Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

Please take a look at my bibliography if you do not see a proper reference to a post.

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

When you begin to feel like you are a tough guy, a warrior, a master of the martial arts or that you have lived a tough life, just take a moment and get some perspective with the following:

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

I've clawed for my gun while bullets ripped past me

I've dodged as someone tried to put an ax in my skull

I've fought screaming steel and left rubber on the road to avoid death

I've clawed broken glass out of my body after their opening attack failed

I've spit blood and body parts and broke strangle holds before gouging eyes

I've charged into fires, fought through blizzards and run from tornados

I've survived being hunted by gangs, killers and contract killers

The streets were my home, I hunted in the night and was hunted in turn

Please don't brag to me that you're a survivor because someone hit you. And don't tell me how 'tough' you are because of your training. As much as I've been through I know people who have survived much, much worse. - Marc MacYoung


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. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

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.

“What you are reading right now is a blog. It’s written and posted by me, because I want to. I get no financial remuneration for writing it. I don’t have to meet anyone’s criteria in order to post it. Not only I don’t have an employer or publisher, but I’m not even constrained by having to please an audience. If people won’t like it, they won’t read it, but I won’t lose anything by it. Provided I don’t break any laws (libel, incitement to violence, etc.), I can post whatever I want. This means that I can write openly and honestly, however controversial my opinions may be. It also means that I could write total bullshit; there is no quality control. I could be biased. I could be insane. I could be trolling. … not all sources are equivalent, and all sources have their pros and cons. These needs to be taken into account when evaluating information, and all information should be evaluated. - God’s Bastard, Sourcing Sources

“All I say is by way of discourse, and nothing by way of advice. I should not speak so boldly if it were my due to be believed.” - Montaigne

A Lot of Shit out There

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

I do a lot of research, research to add to my knowledge base focused on martial arts, self-defense and some other more archaic stuff such as WWII Raiders and Camp X shenanigans. In that search for more I sometimes come across what I would call, “Crap - a lot of shit that is out there.” Shit that just don’t ring true. 

Today, while searching out materials on a subject matter I plan to use for some fictional writing I came across a book. The book about a system of martial art with proclamations that warranted some extra effort to validate. This article is about doing the research because even when something seems real often it turns out to be “Shit.”

The very first alarm went off when this book made a statement that even during my time in the military and through the study of some military information never once rang out as used to describe military training, tactics and strategies - even if it might be a part of the special operations of the military. 

First, the statement used the term, “Science,” to describe it but not one iota of information as to what that science is or was could be found. In addition it turned out to be a term often used in modern times to “Attract fish.” I means like “Phishing attacks” through emails, etc. Then the next phrase also triggered warning signals, “all out hand-to-hand fighting.” Just what the hell could that possibly mean because it comes across as vague and unassailable if for no other reason than it describes nothing that would fit reality. 

The very next statement normally would have said, “Stop, don’t walk but run away from this shit.” The statement tells the reader  that this system is a study of an art and a science (bells going off all over the place; trigger words to gain attention and actually say nothing but use the readers imagination and unconscious mind to pull them toward the sugar) of personal combat - wait for it, it is coming up real soon now - “TO THE DEATH.” 

Then they profess connections to WWII special ops, to things line the “Samurai Society,” “Connections to societies of different nations,” “A connection to some archiac society with a term used in the name,” “An american version of all those societies,” and finally to make an Asian connection since this is a martial art, “A Samurai Ju-jitsu Society,” and so on.

The author even used qualifications derived from his supposed membership of a most esteemed military service along with expert certification at a time in the late sixties that actually had no such certifications - the certs were created in the more modern version of a military martial arts program. 

To put the cherry on the top of this mess we also were told that the original person who created this most deadly death dealing system who is dead and who created this system for the Canadians who trained their commando’s in it were “So Deadly” the government destroyed all traces of the system so it could not be published, etc. the plates and transcripts, but you can find a copy of the original book plus American versions that say the original is not available on Amazon. 

As you can see at least in this one instance “there is a lot of shit out there,” and we tend to eat that shit up in bunches. It is like using statistics to bolster your view, perspective and agenda but none of it is validated through scientific studies, research and data yet it fools us into thinking this stuff MUST be true cause the stats say it is so. This is the same method used when terms, words and phrases are used to bait people into buying their shit. This is also why I advocate researching data no matter its sources because you never truly know. 

Oh, and the person who actually made significant contributions to special operations of WWII and are still studied today actually come from a person named, “William Ewart Fairbairn” who taught commandos and spys at Camp X or STS - 103. The guy mentioned in this most deadly system could not be found anywhere except on the sites that promote this most deadly system, ain’t that interesting. 

Anyway, this stuff could be legit but as long as the tactics are used to emphasis, embellish and dramatize the system to mislead those seeking knowledge of fighting, combatives and most important self-defense it warrants at the very least skepticism and at best running far, far, far away. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. come on, you can trust me and what I write cause after all I are a uber-master-expert in the most deadliest of all martial arts guaranteed to be the most uber-effective fighting and self-defense stuff in the whole wide world you can possibly study and learn. It will save your life after all ;-)

Survey of a Sort


First, to all who read my mindless meanderings I wish you a very “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Second, this is a sort of survey if you will. Do you run a dojo, martial arts training hall? If you do, does your state and/or city require you obtain a business license, sellers permit and/or tax use permit, etc.? 



Okinawan Karate Principles

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

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

Not commonly known or taught, one Okinawan Sensei actually speaks to the fundamentals of Okinawan Karate that makes it the unique martial art of Okinawa Japan. He mentions, through an interpreter, that it is Okinawan principles (we assume in the video that he means Okinawan Karate Principles) where it makes reference to things that actually connect to what I try to teach, “Fundamental Principle of Martial Disciplines.” 

The short clip is from Minoru Higa Sensei of Shorin-ryu where he attempts to convey to us the principles of Okinawan karate, which is also considered the main difference between the karate practiced on Japan vs. the karate practiced on Okinawa vs. Majority of Karate practiced in the West.

The reason I am considering it as a hint toward principles being the foundation and very essence of martial practice is because his examples speak almost directly to principles listed as physiokinetics. He states:

All movements are of small amplitude.
No excesses.
Blocks protect only the body, not the sides.
Movements are small and built around the center of gravity - centeredness.
Big movements are pointless.
Movement is small, tiny.
Movements are short - hara, hara and hara, all movement from the centeredness located around the hara.

When I look at the movements being of small amplitude I consider the principles of, “Simplicity; natural action, economical motion, active movement, natural and unnatural motion. non-telegraphing, kime, yin-yang, zanshin, mushin and so on.”

No excesses is economical motions while small movements around the center of the body covers centeredness and that bigger movements, etc., lean toward force, power and energy bleed off, i.e., if it is wasted it doesn’t reach the target and so on.

Sensei then says, “It is this way of thinking in practice needed to understand Okinawan karate. It is about karate “Principles” with movements, etc., that protect only the body. Anything more is a waste of energy.” It is then left up to us, as long as there is no more explanation forthcoming via media sources, to extrapolate the full meaning he wants us to get, Okinawan Karate Principles. 

These idea’s expressed by a leading proponent of Karate in Okinawa provide the theory that Okinawan principles are those same principles taught as the fundamental principles of martial disciplines, i.e., such as the physiokinetics along with theory, technique and philosophy. This video is the first I have heard from an Okinawan karate teacher that mentions “Okinawan Principles” meant to distinguish its core or essences as perceived in relation with other forms of karate, specifically the larger movement in practice of Japanese karate. 

Lets not forget that a lot of the principles that make karate, karate, are sometimes conveyed in terms not completely explained and understood by the western mind such as:

- Chinkuchi
- Gamaku
- Koshi
- Muchimi
- Kinkotsu
- Tenshin
- Tensho
- Kakie 38 min?
- Tanren

These terms tend to cover the fundamental principles but in a way unique to the Asian culture and mind. Looking at Chinkuchi it is easy when the characters/ideograms are defined and translated to convey a meaning to the western mind that may or may not actually convey principles, i.e., Chinkuchi is often defined as “Sinew, Muscle and Bone.” 

If you understand fundamental principles you could theorize that sinew, muscle and bone refer to what we americans incorrectly tern as, “Muscle memory” and yet using sinew, muscle and bone we can see readily how that means the body uses sinew, muscle and bone to achieve proper application of principles like, “Structure, Alignment, centeredness, etc.” 

Ambiguities are a cancer to most teachings in martial arts because it is that lack of a fuller understanding leading to a greater knowledge of such disciplines that tends to lead toward a break down in its teachings and its application in reality.

Sensei Higa, in this view, at least hints at and alludes to a more critical way of teaching, learning and applying Okinawan karate, by the teaching, practicing and application of Okinawan Karate principles. The great thing is when the mind is opened to the possibility of principles it leads us toward a more principle based model of teaching (in lieu of the somewhat limited model of technique based teachings currently used), learning and application of principles in martial arts. 

Sanchin is the epitome of Okinawan karate because its practice and the tests it provides teaches the student those Okinawan karate principles. It is the supreme exercise of principles practice and conditioning where the holistic whole of principles is demonstrated. 

More on OKP (Okinawan Karate Principles):

The art of controlling your body with emphasis in the center, centeredness of hara. The arms and legs are like that of branches of a tree, without control of the center, the trunk of the tree, without this control focused on the tanden the use of arms and legs are nothing. The application through arms and legs without the whole body directed from tanden those arms and legs are useless, i.e., whole body applications.

Efficiency is in details, efficiency of principled applications manifested in karate techniques. The details are the principles. How to maximize the body into an efficient tool to apply principles productively, efficiently and with maximize power and force. 

Okinawan Karate, a means to condition the mind and body and spirit through the flames of forging done in the dojo while the actual tempering comes from the exposure of the body, mind and spirit to the heat applied from exposure to the adrenal stress-conditions either by experience in battle or training that provides a close example of the same experience, i.e., adrenal stress-conditioned reality-based triggers in training, practice and understanding.

Atomistic is about principles while technique is about holistic application of principles through techniques. In short, karate is the application of principles dynamically through those applied techniques. Techniques are the conduit of principles holistically applied so that one has force and power to achieve victory over life and death encounters. 

Power and force of karate can only be applied through the movement of the entire body as created through movement in the tanden/hara and that movement comes from legs rooted properly while remaining stable in movement. If legs are used to kick then movement is hindered causing force and power to be lost in applications therefore effort and focus remains on stability, structure and alignments while in motion taking root when necessary to transfer force and power to a target.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Ti or Te - Understanding Its Use

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

In recent postings about the naming of Okinawan Karate, i.e., as named initially “Ti,” then “Toudi,” and then “Karate (using charcters meaning China Hand) and finally in the early 1900’s as Karate (using characters meaning empty hand) I wrote about the use of karate for, “Karate.” In recent video presentations on karate from an Okinawan Karate-ka of note it presented the why of calling this system of defense, “Ti/Te.” The following are my personal thoughts on what this karate-ka mentioned being the essence and principles of Okinawan Ti/Karate. 

Read also “Why Karate? (Why Empty Hand)

In the old days if you go down to the ground in traditional karate it meant death. Today it means winning or losing, not death. In self-defense death returns to the realm of possibility therefore foot techniques are meant to remain controlled below the waist, etc., maintaing stability, structure and control of your body. 

Historically the system was referred to as Ti (te in Japanese) because it was known that in combat the fist was of primary importance and that legs allowed take downs meaning death. The importance of hands in karate for combat in life and death situations made it critical and higher in importance thus the naming, Ti. Hitting with hands, etc., is more important than kicking ergo naming of karate. 

The true importance of legs in karate is not kicking, it is about stability, balance and rooting when applying hands in combat. Due to the importance of life and death struggles the feet keep the balance, the stability of the body and the overall structure and alignment that provides application of principles necessary to achieve power and strength when hitting. Loss of balance and structure meant going to ground and in a life and death struggle - you face death.

This means the true nature of karate is not about hands and feet, it is about the utilization of hands through a body applying force and power through it and the arms to the hands whether empty fists or fists with weapons are applied. In truth kicks were meant, in combat, as finishing techniques applied to an adversary who was taken down to the ground because they lost structure, balance, centeredness, etc. allowing leg techniques, closer to targets of a person on the ground, while maintaining upright structure, balance and ability with hands now in wait for the next attacker. 

Power and force of karate can only be applied through the movement of the entire body as created through movement in the tanden/hara and that movement comes from legs rooted properly while remaining stable in movement (ergo, why the system is referred to as Te/Ti, the hands are primary fighting tools while the legs are more supportive/enhancing tools). If legs are used to kick then movement is hindered causing force and power to be lost in applications therefore effort and focus remains on stability, structure and alignments while in motion taking root when necessary to transfer force and power to a target.

Making the assumption that the original “Name” for the indigenous hand fighting system of Okinawan is “Ti/Te (for hand)” and that the above explanation for using the “Hand” as a designation for this system it actually makes sense. Explaining the distinctions down to this level, i.e., using hands dominantly with the body vs. the legs, actually helps to understand the roots and beginnings that made Ti, Ti! Now I feel comfortable calling the system or style I practice, Ti/Te or even Karate (still don’t like the use of empty here vs. just hand) with a stretch in understanding the distinctions. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Aging Martial Artists - New Blog

Link to right of page. Click photo for larger view.

Yudansha and Kata

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

In a recent posting somewhere out there is iKarate land it was asked, “ … a style where you learn all the kata prior to or upon becoming a Yudansha?” Interesting, but that is a whole nother subject - Isshinryu seems to be one of those styles that at a minimum require one learn, superficially, the movement and patterns of all the “Open Hand Kata” to receive a black belt. There will be some argument over that one in the Isshinryu community. In this I don’t count the kobudo kata.

There in lies the rub to such a question because to gather appropriate data I would have to define the style as to all the kata within and that would include all the kobudo if for no other reason that kobudo is considered both a separate system as well as an intricate part of the empty hand systems.

Then I would have to differentiate between systems, i.e., karate vs. kobudo vs. iaido vs. judo vs. jujitsu, etc., then I would have to differentiate between systems and styles that may not even have kata. The list goes on ….

So, I would rephrase that question to, “In Okinawan karate does your system or style ask/require you learn all the kata prior to or upon becoming a Yudansha?” In Okinawan karate that would mean both open-hand and kobudo - a lot of kata. I also would assume and suspect that none of the Okinawan systems or styles require all of the kata to achieve black belt. Too many use various kata, both open and kobudo, to be required for the rankings from kyu to several levels of dan-sha. 

Then I would address the reasoning why any or all kata are a prerequisite to dan-sha in any system or style. Add in what it means to learn a kata vs. knowing a kata vs. understanding kata, i.e., where you relate that knowledge and understanding toward applications, not necessarily directly derived from but more about a holistic one where it is applied dynamically, etc.

All too often “Learning a kata” is defined more as learning the patterns. Most of the black belts I encountered in my early days only knew those patterns while things like principles along with a certain rhythm, cadence, etc., were pretty much unknown, not acknowledges and seldom taught along with the what, when, where and why of that learning. I have practiced and trained and taught for over twenty-five years and only in the last ten years of my thirty-nine years of study have I finally begun to understand kata and its purpose along with principles, etc.

In lieu of “Learning Kata” to achieve dan-sha status and recognition I would recommend using the prerequisite of knowing, understanding and applying the fundamental principles of martial disciplines as the thing to “Learn” to achieve dan-sha recognition.

Oh, then there is the whole definition and meaning of the dan-i (dan-sha) system and that one can be debated for decades and still not get to a consensus accepted by all the martial community - oh, shit, wait a minute as that debate has already gone on for about forty or more years already!

Yeah, take out the technique based model of teaching and put in a principle based model to teach martial arts, that would be a solid universal way to rate one as a black belt - all other things considered and all participants reaching a mutual consensus on those areas too. 

Ok, I know, the current model is so entrenched that the technique based teaching regimen will endure for decades to come so in lieu of trying to convert it would be beneficial and acceptable if principles based training were at least added into the current model as another part of teaching martial arts especially as it is applied to fighting, combatives and self-defense. I can dream ya-know!

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. then there is a teaching model for the more modern martial artists where focus on intangible requirements like philosophy and application in real life is used, i.e., understanding and application of the philosophical teachings through ken-po goku-i and other ancient type learning's. 

Falling - Beware and Be Aware of Gravity

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

I wrote an article recently on gravity in self-defense/martial arts but one aspect that is of importance not just in those arena’s but in the arena’s of health, well-being and most important of all, “Longevity,” came to mind. As coincidence (co-incide) there was an article I read early this morning on the dangers of falling after reaching into the, “Winter Years (> 60 years),” regarding loss of balance, etc. resulting in one “Falling.”

Note: Personally, I have to add in the ramifications and obstacles that come from suffering a major “Vertigo” incident. 

As a martial artists who has a modicum of inexperience in judo it occurred to me that it might just be possible and beneficial to use, “Falls from martial teachings,” to combat falling. Falling means gravity and as many of us in martial arts as well as in self-defense know gravity is a major player especially when fighting and/or defense results in deaths, usually from falling and hitting head against very hard objects. 

I don’t have the skill sets to teach but I have come to consider strongly learning how to fall again and to practice falling so that both my age and my vertigo, if that causes me to fall, can be mitigated as to injuries, etc. by proper falling through lessons, in falling properly. I would ask the many Judo and Jujitsu practitioners out there reading this to test this theory out and post as to how it may or may not actually work.

When I read the article on falling it provided many reasons as to why falling occurs. The mainstay of why tends to be the fitness and movement agility levels of those who pass into those winter years. For instance, as a sufferer of polio my legs lean toward certain obstacles and difficulties resulting in my making a concerted effort to walk, climb and work out certain ways. The methods I use help keep my hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet a bit more flexible and in the process contribute toward maintaining balance even under the issues from having vertigo, i.e., vertigo leaves the brain to reprogram and that takes time and concerted effort - the effort is the brain having to make a more conscious effort to maintain balance and as we age that makes the effort more taxing, i.e., you get tired mentally and that mental fatigue can cause the vertigo to disrupt balance resulting in a fall.

As we martial artists age we benefit from a life time of training and practice as it applies to balance, structure and movement. Those are traits that will benefit us when we begin to reach higher age in those winter years. Even with vertigo I find my training actually made a huge difference, in my mind, in my overcoming the effects of vertigo. I still swerve and stagger when the day is long and fatigue increases but if not for my efforts in physical fitness, through martial arts, etc., I suspect my mobility and stability would be much worse. 

As I consider this aspect of life I consider how I can once again make use of controlled falling, not falling as if thrown or taken down in a fight or for self-defense but simply falling properly when balance is disrupted, regardless of the reason, so that I can personally avoid or at least lesson possible injuries from, “Falling.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Situational Awareness

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

First, define situational, i.e., situational means, “manner of being situated; location or position with reference to environment; a place or locality; condition; case; plight; the state of affairs; combination of circumstances; Sociology. the aggregate of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors acting on an individual or group to condition behavioral patterns.”

Second, define awareness, i.e., awareness means, “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact (consciousness, recognition, realization, etc.); concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development (understanding, grasp, appreciation, knowledge, insight, familiarity and cognizance.); the ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding. More broadly, it is the state or quality of being aware of something. In biological psychology, awareness is defined as a human's or an animal's perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event.”

Third, lets see what comes up when we try to define situational awareness, i.e., “the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regard to the mission. More simply, it's knowing what is going on around you; the perception of environmental elements with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event; being aware of what is happening in the vicinity, in order to understand how information, events, and one's own actions will impact goals and objectives, both immediately and in the near future. One with an adept sense of situation awareness generally has a high degree of knowledge with respect to inputs and outputs of a system, i.e. an innate "feel" for situations, people, and events that play out due to variables the subject can control.”

Talk about a mouth full, it helps to understand why this particular term used in self-defense teachings can stray far and away of what one would really need to be situationally aware when in situations that could lead to violence. When discussing situational awareness the student must also understand things like, “Situational understanding, assessment, mental models, and Sense-making.”

Situational Understanding: In the context of military command and control applications, situational understanding refers to the "product of applying analysis and judgment to the unit's situation awareness to determine the relationships of the factors present and form logical conclusions concerning threats to the force or mission accomplishment, opportunities for mission accomplishment, and gaps in information".

Situational Assessment: it is important to distinguish the term situation awareness, as a state of knowledge, from the processes used to achieve that state. These processes, which may vary widely among individuals and contexts, will be referred to as situational assessment or the process of achieving, acquiring, or maintaining SA." Thus, in brief, situation awareness is viewed as "a state of knowledge," and situational assessment as "the processes" used to achieve that knowledge. 

Mental Model: Accurate mental models are one of the prerequisites for achieving SA. A mental model can be described as a set of well-defined, highly organized yet dynamic knowledge structures developed over time from experience. Experienced decision makers assess and interpret the current situation and select an appropriate action based on conceptual patterns stored in their long-term memory as "mental models". Cues in the environment activate these mental models, which in turn guide their decision making process.

Sense-making: situation awareness is about the knowledge state that's achieved—either knowledge of current data elements, or inferences drawn from these data, or predictions that can be made using these inferences. In contrast, Sense-making is about the process of achieving these kinds of outcomes, the strategies, and the barriers encountered;  Sense-making is viewed more as "a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively", rather than the state of knowledge underlying situation awareness; Sense-making is actually considering a subset of the processes used to maintain situation awareness; In the vast majority of the cases, SA is instantaneous and effortless, proceeding from pattern recognition of key factors in the environment; Sense-making is backward focused, forming reasons for past events, while situation awareness is typically forward looking, projecting what is likely to happen in order to inform effective decision processes.

Situational Awareness is a critical decision-making state of mind. It is not a constant state but one that is usually triggered by instincts developed through experience, training, practice and understanding so that a trigger event will turn on SA and that will allow the operator to achieve proper defensive states to achieve goals be it civil self-defense for a non-professional to proper tactical and strategic goals for the professional. 

What constitutes the atomistic of SA comes from implementation of the other related concepts, i.e., SU, SA, MM and SM as described above. Each environment, each social group dynamic, each social belief system and so on dictates in any given moment what happens and what should be done to achieve goals, i.e., restraint or defense, etc.

As can be seen just in this short terse article the concepts toward awareness in martial arts training for professionals or civil self-defense can be complex. It is imperative students of MA-SD be exposed to, trained in and application of awareness if for no other reason then to identify the road markers that broadcast danger is down the road and it involves violence. It also speaks to how a person should become aware of themselves and as to their thoughts and actions according to any given moment because a lot of violence can be avoided by that type of awareness, i.e., in any given situation having an awareness of our own monkey’s, the monkey’s response and making a conscious decision to ignore the ego emotional monkey crap and make good decisions, etc. 

In closing, there are a variety of awareness concepts that should be made part of self-defense martial arts training or self-defense training all used to set off your spidey sense so you can actually avoid violence, etc.

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. Hey, nobody said this shit was easy and if they did you need to walk away and find someone else to teach you. 

Kengaku [見学]

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

The characters/ideograms mean, “Inspection; study by observation; field trip.” The first character means, “see; hopes; chances; idea; opinion; look at; visible,” the second character means, “study; learning; science.”

‘kengaku’ literally meaning to ‘look () and learn ()’ or perhaps better translated as ‘study through observation’.
Other meanings according to the characters used:

[建学] foundation of a school
[研学] Study
[兼学] Concurrently studying the teachings of two or more different schools or sects. 

In a martial discipline we study fundamental principles even in a philosophical sense such as the sub-principle of yin-yang. Yin is the softer side while yang is a harder side so that one trains, practices and studies both physically and mentally. In simpler terms one actually studies and learns from “Doing,” while on the more yin side one actually studies and learns from “Observation.” When you begin you will be provided a, “Dojo Kun,” and one of the precepts is about seeing all things in all directions. 

Kengaku from the ken-po goku-i is about seeing all things in all ways to include our studies of others while practicing and training martial arts. It is especially and critically important for the new student who first comes to observe then joins but then continues that observation “Seeing” so they continue to learn and grow, to improve.

One of the more cultural aspects of martial arts in Asia is the acceptance and understanding that in all dojo one is, “Expected,” to come to practice and observe even when unable to actually participate on the dojo floor. The concept in the Asian culture of, “Shi-kata,” is based upon such observations so that harmony may be maintained by avoiding such disturbances that can come from questioning things. 

Kengaku is about the observation of your dojo-mates be they senpai or kohai or sensei so that one may improve from understanding those perceptions and perspectives displayed through a physical manifestation in things like basics, kata, drills and even kumite. 

Kengaku is considered one of those mental disciplines that provides the practitioner a discipline uniqueness toward learning that involves or encompasses one sitting in a meditative state of mind alert and aware of what is transpiring during training even when not actually participating, an observer. This provides the practitioner with a study that is challenging and used to enhance and supplement hands-on tactile and visual study and practice. 

It is not about perfection but about improvement and this presents the practitioner the opportunity to also participate not just physically but through such observations of others while they practice. This is just one meaning from the goku-i when, “seeing all directions, etc.”

When I tell folks about Kengaku I instill in them that this concept is at the heart of practice, training and most important of all the actual applications. It is an attitude and mind-set/state toward constant improvement through observation: observation of self through media and mirrors; observation of others both senior and junior; observation of the actions and deeds as modeled in the dojo; observation of individual interpretations; observation of the application of the fundamental principles that are the foundation of all martial disciplines, etc.

Kengaku is another more esoteric terminology meant to convey a sense or essence toward study, practice and application of martial disciplines regardless of symbolism, system or style designations or even personal interpretations for to master a martial art is to make it your own from a diligent, disciplined and philosophical means. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Read Also: "Kengaku"

Learning by Video’s

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Well, it depends really because the use of video’s is actually an excellent tool to teach, learn and practice martial arts. There are some restrictions to this, of course, such as to how long one has already studied and their capacity to see the atomistic in the video along with a full understanding that video’s, even those providing various angles, still frame and thereby hide things that must come from a qualified and experienced teacher.

I didn’t start the study of video’s until well into my career studying Okinawan karate but when I did I took the view that neither my practice nor the video presentation was a “Right or Wrong” way of doing kata and karate. 

I spend my study time on video’s trying to see, even with the limitations of video viewing, specifics that would come out from the point of view the video presented to me and I add that I have this distinction of ability to see very small details. 

Regardless, using video’s at the lower learning levels is a mistake even if one has a very astute eye for details because of what you don’t know and what you don’t know you don’t know. That takes a qualified and experienced teacher.

When your teacher gets you to a certain point through progressive operant conditioned practice and training then the study of other disciplines and perceptions can be augmented and enhanced by the study through video presentations. 

Then it comes down to the ability to distinguish between video’s with value and those simply created to make money. Look at it as the difference between the study of a documentary film vs. a fictional drama sci-fi type film. One is entertaining while the other focuses on facts and results of reality-based life. Big difference!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Pressure Point Self-Defense

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In a recent posting on the Ryukyu Martial Arts wall someone asked, “Thoughts on pressure points and an effective form of self defense?” First, I find the question a bit confusing so I will make an assumption in that the person asking was actually asking, “Thoughts on pressure points as an effective form of self-defense?” 

Second, I only have a smattering of experience in pressure point applications. I can only make my personal experiences the basis for the following comments on the question as I restated it.

Third, the human body when subjected to adrenal stress conditions tends to guard against pain, etc., to which pressure points depend on that pain for compliance. Compliance is a whole different ball game from defense of an attacker of a predatory nature (since I am not using social violence, i.e., the monkey dance, because that is almost totally avoidable while predatory asocial is not always, etc.). 

I also tend to believe that applying pressure points for defense tends to allow slippage in that defense, i.e., in other words the attacker through their experience as an adversary will detect it and take actions putting the person back into the OODA loop or even freeze them when the uber great pressure point defense taught fails. 

In my mind pressure points along with other methodologies such as joint manipulation and other methodologies are necessary for those who have to use them according to their job rules of engagement, i.e., police, military and civil security professionals. 

Pressure points as a self-defense system is, in my personal view, to chancy to rely on for defense simply because its effectiveness relies on to many variables of which only one is that adrenal stress condition effects, etc. When under an attack you want things that will make for the fastest and most reliable get-r-done within the SD Square with an emphasis on how to articulate that to others for self-defense to actually work.

As another point, depending on pressure points in self-defense if it fails may result in your escalating things toward something you may not have trained and practiced sufficiently ending up escalating the level of force used making it not self-defense. 

Pressure points do have their benefits but I tend to think that involves pressure points as a minor enhancing tool for other methodologies for defense, i.e., Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are best for stopping a threat]”

In closing, this person may have wanted to find out how it can enhance self-defense since it is a mainstay of many martial disciplines but that brings up another topic I write about, asking questions that actually convey enough meaning to make them more relevant. Remember, it is just one tool and that tool must be one that is relevant and appropriate to any given situation. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Example: I was taught on Okinawa, in my karate class, how to apply a pressure/pain point to gain control over someone. As a SNCO I was required to walk “Ville-patrol” on the streets of Kin Village, Okinawan Japan. Our goal was to provide support for our Marines who were partying out in the ville. If they got a bit inebriated and rowdy it was our job to restrain and subdue them, escort them to the base and hope the Japanese Police would allow us to keep our Marines in our control. If the JP’s took over the Marine involved would suffer the consequences and I can tell you back then the JP’s were vastly different than how our Police handle such situations.

Anyway, one of our fellow Marines was really out of control so while the other two patrol Marines grabbed his arms I applied the technique in an attempt to restrain and control. That Marine never felt it, not even a little. Matter of fact when I encountered that Marine the next day he said he didn’t feel a thing and had a bruise on that part of his body he couldn’t explain. In the dojo, it was incredible how fast tough, strong and aggressive Marine students would just drop when the technique was applied yet in reality, not so much. 

Hey, if it works - fine; but if it doesn’t - think about it in training. What exactly are pressure points appropriate for and under what conditions because your life depends on that understanding. 

Be Aware of Gravity

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Does the discussion of gravity ever come up in your self-defense and/or Martial Arts lessons? We tend to discuss and practice a technique based lesson that makes use of gravity when we unbalance or disrupt an adversary’s structure while apply certain principles such as a diverse application of methodologies that result often in “Taking down” an attacker. 

What about how gravity might effect your self-defense defense? How does gravity work with those methodologies and what can happen to an adversary when gravity is used or takes over and what are your responsibilities to keep your level of force within the self-defense square? Will gravity when it takes over add to your level of force taking you outside that self-defense square, i.e., excessive force level? What part of articulating your defense actions involves how gravity effects those defenses when controlled and when you have no control and at what point did you lose control and what are you responsible for when that point is reached or exceeded? Did your actions when gravity took over come from those actions? If yes, then how do you explain and adjust your force to take account of gravity?

Most might think that once the attacker falls as long as you are not continuing any actions or techniques that if they hit their head on a curb that is on the attacker but is that true? How will the legal community look at and define gravities effects as to force levels and appropriate application of force, etc.?

Beware of Gravity is to be aware of gravity and how it is involved in the application of proper self-defense. The study of self-defense is about studying all those aspects that may or may not be a part of results and ramifications be it on you or on the attacker in self-defense, defense.

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Dangers in Media

I can't think of a better example of why media is such a dangerous technology when used to promote agenda's and to influence how other think, feel and perceive. Just like almost all the video's seen on social sites as well as television including news/journalism sources - how you title, mark and precede such presentations has a huge effect on how other see it, feel about it and judge it.

I especially liked the look on the photographers faces the instance when the subject told them that all the information they were primed with was false.

Now, whenever you look upon some video that comes with diatribes about how good or bad something is just remember this example - you don't ever know for sure what the true story is or what the rest of the story would, could and should present AND remember your view, perceptions and beliefs will be subjected and directed by such things.

I kind of like how one professional speaks on this by teaching others to watch such media with no sound and no added graphics, words, titles, etc. and that you have to find out whether the video is edited or framed toward the agenda such titles, sounds, and graphics might skew your perceptions, perspectives and beliefs.

Ain't life a HOOT?

Karate in Twenty Hours

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In a recent article on the Mokuren Dojo blog references were made to the following:

Malcolm Gladwell suggested in his Outliers book that it takes something like 10000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at any field.  But then along comes this guy - Josh Kaufman and says that's too long - WAY too long!  Kaufman is not so much interested in becoming an expert, rather, he wants to be able to learn things to a pretty good level of proficiency - and he found that you can pretty much learn any skill pretty good if you follow these four steps...

1 Deconstruct the skill - figure out what the central skill is that you want to be able to do and what are the sub-skills that make up that central skill - then practice the most important sub-skills first.
2 Learn enough to self-correct - you don't have to learn everything about your domain of practice - just learn enough to be able to tell if you are on the right track (leading toward the central skill) or the wrong track.
3 Remove practice barriers - like procrastination and scope growth and feeling like an idiot
4 Practice for at least 20 hours

Mokuren Dojo wanted to generate a discussion on “Learning Aikido.” This, as can be read in the next section, inspired me to write about karate in twenty hours, here is what I came up with for discussion:

Using the above can we rightly assume that karate could be learned to a decent level in only twenty hours of practice? Lets look at 20 hours, i.e., on average a person will train and practice a minimum of two hours a night for three nights a week meaning twenty hours would equate to them training and practicing ten days or three weeks and one day at the stated intervals. 

Deconstructing the skill to a central skill in karate would end up defining the most important sub-skill to be applying the fundamental principles of martial disciplines with physiokinetic principles being first and foremost since karate is seen as a physical skill. 

Then one would have to figure out how to self-correct but that would probably take additional hours of study, at least a more academic study, to learn and understand the principle of physiokinetics. 

The third can be the most difficult or the easiest since a person who would take up karate would mostly be one who does not procrastinate and would not succumb to feeling like an idiot. Yet, as can be perceived by many in the community the high turnover often tells us that most people do procrastinate with a solid dose of boredom and laziness that tends to drive them out the dojo door. 

Then one has to do all the above consistently over a twenty hour period. Does a person have to break it up into chunks to get it right and make it stick? Then does that person take into consideration the ultimate goal of learning and practicing karate? When and what would require addition of adrenal stress-conditioned reality based training because karate, in essence, is about fighting and defense where one will have to contend with this adrenal aspect, can that part alone be taught and encoded properly in twenty hours and will that result, if doable, work across the board to get-r-done? Am I adding complexities simply to meet a self-anointed agenda because I practice karate? 

If one takes structure, alignment and power generation along with a hand ful of basics in practice for twenty hours that person would become proficient in doing just those things. Where this theory falls off in the martial arts world is when one has to apply that proficiency in application such as a competitive sport contest or when attacked by a resource predatory attacker. 

If we assume the learning is bare bones simplistic as described in the last paragraph with no other goal other than the doing of the thing since it is a physical gaol we can assume it is possible, even true. What causes many to disregard such things is the addition of the more complex aspects humans tend to add to almost everything they do and all they experience. Then again, ain’t that life?

Caveat: remember, it says, “AT LEAST” 20 hours. 
Caveat: remember it does not say master.
Caveat: remember, it said, “Learn a new skill.” New skill does not mean all the complexities I refer to in my article. 
Caveat: remember it does say you don’t have to learn everything about the domain of practice. That is significant because anyone can learn a small portion of karate in even less than twenty hours. Use making a good fist as one example; doing a front kick as another; doing a simple restraint technique yet another…alone, done well enough makes a skill and that simple skill - pick one of these three examples - is karate. 
Caveat: remember the skill of making a fist, once you learn to make a good one you now have enough knowledge to self-correct.
Caveat: remember taking the over all skill of karate down to a fist, a front kick or a simple restraint is deconstructing the whole skill of karate into individual skills of fist, kick and restraint. 

Yes, to learn an entire discipline, not just a skill set within it, does take a bit more time than twenty hours but the theory will hold water if you make sure you find these types of distinctions, it is possible. Then take each skill set learned in twenty hours, thread them together and then practice them while self-correcting and you will learn that discipline - in time, time dependent on the individuals inherent traits toward learning, etc. Some learn faster, some slower and some will work forever never truly getting the skill or discipline (this is rare).

Bibliography (Click the link)

It’s Your Life

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The following quote was written in response to comments on questioning your instructor, specifically in this case your firearms instructor. When I read it I felt that it also would apply to all self-defense teachings. After all, if not your life then your freedom are involved along with all the repercussions of participating in conflict and violence (for details read “In the Name of Self-Defense by Marc MacYoung). The following quote:

“An instructor is asking you to stake your life on the quality of the information he/she is providing. As such, the instructor does not have the privilege to tell you to shut up and not question the limits and -- at the same time - applications of the information he/she is providing. After all you're paying him AND it's your life if something goes wrong in application.” - Marc MacYoung

Even in and especially in martial arts communities who profess to teach you self-defense. When someone takes up a system to learn self-defense they are putting their entire lives on the line if they ever have to use those teachings in real life. If you read Mr. MacYoung’s book along with others he wrote as well as the books and materials published by Mr. Rory Miller, as well as others they also recommend, you will begin to see just how much you need to not only know but truly and completely understand in order to apply SD while remaining in the SD Square (Mr. MacYoung’s phrase found in his book).

Granted, most questioning can often wait till after the instruction period. After all, that instruction period is set to cover a certain amount of material but follow up questions should never be disallowed, put off or ignored. If the teacher does this find another teacher, it is your life and your families life after all. 

This is why I precede an instruction period with the quote that goes something like this, “Please refrain from questions until the instruction is completed. I will provide adequate time to have questions and answers after the instruction ends. There will be not restrictions to questions at that time. This gives you time to hear all the instructions where some questions may be answered.” I do this to control the time set aside to cover materials and to remove interruptions that would result in overtime along with a disruption of the flow, rhythm and cadence of instruction, etc. I also then show them how one piece of instruction that results in questions is often answered as the class continues. It teaches students who have a tendency to formulate questions and comments before a complete thought and teaching is presented, i.e., it teaches them to actively listen before allowing the brain to jump ahead because forthcoming information changes that question as the completeness of the instruction is - completed. 

I also don’t tolerate “What if Monkey Antics.” What if’s are delays and unnecessary. If a what if question is proper it is answered appropriately at teh Q&A period after the class ends. Self-defense is about your life and liberty so questions are critical in a students understanding of what is being presented. Students need to understand that each lesson or period of instruction may depend on other lessons and periods of instruction to achieve proficiency and full understanding. They need to know when that happens and should be encouraged to document questions to ensure the hear the answers later and if they don’t they should bring them up again. 

Extra information makes it complete and understandable. It is important that it be addressed and if not in that Q&A period then acknowledged as to when it will be answered even if it means research, if you don’t know the answer, and addresses at the earliest convenient time in the dojo, etc.

I would also recommend that instructors keep providing that in martial arts and especially in self-defense there are no “Absolutes.” As Marc MacYoung stated on this subject, there are no absolutes in a field of massive variables!” Again, read his and Mr. Miller’s books to understand what variables are involved. 

I tend to question everything and I mean everything. I didn’t always do this and even today I find myself sometimes accepting things as is but my pension to question and validate even from professionals who have experiences way beyond even my wildest imagination should be questioned if for no other reason then if you do and find validation from other sources you then can use that toward your own references of source information - that seems good to me don’t you think?

Even today I tend to aggravate some very experienced martial artists who lead the way in today’s martial arts communities who due to their status tend to sometimes assume their knowledge, experiences and understandings are absolute and irrefutable but in reality I have discovered they can make mistakes cause like me, they are just as human and fallible as anyone. I try to remember to formulate things without making it “Personal” and I try to not take such things when they come my way as “Personal.” Making it personal just triggers the monkey brain and that never truly leads to anything productive in this arena. 

There are a lot of ways to test things out for validation and Mr. MacYoung and Mr. Miller, along with a variety of others as can be seen in my bibliography that follows, provide those tests in their works. I strongly suggest reading them, studying them and then if possible participating in their seminars, etc. to learn and most importantly “Understand” the principles and concepts they teach, promote and believe it wholeheartedly. 

In my book your questions are valid and should be answered at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way, anything else should prompt you to seen out instruction elsewhere. 

Note: Go to Mr. MacYoung’s FB Wall and read the share on “What if you disagree with your defensive shooting instructor … “ dtd 11-3-2015 and read his comment that follows the article posting. 

If nothing else, remember that it is your life, your liberty and your families, what you do effects a lot of things and more importantly a lot of people who are a part of your personal community/tribe - take care. 

Bibliography (Click the link)