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

Do You Have A Question?

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

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

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

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

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

Reader's of this Blog

Search This Blog

Questioning Authority: Why do karate-ka resist questioning authority in martial arts?

Somehow it was conveyed that one should never question the Sensei. How this came to be is a question of debate and its validity is also one of greater debate even today. Personally, my theory is that it started from a complete misunderstanding of how Asian's Sensei teach where it came to be understood that Sensei not talking or even recognizing a practitioner in practice was some "aloof" type demeanor that resulted in one putting that one up upon a pedestal. In some circles it was frowned upon and one who questioned Sensei was responded to as if they committed some grievous sin. I can go on yet that is not the point.

In some circles Sensei of Asian origin would demonstrate a thing, watch the practitioner emulate Sensei, then correct or demonstrate a couple more times, and finally leave the practitioner to practice. Sometimes with Americans it was not some special teaching method but a matter of communication where Sensei didn't speak English all that well so demonstrating and utilization of Sempai were the way to instruct.

Somehow, in America, I also theorize that some Sensei, prematurely taking on the mantle of dojo operator and instructor once sho-dan was achieved, tended to incorporate this method, wrongly of course, to preclude any questions that he/she could not answer. What occurs here is the fostering of incorrect and deficient and watered-down systems that no longer met the level of martial art or martial system.

I have run into those who when asked  would not comment as to my instruction or demonstration of something simply because my level was such-n-such and my years we so long or longer by a margin than theirs. Poppy-cock!

NO ONE; repeat; NO ONE is above or beyond reproach! Everyone is learning and everyone is capable of mistakes, errors and omissions. As I age I find that when I actually go to give a talk or to instruct a specific or set of specifics for martial arts I take a set of 5 by 8 note cards to use as a guide. I feel it is something done to make sure nothing is missed. I even take notes of questions I can not immediately answer so I can go back, think, contemplate and if needed find the answer in some further research. This seems "normal" to me, we are all fallible.

I found out early on that sometimes a beginner/novice or someone some where in the middle can see things or hear things that make a difference and can get me or any Sensei back on track, we all make errors and omissions and relating that to practitioners is not some unacceptable fault but a means to continue learning and refining.

How you ask the question and how you do it in the dojo, etc. does matter. Respect for one another is an intricate part of training and practice. How you pose the question is also important as it can denote how it is received and how it is interpreted. Communication and communicating questions is important and a most difficult technique, all part of what we are striving to learn in avoidance and deescalation, etc.

If I have posted/said it once I would say it a thousand times, if you have a question then ask it. How are you going to learn and discover if you don't seek out information and answers to questions. How can you possibly program/encode the mind/brain if you don't. Anything less can and will result in a loss of the way.


  1. Hi Charles! Teaching and learning is a two way process, isn't it? I like to ask questions sometimes, though I don't like to overdo it as that makes it seem like I'm not listening! I find that since most questions are about clarifying my understanding of some technique or other, the better the explanation and demonstration from my instructor the less likely I am to ask a question - so it's in his interest to be clear and precise in his teaching!

    If you're clever you can use questions to steer the instructor to your preferred learning style. If you are an auditory learner you can ask sensei to talk through what's happening during a demonstration. If you're visual you can ask for another demo - perhaps from a different angle. If you're a kinesthetic learner you can ask sensei to watch and position your hands correctly on your opponent for a throw/lock etc.

    I've found that the instructors I've had are happy to receive questions/requests because it shows that you are keen to learn and to get things right. They can also see you progress more quickly which then validates their teaching practice. Like I said, teaching/learning is a two way process - teacher and student need to get to know each other, you can only do this by talking to each other and asking questions so that you can build a working relationship. I'm not sure how I'd cope with an instructor who didn't want to speak to me or answer any questions -it would seem like an unnecessary barrier to learning.

  2. Absolutly, the tori-uke | Sensei-Sempai | Yin-Yang relationship is one of compete and utter reciprocity. It only works this way and anything else remains questionable.