"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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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. 

Bibliography (Click the link)


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 ….

Bibliography (Click the link)


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 ….

Bibliography (Click the link)


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. 

Bibliography: 
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. 

Karate is used against untrained adversary's?

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This meme is not what it would seem because it is often translated from modern perceptions rather than according to the times and social conditions where it was born.

It can be theorized that in the times giving birth to the art of “Ti,” Ti was taught and practiced by only certain individuals. This limited teaching and practice made it unavailable to the masses including the more nefarious folk who robbed and bullied. When such unscrupulous individuals plied their trade and found they faced a Ti practitioner they found themselves facing an unknown. It did not mean those unscrupulous and nefarious individuals didn’t have the tools to fight, etc., but simply ran into an unknown. 

When even an experienced fighter be they the average person or the more experienced predator of unscrupulous and nefarious deeds encounter something unique, out of the norm and of a dangerous nature they tend to bounce into what modern times calls the OO bounce, i.e., the unknown causes a return to the observe and orient stages and because of the nature of the response to their attack the freeze there allowing for a solid beating.

The untrained is not meant to mean the average citizen, it is about its use against a determined attacker with a tool that is original, deadly and unknown allowing a tactical advantage. It means untrained in Ti or karate and other martial arts. We may assume untrained means anyone who has not ability to fight and defend as many stories about the peasants of Okinawa would indicate. 

It must be remembered that a lot of the stories told about peasants against samurai or warriors are being discovered as mere stories with little or now historical fact behind them, stories most often created by the more modern proponents that give a mystic uniqueness to the practice of karate and martial arts. 

Also, remember that Ti or karate was also utilized as a prerequisite toward training in arms, weapons like the swords, spears and archery disciplines. Before taking up dangerous weapons for training it was best for the people to learn about the principles of the body in the physical manifestation of things like movement, structure and balance, i.e., to control the hands and feet before taking up a practice sword or sword to learn how to fight, etc. 

Most of the protectors of Okinawan elite were performed by those who had Ti or karate expertise but most often when applying protection they utilized those weapons before utilizing empty handed techniques and tactics. 

Another aspect to the untrained is often those who became robbers and bandits where those not exposed to such training and practice be it Ti or Kobudo, etc. therefore they became criminal elements who developed their own ways to get what they wanted or ply their trade for survival. 

The ancient practices of Ti or karate lost their more appropriate applications due to the push in making Ti or karate a educational tool in the school systems along with the propaganda driven teachings of Bushido in order to prepare the populace toward war and after also as an after effect of the war remained a “Watered down” version taught also to the occupiers. This form becoming sport oriented and a business changed it again where in most cases it became less a professional and efficient defense system and more a commercialized sport oriented model not well suited to self-defense, etc.

The good news is the concerted effort to bring back the more appropriate edition of karate for self-defense and combatives including the various forms of martial arts including the modern editions still used for sport. This is a good thing thanks to a hand full of professionals efforts to bring the short comings of most karate and martial arts concerning fighting, combatives and especially self-defense. 

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Speculations and Assumptions - What are they good for?

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I have a friend who tends to avoid hearing about things one speculates and assumes on any subject matter but I want them to understand the making speculations on events and situations along with making assumptions as a result is normal and an intricate part of being human. 

Speculation an essential tool in assessing risk. The opposite to speculation is assumption. When we speculate we are working in our minds the what, when, where, how and of course the why of the event or situation so we may file it away for future reference just in case we become involved is said event or situation or some event or situation similar to the one we speculated about and made assumptions on. 

To assess anything provides us instinctual and insightful information from knowledge, experience and training so that we can also make decisions toward appropriate actions especially as it would apply to conflict and violence. Even if we train things, those things in all likelihood will not be in the same form when encountered in other situations especially in real life situations regarding almost anything but in conflicts and with violence especially. 

This is critical especially when encountering the unknown in sometimes unexpected situations we have not experienced making reality-based adrenal stress-conditioned training a critical component of self-defense as well for the physical model used for that defense. In short, we need speculations and assumptions to learn and therefore survive, it is the way of human-kind. At least to my perceptions, theories, understanding and belief - at least until someone provides proof of something better and more correct. 

It is how I see things when the traffic slows to a crawl when passing by an accident, the are all eyeballing the situation, speculation as to how it was caused and why then they are speculation the condition of those involved as to injuries or even death. They are running a variety possible scenarios in their head as to what happened, how it happened and why it happened. All assumptions based on possibly nothing or based on past experience in an accident or based on information and understandings from life experiences to include media driven reports on such events. They they speculate as to how they could have avoided that same situation and that is based on assumptions that seemingly come from nowhere or from experience and knowledge based on whether they completed a defensive driving program, etc. 

No one can remove that instinctual urge to speculate about events that occur around us especially when they involve danger, possible danger and possible to actual threats that would violate our personal safety and health. The same applies to making assumptions to those speculative ideas and theories used to act accordingly. 

I suggest that when one decides that speculation and assumptions are negative and not necessary and who try to avoid using speculation and assumption are actually avoiding the subject of that speculation and assumptions because it makes them feel uncomfortable, fearful and out of control. It is not actually the use of speculation to make assumptions but a fear of not being in control and not knowing because they have to have the answers or they don’t feel in control and therefore experience fear and so on. 

To achieve a greater or the greatest odds of hitting the nail on the head when using speculation and when making assumptions you need to seek out knowledge, understand that knowledge and how it applies to life, i.e., events and situations in life, and that helps our brains to seek out, manipulate and make use of the knowledge base we encode in our mind through such effort to learn, accumulate knowledge, gain experience both real and academic and finally to apply that when we speculate and assume in any given situation and about any given event within the situation and at any given moment. 

Education, understanding and experience are the most critical aspects of life necessary for speculation and the art of making assumptions especially for self-defense against conflict and violence. The three are core to acquiring data necessary to make speculation and assumptions work as the essential tool in assessing risk and when you assess risk you provide the way toward avoidance, etc. 

Trying to avoid the use of such critical survival tools is tantamount to losing your sight and going deaf. Would you want to deal with violence in that state? Another very important point on this subject, it is also critical once you speculate and assume an answer, response or fix you must validate it and verify its relevance, etc. 

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What is the correct or preferred way to write Isshinryu / Isshin Ryu / Isshin-ryu?

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First, this is more about grammar and the use of spaces or hyphens, etc., to convey proper meaning when written such as this question as to whether it is proper to write Isshin and Ryu as one word, or separate words or to use the hyphen. 

Just as a example and a start toward understanding the proper way consider using a spell checker in a word document. The Word documents often used have a decent engine to check and suggest but it is not infallible. Then there is the use of a dictionary but since this is a word or term, etc., not a common one used in every day English, used specifically to name a foreign word that makes it a bit more difficult. 

Then you can also use Mnemonics to help your memory eke out a proper way but since the questions was asked and most of us are not writers or even English majors as to education along with many writers and majors also tend to have difficulties in this area that may not work either.

This word or term does not fall under the heading of homonyms and plurals so that won’t work either. Sounding it out fails to give an answer except in English I would make an assumption that the two separate words, Isshin and Ryu, having a usage to describe one thing would best serve, as to its English usage, to be somewhat correct in using “Isshinryu.” This view is debatable to say the least and why this question becomes a bit more difficult to answer.

Then I asked myself what defines a suffix? The dictionary tells us that a suffix follows an element to which it is added such as the “ly” to the word “kind” to make, “Kindly.” It can, in general, be anything added at the end of something, ergo Ryu added to the end of Isshin making “Isshinryu” a bit more correct, maybe. 

Another aspect to suffix as defined in the dictionary is to add (a morpheme) as a suffix to the end of a work where morpheme means, “any of the minimal grammatical units of a language, each constituting a word or meaningful part of a word, that cannot be divided into smaller independent grammatical parts, as the, write, or the -ed of waited.”

This leads me, personally, to consider that Isshinryu is more correct vs. Isshin Ryu or Isshin-ryu. Another way to look at it is to review several determine factors of the actual term from its native forms, i.e., the actual characters/ideograms used in Japan (we won’t go to the Okinawan dialect since Japanese is the official language there as well). 

The characters/ideograms for this term or word or title is, “一心流,” which does not get translated as is from the on-line English-to-Japanese-to-English translation sites but if you separate the first two from the last you get two separate translations. 

一心 means, “one mind; wholeheartedness; one’s whole heart,” and means, “style of; method of; manner of; school (of thought).” When spoken they are pronounced as just one word, i.e. Isshinryu. 

Now, one site that translates the three characters/ideograms (Kanji of 一心流) does provide an English word when translating, i.e., “Isshin-ryu.” Now, as to English I would say the proper way to write the English version of this descriptive word to be “Isshinryu” while as to at least one official translation site translating the kanji as “Isshin-ryu” then I would surmise that these two are proper and interchangeable unless you want to drill down to believing the true correct way would be that translation from the Japanese characters/ideograms (Kanji) into its English form. If that is correct, I would accept this personally, then the one correct way to write it in English is, “Isshin-ryu,” without capitalizing the Ryu part. 

In a nutshell, use, “Isshin-ryu,” as a correct spelling. Now as to the next half of this two-part question, i.e., 

“What is the history on how it is written?”

I would have to defer to those who have a direct connection and experience with the founder who named the system or style of karate, Isshin-ryu. I do suspect that since it was originally written in the Kanji style and that the translation to English by that founder would have been flawed since his command of the English language was very poor and that left any corrections up to the American students who didn’t have or use a command of English to provide a true and correct translation into a proper English form - grammatically speaking. 

I also suspect until this very moment no one has bothered to even ask this question and tended to assume what ever spelling was used by their Sensei was correct while never truly researching the correct way.

Note/Caveat: Remember, I am not an English major with any type of degree or other credentials that would make my answer, correct. I would, if you truly wanted to know for sure, submit the question along with background as to the origins of this word to a grammatical professional. Even then, because of its uniqueness and use they may not have a definitive answer either. 

In the end, what does it matter? What matters is this type of question comes most often from someone who wants to study and learn about every aspect of a discipline and although more of a trivial nature it speaks loudly of the type of effort and diligence this person has along with a very high motivation to learn and that is very good. When a student asks such seemingly trivial question it is easy to not give it its fair consideration because it may seem trivial but the heart of it means something great about that individual so answer it truthfully as possible. Remember, as their knowledge and understanding grow they will begin to differentiate in such questions while growing in depth and breadth in their understanding while creating a mind-state that allows for the distinctions that separate the types of training, practice, studies and applications. It could literally make all the difference to the person asking and create a connection that would take them to a life time of study and practice over someone who might simply quit early on, etc. 

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