle includes health, fitness, well-being, etc., toward a role in shaping one’s lifestyle. It builds on personality and creates character. It is those guiding values and principles that define their judgement which informs their actions throughout their lives. This is what I value as a karate-ka’s lifestyle. 

How you go about creating such a lifestyle matters and can be achieve in many ways where the practice of karate is but one. Karate can only become a lifestyle if you choose to reach beyond the mere physical regardless of how that is manifested in reality through a holistic wholehearted embracing of fundamental principles of, “Theory, Physiokinetics, Technique, most importantly Philosophy, Self-Defense and finally the Chemical Cocktail.” 

An important point and a cornerstone to both karate as a way and karate as a means to a philosophy to live by is the concept of yin-yang where yin is about that lifestyle while yang is that part the reaches toward its actual essence toward fighting, combatives and self-defense - its very core reason for existing. The rest is the frosting on the cake that makes it a lifestyle worth living for a lifetime. 

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What are Predators?

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One source hypothesizes:

Well, in a recent Facebook Wall entry Marc MacYoung asked anyone if they remembered or could provide a quote from a fictional book written by Jim Butcher that described predators. He said that it was the closest description he had ever read, to date, that described what it is to be a predator. Since Mr. MacYoung’s current professional endeavors are about self-defense, etc., I can surmise that this description will provide a bit more insight as to what you would need to deal with if attacked by a predator.

“By nature predators generally go after the weak, the sick, the aged, and the isolated. Solitary predators almost exclusively hunt by attacking from surprise, where they have every advantage in their favor. Hell, even great white sharks do that, and they’re just about the biggest, oldest predators on the planet. I’ve seen a lot of things that hunted people in my time, and I regard them as a professional hazard, part of the job. I know how they operate. Predators don’t like to pick fair fights. It runs counter to their nature and robs them of many of their advantages.” - Jim Butcher, Cold Days (Dresden Files)

I set in bold some significant traits that I, personally, feel are relevant to teaching self-defense. Remember, this is about a generalization of predatory attacks and there are way more types of social and asocial things you need to understand, i.e., read his book “In the Name of Self-Defense” for a whole lot more.

When you are teaching about predators it can be said that if you are not weak and don’t convey body language, etc., as you are weak; you don’t project the type of weakness that comes from sickness; you carry yourself even in the winter years of aging as a competent persons capable physically, etc.; and as long as you are aware of your environment by not letting yourself become isolated from a safe and secure state you are beginning to project a state of being that will “Fail the interview.” If you don’t provide the predator the means to ensure his success by removing all his perceptions that would fail the interview through the advantages he looks for to make you his victim, you have a good start. Training to competence also projects the ability to ensure that the fight would cost him plenty, a good start in your training. 

Add in that, “Predators will try to limit what you can do in order to bring together any advantage they can, as predators do,” and you are starting off with a bang. Now all you need to do is bring together the fundamental principles that include both the principles of self-defense and the principles of the chemical cocktail and you will have a well-rounded training program to combat predators. This can actually achieve avoidance because encompassing all of this can create and project a state that says, “Find another victim, this one is going to cost way more than you can afford” to that predator. 

This is critical, this is only a quote or meme meant to inspire you to seek out more if you train for self-defense in karate and/or martial arts. Don’t assume this short meme tells you everything. Don’t assume that the references provided such as Mr. MacYoung’s book are the end all of self-defense. There is so much more to learn ….

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Isshinryu: An Old Way of Karate or A New Educational Standardized Way of Karate?

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I have been running through some great articles that concern a topic I have written about for a while now, the view and theory on the old way of karate or the traditional practice of Okinawan karate vs. the new educational standard way of karate for a more modern times. In this article I wanted to discuss the practice of Isshinryu.

Isshinryu may, I stress may, be about both a new way and the old way of karate. If you can believe, and I have no reason not to believe, the stories of Isshinryu’s founder Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei as to his learning karate from some of the old historically understood old karate masters then you might feel that Isshinryu is both of the old way karate and the new standardized educational version of karate. It may be a model of karate that actually spans both worlds, traditional old ways and modern new ways of karate. 

It would come down to the agenda of Tatsuo-san’s teachings to the occupying American military along with many more restrictive requirements of that military, i.e., such as short one year tours, etc., that may, might or actually influenced the what, how and why of teaching karate. 

After all, Tatsuo-san was of that age to be influenced by the educational standardized form of karate but don’t forget that he was known to have trained with masters who were believed to be trained in and proficient with old way or traditional karate. I have speculated why I think it is possible that Tatsuo-san taught his karate and created his Isshinryu to an agenda and gaol to teach and award sho-dan to Americans who would only be there one year while meeting the wants and needs of those Americans whose ultimate goal was the coveted black belt. Remember, most of those who trained diligently for that year left with a black belt and as we know Americans will seek out a source that will provide them a solid opportunity to achieve their goal of black belt and if not, go elsewhere. Tatsuo-san’s efforts lead to a government/military contract of a very lucrative nature and you have to at least consider that his economic state after the war would drive how he set up and taught his karate to Americans. 

I do believe that those who actually made the opportunity to train with Tatsuo-san for longer than that one year tour may have been exposed to those old traditional ways of karate in the form of Isshinryu but in truth there is no way to prove that one way or the other. Did Tatsuo-san actually teach the edu-standard forms when Americans were present and then the old ways when only his Okinawan students trained? Can it be proved by means other than first and second person memories and conversations, i.e., like some sort of documentation and comparison, etc.? 

It was stated and I believe that if true effected how karate was taught to Japan and later to Americans, i.e., Many Okinawan instructors back in the 1920s and early 1930s felt that it was inappropriate to teach "authentic" (old style) Karate in mainland Japan or overseas (except perhaps to Okinawans), and that it was barely acceptable to teach the new standardized form.”

Lets say for the sake of this article and discussion that Tatsuo-san leaned both the old traditional way and the new edu-standard way and lets say the above quote is true. Why would he bother with that mind-set and mind-state teach Americans, the ones who defeated Japan and by association Okinawa, old way traditional karate if they would not teach Japanese or anyone overseas old way karate? I don’t see the incentive except an economic one and with all the restrictions and demands of the inpatient military occupiers, why he would not just teach the edu-standard watered down versions. After all, he understood that he would not see most of them again when they got that belt and went home to the west, right? 

There are going to be Isshinryu’ists out there that will scream blasphemy reading this but the questions are valid. Even if he did teach only the edu-standard version a good many of today’s practitioners have sought out as much of the old ways as possible and some have created what they believer are new ways that make self-defense in karate once again viable making some of modern karate a good thing.

I can say that the way I was taught Isshinryu originally provided me a solid foundation in Okinawan karate that I believe we have a great way of practice, training and study. I believe that there are some aspects and traits that feel like the old way of karate while feeling appropriate and applicable to modern times and dangers. If not for Isshinryu I doubt seriously I would be practicing and studying any form of karate and/or martial arts today for I feel I would have gone only the distance most go, achieve a black belt like completing a subject in school and then quit for some other gratifying endeavor. 

Even as I practice today as a more modern applicability I still hold dear and near the practice of Isshinryu as, at the very least and minimum, the essence and core of my karate and martial arts practice, study and philosophy. But …. I still question ….

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Does Karate help eliminate stress?

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Yes, emphatically and absolutely, it provides the body and mind the tools to reduce and on occasion eliminate stress. It is not about adding a commitment to relieve stress when the commitment is made voluntarily; it is not about following someone else’s instructions as if under duress - look at one as in voluntarily committed oneself; it has nothing to do with any form of time restraints especially when self imposed and as to mental taxation then why voluntarily commit to the endevor and as to physical exhaustion that is also about self-imposed limits we voluntarily put on ourselves. Remember, you sought out, decided and then voluntarily committed yourself to the study, practice and applications of karate.

Engaging in a physical activity adds a kind of stress that is considered “Good Stress” in the medical community. Stress is like yin-yang, a fundamental sub-principle of philosophy in martial arts and karate where the stresses of every day life have both good and bad where we try to limit and mitigate the bad while embracing the good. 

Stress is that effect that is as intricate part of living and being human where participation in certain types of physical activity or in this instance, karate, provides us a positive stress that contributes to lower blood pressure, stress coping skills like diaphragmatic breathing, another sub-principle of physiokinetics, the ability to relax, etc. all medically proven to mitigate and reduce “BAD” stress. 

It is not a matter of exposing ourselves to stress to create the ability to resist it but rather a way to achieve more good stress that by its very nature counter’s the bad stresses life has to offer naturally and in accordance with nature and the Universe itself. 

Granted, it is a form of stress, good stress and that type of stress is good and a viluntarily intended model you participate in but it does not increase resistance but rather trades off in a yin-yang form good for bad stress and that is good. 

You cannot overcome stress, that would require you not live life and life is full of stresses both good and bad and almost all of the bad is dependent on the individual themselves while mind-set and mind-state govern whether mental stresses are good or bad and that provides a lead into stress is not just good or bad but it has variations such as, “Environmental stresses; psychological stresses; physical stresses; social stresses,” and so on but regardless of the variations to good and bad stress karate, like all physical and mental models of similar nature simply provide you the tools to deflect the bad stresses into good stresses of which good stress benefits the mind, body and most of all our spirits. 

Jones, Matt. “Karate for Stress!” http://mattjoneskarate.blogspot.com/2016/01/karate-for-stress.html dtd Saturday, January 23, 2016. 

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Why when I tried to test out your theories and ideas they didn’t work, Wassup with that?

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I get this all the time and I have my answer, it may not be an answer you like but it is valid. I ask them, when you first stepped into the dojo were you able to do basics, kata and drills? They would say, no, not right away. Then I asked, “When you decided to play football did you just put on a uniform and join the lineup to play? They would say, no, not right away. 

Listen, like karate; like martial arts; like football and like just about any discipline you decide you want to do there is always going to be a learning curve where you will be awkward, clumsy and forgetful until you get some … wait for it … PRACTICE under your belt. Even a proficient karateka and martial artist when taking up a new idea, theory or activity has to “make it work on the dojo floor.” 

But, here is what happens especially if the theory or idea doesn’t fit their perceptions and perspective as to karate or martial art, the go out on the dojo floor to tray it a couple of times and if it doesn’t work right away they say, “This is no good, it doesn’t work.” It is this same mind-set that often causes a person to doubt themselves and their training when it fails to work in a self-defense situation. It is also seen by more modern martial artists who claim kata has no value when they don’t even practice it and have not tried to learn, know and understand it. 

This is also what makes learning, practicing and applying such a discipline so hard, you have to take it out for a while to learn it as if it is brand new (it is new), you have to practice it to make sure you are doing it right and then you have to practice it in a way that will allow it to either work for you or not and that takes time, effort, effort, and lots of sweat equity. 

Every time I try something new in my practice and I have practiced karate for about forty years, I have to slow down and work it out and practice it for a while before I even consider “testing it out to see if it works.” This includes testing it in an adrenal stress-conditioned reality based way because when I need it to work the most is when I am in that state facing grave bodily harm or even death. 

If you can just step on the dojo floor and apply your craft without all this practice and training then we all would be masters of our craft. Repetition brings progress and our efforts will tell us in time if something works. Try it, you’ll like it!

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Ok, I accept your premise of karate not being a martial art but what about Budo?

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Ok, I accept your premise of karate being a budo but want to expand and explain how that could be true and how that may be untrue. Lets start with explaining through a definition of budo, i.e., its characters/ideograms in Kanji form being dominant and acceptable. 

Budo [武道] Tangorin, the site that translates kanji for definitions, states that the characters/ideograms mean, “martial arts; military arts; Bushido.” The first character means, “Warrior; military; chivalry; arms,” the second character means, “road-way; street; district; journey; course; moral; teachings.” 

Hmmmm, the answer here is going to be simple, karate is not a budo as defined above. I make that distinction because budo relates to a martial art, military art and Bushido. My previous posting or article explains why I feel karate is NOT a martial art and because martial arts are a distinct definition within the whole definition of Budo, it isn’t a Budo. 

Other translations such as one wiki site states that Budo is a Japanese term that describes modern Japanese martial arts. I feel that is true. Their translations states its literal translation to English is, “Martial Way.” If Bu is truly translated as Martial vs. Martial Art as I presented in the above definition then I would be more apt to accept it as a term for karate. 

This led me to try looking at other site translations of the characters/ideograms:

Google Translation [武道] defines these as martial arts. 
Jisho Translation [武道] defines these as martial arts; military arts; Bushido.
Nihongodict Translation [武道] defines these as martial arts; military arts; Bushido.
Shinjinbukan Translation [武道] defines these as martial arts or military arts. 
EUdict Translation [武道] defines these as martial arts; military arts; Bushido.
WWWJDIC [武道] defines these as martial arts; military arts; Bushido.

Note that the majority agree with my initial translation. I also take into consideration that any Internet translation may be subject to the experience and understanding of those who provided both the characters/ideograms as well as their English translations where in Japan it might be considered something else although I doubt that. 

Since everything relates to martial arts as military arts based somewhat on the modern concept of Bushido I would again stand by my first article and state emphatically that karate is NOT a martial art, military art or any relation or way as suggested by the content of Bushido. 

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Karate vs. Martial Art, Why make that Distinction?

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In my most recent posting, articles, I have begun to use, “Karate and Martial Art” to separate karate from the martial arts. It then gave rise to the question I answer in todays article, “Why separate karate from martial arts, aren’t they the same?

In the beginnings of my studies of karate I, like many, made and accepted the assumption that karate was a  martial art but in the last decade or so I have contemplated karate as a martial art and my studies led me to finally accept the fact that karate is NOT a martial art. 

As my continued research discovered more of the history of karate and with the theories and understandings of others who practice karate and martial arts with a traditional or what some call a “Koryu” sense, I came to my conclusion.

First, karate was born from the ancient practice of hand defense some believe is called, “Ti (pronounced tea).” Ti was an indigenous form of defense practiced on the island of Okinawa and its practitioners may or may not have been few and of a higher class of its society - that part is and will be a contested historical nature.

Second, Ti was also considered by the military presence of the Okinawans as a prerequisite to weapons training and there are tidbits of information from a concerted historical documentation of Okinawan history that states there were places, open ground, that clearly was found to be used to train in Ti so that its practitioners could and would move up to the weapons training necessary to protect the island but more importantly the ships used in their commercial trade efforts. Like any military, there is always an empty-handed or hand-to-hand component because there is always a chance Ti or the empty-handed discipline would, but not very often, be necessary in a combat situation. It can be theorized that even in close quarter combat with swords that their training and ability with Ti could be used in tandem with sword play and so on.

One could argue that Ti as a prerequisite makes it a martial art but in general since it was used as a means for civil defense by guards, etc., on the island it still mostly falls to civil defense. It is not actually a required discipline used in combat, that is what weapons are for but still, it is possible. I would suggest and I believe it is a civil thing rather than martial because in a nutshell its lack of significant presence in historical military or social renderings it is only mentioned in passing. I also take into consideration that the more ancient martial artists considered it a play toy vs. an actual combative tool for military conflicts. 

Third, then we come to the modern version of Ti or what became also known as Toudi, karate. Karate actually came into the forefront of practice of the Okinawans and in the late 1800’s and then 1900’s the Japanese but for certain socially driven political war effort reasons.

The Japanese, even in the 1800’s-1900’s were still war like and with their superior attitudes started to expand themselves to China and other Asian societies, etc. One of the significant events of those times was the writing and publication of the book, Bushido. As many modern articles and theories indicates this book and the subject of Bushido didn’t really have strong ties to the ancient practices of the feudal era where samurai, warriors and the conflicts and violence involved bushido really didn’t exist and if it did it was more or less insignificant. What was more significant was the practice and requirements of that practice of Zen Buddhism but that is another whole article. 

The Japanese needed to find a way to prepare and convince the Japanese people that war was good, necessary and of the right mind-set. The publishing of the Bushido concepts fell right into their needs and plans. Then the effort to incorporate practices into their society, including the Okinawans, they found that karate, while not a martial art, could become a prerequisite to being a willing warrior for the Japanese cause, i.e., karate was implemented into the educational system.  When karate, then actually translated as China Hand, was first introduced to the Japanese it may have been seen as a means to instill that form of bushido or military willing attitude into their youth, via the educational systems. The person who demonstrated China Hand then changed it to Empty Hand simply because that made it more malleable to Japanese acceptance - especially the military.  

Karate was accepted and then instituted into the Educational system along with other martial arts. It was also allowed, possibly directly but I sense more indirectly to be under the heading of Japanese Martial Arts. Karate, even with the changes but especially with the changes necessary to make it acceptable to the education of the younger peoples of Japan and Okinawa became even less martial by its watering down, etc. hiding its true nature as a defensive fighting system. 

When coupled with the possible propaganda oriented education toward a more warrior like mind-set and mind-state it was made acceptable and easy to label as a martial art. Labeling it or placing it under the heading of martial art also worked to the advantage of the Japanese in conditioning the young adults toward acceptance of a military war like mind-set ergo how karate first became understood as a martial art when in truth it was still a civil defense system.

My view here is more toward its historical beginnings as a traditional civil defensive system and my effort is to bring my practice up to speed so that my practice of karate will be more of a self-defense civil discipline ergo the creation of principles that fit with the fundamental principles of multiple methodologies for defense

While I am at it, this is also why I have changed my reference to principles from, “Fundamental Principles of Martial Disciplines” to “Fundamental principles of multiple methodologies for self-defense or defense.” My karate, as I aim for in training and practice, is to focus on the underlying fundamental principles as applied toward the use of multiple defensive methodologies for self-defense in a modern society in which I live. 

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p.s. also, just because it is indiscriminately used and labeled as a martial art does not make it so like an accepted use of a new term would be added to a dictionary. If this were acceptable then we would have to change the true meaning of martial art, combat and warrior - not true or going to happen just because it fits our agenda. Now, I accept that this may be an issue with my view and belief as stated above. That is the nature of this game.