"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.

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Are my hands and feet deadly weapons?

You can re-read my previous post on karate and deadly hands but just in case here is an article that speaks to this phenomena but as all things, take it with a grain and find/research the stats.

Does donning a black belt automatically convey upon that person "respect?"

No, it conveys a message or symbolizes that the person who wears the belt has achieved a level of knowledge and proficiency to graduate from the "novice" stage to the "student or practitioner" stage. A long way before reaching an expert stage or a Sensei stage.

Respect is earned from deeds and actions taken by the wearer of the black belt. Many black belts are worn by those who are not of a moral standing that reaches this level from my view. Many also wear a black belt who are not deserving of the award or the symbological standards of such an award.

The first black belt is a transitional award moving one from the fundamentals to the actual achievement levels of the practice of martial systems. It is significant and important and where many lose site of the ultimate essence and goals of the "way or DO."

Note: this deals with perception and that is governed by; one, what you have been told about the black belt from others and the media; two, what is considered fashionable at the time you ask; three, whether the source is a part of your culture and ethnic group, and finally; four what power relationship exists between you and the source of the answer.

Are my hands "deadly weapons" when I reach black belt?

Nope, not, no way, ain't happening even if you do makiwara, etc. Now, if you have a willing participant who will stand still and allow you to apply some technique that has a potential to inflict great damage it may or may not actually cause death. It is not that easy to "kill" someone with your hands and feet.

I would tend to believe that if death occurred it was not the technique that does it but rather some other external action or incident that causese the death, i.e. like I hit you in the face and you fall, i.e. gravity is the killing energy here, and hit your head on a rock. The likelihood of death is greater here but this is not fool proof either.

Now, can your karate technique cause damage to another person? You betcha it can but then again the damage may or may not end the incident. There is just too much going on and the probability that your technique will actually kill someone is very, very low. But remember, the damage you do and the circumstances under which you apply said damage can lead to incidents of wrongful death which can be classified and unlawful killing, i.e. murder.

In order to answer this question you will need to touch base with professionals and the associated research to determine just how many killings or death are a result of a martial art technique. Bet you will find none or may one or two and then you will find that the killing/death was a result of something occurring after the application of said technique.

Deadly weapons can be a baseball bat, a carving knife from your family silver set, or a fall from tripping over a newspaper you forgot to remove from the front walk to your front door. Is the probability of this high or low?

Now that I answered the question here is another question that relates, "Are my hands deadly weapons?" The answer is not clear cut but as I find from a recent article you can kill with your hands and feet. Read the article, "Punched to Death." There are FBI details there that do speak to many things regarding hand-to-hand encounters, etc.

How can anyone possibly attain black belts in several systems, styles or branches of martial arts?

The old stories abound on how masters of old would study one kata for years to learn it. Today, you hear stories or resumes that a person has a black belt in this system, a black belt in that system and a black belt in the system, how can this be if it truly takes years to learn even one kata and all its accouterments?

I have a theory! Lets just say that those who hold black belts, kuro obi, in many systems actually knows each of them to the depth and breadth the traditionalists speak of to truly know karate or any martial system. I won't bore you with facts and figures that would disprove the possibility and I won't preach that those who "know" many systems or styles is actually only knowledgeable of the mere surface movements of same, that would be unfair as there are those out there who have the depth and breadth of many systems and rightly so.

I hypothesize that if a person comes to truly know, understand and practice a system, style or branch down to its deepest depth and to the edge of its widest breadth that they have found, learned and truly understand the fundamental principles of martial systems. Once you know the one then the others are merely and adjustment to fit the style, system or branch of martial art.

Take a close look at Isshinryu, Gojuryu, Shorinryu and tell me you don't see a lot of similarities in the techniques, kata and overall practice. At their core the fundamental principles of martial systems are fundamentally the exact same thing. Body alignment is body alignment but how the body alignment is applied is the only variation. Generation of power is generation of power applied is the only variation between the systems, styles or branches. This is a fundamental truth of all martial arts.

This means that one system, style or branch is fundamentally no different than any other system, style or branch in the light of fundamental principles but the signature of each is unique and individualized by the person who created the system, style of branch.

Isshinryu, my style/branch, can be seen as the same as goju and shorin, the father and mother of the child Isshinryu or the one heart way. It's uniqueness comes from Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei as he blended those two into the one unique personalized version or variation he calls Isshinryu.

Hey, this ain't rocket science you know. ;-)

Is fighting why we practice Karate?

Yes, surprised at the answer?

You should not be surprised because historically speaking this system of defense as it originates from Asian sources was inspired by the art of being a warrior. Even in the Marines today there is a part of boot camp dedicated to hand-to-hand combat. The ancient Greeks took this to a high degree as they were noted to be fierce warriors.

Hand to hand systems can be found in all parts of the world and in all cultures. But, there is that huge "BUT" that makes things change, natural and normal change.

Fighting should not be the soul and exclusive reason why one learns a martial system like "karate." In all ancient systems the ability to fight proficiently has been acquired on both sides of the battle lines, i.e. by the "good" and the "bad." The good being those who overcome adversaries and the bad being the vanquished. The good can be vanquished as well by the bad as history tells the story from the view and perspective of the "winners."

Any system of fighting must be tempered with a cultural belief system that governs how it is applied in life. The protectors of the morally correct have to have the tools to achieve those victories in the name of defense, protection and group preservation - this is nature's way.

Karate-jutsu didn't just become a "do or way" but simply brought out into the lime light that part that was second to the physical aspects. As all defenders find true that when the dangers are dormant they must continue to achieve proficiencies to compensate for the lull so when the need arises they are ready, able and willing to rise to the challenges. If the systems don't have some morally correct way about them they can be used for other more incorrect things, i.e. the good become the bad and the good-bad must then come to the battle field.

In this I was recently asked if karate or any marital system be utilized to "preserve one's self-respect?" I would say no, self-respect is something that cannot be recorded by a picture. It is a type of damage that does no apparent physical harm to anyone and only to the individual as a mental harm if that person allows the concept to govern them vs. them governing themselves. Using the excuse that "self-respect was at stake" is just that, an excuse for someone to do something they wanted to do in the first place. How can one avoid conflict this way?

Theory vs. Reality

Remember that things you might read or see are simply theory until you are able to vet them out in reality, i.e. reality training or real life encounters. Until then it remains theory and academic. It might seem that simple yet, my theory to date, is nothing is that simple.

Things that seem simple are often very complex but our minds and our nature wants to put things in nice neat compact and simple packages. The first time I was to read about violence I tried to find simple steps to make it jell in my mind. I could not find any such simple formula to learn about it and that was an eye opener. Violence is very complex.

Even now I am reading Rory Miller's new book, "Force Decisions," only to discover yet once again that things are far more complex and convoluted than I imagined.

I was attacked as a teenager by a drug dealer who outweighed me by about one hundred pounds. I survived but felt I could have done something more. Today I reflect on such incidents and say to myself that for fifteen years of age I did pretty darn good. I lived and suffered only some bumps, bruises, cuts and abrasions - very lucky me.

As a Marine I encountered first an attempt to toss me out a second story building. It may not seem like much but you have to remember how much damage you get when gravity pulls you down a couple of feet to the cold hard ground. I managed to actually "act" and "end" the conflict. I survived that one as well. Later I was sleeping in my bunk, rack or bed and suddenly felt a huge pressure on my forehead. I instinctually woke and jumped down off the top rack and pursued my attacker. He was faster and got away but I survived the encounter and lived.

As a Marine, dangerous life you know and this was not even combat, I woke the next morning after a real bender to find my OD green issue blanket in ashes and a burn whole over my torso. This one was just lucky as LCpl Balthazar, never forget this guy, came by and said a couple of Marines kept setting my rack, bunk or bed on fire and he kept getting up and putting it out. I can only say in this event I survived through the will and effort of another Marine willing to set up to the plate.

My thoughts on these events as I consider those close encounters violent in nature but are not indicative of true violence and the kind of violence that one would live with in their jobs like Rory Miller and would live with in their lives like Marc MacYoung.

I was lucky and proud of it as other more minor incidents over the ten year tour as a Marine taught me that at least on those occasions I was lucky to have acted. I came to realize that often how I acted didn't sit well with me but now that I have at least been academically introduced to what violence and what violent people are really like I thank my lucky stars that I have "avoided" it and live a peaceful life.

Some of what I have learned theoretically and academically I have managed to assimilate but many things will remain theory and academic because I chose to have it this way. After all, I am 58 years young and I do want to get to be an old Marine, an old guy and remain healthy but aware.

Don't mind me, just going over some things and trying to achieve some enlightenment. I want to remind everyone who has been so kind as to register that they read my crap and enjoy it but that often it is part theory, part academia and just a smidgeon of experience.

Thanks for listening, you get to think about crap as you gain in years of life experience. I chose my path and I feel I chose wisely, now for some more fun. If you can't tell I like to write and hope to get good at it some day :-)

The Key [鍵]: Opens [開く] the Door [戸] to Potential

Often I think to myself what it is I am trying to do here on the blogosphere. Am I trying to teach a dogma that is mine regarding martial systems? Am I preaching the gospel according to Charles? Am I forcing my perceptions and beliefs on those who read my mindless meanderings?

No, what I am trying to accomplish is to give a esoteric gift to those who read my stuff. The gift is a key. This key is to open the door of each person's potential. It is to open the mind so it will think for itself.

I don't want folks to follow anything I provide here or in practice but rather to assimilate all that I have to offer and then decide on their own as to its validity and to its value to that individual, that person, YOU!

I am not saying that anything I provide is either true or false, fact or fiction, or good or evil but rather information that may be or at least seems to be "different." It is not right or wrong, good or bad, true or false - just different.

The sages of China teach that a cornerstone of any great structure is the knowledge gained in its building, creation and foundation. It has to be the kind that is subject to reflection and change as to the moment, the person and the environment, etc.

I hope all who read this and my output are discovering the key and using it to open their door to their potential.

How does yin and yang work?

A complex question I go into with trepidation. I will try to explain it as simplistically as I can with the limited knowledge I have at this moment. Yin-yang is dualistic monism or a theory of dynamic relativity. When we judge something as either yin or yang we are not saying it is pure yin or pure yang but rather one or the other relative to the other.

The theory of nature is that it exists in a constant state of flux or change. It changes constantly in quality, quantity, and/or structure as to its yin-yang elements. It is an endless ebb and flow of movement of nature's processes.

Whether you are breaking something down into its atomistic parts, its particulars or whether you are considering the "whole" of something or its holistic nature you find no neutrality. Think of breathing in and out where one is either yin or yang with aspects of lesser intensity or context being yin with a bit of yang then yang with a bit of yin. When judging an entity as either yin or yang, you never do so "absolutely."

We can observe and detect a dominate yin or yang tendency, i.e. one is yin or yang relative to the other. The yin-yang symbol is an excellent representation of this yin-yang process.

To gain more insight to the true meaning of how yin-yang fit into our view of nature or the universe read the bibliography.

Stiskin, Nahum. "The Looking Glass God: Shinto, Yin Yang, and a Cosmology for Today." Weatherhill. New York. 1972.