"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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It’s NOT Personal

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

I write, a lot, and I am honored to have people view, read and comment on what I write. I find topics in a variety of ways such as other blog articles where some part triggers something in my mind and I write about it. Sometimes, folks will perceive this as being critical of the source material but I want to ensure everyone who reads this blog, “It is NOT Personal!”

As a fledgling author I write and I love to write. My goals in writing is to learn, build knowledge and create ever greater understanding of those things to which I write about. In Boyd’s OODA it is understood, by me, that a process of analysis and synthesis is an ongoing process that helps to meet goals such as mine. I try to do that a lot but being human, I sometimes mistakenly write in a way that seems and may be perceived as “Personal” to the reader. 

One thing I have tried to add at the end of each article is to express, at a minimum, a form of acknowledgement to the person, blog and/or article that inspired the one I write, wrote and posted. It may seem that because I ‘tip my hat or ritsu-rei’ to that person, etc., that the article must be a critique of the other source and author - sometimes it is true, but mostly it “IS NOT PERSONAL!”

I am saying this here and now because, similar to Colonel Boyd when addressing seniors at his lectures, I want to ensure that the person on the receiving end understands that it is not personal and that everything I write is about “ME” and my learning process along with allowing others to be exposed because one of the most critical aspects of learning, studying and coming to an understanding is through the exchange of communications with others who have something positive to contribute. This occurs, if done properly, on the dojo floor, in the classroom, at seminars and thorugh exchanges in blogs, video’s, books and other media (through comments and reviews, etc.). You cannot achieve understanding in just your own mind because it just doesn’t work. 

Humans have survived and become the animal at the top of the food chain, so to speak, because over the centuries a few have used such strategies and tactics in learning thus building our societies and species into what it is today. If not for this we all would still be hunting with rocks and sticks, running from predators and gathering food on the Serengeti plains of a thousand years ago or so. 

If I got something wrong, if you feel it needs correction or if you just think I am full of shit, comment constructively because it is how I learn, change and grow - change is critical but only change that involves many, not a few and especially not just the ‘one’. 


Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Purpose of the Enbusen Line II: What is the reason/importance of the Enbusen in Kata?

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Interesting question with as many answers as there are kata in karate. I recommend reading the article by Andreas Quast Sensei HERE ( http://ryukyu-bugei.com/?p=4762 ) Short answers is, “It depends!”

Enbusen (also romanized as Embusen) [演武線] The first character/ideogram means, “Performance; act; play; render; stage,” the second character means, “warrior; military; chivalry; arms,” and the third character means, “line; track.” 

There seem to be rules regarding kata enbusen such as, “The rule of embusen is that any movements in one direction should be symmetrical and countered by an equivalent number of movements in the opposite direction.“ 

Another source to check out on this one is a response on Iain Abernethy’s forum site that states by CSS1971, “The embusen rule is basically that a kata should "balance". Each step in one direction should be countered by a step in the opposite direction. If they did the design of the kata right, you should always end up exactly back at the point you started, the kiten. It's good for performance of kata because you can run through a load of them without really moving, and in a small space, with a group of people. The limit to steps in any direction in okinawan kata is usually 3, giving approximately a  3mx3m (3yard x 3yard) training space.“

You can read Abernethy’s response to parts of the above quote/question HERE: (http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/another-embusen-embusen-rule), scroll down to #4. 

In short, he states:

“Ending up in the same spot was never a consideration when the kata were created. Why would it be? It is something that has risen up relatively recently and it’s a mistake to see it as being somehow fundamental to the way the kata have been constructed. We have seen some kata modified to fit this modern dictate, but it was not a rule that was fundamental to all kata as they were created.” - Iain Abernethy Sensei

“If you were designing any of the traditional kata, you’d be living in a point in history where no such uniform rule existed. Such a rule would serve no practical purpose so you’d not even consider such a thing. It’s a bit like asking the tribal huntsmen of the past if they designed their spear throwing technique to ensure their foot did not go over the line (as is required in Javelin throwing in athletics).” - Iain Abernethy Sensei

“You were creating kata to record combative methods and to provide a supplementary form of solo practice. Starting and finishing on the same place has zero bearing on either of those two objective so it would never even be considered.” - Iain Abernethy Sensei

“ … many traditional kata don’t start and finish on the same place.” - Iain Abernethy Sensei

“ … While Funakoshi expressed the idea in Karate-Do Kyohan – but not before that – other style, which also have Itosu in their lineage, don’t demand kata start and finish on the same place. As I say, it’s primarily just the Shotokan branch that developed this idea and expressed it in their literature. Mabuni (regarded by many, including Funakoshi, to be Itosu’s senior student) makes no mention of the start and finish point being important in his discussion on embusen.” - Iain Abernethy Sensei

Joe Swift wrote: The meaning of the directions in kata is not well understood, and frequently mistakes are made in the interpretation of kata movements. In extreme cases, it is sometimes heard that, "this kata moves in 8 directions so it is designed for fighting 8 opponents" or some such nonsense.”

Joe Swift also wrote: “Looking at the embusen for Pinan Nidan, one can see that karate kata move in all directions, forward and back, left and right. When interpreting kata, one must not get too caught up in these directions. For example, do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a kata begins to the left that the opponent is always attacking from the left.”

As to my perception and beliefs regarding enbusen, I feel that such things are from Japanese influences to kata-ize karate to make it more palatable to Japanese bu-do and I also attribute it to the educationilization of karate for the educational systems in those years prior to WWII. 

I would add in military influences along with how one learns and encodes patterns into the human mind. It seems that the creators of kata no matter at what time in history instinctually understood how humans rely on patterns to survive and that such patterns were most excellent in learning things such as karate. In addition, it was more a tool to my mind than a fighting pattern to teach and learn, it was more about teaching and learning certain principles that were, at the time, best taught from such patterns. It is why kata moves, generally, are not rendered in the kata form or patterns in actual sparring and especially in an actual self-fense situation and application. Humans, people, just don’t fight that way whether sport or reality self-fense in violent situations, i.e., what most incorrectly call street-fighting. 

In my beliefs, kata are patterned forms and formula’s used to teach and condition certain primal like responses that manifest naturally in ways that break the kata form and patterns while allowing creative creations of methodologies and force types/levels to achieve goals such as not get gravely damaged or killed while stopping the attacker from gravely harming or killing - you. 

We, the military, who brought kata and karate and other martial disciplines to the masses who found military patterned formation form like drilling and connected it to the educational driven form, patterns and drills of karate whereby our already formidable training and understanding came together like old friends and made for a wholehearted way that we adopted easily and quickly - necessary in short spans of time on duty to achieve the coveted gaol of wearing a black belt. 

Another, interesting perception and belief regarding enbusen, is found in my home karate system of Isshinryu, i.e., 

Embusen is important in kata because it keeps with the Oriental philosophy of beginning and ending. The old tombs of Okinawa are called turtle shell tombs because they resemble a turtle, but on closer examination they are supposed to represent the womb. Hitoshi explained this to several members on one of our tours to Okinawa. You are born from the womb and return to the womb. This can also be seen in the circle. Many times you see a sumi or black ink painting of a circle and this also represents beginning and end. So if you are looking for perfection, then beginning and ending are important.
  • All things being equal, the person closest to the start of his kata will win in a kata contest.
  • It is important to stay in your embusen in a dojo other wise you run into another practitioner. 
  • Embusen is the path or line of kata. Embusen on a highway is very important because if you don't follow the correct path or line of movement, or stay in your lane of traffic on a highway, guess what!
  • All styles or sensei do not teach embusen but it does exist. 
  • To make it work, remember that all steps in kata are adjustable.
  • In the videos I show how embusen and with the exception of naihanchi kata start and end in the same spot. 
per Arcenio J. Advincula Sensei

Several things I felt when reading this excerpt, it seems to be directed to a more sport oriented rendition and practice, i.e., winning in a kata contest. I kow that many who judge kata competition use the enbusen start/stop point as a means to judge accurateness thus what point value it receives. The issue with this one example for me is, “What is being judged regarding accuracy, etc.?” In a sense of self-fense, karate as a means of protection against personal violent encounters, because the ability to make adjustments in the performance of the pattern to start and end at a certain marked point on the floor is meaningless. It does train the mind tho to do things that will result in failure if you are training for self-defense. 

To allude also to traffic and accidents and not explain and define what is meant by saying, “Enbusen is about following a path or line of movement or staying in your lane on a highway” seems incomplete especially if it is not about performance competition but defending against an aggressor bent on doing grave harm or killing you. 

I can also see the concept of perfection being of importance in karate and kata BUT that is about, to my mind and belief, a more philosophical self-help form of practice because perfection of movement in self-defense is not appropriate for fighting, self-defense and predatory violence is chaotic, formless, confusing and not about perfecting a form or patter but acting under the duress of danger, damage, death, crowding, imbalance, structure disruption and fighting from disadvantage and the effects of the adrenal stress-conditions of the reality of violence. 

As a way it is awesome, but as a means of learning and applying violence to stop violence - not so much except to supplement and support philosophy as a minor part of a whole where physiokinetics and technique along with a minor role in theory are involved. 

Enbusen is also a novice level, to my beliefs, to teach novices about movement, balance, structure and other such fundamental principles so that one can learn at a more experienced knowledgable level how to learn, develop and apply dynamically multiple methodologies and varying types of appropriate force to stop damage and the attack/attacker. 

Then again, maybe I am wrong and maybe I am missing parts, principles and other factors that others of greater experience, knowledge and understanding have over my simple mindless meanderings. 

So, in a nutshell, take some time and do a bit of analysis of all the various informations and sources available, do the analysis and then develop a synthesized creation of a interpretation and meaning behind the concept of ‘enbusen/embusen’. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

The Enbusen depends on the kind of training place, the martial arts tradition, as well as the starting point and end point of the performance, which is called “matomari” (finish). It is said that starting point and end point have to be the same spot, that is, Kata are thought to have been designed so as to return to the original starting spot. However, by differences in the physique, power of expression, way of stepping, footwork of the performer, and others, the end point and starting point might not always exactly be the same. Moreover, there are Kata where the starting and end points are definitely not the same. - Andreas Quast Sensei

One of the most important functions of the intermediate movements is that of  “positional coincidence”; they cause the final position of the kata to coincide with the initial position. The kata begins at one point and ends at the same point so that symmetry of position, as well as movement, is upheld. … The theory of positional coincidence is also supported by principles of physical training. Well balanced movements in symmetry are essential to any exercise or sport.” - Shoshin Nakamine, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-do

What is Kobudo?

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Not too sure this question has ever been adequately answered, at least in the American versions of karate. I can tell you only that when I started to seriously study karate the weapons involved in the style I chose was often referred to as ‘kobudo’ and was always, always, translated at karate weapons. 

Lets get to the most direct translation I can find to date of kobudo, i.e., as to the characters/ideograms used with the English formation of the Japanese term, “Kobudo.” 

Kobudo [古武道], the characters/ideograms generally mean, “Ancient Japanese martial arts.” The first character means, “Old,” the second means, “warrior; military; chivalry; arms,” and the third character means, “road-way; street; district; journey; course; moral; teachings.” 

Kobudo [古武道] according to the shinjinbukan dojo, the characters all mean the same and the general definition given is, “The ancient martial way. In general, the term may apply to any ancient martial art. It is commonly used to refer to the Okinawan weapons systems, also referred to as ‘kobu-jutsu’.  

Ryukyu Kobu-jutsu [琉球古武術] or Ryukyu Kobu-do [琉球古武琉球古武] according to the shinjinbukan dojo definition means, “The Okinawan weapons system founded by Taira Shinken and later continued by his disciple Akamine Eisuke. 

So far, none of these actually refer to the weapons as the sole art taught and practiced often under the heading of karate, empty hand. Another conundrum I feel makes for more convalusion is the term, ‘martial or bu,’ that indicates martial in the phrase martial art. Martial or bu is about the art of war, military arts, military force and the sword but not so much as to empty hand with ancient Okinawan implements such as the bo, the tuifa and the kama, etc. The question, for a more accurate perception, is what terms, if any, would better describe the art of ancient Okinawan weapons?

Ancient [古い]; Okinawan [沖縄]; Weapons [剣戟 and/or 兵器]?
Kodai Okinawa no buki [古代沖縄の武器] through google translation from English to Japanese means ancient okinawan weapons. 

古代 = Ancient Times
沖縄 = Okinawa (one of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands)
の武器 = weapons; arms; ordnance

Still, with this slightly more detailed definition it still does not connect in a more direct way to the ancient okinawan weaponry that is unique to the practice and teaching of karate or Taira Shinken’s kobudo. 

In the end, is kobudo appropriate to the practice of the ancient okinawan weaponry of the ‘bo and tuifa and nunchaku and kama, etc.?’ If we assume that the term is being used correctly today on Okinawa then we can accept that but I suspect that they use the term simply out of convenience and of course respect for Taira Shinken who pioneered the separate and distinct system of Okinawan weaponry training and practices and teachings. 

Personally, I am not amicable to combining karate, empty hand, with kobudo or kodai no buki because the two are, at least to my perceptions of ancient Okinawan martial disciplines where empty handed training was a prerequisite to weapons training and that the weapons training was more in line with military operations than the civil form of today’s karate. 

Kodai no buki [古代の武器] Ancient Weapon(s).

So, even if I am correct and accurate, what does this mean to the community and will the term kobudo be removed? I think not, like most things it has become ingrained in the mind and belief systems of all martial artists so we can expect that it will remain the term for Okinawan weapons practiced in Okinawan karate. The chances of acceptance and implementation are remote to plain old ‘ain’t never ever gonna happen’!

In closing, using the most common translation and definition of ancient Japanese/Martial Way/Arts 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

OFF TOPIC: In a Nutshell

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

What is missing in modern society and the cause of all this mess is this, “We are not in a state where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted and the world should be about the importance of human relations that is governed by whether you can trust the other person with your life.” 

If we could establish a culture and belief that every facet of life here is important and that nothing in our world, society and culture is to be taken fro granted and then if we can all establish and live a relation with others governed by how well we trust one another with our very lives I feel we could get back that spirit that made this country and its people great so long ago. 

Is karate ... based on principles or technique?

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The answer seems simple but as with all things martial arts you end up with - "It Depends!"

First, define principles?
Second, define technique?

Starting with the second first, technique(s) can be defined two ways where the most obvious is derived from the modern technique based training model while the second ways is more apropos and at the same time either unknown or misunderstood.

Then there is the first, a principled based model where the universal underlying principles connected to multiple methodologies, etc., is the basis or foundation for all martial arts.

Herein lies the rub to the original question that started the mess to begin with. Herein lies the article you will read today in my attempt to put a light on the question so I will begin as before, with the second.


Technique is not about specifics, techniques are any and all methods used to achieve a principle based situational application(s) necessary to achieve goals, tactics and strategies to avoid and/or resolve conflicts and/or violence. Marc MacYoung refers to technique in his eBood, Writing Violence: Defense, and states, “A move is an action, a technique is a collection of movements. Each consecutive movement of a technique builds on the success of the last. They should provide fense, it should disrupt the adversary’s ability to attack and it should set up the next move.” 

Note that Mr. MacYoung does not use this term like so many karate dojo, i.e., the technique of punching with the fist, the techniques of striking with a palm or the technique of kicking with the ball of the foot. This is all novice stuff meant to teach not necessarily techniques but how to move, it is the moves to achieve actions, it is about a collection of appropriate moves for the situation that becomes, in that moment only, a collection of movements that make up the technique used in fense. Then the rest is basically tactics to apply those techniques to achieve a goal of fense. Learning how to move and the proper physiokinetics necessary to perform those movements as techniques and so forth. 

“Technique is the easiest part. Knowing when and how to apply the technique is the second easiest. Making yourself do it may be the hardest and that is the part I am not sure can really be taught.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

I believe you get the picture regarding technique(s), so now lets take a look at a favorite subject and perception of fense karate, the principles. The principles to which I speak are those fundamental principles of fense through the discipline of karate or martial arts. They are the same regardless of style or system, the are universal and they provide us the foundation to make any fense discipline work. 


These principles that I am writing about are the majors while within the disciplines of the mental and physical there are other principles involved as well. These minor principles tend to involve some aspect of technique, moves + actions + collective = technique, such as certain principles involved in body manipulation, i.e., ball joints vs. hinge joints, etc., and the process to manipulate them to achieve a tactical and strategic goal. You can find out more about that specific example by getting Rory Miller’s video’s on that subject. The application of major and minor principles also involves methodologies used to get things done, i.e., methodologies are a collection of techniques as described above but are not always techniques per say but those actions that lead to things like avoidance, awareness, and escape and evasion - all fense strategies and tactics to get-r-done.


Now, lets diverge a bit from the original question that I would pose and that is, “Is karate based on principles, techniques or changes. For me, my mind tends to go toward changes because as I will explain, everything is about change, everything is about yin-yang and everything is about how we apply ourselves toward not just change for changes sake but the balance we achieve toward the ever flowing chaotic change that life presents every single moment of life be it normal day-to-day things or when it comes to serious conflict and its resulting violence. 

The true question is not whether karate is about principles or technique or even both; it is a question of "change!" The true nature and essence of karate is the principle of change, learning the patterns (kata) of change. We endeavor to learn rhythms, cadences and patterns when the truth is we should be learning about change.

The very basis on which like and the way, Tao, is about change and resulted in the creation of the I Ching and other classics. The effort was to teach about the Universe and that means it's only constant - Change!

The very essence of life is change: birth, growth,  decline and death. The fabric of our universe is about birth, growth, decline and death therefore that process is about the changes life pulls us through and change is life's cornerstone.

Evolution is about change, to grow one must learn from that experience meaning change meaning survival or human kind would have ceased to exist long ago. The very word and process of evolution is change geared toward survival according to the very changes naturally occurring as a result of the natural changes that come from the very nature of our world and universe. 

If not for the nature of changes life as we know it may not have come to be - change is inevitable. If not for the changing seasons the fuel we need for sustenance would not be possible.

All this says to me that the true nature of disciplines such as karate should be based on change. It is amazing how many karate-ka work so hard to avoid change that the very nature of karate, change, has all but disappeared.

Karate as a fense system is about learning how to handle one of the most chaotic and changing form of conflict and violence where mastery comes not from the memorization of technique but our abilities to adapt to - change!

I feel that all my studies to date have come to realize that the underlying theme to all reality based models of fense are about handling changes, unexpected and unique changes from moment to moment and situation to situation.

Oh, forgot, now I am going to throw my personal monkey wrench into the mix by answering the modified question. No, it isn’t going to be a long repetitive answer since you already got that one but a much shorter answer.

Here it is: “In a nutshell, karate is based on all three concepts, i.e., it is based on principles both major and minor; it is based on technique as described as moves, actions, a collective and its resulting techniques; it is based on change, i.e., the chaos of violence and conflict that requires rapidly changing circumstances and environments that is conflict and violence. In short, it is all three of those. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

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)
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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.