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 Pamphlet, Maybe

This one is on Isshinryu specifically because it is the one I encounter toward an effort to get a book written by certain parties. One party I believe one day will actually write it all down and make it available while the other party will never write a book simply because there is not enough to actually write a “Book.” 

A pamphlet or flyer or short story but a book with relevant historical first-person data on the system or style, not a chance. Personally, as to one party, I have done the research on the material that would need to be involved in the book and that information is already available to those who take the time to seek it via electronic means. It is out there, you just have to let it in.

Often, the full extent of that information has been repeatedly provided on a few venues and when it is compiled and edited it might make a pamphlet or small short story eBook. This is a shame for information on martial arts in general let alone any one system or style is often filled with pictures showing techniques, combinations or what most call bunkai. 

Even if one fills more pages with the more esoteric teachings that involve the culture as well as more philosophical driven writings based on theory and philosophies from the ancient classics as they would apply toward martial arts it still doesn’t do justice to the style or any one style or system. Overall as to martial philosophy and principles of same, yea, you can achieve a book. Would that book be sought after in the martial arts community, not much and not really because the focus is not on that type of presentation and articulation and practice toward the study of martial arts. 

Shame, ain’t it?

Fine Tuning Karate

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Can anyone say, “Nit-picken?” Isn’t such detailed corrective effort about teaching students to fear they are getting things wrong when they aren’t? I read somewhere that all the “fine tuning” done in karate dojo actually creates a mind-set of “Fear of failing the Sensei” and all that dribble. Is this actually the best way to teach one karate especially if for self-defense.

Now, if SD is not in the picture and this is all about self-improvement and other philosophical teachings toward enlightenment and such then by all means, fine tune your karate. I still have to ask though, “Is fine tuning still a good beginners tool in teaching?” I think it might be but then it must be remembered that teaching must reach beyond those limitations toward a less rigid model and a more “Play Model.” 

Then I have to ask myself, what are we find tuning here and why? Often, I say that a lot, it is about fine tuning specific techniques when in my mind it should be about fine tuning, “Fundamental Principles.” I don’t mind fine tuning principles such as structure and alignment, etc., but feel strong that technique applications should be played with while maintaining adherence to fundamental principles. Maybe this is the change point in teaching, study, training and practice. A natural step-off point out of the nit-picken fine-tuning into play, play with techniques while working to perfect applications with principles properly applied. 

Lets call fine tuning, criticism, lets call nit-pickin, criticism. Criticism is not a positive way to teach or learn in my view. It ain’t fun, it ain’t play and it is a limited method of retention. Criticism, fine tuning and nit-pickin are rarely effective teaching methods. 

When I write about, “Fine Tuning or Nit-picken,” I am talking about the use of “Criticism” in teaching martial arts. Constantly tweaking a student is actually criticism, fine tuning or just plain old nit-picken. If your mind is focused on doing something correctly in the hopes of not being corrected so you can feel like you are doing it right then your focus is not focused, i.e., not focused on having fun playing around and encoding properly so that the lizard uses your skills to succeed in self-defense. 

“ … criticism is rarely effective teaching. … “ “You have to know your principles, understand them. And you have to have a clear idea of what you are actually teaching (most common mistake, people equate fighting with self-defense.) Your ability to pass on knowledge is absolutely limited by the clarity of your understanding of that knowledge. And what follows is a process, but you must know how to teach and how to communicate separately from this process. For instance, criticism is rarely effective teaching.” Rory Miller, Chiron Blog “The Process of Principles Based Teaching.

p.s. I was a nit-picker in my early years teaching karate. I attribute that to military influences but also admit that it came from some deep seated issue in myself often expressed in inappropriate ways. It seemed to fit but since those early days I have come to realize that it is not the way toward the more violent aspects of a martial art. Go figure ….

Bibliography (Click the link)

On Budo and Bushido

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A recent article spurred or inspired this article on budo and bushido. In that article it seems a lot of assumptions and agenda driven meme’s were used as well. Hmmmm.

Budo [武道] simply defined as, “Military arts; martial arts and makes reference to the term Bushido.” 
Bushido [武士道] simply defined as, “Bushido; samurai code of chivalry.” 

The terms didn’t exist in the feudal era of Japan. When referred to as a samurai code of chivalry the person making the reference actually used the title of the samurai when he wrote the book and coined both budo and bushido. As to its traditional roots, however that is defined, that is questionable as to historical facts or even truth. 

Budo and Bushido were first coined as terms in the book written around 1899 by its author Inazo Nitobe titled, “Bushido: The Soul of Japan.” I believe personally that his effort was an attempt to give some historical meaning to the feudal era with its colorful Samurai, chivalrous warriors of Japan. 

Even the current information on these terms states, without definitive proof beyond the times mentioned articles and books, that Arthur M. Knapp, a non-Japanese, who wrote, “The samurai of thirty years ago had behind him a thousand years of training in the law of honor, obedience, duty, and self-sacrifice.... It was not needed to create or establish them. As a child he had but to be instructed, as indeed he was from his earliest years, in the etiquette of self-immolation." 

I put forth this theory, the budo and bushido were created to give support to the continuance of the colorful history or stories of samurai toward fostering of a more modern morally driven social belief that would support the efforts of the Japanese in their continued conquests of surrounding countries/states such as China and Korea, etc. This also gave credence to the effort to train and condition the populace prior to WWII to create a mind-set of a warrior that met the needs of Japan in justifying the upcoming war. As some will recognize this is also why disciplines like Okinawan Karate were educationalized to teach and train Okinawan youth for membership in the military in support of Japan’s war efforts. 

There are hints toward what Nitobe Sensei wrote in his books but like most articles and books of modern times, for that particular era when it was written, the influences of the individual authors and their perceptions, perspectives, intent, and background along with all socially driven influences both societal and familial tend to lead the content of such writings toward an agenda that may or may not be conscious. 

I will admit that like many meme’s, etc., that the end result did generate an excellent tome or book that is, could and can be used toward self-improvement with the intent toward socially accepted self-enlightenment but as to its actual historical intent and meaning and to its actual application in the world of the Samurai, that is questionable and possibly just plain fictional. The Japanese are well know for their use of fiction to create hero’s that their society needed and wanted much like every other society of our world. When we need it we use or create or manufacture hero’s to move our military and society toward the accepted and dictated agenda’s accordingly. 

All of it is kind of a propaganda machine and is often cited toward generating an agenda by all humans including us. We tend to use it and quote it as a means of instilling a mystique like quality to attract students, students who pay for lessons and lessons to inspire more students, etc. 

In a nutshell the book on Budo and Bushido is just the cultural metaphor toward a goal and in martial arts it is to promote it giving it a life that hopefully will be passed down over the ages just like the Japanese passing down their samurai heritage toward a lasting cultural historical and social belief that makes their cultural unique and respected. In the end, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that effort, it is a part of our human nature toward survival.

Read more on, “The Cultural Metaphor.”

Bibliography (Click the link)

Modern Kata and Bunkai - Reality vs. Fantasy

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Honestly, the martial arts communities regard to self-defense have expectations that what is given as bunkai is reality. Like kata, they believe that the kata techniques in conjunction with the bunkai given is reality. In truth, it is not reality - reality as in modern self-defense goals, tactics and strategies. Reality as in modern applications to combatives for military and fighting for sport. 

When I have taught and demonstrated bunkai from kata it is more about teaching a concept then actual hands-on techniques in a technique-based self-defense model. In most self-defense situations I have experienced and observed rarely do I see martial arts-esque applications. 

What good then are modern kata and bunkai toward self-defense? Well, once again I drag up the subject of principles. Those kata and bunkai are teaching tools to demonstrate proper structure, alignment, centeredness, and so on in a fight, self-defense fights. Observe the perfectionist way many martial artists demonstrate kata, bunkai and defense partner driven drills. They look good but don’t fool yourself into thinking that those drills will get the job done in a self-defense situation. Don’t rely on them because they are not reality, reality is not achieved in the training hall and it is not truly achieved even in adrenal stress conditions reality-based training scenario’s. You get a bit closer but hands-on experience is the only real way to achieve and acquire reality experience. 

All I hope to do here is point out the fantasy of kata and bunkai as taught in most halls while inspiring those who pursue training and practice for self-defense to take it beyond kata and bunkai into that something that will be available when needed. 

Kata are great in teaching principles, they are great in teaching other aspects such as coordination, discipline and so on as well as bunkai, bunkai provide you concepts and a means to stimulate thinking toward what will work in the fight but only so far, you really do have to go way beyond the limits and restrictions that naturally occur with kata and bunkai training. 

Most kata and bunkai fill our fantasies toward this meme driven commercial pursuit of modern martial arts but to reach higher and farther toward reality takes a bit more, a lot more to achieve. Using the fantasy to commercialize is a good thing as long as students don’t fool themselves into the meme of, “I am a warrior!” when in reality it is just what it is, a fantasy. 

Fantasy or metaphor, read this HERE.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Mario Higaonna Karada Kitae - A Traditional Practice

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In a recent posting on Facebook a concerned practitioner encountered a less than stellar review on the practice Higaonna Sensei uses, his personal practice not required by his students at least to the degree he goes, for hand and body conditioning. The end of the comment provided the following question, i.e., “Do you think that this kind of conditioning and other types of ‘extreme’ training have an added value for our modern time practice or should they be regarded only as a historic fact that is now practically useless.”

I find the question a good one and a question often answered according to individual cultural belief systems of individuals that answer it. I am no different, my answer would be thus, “It depends, it depends on the goals, desires and results each individual considers before walking a path of body conditioning at any level up to that of Higaonna Sense and those who practice systems like, Uechi-ryu.” 

If I were to be asked as to its benefits, overall I would say that it does have certain benefits such as learning how to endure and ignore pain, how to apply principles properly such as by use of the standing makiwara (Note: it ain’t about toughening the hands or callouses but proper application of principles for force and power, etc.) to demonstrate force and power through a proper structure, alignment and application of momentum to achieve force and power, etc.

Simple questions such as this often do not have what is desired, “Simple and concise answers,” because in such disciplines one question leads to another and another and another so that in the end you have to chain them together to make one whole, holistically wholehearted, answer that itself will float and flow chaotically dependent on situations as they arise. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Cultural Metaphor

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A recent study on another topic brought out a possible explanation as to why we tend to make use of cultural aspects of others for our own needs and requirements, etc. Often in martial arts we see slight references toward certain cultural use of Asian cultures and beliefs especially as they may or may not apply in martial arts dojo, training halls.

This usage in most cases is sporadic and interspersed with more English and American cultural beliefs. We use the karate-gi, we use terms and phrases with the assumption we know what they mean and their intent in training, practice and applications. We count in Japanese, we read and quote Asian morally driven “Meme’s or quotes” for inspiration often without knowing their true intent and meaning - we more often than not make assumptions and those are driven not by true understanding of Asian cultural beliefs but our own beliefs and perceptions and perspectives and so on.

When I read the following I actually said, “Wow, this could very well be true and explain it all.” The following italicized is that quote:

There is a concept that cultural studies theorist, “Bell Hooks,” termed “eating the other,” in which “the other” - the mysterious, the unknown, the exotic - is employed to add “spice” to everyday life. The goal is not true understanding or appreciation of the Other, but an enhancement of one’s own situation, an experiential vacation yielding the conceptual equivalent of a piece of mass-produced Indian pottery and slideshow to impress the neighbors. It’s bits of authentic culture recontextualized for a bored white mainstream’s use. 

The recent trends in the use of Japanese characters, i.e., such as printed on t-shirts, etc., are divorced from their original linguistic meaning and exploited solely for the decorative aesthetics. The Japanese also use English in their pop-culture signifying not a true engagement with American culture but a simulation of it. Borrowed currency in a solely Japanese exchange, a conversation that does not extend outside the countries borders.

What is happening here is a type of cultural artifact - organic expressions of a particular people, situated in a particular time and place - are being divorced of their meaning in order to be used as a metaphor for something else.

Americanized cultures of Martial Artis takes Asian cultures, takes each artifact, and strips it of its original meaning until it is just an object (“it doesn’t mean what you think”), which is used to signify something else entirely (often to suit the person or organization or an agenda, etc.) - into something, we are to believe, entirely new. Like America’s recent obsession with yoga (without the Buddhist spirituality), the result is entertaining but curiously empty. 

 This merging seems to be less between American and Japanese/Okinawan that it is between east and west in the broadest possible sense. As in many situations in which you lose the particulars, the result is a vague approximation of nothing at all. Again: pretty, but ultimately without meaning. What it does end up accomplishing - and very well - is a sense of difference. Use of Asian culture without context may be empty, but it works. It tells us that this world is different. 

Using what is “Other” as a metaphor for difference is not, in itself, wrong. Metaphor is an essential part of living, whether you are tired as a dog, happy as a lam or as honest as the day is long. It is healthy, vibrant, creative; it lets us make new connections and discover new insights. The metaphor sets the stage for a richly imagined social order, the difference it implies making it easier for us to see our own situation more clearly.  - Leigh A. Wright, Asian Objects in Space

This can be why so much of what is historically relevant as to the birth and growth of martial arts in all its forms has been created from each culture’s extraction of other cultural influences to create a true and “Different” form that exists and lasts simply because of its “Metaphorical Worth” to each successive group. Like Okinawan’s pulled in from the Chinese (and others), the Japanese pulled in from China and Okinawa (and others) to the Americans pulling in what they wanted from those early training years of karate, etc. to create what we now call “Martial Arts.” Where Martial Arts takes on a new and unique meaning at each iteration throughout its history.

What I like most about the quote is the last sentence the expresses the positive aspects of such approaches to furthering our martial arts, or cultural beliefs, prowess, knowledge and understanding. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Repetitive Practice - the concept …

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What is, “Technical Repetition?” How can its practice, depending on the definition, be with depth through bunkai? Does the ratio of tech rep and in-depth bunkai matter? These are the questions I was able to derive from the following quote from a group member on FaceBook.

“Is it ever appropriate to practice kata in technical repetition only? Must it always be with in depth Bunkai? What would you advice as do ratio between the two? Thoughts?” - on FB Group Wall

The thread’s responses from other practitioners tended toward a particular view or perspective of that individual often stimulated by one part of the entire quotation. One said, “90% technical repetition and 10% bunkai.” The problem with that assessment is it didn’t contain any in-depth explanation as if the reader should, could and would fully and completely understand. Then some actually added in some atomistic particulars that probably spun up out of the depth of memory by the human pension toward what is termed as, “Automatic Thoughts.” AT is about background assumptions about oneself and the people in one’s life that reflect their deepest emotional attitudes. In this example I mean, “The background assumptions about how that person trains, practices and understands martial arts from a distinct and personal belief and viewpoint as it is derived from practice and training with their Sensei and within their dojo - a micro-environment that holds a very narrow perspective on the system or style involved.” 

Yet, the actual full and comprehensive answers to the open ended question remains hidden behind the automatic thought process of relationship thoughts as to technical repetition and in-depth bunkai of which both are not explained and no one will ask for fear of seeming lacking in knowledge and understanding and so on. 

What is technical repetition? Honestly, I have not a clue but I would surmise that it means that a person performs an action as physically and as to adherence to the rules of physics in applying said techniques toward a target. The trouble with this is its lack of completeness as a whole. There are factors that are missing toward this model in application of the essence of martial arts, combating conflict and violence. 

As to actuality, technical repetition is about a repetitive aspect of technical communications but tends to mean nothing in regard to the physical applications of martial arts. In short, technical repetition is not an adequate phrase for the assumed subject and meaning. It is redundant for the term,. “Repetition” as a stand alone way to explain the practice of a form along with bunkai, not in-depth bunkai for that too is a misuse of the term and therefore in need of discard. 

In truth, one should ask, “Is it an appropriate practice and training method to perform ‘Repetitions’ using the ‘Bunkai’ to achieve proficiency in application for self-defense, fighting, combatives or sport oriented competitions?” The second part might be, “Does repetitive practice require bunkai to be a valid form of practice and training toward their applications in fighting, combatives and/or self-defense?”

I have to ask myself, “Did the original question come from a thoughtful consideration as to what kind of knowledge the person was seeking, i.e., is repetition good with or without applications/bunkai?” I think the question came from a hip-shot and that led, for me, to confusion as to what is the actual topic of the discussion the person was trying to bring up in the forum. 

Now, to answer the questions I came up with through the original question after some thought processes to gain a bit of clarity. Repetitive practice is both a good thing and beneficial and a bad thing being not beneficial. The reason for this answer is because, “It depends.” 

It depends on how that repetitive practice is done, the goal of that repetitive practice and how it will be used in training and practice toward the higher goal of self-defense. Repetitive practice with or without bunkai that are missing certain components, i.e., like those discussed in the six phases of training for self-defense, is good to train for a more performance oriented competition like “Kata competitions.” As for fighting/self-defense, not so much if at all. 

One of the reasons why such limited communications, the written question, where a lot of missing information that is assumed first by the person asking and then by those assumptions reached by the person reading the questions and comments leads toward a huge chasm of missing information where intent and content are just a small part lead to misunderstandings, misinformation and in the end incorrect applications that effect the outcome of a fight or self-defense. In other words, it is complicated and such things should be geared more toward stimulation of further research and study rather than the expected definitive answers for there are no definitive answers to questions and concerns regarding conflict and violence. 

Back to repetitive practice with bunkai, depends right? Got it? Now, go forth my young “Padawan” and seek out the answers you desire, need and must have to apply your skills in combat!

Now, lets cover the question, “What is repetition?” Repetition is a simple, effective way to create connections. The most common strategies involve, as to the physical, repeating a movement repetitively. In this instance what is effective is to practice a set of movements then indiscriminately replace or substitute a movement with another movement similar to the first. Use care to ensure that the practitioners and observers do not assume that the new movement is actually a new concept that changes the original, i.e., like changing an original basic technique or movement within a kata, into what some assume is a new basic technique or kata. It also disallows one to practice a particular move or movement without it seeming to be repetitious, i.e., repetitious can promote complacency and complacency breeds a type of rhythm and cadence that loses sight of bunkai, etc.

It is also to be understood that too much repetition can be as damaging as too little. It is about finding a balance much like intense physical strenuous exercise balanced out by an equal and necessary period of rest and relaxation, etc. 

“Developing an effective style is like a balancing act: you do not want to practice too much/little in either direction. However, what counts as too much or too little repetition is not determined by a formula or magic number; rather, the appropriate balance depends on context and intent, etc., structure.” - unknown

In a nutshell, repetitive practice has its place but reality dictates that practice come from what Rory Miller calls, “Playing.” Far more effective and it took me a lifetime to start to understand what Mr. Miller meant - I am getting there, step-by-step and inch-by-inch.

Bibliography (Click the link)

There Art No Masters

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Yeah, I said it, regardless of all the titles and all the highest of grades you see in the MA Community there are actually no masters, none; zilch; nadda; no why no how there ain’t no masters.

What makes a master is interesting depending on who and what org you talk to but in reality the old meme of, “Jack of all trades, Master of none,” applies here because everyone is so hell bent on accumulating systems, styles, grades, ranks, levels, accolades, awards and trophies they have missed the boat leading to mastering a martial art. 

Just think, would Tiger Wood be the master of golf he is if he had practiced and played golf, football, basketball, tennis and a plethora of other sports? I really do doubt that, really. He would have been mediocre at best and just another “Jock” at worst. 

Then there is what one focuses on when deciding what they want, not need but want, to become a master of a martial art. Most focus, as previously stated, on longevity, social connections, and the quantity of things vs. quality of one thing. You cannot master anything by pinging on everything that catches your eye like the glitter of metal that attacks birds. It is distracting rather than focused. It is a way of life now with all the instant gratifications and constant changes toward technology and so on and yadda yadda yadda. 

Someone said to me a while back, “Well, to master karate you really have to master all the styles or systems (he then emphasized the main ones over all but that is still a lot) because karate consists of all these various styles and systems.” Well, no you don’t because every single empty-handed style or system all have one main thing in common across the board without fail, principles. 

Take a look at Rory Millers DVD on Joint Locks, you will see him teaching the principles of joint locks, not separate uniques individual joint locks but the principles that drive every single joint lock you could possible use. It, to me, is advocating how knowing and understanding a hand full of principles gives birth to any number, infinite, of techniques and methodologies, etc. 

In order to master a martial art you have to find that “One wholehearted Thing,” that transcends personality, ego, perceptions, perspectives and belief systems and can be seen, felt, practiced and applied no matter what system or style or anything you would use for self-defense.

Hey, there ain’t no martial arts masters!

Bibliography (Click the link)

test our techniques on the dojo floor (a meme?)

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You know what a “mantra (or a meme)” is, right? In a nutshell, for my edification here ya see, a mantra (or a meme) is a word or sound or statement or slogan that is repeated frequently as an aid, i.e., in some disciplines it is a repetitive sound or word or phrase used to aid concentration in meditation. Look at martial arts as a form of moving meditation but remember that to adhere strictly and dogmatically to a mantra (or a meme) like this one over time will actually stifle and stunt progress rather than merely promote it. 

One of the most egregious mantra (or a meme)’s I have heard in the last decade or so is the one whereby practitioners are told emphatically, “Test your techniques on the dojo floor” to ensure they work. In some circles this is appropriate simply because those who use this mantra (or a meme) actually test things out in a variety of ways in and out of any type of training all. A good example is one professional with a huge amount of experience, knowledge and understanding tends to teach in areas that actually experience violence and conflict like bar room halls. 

Then there are those professionals who train in a more cerebral hall, the hall of the mind where the actual locations matters not at all but rather what is trained of the mind, i.e., reality-based training that exposes the practitioner to the threat and stresses of the adrenal flood. A unique kind of training that is a mind-state and mind-set thing where the location be it a dojo floor or the floor of a bar room is less significant. Combining the two really is a grand idea too.

When most say, “test technique on the dojo floor” with the meaning and intent of making sure it will work often use verification and validation a matter of what one “Feels” like it will work. Here is the inexperienced teacher and student whose only exposure to conflict and violence is in all probability the type found in fictional stories told through print, video, movies and television. It is easier, it is testable and it promotes the type of training that makes money but does not provide defense in self-defense. 

There are a lot of assumptions and expectations goin on there on that dojo floor. It is a shame that the thoughts of some professionals toward such martial arts is tainted by the majority yet they will tell you straight up that if one were to add in the right stuff their martial arts would excel in providing for self-defense. Ain’t that a kick in the pants?

Where it really goes hinkey is when someone who trains in one of those dojo actually has to defend themselves and they get lucky and things work. They then assume that the experience “Proves without a Doubt” that it all works. That just ain’t true, even the pro’s will tell you that what works once may fail the next go-round. Nothing about conflict and violence is set in stone, no such trick in martial arts will work each time, every time or even the first time. 

There are many benefits but there are just as many obstacles, trip-wires and booby-traps on the other side of that coin, Tread carefully! There is so much more than simply, “testing our techniques on the dojo floor!”

Bibliography (Click the link)

A meme, i.e., an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means, especially imitation; a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Martial Arts Self-Defense Training Requirements

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Rory Miller provides us with what is absolutely critical (my words absolutely critical) to achieving adequate self-defense and what I am proposing is a matrix, if you will allow me some latitude, for martial arts use in ensuring the full spectrum, i.e., all necessary essential requirements, is achieved. It is not meant to replace other martial arts dojo requirements for grades but a supplement that adds to those grade requirements when the dojo teachings self-defense as a part of their curriculum. 

Mr. Miller introduces us to the six phases, a complete system of self-defense that, “Should and would cover everything from talking to shooting, and more.” I have created, tentatively, a matrix that requires each phase according to the Kyu level of the practitioner. To research more on this subject from the perspective of a professional, Rory Miller, read the book, “Meditations on Violence.” 

This article presents a generalized requirement list for the Kyu grades that include the two of three most important steps or levels of the “Dan” grades, i.e., both Sho-dan (1st) and Ni-dan (2nd) levels. I used these lower levels simply because, like learning and practicing fundamental principles, you need to set the proper foundation early on in training to prevent the long process of retraining if not done at the novice martial arts levels. Add in that you must find a solid experienced Sensei to teach this part. I say this because there are many Sensei teaching MA-SD that don’t know they don’t know all of these requirements. 

Note: Below’s short terse explanation of Mr. Miller’s phases are my notes from the book and I don’t guarantee they are accurate but recommend reading his book, Meditations on Violence, to verify and validate. My premise in incorporating the phases into the martial arts requirements are meant to get more into the MA self-defense requirements to bring martial arts up to speed in the conflict, violence and self-defense arena. 

         10th Kyu: 
Phase 1 - This phase is first and should be done long before violence hits. This one is about learning and familiarization with the legal aspects of self-defense such as force decisions you can legally use and so on. It is also about answering both the moral and ethical issues with regard to violence.
           9th Kyu: 
           8th Kyu: 
Phase 2 - This one is after phase one, of course, but still before you encounter any type of assault, the physical stuff. You need to understand how to avoid and prevent attacks. Understand terrain. Develop awareness - all kinds. Study about predators, crime, and violence dynamics. Learn how to deescalate yourself and someone else verbally. You need to learn the warning signs when it is too late to make de-escalation work. Remember that the predator won’t give you a chance to use this level.
          7th Kyu: 
          6th Kyu: 
Phase 3 - Use operant conditioning in your training and practice. Optimally, train a small group of counterattacks to sudden assault and train them to reflex speed. This is one of those things that can derail a predator’s attack plan. 
          5th Kyu: 
          4th Kyu: 
Phase 4 - Train to break the freeze. Learn to recognize and act when hit with the freeze.
          3rd Kyu: 
          2nd Kyu: 
Phase 5 - When in the fight, everything you learn in martial arts now applies - if you get here. Phases three and four, in the authors experience (Rory Miller, Meditations on Violence), are usually neglected in martial arts training. They are critical to remaining functional long enough to access your training. 
          1st Kyu: 
          1st Dan: 
Phase 6 - All the stuff that follows the full blown all out attack and survival. You have legal issues, you have health/injury issues and you will have emotional issues
          2nd Dan: 

“If you are training for self-defense you MUST address all six phases of training. If not, seek out training and instructors that will fill in all the missing phases to your martial arts practice. No matter how skilled you are in martial arts or how skilled you “think” you are in martial arts, failing to address any of the six phases can result in your possible death, great bodily harm and all those legal and medical after effects you will have to deal with.”

All of these phases should be taught in tandem with other martial arts requirements with none more important than the fundamental principles of martial disciplines. As can be seen, especially with the physiokinetic and technique principles, the principles are critical to learning the necessary requirements of phase two and three. Take a look at the principles, all of them, and do a comparison to what the requirements are in the phases of SD training, there is an interconnectedness necessary to make both work. 

PHASE 1: I consider this the most important phase to learn. It involves all the things you don’t know and that you don’t know you don’t know. There is an additional set of principles added to the fundamental principles that covers a lot of territory necessary to learn academically so when you take on the next five phases you can begin to “Understand” those requirements thereby encoding them along with other mental and physical necessities. 

Articulation and conflict communications are about learning to listen and communicate to achieve such goals as avoidance and deescalation. Add in topics like, “Emotional Intelligence, the three brains, JAM/AOJ and five stages, adrenal stress conditions with reality-based training scenarios, Types of violence, Pre-attack indicators, Weapons, Force levels, Repercussions of using SD, Attitudes and Diplomacy, Legal requirements of self-defense, awareness, permission, initiative, multiple attack methodologies and more … all need to be studied beforehand, before violence occurs, and before you use your skills in self-defense. 

The Principles Discussed Herein:

PRINCIPLE ONE: PRINCIPLES OF THEORY (Universality, Control, Efficiency, Lengthen Our Line, Percentage Principle, Std of Infinite Measure, Power Paradox, Ratio, Simplicity, Natural Action, Michelangelo Principle, Reciprocity, Opponents as Illusions, Reflexive Action, Training Truth, Imperception and Deception.)

PRINCIPLE TWO: PHYSIOKINETIC PRINCIPLES (Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, possibly the chemical cocktail, Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are best for stopping a threat]???see below)

PRINCIPLE THREE: PRINCIPLES OF TECHNIQUE (techniques vs. technique, equal rights, compliment, economical motion, active movement, positioning, angling, leading control, complex force, indirect pressure, live energy and dead energy, torsion and pinning, speed, timing, rhythm, balance, reactive control, natural and unnatural motion, weak link, non-telegraphing, extension and penetration, Uke. Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are best for stopping a threat])

PRINCIPLE FOUR: PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mind [mind-set, mind-state, etc.], mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-yang, oneness, zanshin and being, non-action, character, the empty cup.)

PRINCIPLE FIVE: PRINCIPLES OF SELF-DEFENSE (“Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence (Social and Asocial), Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Predator process and predator resource, Force levels, Repercussions (medical, legal, civil, personal), Go-NoGo, Win-Loss Ratio, etc. (still working on the core sub-principles for this one)”Attitude, Socio-emotional, Diplomacy, Speed [get-er done fast], Redirected aggression, Dual Time Clocks, Awareness, Initiative, Permission, multiple attack/defense methodologies (i.e., actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. are best for stopping a threat)

PRINCIPLE SIX: CHEMICAL COCKTAIL: (Attacked Mind, Train It, Breath It Away, Visualize It Away, Sparring vs. Fighting, Degradation of Technique/skills, Peripheral Vision Loss, Tunnel Vision, Depth Perception Loss/Altered, Auditory Exclusion, Weakened legs/arms, Loss of Extremity Feeling, Loss of Fine Motor Skills, Distorted Memory/perceptions, Tachypsychia (time slows), Freeze, Perception of Slow Motion, Irrelevant Thought Intrusion, Behavioral Looping, Pain Blocked, Male vs. Female Adrenaline Curve, Victim vs. Predator, The Professional, Levels of Hormonal Stimulation, ???)

This comes down to knowing and understanding and how it all interconnects and functions in the world of conflict and violence. The list of study material necessary to set a solid foundation in self-defense just sets the stage where what you learn is used to learn all the other phases. 

In this phase there are no shortcuts. Unlike martial arts training where often practitioners either pass up, gloss over or totally ignore the boring and repetitive stuff the first phase is going to be tedious and require the same efforts of study and discussion you used to get yourself through all those years of education, i.e., grades one through twelve and then on and into the various programs of University. Just look at it as if you were going to become a physician, there are a ton of years and studies you will have to endure long before you can practice medicine on another human being. Consider your self-defense as a means of practicing that defense on other human beings where grave bodily harm and even death are on the table - cause in both disciplines lives are on the line.

Granted, this is a huge amount of data to learn but where better than up front in order to set the rhythm and cadence of training, practice and its applications over a lifetime of martial arts. It is like the story of how “Tiger Wood” trained to become the greatest golfer, i.e., through a long tough and challenging training and practice regimen over a lifetime. 

All I can say is that once you achieve such a huge and important goal never once in your entire life will you ever regret taking the time and effort and strength to walk this path. Learning to walk the path both in good times and bad is the point. Accepting human nature in conflict and violence is the point. Taking the proverbial heads out of the hot sands of denial and social conditioning is the point. It all begins here.

PHASE 2: Here is where the fun stuff begins, the part where you begin to play. Things like applying principles to actually apply force and power along with all the other cool stuff begins here. Yea, you got to do other martial arts stuff like basics and even kata along the study path but now you really begin to get into the meat and potato’s stuff that will set you for staying within the self-defense square (coined phrase from Marc MacYoung). 

Here is where other things often not taught in the more general martial arts self-defense training. Thinks like awareness, i.e., one of those things I personally feel provide us all the understanding and training to recognize conflict and violence in its earliest stages so we can avoid and/or deescalate, etc. This is the second most important thing I feel once can learn in self-defense. This is where we self-analyze using the learning in phase one to assess and change ourselves for it is often our monkey brain that gets us in conflict and leads toward violence. Not always, but a lot of the time this is true.

Some other things that will be taught here are, “Understanding terrain and developing all the kinds of awareness, studying about predators and crime and violence dynamics, using verbal skills to deescalate yourself and someone else, learning waring signs when it is too late to make deescalation work, and what to expect when a predator, process and resource types, attack with sudden, surprising, painful, structure and balance disrupting, close in and a flurry of injury inducing pummeling …

I consider this phase as a good place to introduce things like, “Adrenal stress conditions reality-based training scenario’s” as well as operant type conditioning necessary to make it work in the most difficult positions one can be in necessary to apply self-defense. 

PHASE 3 (Note: Usually neglected in MA training): Here is where operant conditioning becomes serious. It is recommended that one, “train a small group of counterattacks to sudden assault and train them to reflex speed.” Here we can pull up things you studied early on such as what will cause a freeze and how that effects your self-defense at all levels, a kind of intro into phase four. 

PHASE 4 (Note: Usually neglected in MA training): Breaking the freeze, the OO bounce and other debilitating aspects of conflict and violence. Often this phase trains folks that in most cases have never encountered and/or experienced the conflict and violence that would cause the freeze/OO bounce. I can almost guarantee that a good majority of martial arts self-defense never even acknowledge this part of required training and practice let along teach it in a manner that will actually be useful if attacked. 

PHASE 5: The do or die phase or maybe better, “The do or get injured or die phase.” Everything you have learned, practiced and intend to apply as appropriate to the situation now applies, i.e., the get-r-done phase. I am not sure exactly what Mr. Miller meant as to my notes on this phase but I suspect this is the phase where you have to make it work. It is that phase where the adrenal dump effects are triggered through adrenal stress conditions reality-based training scenario’s. Yes, we did some of it earlier as a kind of prerequisite so it won’t be a surprise here but here is where the rubber meets the road at least to as great an extent that can be done with relative safety and without actually exposing yourself to “Real Violent Encounters.” 

This is where the military and police, etc., take it as far as possible for it is in this phase those without hands-on experiences need to learn, practice and understand because when the proverbial crap hits the fan they are going to need all five phases to achieve success in phase six. 

PHASE 6: My interpretation, perception and perspective on this phase is to teach and train all five phases while learning to understand and apply them as if in a full blown all out attack and survival where you learn about legal issues and ramifications, the health/injury stuff and all the emotional effects you will endure before, during and especially after an incident. 

I remember a close friend who was suffering, many many years after combat, some emotional and psychological issues as a result of combat and killing in combat. He once let me know that he could not understand why, after years and years of nothing, he began to feel and suffer because of his actions in Viet Nam. I had just finished the books by LtCol Dave Grossman, i.e., On Killing and On Combat, because it seemed to me important for my friend to know and understand why what he was feeling, etc. was actually normal along with ways to handle it, etc. I got a call from him long after that discussion simply to say thanks and that those books went a long way to help him understand and accept what was happening. It all helped and that is why this is so important to martial arts training in self-defense. 

Remember, without such training and practice when you encounter conflict and violence, especially at the higher levels, that lack of knowledge, understanding and application at least in training and practice WILL result in the FREEZE and you will suffer the consequences of that I have no doubt. 

Rory Miller discusses these phases at length and his materials do to a deeper level of study, training and understanding but this short article should at least provide martial arts dojo a better view of what self-defense NEEDS to get-r-done. Hopefully no one will have to make use of this education but since humans are still a violent animal species, albeit a higher level species, that use conflict and violence at more levels than what most understand. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Fantasy Martial Arts

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

I just read today’s post on the God’s Bastard Blog and it made me think of this question. I recommend reading God’s Bastard’s post HERE first.

When I read the last paragraph it hit me, modern American martial arts are simply self-soothing fantasies that rarely take anyone out of their comfort zones. Yes, they can be physically demanding but when compared to “Real Violence” you have to wonder. I have felt for a time now that in my recent past participation in a local dojo that it was more about social club like connections rather than self-defense or self-defense martial arts. I personally felt that the black belts avoided any type of physical conflict even in the dojo. That ain’t bad unless you self-delude into thinking repetitive basics and kata mean or equal defense against “Real violence.” 

I feel that it is time to “Wake Up!” I am not saying martial artists should drop the other aspects to its studies but if it involves reality-based violence as to the applications of self-defense at least give that its compete and total attention toward the entire self-defense square. 

Thanks God’s Bastard for the reminder, much appreciated. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Finding Serenity

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

Sorry, couldn’t help the play on words but what I am aiming to tell you is in the self-defense world you truly have to know, believe and most of all fully understand what self-defense is and what conflict is and what violence is in order to see it when it comes. You have to know about that something in order to see it, to detect it and to take action in accordance with it. 

This goes further with the other senses, i.e., hearing is listening is hearing is listening but if you don’t about what that sound means especially in self-defense then how can you act when you hear that sound. 

If you don’t know the you cannot see or hear it when it comes at you but here is the rub, if you are not “Looking and Hearing” for that which leads to conflict and violence, i.e., putting your head in the proverbial sand (like putting in ear buds and texting), then when it comes you will have missed every opportunity to avoid conflict and violence. 

What is even worse is when you “Cherry Pick” what you want to hear or see and learn and understand leaving out critical parts then you still must overcome that deficiency to act accordingly - can anyone say, “Freeze?” Can anyone say, “OO bounce?”

Now, lets say you had to defend yourself but things don’t go real smooth when the first responder takes control. Lets say you now have to articulate what happened to justify your actions toward breaking the law, self-defense. If you don’t know it and if you have not trained it and you cannot articulate it then you are in a whole big shiny mess. You might just as well paint that huge target on your back so the system has something to focus aim toward - you and your pocket book and your freedom.

Look at this along with appropriate force in self-defense, if you don’t know what to look for and what you hear how can you determine the threat level and whether the attacker is going to either cause you to be crippled or even kill you? Do you even know the rules that govern how self-defense is perceived and adjudicated? 

Do you know what will be available for your defense and what will be excluded and why? There are rules to this game and there are lessons to learn and information to assimilate and they all mean the difference between freedom, economic stability, health and well being. It all depends on the distance you are willing to go and the choices you are willing to make and the commitment you are willing to accept and act upon.

Here is the rub tho, how can you “Go the distance,” how can you “Make a choice so you can Just Do-It,” how can you “understand and accept the type of commitment necessary to get-r-done both legally and with social morality,” and how can you “be willing do accept and act upon things never experienced nor understood nor training nor practiced?” 

As with a lot of self-defense, it takes a “Leap of Faith” to cross the barriers, obstacles and blockades you WILL encounter if you are faced with that decision, are you ready, willing and able?

“Truth: If we are not looking for something, we are very likely not to see it. If we are not listening for something, it is very likely that we will not hear it. Enough verbalization and physical action to cause a reasonable, prudent person to believe that the attacker manifested intent to kill or cripple? Remember, the witness can’t stand up and yell in court, “Here’s what you need to know!” He or she can only answer the questions they are asked.” - Massad Ayoob on Self-Defense

Bibliography (Click the link)

Count to Ten

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

Today, modern technological times, is when this maxim should be held close as a means of communications. We have forgotten the rules of communications. How did we lose that capability? 

Technology is not at fault but it has made a huge contribution toward our pension to blurt out the first thoughts that come to our minds. In a conflict that can be damaging - psychologically speaking and more important, physically speaking. I only rediscovered this due to a malady that struck me about two or so years ago. More on that later.

Modern times has created an atmosphere where any hesitation is used to your detriment. If you pause to think before answering certain questions the questioner will immediately assume some sort of guilt. When we view inflammatory video’s on the Internet we immediately jump to conclusions that are often a result of biases and agenda’s to see, hear and believe when reality would say otherwise. We have forgotten to “Count to Ten.” 

In martial arts self-defense we discuss concepts like yin-yang, zanshin, mushin and the void but in reality we are simply giving those concepts lip service to makes us look, superior, when in reality the urge to instantly judge, assume and spew forth our agenda’s and beliefs with an underlying self-soothing need regardless of truth, justice, facts and relevancy. 

In martial arts self-defense the void, those natural and necessary pauses, are what allow us time, and sometimes distances, to think before we either spew forth some ego monkey antic type dysfunctionally driven dribble that more often than not gets us slugged. If we took that pause, the insertion of an empty void like the space between notes of a song that make the song - a song, as if we were counting to ten (sometimes very, very fast) we just might pull up an alternative that would allow us to avoid bodily harm or prosecution or even death. Yet, we blurt; spew; regurgitate; disgorge; bring up and so on bringing out the worst results possible.

About two years or so ago I had an incident, a medical incident. One that apparently resulted in, “Slowed reactions, issues and problems with multi-tasking, trouble occasionally thinking, or what some refer to as brainfog or muddy thinking.” What that has come to mean is I am now forced to count to ten, to think a slight bit more before I can understand and respond to stimuli (yes, that means I focus a lot more on my awareness so I can avoid, etc.). I noticed when dealing with discussions that are somewhat sensitive that when in receipt of what someone expresses to me that pause I now take, like counting to ten fast, usually results in the other  person taking offense as if I were trying to think up a lie to tell (yes, that is often the other persons issue projected on me but it does make a point). 

Yes, in such martial defense situations you really want to think quickly but do you really want the first impulsive response to come out? Isn’t that one way you end up escalating into physical violence? Isn’t it possible, especially in social conflict and violence, that you have time since that often has steps taken to reach physical violence so that you can literally count to ten, reconsider your position and then take appropriate actions and words to avoid and deescalate? 

Watch folks around you as you go through your day. Notice something, when the cell phone rings they “Instinctually reach” for it and answer it regardless of what they are doing and where they are going. How many times were you in a discussion with someone when the text or email chime rang and they instantly and instinctually stopped, immediately begin to ignore you, answer it and then respond to that text or email? Don’t you think such instinctual reactions to technology bleed over into other aspects of your life? Could such things cause us to require others to respond to us immediately with the very first thought and word that oozes from our mouths? 

I work in the IT industry and have found over the last decade or so people being forced to respond to the wants, needs and requirements for “Instant Gratification” without pause and if they don’t they are therefore taught to feel they are losing something or being left behind or unable to compete and stay up where that result effects their bottom line, their livelihood - isn’t that a survival thing? If it is a survival thing then doesn’t that make what we are experiencing an “Addiction?” No, I am NOT advocating that because it is an addiction that we are excused from it but am advocating we all take responsibility for ourselves and take appropriate actions to remove that addiction however even if it is just taking appropriate time every day to remove ourselves completely from technology, taking a pause from it or “Counting to Ten” to alleviate the pressures and stresses. 

If this is true then don’t we owe it to ourselves in the arena of conflict and violence to “Count to Ten” before we act, talk or communicate so as to convey true, relevant and realistic meaning beneficial to all parties concerned? Isn’t this how we accomplish avoidance and especially “Deescalation?”

Teach the model of “Counting to Ten” and then practice it, train it, and make it a part of applying the void, the pause, so you can think then act. Make this a part of your self-defense to avoid and deescalate. Stop reacting to technology, stop reacting to the first emotional feeling you get from internal and external stimuli, stop being an asshole and create a personality and character conducive to avoiding and deescalating conflict thus violence. 

Here is a small step, a method to use in practice counting to ten. Remember that breathe, breathing, is critical in keeping calm, clearing the mind and countering effects of adrenal stress. When you detect such stresses begin to count while breathing in-out, deeply and slowly and down into the diaphragm, until you reach ten (you can use the combat breathing method of the four count and to get more out of it do that at least three times so you reach at least ten, if time and distance permit). Do this in practice, do this when you feel stress and urges to blurt out emotional retorts to others and do this when you ready for meetings, etc., at work making it a habit and instinctual. When you truly need it then it will be available, now ain’t that great?

Bibliography (Click the link)

Chiron Training Blog by Rory Miller

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

I know you have read my references to professionals like Rory Miller and may others but I just had to add the following articles by Rory Miller at Chiron Blog simply because, for me, they once again slapped me up behind the head (think of the head slap on the show NCIS :-) ). I am amazed about how much I DON’T KNOW and I am truly amazed at how much Rory Miller knows. I am not putting him on a pedestal but hey, you really need to understand that what he provides, teaches, is critical to the world of professionals and self-defense. 

I am a martial artists who has studied, practiced and even taught karate, a striking system. I am not going to say that my efforts are either wasted or wrong but I am going to say that “I am/was MISSING a whole lotta IMPORTANT stuff!” Rory Miller, Marc MacYoung and the many others you can see in the bibliography below are professionals who love the art of teaching and that is to our benefit and good luck. 

I am knowledgable enough to know that I don’t truly “Understand” a lot. I write in the hopes that something I provide will lead others toward those who actually UNDERSTAND and TEACH like these guys. 

Now, the reason I am professing my like of these guys is because of their no-nonsense teachings especially in regard to what is not fully understood in the martial arts communities about conflict, violence and self-defense and the following links take you to the last three articles written by Rory Miller. To me, they were once again “A bitch slap upside the back of my head” - “Doah” - moments, learning moments. Read them in the order given to get the full gist of his message then go from there …

Caveat: Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung and the many others listed are not the end-all sources on this stuff. They will get you a good start but it is UP TO YOU to go the distance in “Understanding” the entire picture (note: understanding takes on a new additional meaning after reading these articles). 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Chi Circulation

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

“A nineteenth-century Taoist ink drawing by an unknown Chinese artist, showing the circulation of “ch’i” (or “qì”) through the human body. The early Taoist philosophers and alchemists considered ch’i – which translates literally as breath or air, and figuratively as “life force” or “material energy” – to be a vital force found in the breath and bodily fluids. With the help of different techniques, one could learn to alter and control the movement of ch’i within one’s body, attaining physical longevity and spiritual power. It is a central and underlying principle found in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts. This remarkable late-nineteenth-century image is originally from a plank found in the White Cloud Taoist Temple in Beijing.” - The Public Domain Review: A project of the Open Knowledge Foundation, “Circulation of Ch’i (1886)” 

I have often written and spoken about chi or ki as it is termed in Japanese martial arts. Chi or Ki are not originally marital discipline terms but actual medical terms as well as terms used in ancient Chinese classics such as the I Ching and the Tao Te Ching - both classics studied and absorbed by both Okinawan and Japanese cultures. 

It is not about some mystical force that one can project as some believe. It is simply the development of our internal physical attributes toward health, fitness and mental/spiritual mind-body-states and so on. It also is about using our minds and bodies at the epitome of its natural efficient potential in all things be it life itself, longevity and in martial arts self-defense its energy toward application of force and power. 

What I mean is through breathing properly and applying physiokinetic principles along with both philosophical and theoretical principles we can therefore make use of the technique principle in martial applications of self-defense but that is not the full extent of chi/ki utilization, development and achievement. 

To allow fluids or chemicals of the body along with other things like the nervous system we can create a body that will last and perform. In martial arts mental and physical performance are critical to martial discipline and application. Note: take some time to research the bodies integumentary system as well because that is part of the whole that protects from bodily damage, i.e., loss of water (hydration/dehydration) or abrasion from outside and it is composed of the skin including hair, nails, etc.). All comprise what they called our “Chi or Ki” systems. 

I quote, All body systems work in an interconnected manner to maintain the internal conditions essential to the function of the body.” - (Functions) [note: when I think of this system I lean toward skin, touch and tactile sensitivity in self-defense]

Now, with that covered enough to stimulate further research the only part of the quote I tend to question is controlling the movement of chi and spiritual power. There is not enough explanation leaving it for the individual to perceive a meaning, a meaning that may not address the actual intent of the author. 

Controlling movement is a misnomer in my view. I have tried to discover if there is some mental way we can control fluids, the nervous system or the integumentary system. Yes, you can control your breathing and through such breathing methods cause effects on the body. Breathing out when applying techniques is one way but often the dynamic tension application is not conducive to force and power but rather a bleed of of energy reducing force and power. 

I do know that breathing does, at least in my body, effect the heart beat thus the circulatory pressure called “Blood pressure.” If you study adrenal stress conditions you know that the heart beat level effects such things as the release of said adrenal chemicals (you could refer to them as fluids - kinda). We can effect things that way. 

In the end it comes down to the limitations of the body whereby through training and practice we adjust the body and mind to maximize what our bodies capabilities have to deal with overall. We have only so much strength; we have only so much mass; we have only so much speed; we have only so much energy and so on. How we manage and use these are key and that is where chi/ki come in, how we maximize those systems to achieve maximum output of the body and mind. One key aspect, there are no limits on what the mind can achieve psychologically and that is called mind-set and mind-state.

In a nutshell we cannot alter or control the movement of chi but we can train our bodies and minds to allow it to move with the least amount of restrictions often caused by misuse of our bodies, i.e., when we fail to achieve alignment; fail to use centeredness; fail to achieve proper structure; fail to feed the body, mind and body systems the appropriate fuel; we fail to breathe and many other factors. You could say this means alteration and/or control but in essence that is not exactly true. 

It is more about training and practicing to release our body and minds potential where failure simply creates obstacles, etc., that reduce our finite available energy, force and power. This is the true nature of what I believe the ancients meant by Chi. 

Bibliography (Click the link)