"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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PDF Books Available

Greetings and Salutations All: I have worked toward compiling two small pdf books as an exercises and learning effort on terminologies for martial arts as well as my interpretation of the karate koan most call the ken-po goku-i. I didn't do this to publish for money and I don't plan on trying to charge for these two pdf books in the future.

I am making them available free to whomever wishes to obtain them for study and reflection. If you would be interested in reading them simply send me an email address that I can send them to as attachments. Please note that I am still editing them both so you will find errors and omissions within as to grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. I have a friend who is an editor who has graciously consented to edit the ken-po goku-i effort. When it is done I plan of notifying those who ask for a copy so they can have an updated and hopefully fully edited final edition.

The terminology pdf book is not what you might normally find as it does not give technical/technique oriented terms but rather terms of a teaching/martial philosophical nature. I had this one as a blog for a while but decided it might better serve those who are interested to have a pdf version available to either read and use via electronic means, i.e. either a computer like the iPad or a kindle reader type thing. 

So, send your email to isshin.do.karate@gmail.com and I will gladly send you one or the other or both for your reading pleasure. I would ask that if you do that you give me your review of them, if you wouldn't mind, when you have read them. - Thanks!

Why do we use the Japanese terms in karate?

I have often wondered why this particular part of western karate training exists. I already know that I tend to use terms, characters, and ideograms of Japanese origins to help teach and explain various aspects of the system I practice with emphasis on learning and understanding the culture and belief systems of our heritage to the martial arts. 

It also may be the mystique associated with samurai, marital arts from Asia and a form or type of connection that humans gravitate toward naturally and instinctually. It may give a sense of belonging to a group or tribe that is built on instinctual survival of the human condition. The question here is, "does this actually add value to teaching, learning and practice/application? It depends.

It is also a question regarding the use of the so called traditional karate uniform. The uniform as well is not truly traditional in the sense that connects back historically because it is barely a hundred years old, maybe even less since Okinawan's didn't embrace it completely until maybe the forties or fifties, 1940's/1950's etc. Again it connects us.

I use terms and kanji, etc. characters along with the varied meanings to help make a connection to the cultures and beliefs historically connected to the system I practice. I also use them as a means to teach other more esoteric things necessary to balance out the physical with the spiritual. I don't require memorization of such terms but rather a sense of their importance if one desires the full spectrum of martial arts connectivity, both present and past. 

Whether a practitioner uses Uraken or simply "back fist" to explain the use of the back fist in defense is not a matter of great importance. Requiring such knowledge to make things sound "martial or Asian" is not that important. Knowing when, how and why it is used is more important. 

Why I tend to gravitate toward terms that would appear more philosophical in nature is because I feel the connection to the who, when, where and why of the martial system I practice is more relevant and that speaks to things like avoidance and deescalation over using a back fist to some person's face seems important over knowing a language of terms that often are not accurate or correct. 

If one uses them and does so with some semblance of accuracy is ok but I feel getting mired down with this stands at a lower level of importance. This is why I tend to keep such things documented as a reference rather than trying to impress my ego with the ability to recite martial arts Japanese/Okinawan/Chinese terms and characters. 

In the end it is just fun to do as long as it is taken with a grain of skepticism unless you are born, raised and are Japanese, Okinawan or Chinese. 

In the end I would rather master an understanding of how to properly apply martial arts in its full spectrum over knowing terms and characters, etc. 

What is a dojo?

A recent question asked and answered very well as will be indicated in the following. 

A dojo as a place where you learn budo. The main way in which a dojo is distinctive from a club has...”little to do with the architecture of the place or the way people dress for training; the distinction has everything to do with the nature of the struggle going on inside each individual.” - Michael Clarke

The essence of what a dojo is is determined by the internal struggle of the individual. It, as stated so eloquently by Mr. Clarke, is not a place with special architectural designs as found in older more traditional dojo buildings in Asia. It is not about the internal trappings such as a layout and zen or Buddhist trappings. It is not about the uniform you wear, if any. It is about the struggle you encounter when you practice in a traditionally oriented dojo environment. 

In Michael Clarke’s words…”Without a spirited assault on your ego, the true value of karate will remain forever beyond your reach”. A “spirited assault” involves a lot of hard, physical training, self examination and reflection as well as personal reading and research.

A dojo is a place in your environment where one takes up the challenge in overcoming your ego, pride and other such external trappings of the spirit. It is more in line with self reflection and self examination using a singular practice of a system that involves the spirit, mind and body. 

In a dojo the student is expected to take full responsibility for their own training. The onus is on them to make progress.

The distinction of the dojo as a place in misleading. A dojo is anywhere one places a personal effort toward training, practice and application of the full spectrum of a martial system encompassing the essence of a budo art be it karate, kobudo or other system of which there are many. 

The practice of budo is an individual and lonely path by definition so it shouldn’t matter too much what environment you train in

Even when in a group exchanging practices, trainings and experiences one is truly still practicing and training from an individual state. A dojo, regardless of when, where and how, is simply a place where one trains budo, i.e. at your desk, on a walk outside, or in a place built with a particular goal of providing space in which one can reflect, examine and apply the spirit, mind and body effort of martial arts properly.