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

A Good Strike; A Good Punch

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

A strike/punch needs certain principles in order to achieve a goal of striking/hitting with power and force. First, your body mass. Your mass moving in the right direction along with the effects of gravity creates the mainstay of your power and force. Second, your velocity contributes or enhances the power and force that comes from movement of body mass, i.e., the speed and direction of that force and power. 

Now, there are other principles that are involved that are under the heading of, “Physiokinetics,” such as structure, alignment and so on. Another enhancing set of principles are the twitch of your hip girdle and shoulder girdle of just a few degrees of rotation. 

Now, since this is a strike we have to address the arm, i.e., the shoulder, the elbow, the wrist and the fist. Remember, if you are relying on the musculature and skeletal system of the arm for power and force alone you are muscling it and the results will be disappointing. The term chinkuchi, an Okinawan dialect term, translates into bone, sinew, and muscle or what I use, “Ligaments, muscles, bones, joints, tendons.” All of those act more effectively when properly structured and aligned with the muscles, tendons and ligaments along with properly aligned skeletal structure as a stabilizer so that power and force don’t bleed off. 

Then there is the principle of, “Timing.” This is the ability to bring about proper application of principles through the movement of mass moving forward and using that rotation along with the arm where they coordinate according to certain physics so that they all arrive at the target - at the SAME TIME.

Remember, in karate they often teach and practice to apply a technique where they step forward, stop, root, then rotate and strike. The stop itself breaks the power chain and if any other principle and factor misses such as improperly aligned elbow, etc., will bleed off a lot of power and force making for a bad strike or punch. 

So many karate dojo lose site of what actually makes for a powerful and forceful strike and/or punch. One way to overcome so many variables that could, may or might not get the job done is to remove the strike and punch themselves and use either the open hand form of strike or, better yet, the elbow strike. The dynamics of application take out some of the potential bleed off aspects. 

The power chain is critical to achieving a solid, forceful and powerful strike and/or punch. These principles described along with proper application of the physiokinetic principles will achieve that goal except for one more very small yet very important, critical actually, aspect - doing all of this under the stress and chemical dump you will be experiencing when attacked in a predatory way. 

“When attacked on the street at its very worse you will be completely and totally surprised, you will be experiencing pain and fear, it will be hard and fast and close from a direction least expected such as the back or back-side, and it will be a flurry of techniques that will result in your freeze and/or the OO bounce of OODA along with the loss of your balance and your structure being totally disrupted.”

Another important factor to striking/punching with power and force is the, “Optimal Effective Zone.” Even when all things come together in the power/force chain the absolute best zone to apply maximum force and power may span a mere two to three inches. This zone can be described using a auto engine power stroke metaphor. The stroke of any piston in that auto chamber at one point along that cycle produces the greatest amount of power. The arm, i.e., the shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand as they cycle from the start to a finish there is this zone where maximum power and force is achieved when it reaches, penetrates and retracts rapidly. Each of us as to body configuration has a different zone. Each of us dependent on the application at any given moment to any given situation will have a unique zone of power and force. This, of course, adds to the complexities and helps explain, with all the other principles, etc., why striking/punching is not the end all that many karate proponents lead us to believe. Remember it is the coordinated build up of things that get the job done, not just striking and punching or even kicking, etc.

“In the midst of a chaotic two-way fight it is really difficult to keep these elements and principles of a good strike in control and hit with great force. This is why fights seldom result in injury and can go on for a long time.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

OH yea, I almost forgot, another enhancer to power and force is also under timing, i.e., Time. Time as in the transfer of energy for to transfer that energy in the shortest amount of time creates a greater, “Impulse” and the greater the damage. Longer time = less impact = less damage and it makes it hard to stop the threat as well as articulate how you were not engaging in a mutual fight, i.e., the longer it goes on the more it is perceived as a mutual fight. 

The TIME issue equates how the strike arrives, i.e., it reaches the target, passes into the target a certain distance then snaps back as fast as reached its target. You want your adversary to stop, i.e., he collapse instantly, folds and falls or collapses a bit - staggers some trying to recover. You just gained time, time to stop and leave to safety, etc. or whatever is required for that specific situation. This type of strike/punch is called the “Snap Punch” in karate communities. Look toward “Coordinated Actions” that build like a crescendo, i.e., a snow ball rolling down a hill building upon more snow as it passes. One action that builds on a previous action until the threat is stopped - then you stop, right?

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Striking Arts

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“Striking and punching is a multipoint process. A good or perfect strike is as rare as hen’s  teeth.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

Karate is a striking system that comes from a more educational form that did not encompass other aspects of fighting such as, “Spiraling, twisting, unbalancing, etc. (impacts, drives [pushes], pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression)”. The karate that I began to study in the 1970’s taught and depended on striking, kicking, etc., to stop  a threat but in now seems that the form of karate taught to me then is more about the social fighting most humans deal with, i.e., the kind used for group communications. Group communications deal with survival, the survival of the group by its hierarchal make up where every member has a position, status and duties that are about group, therefore individual, survival.

Beatings, i.e., the striking and punching of karate, are used to enforce the groups rules, rules about survival. Strikes can injure and sometimes it is about injuring, sometimes about dominating, sometimes about punishment, sometimes about one’s status and testing for greater status and position within the group, etc.

Striking alone is ineffective and therefore karate as a striking system is ineffective except for the socially acceptable means of communications simply because one does not want to injure gravely or kill a group member. A gravely injured or dead member reduces the groups capability to survive thus endangering everyone so using a striking system that is ineffectual in self-defense, fighting others or combatives, etc., is useful for group survival enforcement and communications.

Read the quote again, the process of a perfect strike/punch is truly rare. How many fights, not attacks of a predatory nature, but fights in the school yard, the socially driven fights in bars and clubs and the fights seen in groups have you seen or participated in where the two combatants end the fight exhausted, in pain, some minor injuries and with ego’s intact actually suffer grave bodily harm (except by accident) or death?

Marc MacYoung’s eBook on writing violence: getting hit and hitting explains not just how to write fiction about hitting and getting hit but his reality based goals in the book explain the reality of hitting and getting hit that we encounter in the fight and self-defense.

Back to the topic, karate seems to me as it was taught in my early years as more a socially acceptable form of communications that come from social encounters where humans have reasons, i.e., I want something, and display patters or warning signs of why one is about to strike another and so on.

When you witness such encounters you will see two humans “Squaring off” while using threats, i.e., “Yelling, shouting, facial expressions and body language displays, etc.,” to get what they want be it dominance, ego boosting, status validation, etc. They will use things like, “Threat displays, pre-attack indicators, they will set up an attack,” just to communicate to the other guy that if they don’t give what the other wants there can be violence, the strike or punch, etc. Give them what they want and it will not escalate to violence.

The violence, in these socially driven monkey dancing incidents, is not the kind that results in deliberate grave bodily harm or possibly death but simply a means to communicate their seriousness toward getting what they want. Since strikes and punches, the essence of karate, tend to be the most ineffective form of violence in that to  achieve a correctly applied powerful and forceful strike and/or punch means bringing together many factors that more often than not will lose power and force due to bad structure, alignment, etc. than actually apply such force that will cause grave bodily harm or even death.

Granted, karate as a striking system, can be that system of self-defense we need to accomplish the goal of stopping a threat but it needs other aspects to supplement striking and punching. Striking and punching are effective when used with other principles of fighting and self-defense, i.e., “Spiraling, twisting, unbalancing, etc. (impacts, drives [pushes], pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression)” Striking and punching work best in this form and in accomplishing a goal of stopping a threat.

Karate today is changing, changing because of the effort to get out information, knowledge, understanding and experience in conflict, violence and violent conflict so that it now encompasses such things as joint locks, etc., through adding back in principles such as “Spiraling, twisting, unbalancing, etc. (impacts, drives [pushes], pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression)” to enhance and support striking and punching to self-defense martial disciplines.

“When all the components, variables, factors, mechanics, and time are correctly combined tend to generate and deliver increased power. It is all this that also contribute to loss of power as well.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

In closing, karate as it was once taught was about striking and it was, is and still referred to as a “Striking system.” In truth, it may be a striking system but it may also be a social communications tool as explained. Only when it encompasses other principles of defense against violence does it take on a more combative form. Alone, not so much.

Karate may not be the end all striking self-defense art everyone thinks it is and yet thinking about it, it may be arguable and articulable to say the use of karate in self-defense as to force levels and use may actually explain a perceived application as less level of force than originally thought, i.e., the age old adage and lie that “one strike kills” or “one’s karate hands are deadly” or “karate hands must be registered as deadly weapons.”

Another thought, the explanations that Getting Hit and Hitting convey is proof that karate hands are not deadly. Something to think about and most will scoff at this idea but ….

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. Ok, let me tell you that I didn’t write this to belittle karate. I practice karate, I love karate and I find karate like martial arts in general have a huge benefit to the practitioner but I do not want to attribute false things to its study and practice. I feel that such analysis by each of us helps to realize our “glitches” both in our selves and our practices. Think about this seriously!

Karate is not Effective Enough

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My reasoning here is because karate, as a striking system, does not meet the criteria necessary to achieve true self-defense. One of the hallmarks of a good karate-ka is performing with perfect form. The kata looks good, it appears to have proper form and yet …

“Form does not mean function. Just because it has the external form does not mean it has the internal mechanics that make it work.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

It means that without the underlying principles of a fighting system it looks good but holds no substance when applied in a fight for self-defense. I have written other articles on the subject of karate, as a striking system, being more a social communications tool in groups for survival, etc. but is not adequate, without enhancements, etc., in actually defending against attacks. 

Kihon are taught to achieve a certain form that looks good to the observer. It also provides a means to critique and evaluate for promotions as well as progress. But, progress of what kind?

Note: I am talking about karate in general and readily admit that in today’s martial communities there is a concerted effort to bring back those enhancements, etc., that make karate a good self-defense system. 

In order to make it work for self-defense you first have to learn how to apply fundamental principles whether in a martial form like karate or any other form like boxing, etc., to achieve force and power to stop a threat. Then there are a huge lot of other neat stuff that must be implemented, trained and applied to achieve self-defense within the self-defense square. 

Sport karate is especially guilty along with the more commercial forms. Not to say that one cannot earn money teaching self-defense and karate but often they take short cuts when the level of income to their economic needs has issues. Like anything worth doing, doing it well takes a great deal of effort, dedication and intestinal fortitude. It is easier to take shortcuts, it just is.

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Primal Scream

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Sometimes, in martial art circles, called the, “Kiai Yell.” When attacked don’t think about blocking, hit him. Scream, a scream will cause a freeze in your attacker allowing some time for your techniques to work. If you are attacked by someone with a weapon, say a knife, reach with one hand behind your hip and scream, “Drop the Weapon,” in a strong cop like voice. It is amazing how many will see a gun and change their minds about attacking.

Think about this example as an explanation of the kiai yell, a means to instill a momentary freeze in your adversary. Use such tactics as a means of encouraging the adversary to give up the attack. Don’t make threats, etc., because those tend to escalate things. Use the mind-tactics that cause an adversary to freeze, psych them out, or influence them in a more positive way for you. 

There are a variety of benefits in the practice and application of kiai. In self-defense this can be used to gain you time, time to reach a goal like leaving, moving to gain distance, articulate to influence witnesses and make you breath and to do what you need to stop the threat, etc. The kiai shout can cause a freeze, i.e., to reorient to observe and orient (OODA loop) giving you time to do something else while they decide on how to act, DA of the OODA. Say, do something weird or unexpected as well. Rapid movement with rapid speech … Keep a calm professionalism, use a Dragnet type voice while talking …

Bibliography (Click the link)


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

Martial systems tend to teach a lot of technique and another person I know of said, “Technique is the easiest part. Knowing when and how to apply the technique is the second easiest. Making yourself do it may be the hardest and that is the part I am not sure can really be taught.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Now, the context that Mr. Miller wrote the quote is not where I am going with this, instead I am addressing a way that martial arts are taught that creates a chasm between it and self-defense. There is a term/word Mr. Miller uses that stresses what we all have to see in ourselves if we want to actually learn self-defense. I just can’t remember that word, sigh (ahhh it came to me “glitches.”).

Anyway, I can remember my first martial art self-defense lesson. In general, the sensei said when you are attacked like this (describes the actual attacking technique here) you will counter-attack like this (describes the actual counterattacking technique here). I thought, at the time, this is so cool. I am actually learning how to defend myself against (describes the actual attacking technique here). Today, I tend to think about how I would apply something where I stress the principles used to create force and power dependent on the situation and circumstance. It is more about the goal like, “Stop the threat,” than any one particular technique against the pre-ordained attack (usually made up by the sensei who in all likelihood got it from his sensei who had little or no experience in self-defense, etc.). 

It seems to me reflecting back that we ignored the harder aspects of the martial discipline both with and without the self-defense training. We gravitated for what ever reasons toward the easiest part to teach, the technique(s). I even looked at the MA triad of kihon (basics), kata and kumite. All of them pre-set arrangements and combinations meant to work against other pre-set arrangements and combinations. As I accumulate more knowledge and understanding toward conflict, violence and self-defense (thank you to folks like Rory Miller, Marc MacYoung, Peyton Quinn and many others).

Another reason I have come to understand as to why techniques are taught is because in a system that uses heavily grades and testing you have to have something to critique and grade before awarding rank, etc. You have to have something to grade and critique for competitions and other such things that detract from the essence of self-defense and more civil oriented self-defense applications of martial systems. It creates, to me, a larger distance a martial artists in self-defense has to jump to do what is required to “Stop the threat.” 

I found in my studies and understanding of that material martial arts self-defense is not self-defense but a program that allows us to grade, critique and self-soothe ourselves into believing we have the security, protection and ability to defend meaning defend and remain in the self-defense square (see In the Name of Self-defense by Marc MacYoung for more on the square :-) ). 

Technique lessons have their place and make it easier to physically feel and learn about such principles as structure, alignment and centering, etc., but when used to teach self-defense, i.e., technique-to-technique or attack-to-counterattack, they don’t work alone. Yes, learning how to apply a technique with principles is important but not a stand-alone self-defense system. There is just so much more to all of it and if you read Mr. Miller’s book, Facing Violence, you can get a bigger picture of what is truly involved. 

It would be nice to be able to learn and apply self-defense “Techniques” that worked but often it doesn’t and if it does it can be luck. Do you want to rely on luck alone? Remember, the depth and breadth of conflict, violence and self-defense far exceeds the comfort of self-defense techniques. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Kata Movement

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Kata movement involves the movement of arms, legs, torso and all of that includes other aspects such as the type of movement, i.e., whether the arms are moved for blocking, for traps and locks, or for strikes and so on. Whether the legs are used to move forward, backward, turn and moving forward or backward to the sides and so on spanning all directions. 

The cadence, rhythm and timing involved dictate what movements are moved when, how and why. The critical aspect here is how all of these movements are accomplished while using and maintaining the integrity of the underlying fundamental principles that give stability and ability to apply force and power while maintaining the integrity of the body, mind and spirit. 

Take turning, what is involved in turning from the primary direction to a secondary such as 90 degrees to either the right or left. This particular action and movement accomplishes a few goals. One, the peripheral vision being utilized in the use of awareness triggers the move because of the detection of some sort of danger. The turning of the head to get a direct view is sometimes used while the body begins its rotation in the proper direction and so on, so that one can start utilizing principles in stopping that threat that is dictated by the actual circumstances. 

In kata such movement is a training tool rather than an actual tactic/technique strategy because its main focus is the application of principles for a specific movement, awareness, detection, etc. The novice student will apply some bunkai to the process at the start to make connections with movement and applications but later will vary that visualization especially when the body, mind and spirit apply principles instinctively. Look at it as layers.

Turning is about maintaining physiokinetic principles such as structure, alignment and alignments while in motion. It uses this aspect primarily because in a true fight/attack movement is constant. There will be a flurry of attack techniques with a goal of overwhelming the victim while disrupting their structure thereby destroying balance and invading close space causing discomfort where the victim often either freezes and/or gets stuck in the OO bounce of the OODA loop. 

When turning, the movement results in the type of tactic and technique needed to stop a threat. The distinction here is learning what techniques and principles are most effective when that movement is in motion. The timing, distances, rhythms, body structure, the alignment of our centerline and centeredness as it relates in motion to that of your adversary and so on ad infinitum - driven by factors ever evolving in an attack and/or fight that cannot be planned and trained according to kata movement and fundamental bunkai. 

Kata movement carries a lot of responsibility but should not adhere to static like bunkai to bunkai processes as that results in mind-states that freeze when those specific processes are not present or not correct in the chaos of an attack and/or fight. Kata movement provides many tools and venues to learn, practice and train the mind and body to live, breath and apply principles in every movement, every thought and every aspect of life especially when then need for self-defense rises up into the present moment. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Karate is Not …

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Karate is not a fighting art. Karate is not a combative system. Karate is not a self-defense system. Karate is a striking system and that means it is governed by those human conditions. How can I say all these things? Well, it comes from my studies and one of those is about using our fists. Using our fists means something that does not equate to violence at levels where grave bodily harm and/or death are involved except by accident (you punch a guy in the face, guy loses balance, falls, gravity takes hold, guy hits head on curb, guy dies).

When you begin to look closely at how karate is practiced and then take into consideration certain human conditions you start to realize that karate, in and of itself as a striking system, does not have those requirements that would cause grave bodily harm and death. Think about it and consider the next set of examples.

In karate the tori and uke tend to face one another. In karate sparring tori and uke use strikes and strike at only those targets that actually provide the human body protection, the bodies natural armor. In the majority of human fights it is of a social nature and therefore meant to be a communication tool rather than a means of causing great damage and death. In karate there are rules, rules for safety that incorporate less effective application of certain principles meant to deliver force and power. 

In karate the non-striking aspects that are far more effective in damaging and killing were removed. One reason was to promote health and a mental state of socially driven spirit that was meant to bring people together for the common good of the society toward survival, i.e., early 1900’s for the sake of war. Those non-striking aspects are just know coming to light and are just in the last decade or so being brought back into the discipline of karate for a more well-rounded system that can actually cause grave bodily harm and even death as the force decisions of both defense and combat may dictate. 

In commercial karate that has not happened except in a limited way. There has actually not been a real combative system using only striking, the empty hand. 

In regard to causing great harm and/or death striking is actually to most ineffectual method to get the job done. This can mean that karate, a striking system, may actually be more of a tribal or social communications and enforcement tool where grave bodily harm and death are not the goal. It may be that karate, the striking art, is the use of the ineffectual hitting of another to convey to the recipient they have broken some rule, some cultural requirement and possible some group dynamic that would expose the tribe to harm or death. Think about the use of the, “Educational Beat Down.(see this article by Rory Miller:” 

Rory Miller wrote, There are societies and sub-societies where violence is merely an easy way to solve problems; where a beating is considered as easy  and more effective than talking.” 

In human terms survival is about the group (I will refer to groups as tribes as well; interchangeably) and the group runs in a hierarchal model where within the group some will seek to challenge another in the group for increased status. The group will also have issues about certain unwritten rules as well as written rules, laws and such where, as the quote states, a beating will serve better to pull together and keep things in proper order, the EDB. Karate as a striking system and how striking works along with certain human conditions is a great way to enforce such human social group hierarchal systems. 

Also, take a look (actually read) the eBook by Marc MacYoung titled, “Writing Violence III: Getting Hit and Hitting,” and you will begin to see how karate, a striking discipline, is more appropriate and effective as a communications tool for such a group dynamic for survival. Except in rare cases where accidents cause grave harm or death the application of most of karate is far less effective, specifically the striking part using the hands or fists, so if applied in most socially driven conflicts it will not end in grave bodily harm, i.e., making the member of the group unable and ineffective in group survival needs, or death thus losing a valuable member and contributor to the group for survival. 

“In certain groups, this is normal. A casual beating is how rules are enforced and community standards, such as they are, are upheld.” - Rory Miller, More About Violence May 23, 2011 YMAA Article

When you really understand human dynamics and group dynamics and how socially driven monkey dances are done it becomes a bit more clear as to a more realistic meaning of karate, karate as a communications and enforcement tool rather than a deadly combative fighting system to cause grave bodily harm and death system. 

Note: There has been a huge effort by a few dedicated professionals to actually bring back, if it ever truly existed in karate from its ancient origins, those aspects of fighting and self-defense that are actually more effective in causing bodily damage and death. Some liken it to revealing secrets and/or discovering ancient combatives lost, etc. In truth whether it existed in those ancient early times or not the effort to install them into karate and other martial disciplines is here today and only time will tell of that success, success in morphing karate, the striking system, into a truly effective combative fighting discipline OR an effective and comprehensively complete self-defense system.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Hand to China Hand to Empty Hand

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Just remember to keep thinking, “Pure Conjecture.” The Okinawan discipline of karate or empty hand began, so we are all told, as a system called, “Ti.” Then some called it, “Toudi.” Then at some time they called it, “China Hand.”

Funakoshi Ginchin Sensei then changed it to, “Empty Hand,” using the Japanese characters/ideograms so that it could become an accepted martial art of Japan. The transitions and evolution of the naming of this, “Traditional or Classical” discipline of Okinawan martial discipline cannot be explained, it is just accepted.

I don’t just accept things, I tend to question and come to conclusions from the data and facts I can dig out. Granted, there is not much if any data and/or facts about the naming done on karate. I have some idea’s tho and that is the purpose of this article.

First, if true, the Okinawan’s called their indigenous system of defense Ti, meaning, “Hand.” Whether open, empty or closed no one can say with any certainty. It is just accepted. Assumptions and conjecture can be made but that is all. 

I would venture to theorize that the final, “Empty Hand,” naming was derived from the more efficient application of the open hand vs. the closed fist. Using the fist is not exactly efficient in applying the type of force and power necessary to end a threat. Considering the dangerous environment of those early years, i.e., the fifteen hundreds to the late eighteen hundreds, the need to end violence quickly and efficiently was required. The use of the open hand techniques are considered in some circles as superior to punching and striking, especially with the close fist.

Neither empty hand or open hand are about the use of the fist in defense. There are way to many variables that have to align to apply enough force and power to the target to work efficiently in a fight. There are way to many power leaks such as the shoulder, elbow and wrist when not aligned, i.e., when physiokinetic principles are not applied at their very best. I also believe, theorize, that because of this deficiency of fist use for punches and strikes they developed the makiwara in the effort to overcome the other variables that are very difficult to apply sufficiently, efficiently and to their most stable structure, etc. 

I also hypothesize that when renaming it to empty hand this type of distinction didn’t occur and since the Okinawans were not really all that keen on documentation they didn’t care if it was called hand, China hand, Empty hand or even, “Open Hand.” It may have been about naming the system after the use of the hands where weapons were not available or lost. An empty hand denotes nothing held within therefore weapons lost or not available leaving on those, “Empty Hands,” available for defense, fighting and/or combatives. This is also supported in that Ti was used primarily to train and prepare military types for the rigors of weapons training. Like a pre-requisite to learning weapons like the sword, spear, halberd, etc. 

I also feel that since the chaos and nature of true fighting, combatives and/or self-defense were close, very close, and required a lot of hand and arm applications along with those ju-jitsu like grappling and pressure point type applications that it was that which resulted in the use of Ti, Toudi, China and Empty hand names. It could have just as easily gone toward, “Open Hand (Hirate [平手]).”

The parts of the body used to strike with that are the most efficient and powerful are the elbow’s, the knee’s and the “OPEN” hands. The system we practice as karate today could have been called, “Hira-te,” just as easily as “Kara-te.” I also think that it is possible that since the system of Ti was to be adopted with appropriate changes to the educational systems that when changed the name of “Empty hand” become more appropriate. 

Hand [] Te
China Hand [唐手] touti or toudi or karati/te
Empty Hand [空手] karate
Open Hand [平手] hirate

Bibliography (Click the link)

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I originally thought of publishing these as eBooks then decided otherwise for various personal reasons, enjoy. There will be links to the right for all of these for future seeking. 

Martial Analyst (Analysis)

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Kaiseki [解析] The characters/ideograms mean, “Analysis; analytical study; parsing; parse.” The first character means, “Unravel; notes; key; explanation; understanding; untie; undo; solve; answer; cancel; absolve; explain,” the second character means, “analyze , chop; divide; tear.”

An analyst is a person who conducts analysis. In martial analysis we attempt to analyze the system itself. Therefore a martial analyst performs analysis of the system to achieve knowledge, understanding and in the case of the physical, ability (efficiency, proficiency and mastery). 

To be an analyst the analysis must consist of a detailed examination of all the principles of the system that include how the principles apply toward the structure of the martial system as to its ultimate goals. It comes down to interpretation of the individual within their study, training, practice and application of that martial system. 

When you consider what is involved you begin to understand the relation to things like kihon, kata and bunkai for they are all processes of analysis by the separation into the specific, atomistic, elements that are identified, tested and implemented in order to meet the systems essential and ultimate goals. The disassembly of the system into its smaller parts is a means for the uninitiated and inexperienced to achieve a certain understanding and connection of the action to the principles that allows them to absorb and encode the mind and body for a foundation that later, in a more complex study and practice, can be assimilated or pieced together in an ad-hoc holistic fashion according to any particular situational moment. 

To understand any complex system requires such break down, i.e., the very meaning of bunkai is to disassemble, dismantle and analyze that component the reassemble accordingly to apply it in a dynamic and chaotic situation and moment. A very difficult process that few achieve especially when the last component is applied, the adrenal stress conditions of both reality of combat and/or reality-based adrenal scenario training systems. 

Martial analysts use the analysis for discovery, discovery being a practical method of physical discovery within a martial discipline. As a matter of fact, the chief method of learning, training and applying martial arts in self-defense. 

The process of martial analysis is also one of those concepts and models not adequately taught in martial disciplines, especially those focused on the systems essence of fighting, combatives and self-defense goals, tactics and strategies. It holds the same importance as adrenal stress conditions scenario-based training and practices. 

Martial analysis can be added to the list of analyst models such as Boolean analysis, Formal analysis, Scientific method analysis, Sensitivity analysis, and so on. You could say the martial discipline analysis falls under “Systems Analysis,” as a sub-model therein. Martial disciplines are systems and those systems require such analysis to achieve efficiency, proficiency and mastery. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Media Evidence

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In the book, Unfair by Adam Benforado, he addresses how the flawed judicial system effects how things are adjudicated by covering such things as the use of media as evidence. It has been promoted as a type of neutral evidence that shows things in an objective and neutral manner and has even been used and accepted by the Supreme Court to decide cases for or against you.

First and foremost, we are all human and we are all subjected to human frailties. Example, “At any given moment, our race, gender, age, profession, politics, religion, the time in which a person lives, the culture and social culture in which a person is raised and lives, the power relations or power dynamics of social connections, i.e., family, friends, associates (tribal connections, etc.), the person’s sensory input modes such as sight dominance or tactile dominance, etc. their internal environment, the social external environments and then their perceptions as to movement (theirs and others), how they therefore read body language especially facial along with tone of voice and word intonations, etc. effects perceptions and perspectives in a unique way.” - Compilation of Mr. Benforado’s quote and mine.

In another source, an article by Wim Demeere on “Framing Videos,” he presents some interesting comments and theories on how we are affected by how the video, and that would include photo’s too, can be framed to convey an agenda coloring how those who watch said video or view said photo to come to a conclusion that may or may not be true or even factual.

Here are a few more quotes from his excellent book that convey how this effects the so called neutral and objective manner we assume means factual evidence, i.e.,

“When we watch a video, listen to a recording, or look at a photograph, we feel as if we are viewing things in an objective, neutral manner. But then, not everyone does see things the way we do. We operate under the illusion that reality enters our brain through our senses unfiltered.”  - Adam Benforado, Unfair

“If different people with different backgrounds and identities can look at the same events and see very different facts, is it also possible that the same person can look at the same events and see very different facts depending on how information is presented? Humans can forget, get confused, or lie and yet all of us assume that a photograph or video provides us with an accurate record of exactly what happened.”  - Adam Benforado, Unfair

“We assume that photo’s and/or video’s present a neutral, unfiltered account of events but we either forget or just don’t know that the photo and/or video are effected by how the particular camera angle or viewpoint influences the shot that changes the way we make sense of the scene displayed by the photo and/or video. We, humans, get caught up in what we are seeing (much like watching movies and/or television drama’s), without considering how we are seeing it or what we might be missing. All of our seemingly neutral media hold the potential to bias assessments of what transpired and who was to blame.”  - Adam Benforado, Unfair 

I liken this effect to the movie and television industry, an industry that works on drama and how they can influence your feelings all in the name of ratings and therefor profit. We are fooled into thinking time is condensed into a mere one and a half to two hours. We feel and believe that weeks and months pass, all within a movie’s two hour run.  

This movie and TV effect permeates our very existence and that influences those video’s and pictures that the legal system and social communities believe strongly as neutral and objective and irrefutable as evidence of legal wrong doing, or if you are lucky, as legal justification in actions taken in self-defense, etc. 

Nothing is as it seems and to blindly accept media as irrefutable neutral objective truth is a mistake. I also give example that when you have a line of twelve individuals where the first has some factoid whispered into their ear with instructions to pass it on in the same manner where the results coming out the other end tend to be different exists. I cannot tell you how many emotional discussions I have had with friends about a movie we watched where we all thought we saw something we would have assumed all of us perceived as “The same.” 

Framing uses these frailties of human nature to work in an agenda, usually a media agenda to sell stories through emotionally driven drama methods. It warrants remembering the old saying, “Buyer beware or Viewer Beware!”

Bibliography (Click the link)

My Name is Nobody

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

Hey, I can use movie titles, especially if they help me tell my story. This one involves who I am, “I am nobody.” You might be saying, what are you talking about now? 

Here it is, while composing another article built on the shoulders of a modicum of experience and a huge contribution from the efforts and experiences of others I thought, “Why would anyone read and believe in what I write about?” 

Since I am “Nobody” with no real experiences to draw upon in the world of professionals, i.e., those who live, breath and experienced the world of violence as police, corrections officers and military, etc., and no real experience using martial arts in self-defense why would you even consider what I have to write about? 

Well, even the teachings of professionals needs to be tested by each individual to see if it will work for them. In so many studies I have made those professionals stated from time to time that just because it worked for them does not mean or guarantee it will work for the individual. It is like when Marc MacYoung, in his book In the Name of Self-Defense (and others), says that one time you might experience these adrenal effects, the next time not and yet others may crop up and then another time some different adrenal effects will hit, you just don’t know. Even with gaining and accumulated experience there are no guarantees it will or will not work.

In other words, what I am presenting are actually, “Possibilities!” Everything I write about has possibilities for other martial discipline practitioners especially if they practice toward self-defense. This issue has been a bane to our professionals as wall as human survival over the ages when experience falls away due to the loss of our warriors and a few generations of professionals unable to experience combat, fighting and self-defense, etc. You have to provide them with the best you can present until they test it in harms way, right? 

This conundrum has existed since man first picked up a club to raise the force levels to gain an advantage over other tribes they encounter who come into conflict over whatever. At least what I present is a possibility and even if I had the most experiences ever imagined it still has to be tested by each individual to see if it will work - for them (Note: the conundrum goes deeper because it may work one time and fail the next only to work the following times). 

What I present in possibilities makes for more to validate and use because it just might work for you. Remember, a professional once said - I think - “You need to know what you don’t know in order to know!” He said something like, “What gets you killed is what you thought you knew but you didn’t know,” type thing (sorry if I got the exact quote incorrect). 

So, I keep studying and collating information and knowledge in the hope of better understanding and I write to allow others to consider, test, validate and absorb (if it is beneficial). One day, some professional who found value even in just one article may actually teach it to his successor(s). That to me makes any effort worthwhile. Your greatest challenge is, “Separating the wheat from the chaff, i.e., the crap from the diamonds.” 

Note: If you really want to know the exact quotes I mention, start reading the bibliography because it is there in some form or another - I can’t remember or find this stuff every time, you gotta do some work here :-)

Bibliography (Click the link)

Mind Control of Mind and Body

We do not have full control of our minds and we do not have full control of our bodies. Our bodies reveal, our bodies impact and our bodies shape our minds. 

The goal of martial discipline is to gain as much control over our minds and bodies. This connectivity also addresses such factors as group dynamics. In groups, especially those with connections and like mindedness, emotions, etc. are contagious infecting each person until the entire group is feeling and experiencing that emotional experience. 

Emotions, our monkey brain, are contagious and that transcends just humans and involves humans and animals. This also applies to groups or tribes, i.e., our micro acts of positivity are contagious to others in our group and that also applies to our micro acts of negativity as well. 

Wonder why your animals act the way the do as pets? Well, like humans pets are influenced by the emotional feelings of their human owners. It goes to say that in the dojo the actions and emotions of others especially when it comes to body language we all speak effects us on how we act, practice and train. This is one of those things that should be a part of the process of teaching and learning martial disciplines. 

Our nonverbal displays of power also effects others across the board and changes according to group membership and others, i.e., those outside the group. Taking high power displays, i.e., take up more physical space and open our body posture, effects us and other positively while low power displays, i.e., take up less physical space and close our body posture, effects us and others negatively.

“Just as powerful as words, your ordinary, everyday nonverbal behaviors reveal who you are, what you are thinking and feeling, they impact people around you, and can shape your own mind. Our bodies can be used to change minds, i.e., empower others through touch and empower self by upright open posture and nods. You are not or ever alone; micro acts of positivity ripple and emotions ripple.

Always act in positive ways, use acts of touch to cause positivity too. A simple pat on someones back empowers them and makes them feel like they are in control. Head nods are self-affirming. 

Cortisol is a chemical in the body that rises when stressed - body posture for power, i.e., big and expansive causes the cortisol to go down - power poses, etc.

Overall: Without a single spoken word, a slight nod of the head can begin the hijacking of an airplane, a smile can turn an adversary into a friend, and a wink can turn a friend into a lover. With speechless efficiency, the language of nonverbal behavior communicates complex human thought and feeling. 

Sometimes nonverbal messages convey intended information. Other times nonverbal behaviors can convey messages you are trying to hide. And deeper still, sometimes nonverbal messages convey information buried below the reaches of introspective access. 

In this talk I will present some of the most compelling findings to emerge from the science of nonverbal communication. For example, you will learn that a tiny contempt expression on the face can predict divorce with up to 94% accuracy. You will learn that a simple pat on the back can significantly increase the likelihood that someone will take a risk. 

You will learn that skin-to-skin physical touch is the newest therapy to help autistic babies learn to overcome social deficits. And I will tell you that you can nearly double your chances of landing an online date if in your profile you display just a hint of nonverbal dominance.
Bibliography (Click the link)

Styles from the Concept of Hard and Soft

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

Isshinryu, similar to other styles, although derived from the efforts of an individual tend to follow other luminaries who created a dualistic style using the concepts from yin-yang, i.e., hard and soft. Goju-ryu, for instance, may have used strength and pliability as a basis for its hard-soft development and implementation - Goju [剛柔].

There are others like Mabuni sensei who used other terminology to describe his efforts in creating a unique style, i.e., “half hard and pliability.” You can see that the martial disciplines of those times were of like mind and one can assume their training and practice over many years along with influences and experiences of Japan and China may have led them toward a yin-yang concept that most understand as “hard-soft.” 

Much like his contemporaries Tatsuo-san tried a variety of names for his creation where he finally settled on, “Isshinryu.” Even Funakoshi Sensei tried to describe his new system by mentioning the two kata, one hard and one soft, from Shorei and Shorin. They would represent strength and pliability as well and we find that same thought process in the creation of Isshinryu. 

These major principles of Toudi or Ti, as described by some Okinawan sources, all seemed to have evolved to this stage where knowledge, understanding and experiences exposed the relation of hard and soft and allowed it to be named accordingly. This led to ways of teaching, describing and in our modern times better ways to articulate how this is learned. 

Isshinryu’s explanation is the adoption and reconfiguration of two kata, one hard and one soft, that form by their embusen lines a + sign. The two together are then considered the father (sanchin) and mother (naihanchi) where the child born is Isshinryu. The two kata referenced are sanchin and naihanchi, they intersect. 

Shorin-ryu’s kata named, “Naihanchi” is considered the mother, i.e.,  (---) Yin. Goju-ryu’s kata named, “Sanchin” is considered the father, i.e., ( | ) Yang. The child from the intersection or coupling of the two to create, “Isshin-ryu” the offspring, i.e., denoting the (+) Equilibrium-n-Balance the two bring to the study, practice and application of this, the newest of Okinawan martial discipline. 

It had been believed in some of the Isshinryu factions that this concept that resulted in the creation, or birth, of the Isshinryu system was unique and what contributed to the thought that Tatsuo-san was an innovator and ahead of his times when in reality he and his martial contemporaries were all considering the same concept from different perspectives all along. 

This is a similar belief that is found in the twelve “Isshinryu” features where there are only "three" features that can be attributed to Isshinryu in the fifties/sixties that were more or less exclusive to this new system, at the time, and they are the "Vertical Fist," "Muscle/bone blocks," and "Thumb on top of vertical fist."

Don’t get me wrong, I love the style and I appreciate that Tatsuo-san took the time and effort along with his other unique personalities to create such an eclectic system of Okinawan karate. If not for conditions outside his control Isshinryu, I have no doubt, would be a prominent style on Okinawa up there with Goju-ryu, Shorin-ryu and Uechi-ryu. Due to those circumstances and conditions instead it takes a second seat as a sub-style of the Shorin-ryu system. 

The good news is there are a few on Okinawa who are working diligently to get Isshinryu the recognition and place among the martial communities it deserves. It is a hope that its favor, popularity and growth throughout the rest of the world will push this effort in a positive direction.

Bibliography (Click the link)
McKenna, Mario. “Principles of Okinawa Karate.” June 10, 2015

Timing - Another Perspective

Ma [] Ma-ai [間合]: The character/ideogram means "space (between); gap; interval; distance; time (between); pause; break; span (temporal or spatial); stretch; period (while); relationship (between, among); space; room; time; pause." 

The character/ideogram means "space; room; time; pause." The characters/ideograms mean "interval; distance; break; pause; distance between opponents (kendo)." The first character means, "Interval; space," and the second character means, "fit; suit; join." 

These are the thoughts of those who participate in martial practices but timing is about something else as well, in the realm of self-defense. One must have enough time to get things done. Add in distancing, that of an adversary’s attack distance, then you use strategies and goals to keep adequate distance between you and your attacker so you have enough time, time to get things done while maintaining safe distance. Time to achieve witness-prepping (prep the witnesses to your goals for remaining in the self-defense square), to create more articulating ability as to what you achieved in your efforts to avoid and/or deescalate and time to convey to the adversary your commitment to go the distance if they pursue things as they are currently in that particular situation. 

All of these are meant to circumvent violent conflict, to give parties the opportunity to change goals, tactics and strategies. To save face and be good with the direction chosen. Time ….. distance …. that space between you and your attacker, attack distance. Maintaining this distance and using both psychological and environmental obstacles and tactics will maintain or give more time to you and you process the situation on a sub-level of mental processing. All this to give you the time you need to avoid, deescalate or take actions as appropriate. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Article(s) Caveat Blog

Caveat: 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.

This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.) 

Warrior Mindset! (I don't think so!)

I am writing this because I feel it is critical to proper mind-set when defending against conflict and violence. The article that prompted this effort was about the warrior mindset of police. I am gearing this toward martial arts self-defense training, practice and the all important applications. Like many tirades I have the mind-set seems to me as a driver toward how martial artists in self-defense approach, perceive and act when confronted by conflict and leading up to actual physical violence. 

In a nutshell the article speaks to the basic concept of a warrior mindset, i.e., “In its most restrictive sense, it refers to the mental tenacity and attitude that self-defense proponents, like soldiers, are taught to adopt in the face of a grave bodily harm and/or life-threatening struggles.” What this mindset accomplishes in the reality of the instructors mind-set is a view that in order to survive a very dangerous situation you have to approach that situation with a “never give up even when it is mentally and physically easier to do so,” type attitude. What I get is a bypass of other options and goals for the type of goal that fosters violence and promotes the proponent to do things that will end up with repercussions that go way beyond the fight because in a lot of cases avoidance, i.e., walking away or circumventing situations that lead to a need for defense, etc., is better and easier than participating in the fight.

The articles author goes on to explain a mind-set that many self-defense programs end up in that makes a warrior mind-set a warrior-mentality. One of the professionals I know of wrote about warrior terminology is that to be a warrior requires that you have experienced combat and survived. To be a warrior and to claim a warrior title that seems logical and a requirement. Everyone else, even if they served on active duty in the military, are veterans but not combat vets or warriors. 

Anyway, this warrior mentality leads to an approach in self-defense where the proponent takes on a hyper-vigilant attitude where every situation is a perception of physical danger. It teaches them to approach ever single situation with a mind-set saying that I MUST use my skills and I MUST destroy my enemy. Martial artists will remember the movie, “The Karate Kid,” where the Cobra Kai Sensei used this warrior mentality to teach aggressiveness and give no quarter and take no prisoner attitude. The attitude that most often leads to in inability to see other options long before it goes physical. To see the road signs that say, “Violence ahead, make a detour now,” option. 

All to often, in the name of monetary gain, self-defense programs teach its students to live with an intense mental attitude that the world is hostile and that every one is a potential violent criminal whose goal is to attack you. They then assume that everyone who looks like the media driven false perception of a criminal, i.e., anyone wearing a hoodie, etc., is out to get them and they need to be ruthless if attacked. 

They prepare to mentally react with violence, in other words they are so far outside the self-defense square that the square is the size of a pin head. They automatically assume any and all adversary’s are going to go violent so they have to get there first. With the warrior mentality hypervigilance is the key to “Winning!”

This type of mental conditioning results in an aggressive and violent prone proponent who uses the label of self-defense as their excuse to go all “Postal” or to do the “Monkey Dance,” to get the job done. There are no other options and the warrior never runs, never retreats and makes sure the enemy is completely and totally unable to dare to attack you ever. Ops, where did appropriate force levels go, why are the all labeled enemy over adversary or attacker or just about anything less “Othering.” 

Self-defense teachers tend to foster this attitude by promoting their program as the ultimate warrior system and preach how everyone is out to harm you and they are armed and dangerous and that you should act as if deadly force in not just appropriate but your right to apply in, wait for it …. “Self-DEFENSE.”

It becomes apparent or it should begin to become apparent that, “A martial art self-defense culture that trains and encourages practitioners to adopt a “warrior mindset (actually mentality).” … how the warrior mindset (mentality), though adopted with the very best of intentions, leads to unnecessary violence (greater force levels than necessary or even prudent to the situation, etc.).” 

Having a warrior mindset is only possible for a true warrior, one who has gone into harms way in far off places to combat enemies of our society as mandated by our countries appropriate authorities and has experienced the blood and death of combat situations. All others are NOT warriors and CANNOT fathom or understand a warrior mind, a warrior mindset or a warriors experiences. All others are NOT Warriors and cannot be a warrior or have a warrior mind-set by attending a martial training hall three times a week and participating in dojo kumite or any other competitive form of martial discipline. 

The best anyone can do is create a “Self-Defense mind-set” that knows, understands, trains, practices and applies appropriate self-defense methods with a mindset that has complete and total commitment to achieving appropriate goals toward remaining within the self-defense square.” The warrior terms are sales gimmicks used to tickle your monkey brains ego pride driven emotional experiences set from exposure to movies, television and fictional stories of warriors, etc. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Attacking Distance

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.) 

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.

It came to me like a light bulb going nova and then blowing out, it is about distancing. Distance term for martial disciplines is, “Ma-ai.” It seems to me that many martial practitioners focus heavily on their distancing, i.e., for remaining outside their adversary’s range, getting into range and other such complexities of the fight game (not really a game but this sounded good at the time of writing).

I know I have had this dyslexic type of thinking but what practitioners should base their actions on is the distance of the adversary. The adversary has his or her distance where they can use their techniques to attack. There are a variety of many aspects that govern how they use their distance, with and without tells, as how they assume a stance or kamae to hit or kick and so on. A more natural stance may require movement before launching a kick while another does not - it can get complicated.

Marc MacYoung wrote (hey, if I got it wrong don’t look to Mr. MacYoung’s article. It is my problem) a piece on distance in response to someone stating, “How to hold one’s hands when an attacker is in your face,” to properly protect yourself from getting hit. This is about those comments so I want to stress that one’s perspective should not be about your distance, indirectly, but the distance of your adversary, directly. What the ….?

Mr. MacYoung says (think my assumptions here) that you can know your adversary’s attack range. Knowing his or her range is really critical when it comes to his or her hitting you. The attack range of your adversary, the distance he or she can attack without having to move or take that step, is found by eyeballing the distance from his or her eyebrows to the floor. Now, this next part has at least two benefits, look down at the floor and create a measure from their closest foot to you using that eyeball distance. If you are outside that range then he or she has to move and that movement is your tell. Maintain that or a greater distance along with bringing your environment into play as obstacles to his or her ability to close that distance. Looking down, takes a millisecond, also helps with the adrenal stress conditions that can cause tunnel vision and that term meaning you are seeing the threat as closer to you than they actually are type thing. 

Looking down for that millisecond from time to time helps you avoid some of the pitfalls of the adrenal dump. Keep that in mind as well, things tend to inter-connect and meld together creating a strong chain of defense or a weakened one when one or more links are stressed and/or broken.

What I am getting to here is “Control the Distance” by controlling your distance according to, “His or Her” attack distance. Just a quick note that one tidbit of detail is his or her stance be it normal and narrow over wider and more stable changes his or her distance as it effects kicking as in too close vs. hitting as in to far he or she has to move type thing. 

Mr. MacYoung writes that your hands and how you hold them becomes less important depending on your adversary’s distance so you need to know how to guage or judge that distance then maintain control over his or her attack distances. The hands and hand position when they are well within that attack range are more about keeping them at a distance over blocking or defecting a hit. Hits happen in milliseconds and believe me your arms and hands are not fast enough to block the hit at that distance so …. Control the ma-ai by using your adversary’s distance of effective attacking, not yours. 

Look at it this way, not using this means you might make judgements according to your attack distance and an adversary who just happens to have a shorter or smaller attack distance may hit you before you can do a damn thing about it and that sucks. 

I will go back even further, avoid the conflict first and it that fails then control the distance using his attack distance and the environment for obstacles, etc. until they cool down. Remember, control the distance to convey to the adversary you are capable and ready to apply force if forced. That alone may deescalate allowing them to choose a better path. If they continue to display aggressive behavior and close the distance regardless of what you say or do then that distance allows you to stop the threat, not react to an attack or have to do damage control (Marc MacYoung says about damage control: “no damage control is ever as good as keeping it from going down in the first place.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)