"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!
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"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.
The Marine Corps and the system of Okinawan Fighting with specificity toward the Isshinryu system. When I work, read, play, etc. I will get inspiration from those efforts where an idea will come and I write.
I will quickly open my text editor on my computer and write out my thoughts usually in about three or maybe four paragraphs. Occasionally a much longer one as well.
My work is such that with the ebb and flow of the intensity I am able to get thoughts onto a text editor where I either complete the though or get it generally so it can be edited during the day(s) until I have something somewhat coherent to post.
It comes from practice where I can take a moment away from other matters such as work, etc. and write. I can get several posts a day that way.
I go up and down stairs at work every hour and practice in a some what secluded space at the bottom of the stairs and as I practice things occur to me where I might experiment a bit and then decide to post, etc. in combination. It gets me away from pressures of work and keeps me sane as well as healthy and up on my personal practice.
In the end I guess it is time management and what focus your mind centers on as to daily living. Your priorities also get involved. Mine are family, me (karate and philosophy, etc.), work, and all the rest as necessary.
I began to shift my paradigm. It was a slow process simply because at the time there were few who actually knew and understood true martial practice. They were there, just not as readily available as today with the Internet, Blogs, Youtube, Facebook, Yahoo Groups and so many more. There are books, books, and more books. There are video's galore. You just have to dig out the weeds and let the seeds of the flowers, plants and trees rise up toward the sun and bloom.
I began to realize that my perceptions of tournaments and competition were askew - for me. I began to see a more limited benefit of participation. I began to use them to build on my mental training. I never placed so I decided to let the activity become my Sensei, one of many. As a Sensei it has plenty to offer and I ignore all the rest.
Going in front of humans whether a few or a whole building full is powerfully stressful. I used it to train my mind to deal better with stress and all the physical affects it triggered. I used my opponent to train my mind to get in quick, close, and end the fight. Even if the referee's didn't see it or acknowledge it I knew when I connected - it would show on my opponents face. Sometimes I was quickly disqualified. This is the direction I decided to travel until ...
Until things got so convoluted and political that I felt there was no longer a need to participate other than to help my dojo participants, those who looked to me for leadership and I looked to for lessons and learning, participate to train the mind and get the body used to punishment. All the way up till the time I noticed a lack of discipline and control in participants - tournament participants. A good example is a youtube film not long ago showing a referee losing it and blindsiding a competitor.
Good solid morally guided competition is a very good thing. The social environment, if morally and spiritually (not religious) guided, is a very, very, very good thing. It can provide and teach us what it is we do naturally for survival in a mostly non-life threatening setting, that is very good too.
Now, I am fifty-seven, I don't participate because I no longer have that desire. I don't participate as I must allow my body a time to age gracefully. Competition is more a young persons endeavor and if one asks I would say go for it and keep in mind a perspective as to what it is and what you should seek in your participation.
A little competiton in the dojo is cool and a learning experience. This is karate-do. Now, as to karate-jutsu? That is a whole different matter as that involves violence, social and predatory, fighting and proper application of karate-jutsu for protection and survival - totally different.
I have read, seen and heard many who profess the truth with sometimes subtle or vast differences. Who is telling the truth and who is not embellishing? How do you determine the answer?
I have written a lot about Isshinryu, its participants, Tatsuo Sensei and Okinawa. I have attempted to speak the truth, my truth. I have worked diligently to remain within that truth and to leave personal embellishments out. In the beginning I was not that successful. Over time I am learning to be successful in this.
What can be done about it? Well, it would be of interest to learn the intricacies of communications and all it uses to create understanding and syntonics with two or more humans. It would be great to analyze the semantics once each tribe/faction presented its truth. This process could enlighten all participants. Finally, the results of the semantics analysis could be formed into a positive communication that could bridge the reality gap the various tribes/factions fell into in the beginning.
Are there an alternatives and choices? Yes, each of us can seek all the information provided from all sources. Read it, read it again, then sit down and write it out and remove anything of a personal nature even if it seems to contribute to the overall message. Take out all negative phrasing. In that document say what can be done, not what can not. Stress positives and positive consequences that can be anticipated as a result of this endeavor.
It must be remembered, "The goal is to lead others to change slowly and gently and with minimal disruption." Remember that did is a word of achievement; try is a word each hour; will is a word of beauty; can is a word of power.
Elgin, Suzzette Haden, Ph.D. "Genderspeak: Men, Women, and The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Wiley & Sons. New York. 1993
I have been informed that Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei spoke to a few American's who seemed to have an interest in continuing his system of practice of the intent to learn more about the Okinawan customs, traditions and beliefs. We know that he spoke of these things as he presented those first few the silk certificates that included a rank/level pronouncement and the ken-po goku-i. Some attempted to get a greater explanation of his intentions - alas, none were forthcoming so reliance on second and third had testimonials are used.
I have no way to know for sure if this was intentional on Tatsuo Sensei's part of just a huge chasm between the cultures of Okinawa and America. It is known that humans create a world through the perceptive filters created by environment, culture, customs, traditions and beliefs of family and the society to which the family is a member. Experience as we travel through life adds, supplements, modifies our perceptive filters thus changing the world we create by our mind. Those filters provide us the knowledge and experience to either take the red pill or the blue pill.
Our own customs, traditions, culture and beliefs drive us and it can be difficult to observe and learn of other customs, traditions, cultures and beliefs if any of the data causes stress as it may or may not relate to our own - cognizant dissonance occurs and creates cause and affect to the perceptive filters of our mind.
The greatest challenge to the transmission of a system such as Okinawa Karate, i.e. Tatsuo's interpretation of karate in Isshinryu, is that our preceptive filters tend to cause changes thus changing the traditional beliefs of the original system into something unique to the individual, the individuals family and the individuals tribe/society where they reside. Classical training takes precedence when a practitioner works diligently to remain as true as humans can to the original intent, training, customs, traditions, culture and beliefs of the creator - such as Tatsuo Sensei and Okinawan Isshinryu.
This becomes a conundrum to the practitioner of the systems of karate or other martial systems. It is believed that once a human intervenes in an experiment that experiment is thus tainted unintentionally. That unintentional intrusion that causes a distinct effect to the experiment taints any chance of an unbiased result.
As today's practitioners take on the mantel of Isshinryu and martial arts generally they influence that practice intentionally and unintentionally. I believe that a true practitioner of a martial art cannot avoid this shift due to the personal perceptive filters created over our life time.
The most difficult aspect of my practice of a martial system is learning to see past some of my filters with a mind that this also is tainted by those same filters. This is a truth that colors our world where clarity over rose colored shadows can lead and mislead. This is my belief in the disparities encountered between various Isshinryu houses. They all have a distinct blueprint that manufactured that home or dojo. Changes are not impossible, merely difficult if approached from a path foreign to the belief system of that dojo.
It is my hope that I can inspire a very small view that transcends the view currently held in each dojo of Isshinryu. To inspire a change. A change that benefits the system and promotes the core belief of its founder to learn of his customs, traditions, culture and beliefs which will promote a better understanding of all customs, traditions, cultures, and beliefs - all of them.
Let me close this post by saying that I understand a bit more why Tatsuo Sensei asked his American practitioners to embrace this study. It does seem to enrich the practice and the system itself overall. It also promotes my personal belief that taking this intent places its importance within those fundamental principles of all martial systems. It fits to how we interact with other tribes, other societies, and other nations.
I have discovered some not very nice traits. If not for the teachings of many I would not have discovered those things and that would be depressing and most unfortunate.
I want to say thank you to a few folks. I won't provide names. I don't wish to forget or overlook any one person - not nice of me. I want to say thank you to those folks for putting themselves out there. Those efforts provided me the awareness that will result in my growth as a person. I want to say thank you to the authors, web sites, blog posters, article authors, teachers/mentors/instructors and those references they provided that led to this recent epiphany. I would not and could not have discovered the needs and traits without that effort - thank you.
The road before me is going to be the most difficult road I have ever encountered in my life of fifty-seven years. The only regret, I was not aware or astute enough to see what was needed at a much younger age. It is truly never to late.
I have all the GAVSD books. I have read almost all of them first time around. I know I will read them again and again. I also will actively follow her recommendations to improve my communications. That improvement will also provide me more knowledge to improve my self-protection method of avoidance. It has already in my personal and professional life.
My enthusiastic postings are my efforts to inspire readers to read her books. To decide on the value for themselves. If you enjoy my posts that is frosting on the cake for me.
My efforts to see what is down the rabbit hole sometimes seems truthful. Sometimes it seems not. I discovered using the word seem can be deceptive. Can this mean I am just discovering its true meaning therefore provides the opportunity to reflect once again and discover the truth vs. a self-deception?
Can I be honest with myself now and say, "My efforts to see what is down the rabbit hole is truthful. Sometimes it is not."? At this particular moment I can say, yes. I can also say that this requires self-honest evaluation on a consistent basis. It is easy to fall back into those habits that developed digging the rabbit hole deeper.
Something to consider ... what we say and do and write ... is it filled with presuppositions that provide hidden self-talk that the unconscious mind recognizes with out more conscious awareness resulting in a deeper and darker rabbit hole?
In an honest effort I will say I believe that my blog(s) are a teaching tool for me and a means to express to others my ideas and thoughts for comment and feedback of a beneficial way - to learn and create light in my rabbit hole. Is there a presupposition that is within this statement nullifying it?
My wife uses a Sufism, "Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?" Can this be used for posting as well? All three or two or one of them? How would you accomplish this?
To know just how deep the rabbit hole goes you must get some light to see past the darkness. This is an internal event. It is a self-crises that must be overcome to light the rabbit hole.
To send light down the rabbit hole to see just how far it goes is to become aware of those things within us that are not allowing the truth to be present and in our consciousness. To see just how far the rabbit hole goes you must choose to take the red pill or the blue pill. As always, your choice.
To become aware, take the red pill to open the mind and become aware of the rabbit hole. Many tend to take the blue pill. It is a painful process to light up the rabbit hole, look into it - like looking into your soul - and then taking that first step into the rabbit hole.
I have taken the red pill. It is a hard path and I still am not sure where the rabbit hole will take me. I have discovered that the hole although dark and deep still provides growth and serenity to my life as I encounter each thing and change it to a more positive thing - a most difficult task.
The practice of karate-jutsu-do in tandem with the ken-po goku-i was my red pill. During my journey down the rabbit hole each level in my training, practice and studies has created a greater light intensity showing me the way. The rabbit hole is deep. The light removes doubt and fear and frustrations so I can truly see beyond the many stories covering my self.
I don't say this to express that this is the way. It is just my way and my philosophy. I have taken the red pill, I remain in wonderland and I am finding out just how deep the rabbit hole is. If I had taken the blue pill I would still be blissfully living in the matrix believing everything the matrix wanted me to believe regardless and in direct opposition to truth.
Unlike Cypher, I would not desire to return to the matrix and be plugged back in for the benefits I have experienced next the pain of discovery and change is far greater.
Abernethy Sensei does an excellent job explaining his perceptions and understanding of the two terms as applied to the practice of martial systems. I agree with his assessments. I also believe it explains an aspect taught in Chinese Classics that all life deals with a duality of Yang-Yin.
To me, karate is both jutsu and do, much like Sensei articulates in his post. To me, it is the duality of karate training and practice. To practice and maintain the traditions of Okinawan karate both sides of that coin must balance to achieve a level of proficiency leading to enlightenment - both physical and psychological.
The ken-po goku-i, the bubishi, the I Ching, and the Tao Te Ching bring many lessons with a theme of duality in balance. To meld jutsu and do, dojo and society, internal self and external person, etc. Everything connects and this is one lesson of many in karate-jutsu-do.
The naming of a system should exemplify the systems principles. To provide a limiting title creates confusion and misunderstandings. Take the title/name "karate." Depending on who is hearing the term, title, name you get many differing explanations/interpretations of just what that means. Until you clear that air you cannot truly understand its true meaning in practice and training.
So much in training is missing due to misunderstandings through ambiguities such as this. It may seem frivolous yet it does have an affect. You may ask, "Why bother?" Use verbal self-defense skills as the example. If you cannot determine meaning and then articulate a response how can you deescalate and/or avoid the common crisis/conflict that results when things go bad. Verbal communications are known to be the impetus of most conflicts.
Read his article. Consider what it means to you and then decide. It is your practice and training. It is your goals and accomplishments in this that matter. If it provides balance then it is good.
I have spent some time studying the changes that occurred during the late 1800's and especially the early 1900's. The early 1900's were pivitol in the nature of karate practice where it was converted from the fighting system to a health, fitness, and school system of practice losing many important aspects in regards to fighting.
No where in any of this have I come across any inference to kata being of an artistic nature. I have not found any inferences either direct or hidden that say kata are artistic in nature or that a primary aspect is its aesthetic form. I feel kata do not meet these traits directly. I feel kata are not either artistic or aesthetic in its teachings.
I do feel that both the artistic and aesthetic of kata are simply byproducts of learning and applying fundamental principles of all martial systems. This I believe.
The "artistic" of kata was born when it converted from a fighting civil system to a sportive, health and fitness system for the school systems of Okinawa and later Japan. Artistic kata came about as the sporting aspects grew when it was necessary to create scoring systems to differentiate the performance enough to allow for it. It continues to be expanded with each successive generation of sport practitioner.
When I see explanations of adherence to and applying such kata meaning as regarding body alignment, structure, etc. I don't see this as naming it aesthetics. These are fundamental principles not aesthetics. The appearance when viewed by others my seem aesthetically pleasing. It is not aesthetics but the byproduct of applying the fundamental principles of martial systems.
I am trying to emphasize that "naming" things can give false impressions as to what is being taught, being done, and most important being applied in fighting/self-defense/self-protection. If strictly speaking to sport it still does not adequate "name" what is being taught and applied. Even in kata competition they loosely look to its possible application of technique as if in a fight. Just because about 95% of those participating in kata competitions have not experienced fighting or gained any fighting experience/proficiency does not indicate that what is displayed in forms competition and graded as such is actually applicable to fighting.
Kata have many functions for martial systems with emphasis here on karate. It may have some artistic and aesthetic byproducts. It should not be expressed as a major meaning of kata. It is merely a byproduct of other more important principles that make kata and karate work.
I often look to see if the forming of an applied technique fits a some what aesthetic form. I look for this after I look to see if the principles applicable to that technique are present and that it is correct. If some aesthetic form results this is what I note. If it does not then I simply ignore the possible presence or absence of aesthetic form. It is not that important, the principles are far more critical to making things work.
I cannot fault any system or organization for this as the traditional (sport oriented) practice of karate is greatly sportive not combative. It comes to play when folks either promote, teach, or think that what they do is a part of survival in fighting and/or predatory violent encounters. It is just not that simple!
John Vesia Sensei of "Martial Views" blog posted on kata competitive aspects of theatrics and how that relates to kata function. He inspired this post and you will find his post here meaningful and relevant. http://www.martialviews.com/
"All too often we see great emphasis being placed on ensuring that the limbs etc are in the correct positions whilst none is placed on what the student should be thinking and feeling." - Iain Abernethy Sensei, Bunkai Jutsu
I cannot count how many times in the dojo I hear the statement, "This is my favorite technique." I have found that when this statement appears that the person tends to practice it exclusively, diligently, and totally as a sole technique that you may find is their sole technique for fighting. You know like those favorite combinations that win tournaments. They are not so successful in violent encounters - either fighting or violent predatory attacks.
I have no favorite technique. I have no favorite basic waza. I have no favorite kata. I have no favorite combinations. I hope if needed any technique or combination of techniques comes to me instinctively according to the threat and attack. I hope I have trained to respond reflexively, instinctively, and where the technique is born as if it and the threat's attack made a mutual agreement before the encounter so they would at best cancel each other out. If not, that our line is longer than theirs allowing our spontaneous, instinctive, reflexive technique conquers theirs. As the reader knows fundamental principles of martial systems as stated in the book of martial power states:
When you know this you may consider such terms used in the book like mushin and so on and you are correct to consider these as well. The principles are presented in a solitary fashion where you also know that the intent is for instruction while you also know that application is as if they all were happening together at the same time, in that same space, as if one. You instinctively know it as a single simultaneous process.
Perlman, Steven J. "The Book of Martial Power: The Universal Guide to the Combative Arts." New York. The Overlook Press. 2006.
Learn one kata means to truly learn it to its fullest depth and breadth. Often I have posted that to learn one kata means you learn all kata. To spend time and effort on one will teach you what you need to then learn other kata in a shorter time period. Why? Because you know the depth and breadth of one kata. That one kata encompasses those principles that transcend kata versions as well as systems and styles be they hard, soft or a combination thereof.
Often the idea of many kata as many black belts for many systems or styles has become the goal, the marker of a master. Too bad, so much is missed because of this misconception of proficiency and ability. To score 9.8's and 9.7's for kata performance has taken precedence over kata to self protection, combat, fighting, or what ever is required for the moments scenario. Too bad ...
Spending all your time on many kata leaves no time to learn karate. Yes, you can do the form in its most rudimentary level - can you apply it randomly yet with direct application to the appropriate threat? Too bad ...
To learn one kata with all the fundamental principals of martial systems then learning what violence is and achieving the ability to recognize it and act accordingly overcoming all its adversities is a real challenge, does your kata do that? Too bad ...
If I had to lay claim to just one thing in all my years of practice it would be with pride I would say I learned one kata completely, thoroughly, deeply and to its greatest breadth much like gazing at the heavens and seeing no end or limitations. I would say I learned one kata this way and made it work.
When you have learned your first kata moves and your Sensei says your ready to begin the next, STOP, respectfully ask to learn all there is to learn on that one kata first - you have all the time in the world to add to your kata with meaning and purpose toward karate's meaning and purpose. Wouldn't that be great?
If your the offspring of the traditional, post 1900's implementation to schools on Okinawa and Japan, form of learning it is not too late. Stop, choose the one kata that speaks to you as the unique individual you are and then seek the knowledge to learn and practice "just one kata" to completion. You will enrich your training and practice and thus achieve greater understanding of all those other rudimentary kata. Sounds good to me ...