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

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

Fostering Mood in Training and Practice

You know, once a person stated that to learn you really had to have “fun.” When I questioned that lack of seriousness toward training and practice as it applied to a very serious subject, self-defense, I still thought that having fun would cause that person to lose or freeze when serious violence was encountered. 

Today, I realize I was talking about apples and oranges. To have fun is about creating a mood or mildly elated state called “bypomania” creates an optimal state for creativity and promote fluidity and imaginative diversity of thought. When you learn that agitation undermines our ability to think cohesively you start to understand just how important mood is to learning. 

When you learn that, “Laughing, like elation, seems to help people think for broadly and associate more freely,” you begin to see the benefit of having “fun” regardless of the seriousness of the discipline and/or topic. When you learn that the effects of the mood you are in effect how you think, you get the picture “having fun with it” becomes important. 

If you promote an atmosphere that results in higher states of anxiety you are fostering an environment and mood that will eventually cause that person to fail in training and in that discipline when applied in real life. 

EI states, “Being in a foul mood biases memory in a negative direction, making us more likely to contract into a fearful, overly cautions decision. Emotions out of control impede the intellect.” It says to me that to allow the monkey emotional train to run the tracks puts us into bad situations when we encounter cross traffic along the way. 

To foster a mood in people that best suits learning and to foster out of the box thinking should strive to put students into a mood-state that has balance. In other words taking the training seriously but with humor to achieve “bypomania.” :-)

In other words, “have fun, train hard and have fun.” There are times to take things serious but in learning and fostering the best learning environment possible make sure you and your students “have fun.”

Note: the flood training (stress and adrenal dumps, etc.) is another topic on training and practice but I suspect in between those sessions that trigger you monkey and adrenal stuff there is a healthy amount of “fun.” 


Hey, I finally get it!

SD and Impulse Control

Now, granted not many will actually connect impulse control with SD but just think about it a moment. I quote, “There is perhaps no psychological skill more fundamental than resisting impulse.” - Emotional Intelligence, “The Master Aptitude” chapter 6

Think about how most of us end up in violent situations? When it comes down to it often it is the inability to resist impulse, especially when it is driven by out monkey brains on drugs, i.e. the physical chemical flooding often called the adrenal stress dump. How we handle impulse in our lives does effect how we react to situations at all levels.

Think of it as “emotional self-control,” i.e. “all emotions, by their very nature, lead to one or another impulse to act.” - EI, “The Master Aptitude section of chapter 6.” 

What I propose is that SD training must also include how one practices to control those types of impulse where one might say or do something that will cause an escalation of conflict toward violence. It is said in the EI book, ‘The capacity to resist impulse to act, to squelch the incipient movement, most likely translates at the level of brain function into inhibition of limbic signals to the motor cortex, though such ain interpretation must remain speculative for now.” It is that ability developed or enhanced that fundamentally is “the ability to restrain the emotions and so delay impulse.” 

Lets see about how one who is more adept at controlling impulses can be “less apt to go to pieces, freeze, or regress under stress, or become rattled and disorganized when pressured.” Those folks tend to be more “self-reliant and confident, trustworthy, and dependable; they take initiative and plunge into projects; they are able to delay gratification in pursuit of their goals.” Lets see where this leads.

Controlling impulse in a conflict can be achieved not only through training and practice but also by developing those traits found to be that which controls or assists controlling impulses. When we succumb to self-gratifying impulses to feel good about what we are doing, most especially when the monkey is running the show where that monkeys gratification is often counter intuitive to safety, security and good health, let alone the best resolutions in any conflict, tend to hinder our ability to control our impulse to simply, “kick that assholes ass.” 

If your goal happens to be avoidance of conflict and especially violence then these traits trained and practiced under the appropriate environment, i.e. both the physical and emotional, etc. then we can achieve better impulse control. If we are able to control how we act and react to conflict, danger and violence along with the emotions triggered in such circumstances such as anger and fear then we can come closer to achieving more acceptable goals, tactics and strategies. 

Controlling impulses are synonymous with controlling the monkey. The monkey is driven by emotions and flooding when it comes to conflict and violence so it may be that focusing on the many factors driving our monkeys including a healthy look at our self-control or impulse control may assist in our SD goals and training/teaching strategies and so on. 

Think of it this way, delinquency is connected to emotional intelligence, i.e. “impulse to control in childhood is a powerful predictor of later delinquency.” EI also means a greater ability to accurately read social situations, that can still be learned. Isn’t one of the many abilities in SD geared on how one would actually read social situations, i.e. social violence usually comes from social situations gone astray, etc.?

Impulse control, that ability either innate or developed through training, practice and application in ever day life can be connected to learning how to apply such impulse control under the effects of flooding in a conflict with potential to escalate toward physical/psychological violence. Is this something to pursue in SD training and practice?

Questions, questions and more questions. Is “impulse control” just another way to look at the “monkey brain?” How does one train and practice an impulse control response, well the book suggests a possibility, i.e. “goal-directed (I assume setting certain goals to train your impulse to act) self-imposed delay of gratification is the essence of emotional self-regulation: the ability to deny impulse in the service of that goal, whether it be solving a mathematical problem or pursuing a self-defense ability. This is often referred to as an “emotional intelligence meta-ability.” 

In social situations where things can get out of hand it might be practicing recognition of when your actions or your mouth are about to spit out something cute or irritatingly offensive so you can soothe your monkey mind you simply tell your monkey to shut the f*(& up then restrain yourself from saying your mind. Whenever you get the urge to spit something out you count to ten or when you decide that you want that latest and greatest electronic device you hesitate, think then take time to reconsider whether you actually need it now or whether it can wait - then wait. 

I have a feeling we all can relate to impulses to do things quickly and for instant gratifications but how about every other time you resist that temptation as a means of building that impulse resistance muscle up. 


In the MA/Karate world, you might get the impulse to skip over some boring and tedious requirement thinking it is not worth the effort - stop, think and then resist that impulse. This could be a novice training and practice goal.  In other words, hit that impulse control red button to put a hold on your monkey when it wants to slap some silly asshole  up side their head. 


Be Polite

Well, once again the obvious is slapped up side my head and I gotta say, being polite is not what I would expect to be a tool in self-defense and yet thinking about it at this moment it does make perfect sense. I believe it is difficult, in most circumstances, to engage in a conflict and/or violence it you are “being a polite” person. 

You know that being polite is but I will provide my views here just the same. Knew I would, didn’t you? When a person shows another person respect and consideration they are being polite. When you relate to others civilly, courteously, respectfully, graciously and so on you are being polite. I also believe being polite is also about how you perceive others as well. Just acting out these traits is not enough.

When you live and breath good manners or proper etiquette you are being not only polite but respectful to that persons cultural beliefs. This is where polite gets a bit difficult because your perceptions of polite must be tempered with a knowledge and understanding of the other person who may not be of your tribe, your culture and your belief systems. 

When do you find yourself in conflict? Usually when you are inconsiderate, rude and/or negative in both language, tone and body language. So, if you want to convey through the mediums of body language, verbiage and tone-rhythm-cadence of the spoken language you have to believe in it, live it in all you say or do and then display it through example. It is also an awareness that comes along with social, environmental and personal awareness. It must be one of the self-conscious actions done instinctively.

Now, this does not mean that you won’t need SD but it goes a very long way toward “avoidance.” It is harder to be angry with someone who is wholeheartedly and truly a polite person. I am also not saying that one must be perceived as an easy target because of the politeness as I believe you can still convey a hard target while being polite. As a matter of fact I feel it is critical in being perceived as a capable person while showing politeness. It is like those displays that tell a predator that you are not a good target but to many you appear to be a capable, independent, confident and nice-polite king of person. I think that is possible and should also be an intricate part of any SD training and practices. 

It becomes a part of the EI (Emotional Intelligence) I have been studying of late. It is about identifying emotions, especially those that lead to conflict and violence, and providing a tempering of steel in directing those toward one’s more conducive of controlling our monkey brains. I also want to stress that there is this thing Marc MacYoung calls the “monkey slide” we, as humans, have to deal with and firmly believe this polite thing will go a long way toward not losing to the slide, at least not so much or if you do maybe it will be one of those non-physical violent slides. One of my goals, to recognize anger and dip it in the cool waters of tranquility. 


So, be polite. Train and practice being polite. Make politeness a part of avoidance SD training and practice. If you find yourself saying, “Hey, no way dude, that is for sissies,” then recognize that your monkey is driving you toward your doom, arghhhhh.

Hey, if it helps look at it as a similar method dramatized in the movie, “Road House,” with Patrick Swayze, “Dalton: I want you to be polite until it's time to not be polite.” (I changed the word “nice” to “polite.”) And just for the fun of it, “Dalton: All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three, be polite.” (nice to polite again my doing)


The Police, You and Self-Defense

This is going to be very short, it is a feeling I got reading a very big book on Self-defense. In one very small paragraph the author describes the obstacles, hurdles and restrictions the police have to deal with while keeping the public safe. It just occurred to me while reading this book that we, the private citizen, in any event or situation involving the legal system and the police, etc. we also have to deal with a huge amount of similar obstacles, hurdles and restrictions when we are in a Self-defense situation. 

Example, and I quote, “no way in hell would I (the author) want to  do their job (the police) under the restrictions and pressures place on them by modern society, the administration, the courts, social media, camera phones, and the ‘blogsphere.’”

While reading, for the second go around, this book it came to my mind that if I, or for anyone not police or even some other professional, were to be involved in some legal matter, lets use the SD model since that is the topic of the book, I too as a citizen would be under “the restrictions and pressures place on us by modern society, … , the courts, social media, camera phones, and the ‘blogsphere.’” (Note: I pulled out the reference to administration cause for us, as citizens, we are not directly affected by them other than how that makes the police, the first responders in an incident, procedures that may or may not affect my legal status, i.e. “being detained, questioned, taken into custody and so on.”

The SD world is a very large continent filled with land mines that can take you out if you step on the wrong piece of land. Every step along that road through the mine field makes for some very dangerous ground. Here is the real issue tho, we may face some similar obstacles, etc. but the one thing that is different from what I perceive is, “The police are professionals who work this stuff every single day and have seen and experienced things we, as regular citizens, have only encountered while sitting in a dark and quiet theater up on the screen - movies.” We are doubly handicapped because we are pretty darn ignorant about all this stuff and when the flood hits (adrenal stress chemical dumps) we will in all likelihood fall into what we know, i.e. fiction, television, movies and other such fictional and often incorrect or inaccurate depiction’s mostly set to goose your monkey’s emotional triggers in the name of DRAMA.

That is why knowledge is power and you want that type of power on your side if you have to face the police and possibly the legal system. Nothing is guaranteed and you have to have your shit in the bag to navigate the mind fields and this book is an awesome beginning. 


p.s. best advice I read and have been told about meeting the police, in my own words, is to be as polite as you can be much like meeting a date for the first time, i.e., be very, very polite, respectful and do what they tell you (within reason, etc.). Most of all, be polite, be polite and be polite. Did you miss that one, I said, “BE POLITE!”

Emotional Intelligence - Self-Awareness


I quote, “A belligerent samurai, an old Japanese tale goes, once challenged a Zen master to explain the concept of heaven and hell. But the monk replied with scorn, ‘You’re nothing but a lout - I can’t waste my time with the likes of you!’ His very honor attacked, the samurai flew into a rage and, pulling his sword from its scabbard, yelled, ‘I could kill you for your impertinence.’ ‘That,’ the monk calmly relied, ‘is Hell.’ Startled at seeing the truth in what the master pointed out about the fury that had him in its grip, the samurai calmed down, sheathed his sword, and bowed, thanking the monk for the insight. ‘And that,’ said the monk, ‘is Heaven.’ The sudden awakening of the samurai  to his own agitated state illustrated the crucial difference between being caught up in a feeling and becoming aware that you are being swept away by it. The keystone of emotional intelligence: awareness of one’s own feelings as they occur.” - Emotional Intelligence, Chapter 4, “Know Thyself,” page 46, first six paragraphs.

Speed

We often talk about using speed in self-defense yet there is one type of speed that is not discussed and in most martial arts is promoted as a means of “winning” when in reality “winning” is actually more about how fast things finish. Ops, heard that and saying, “What the ….!” 

What brought on this particular terse post is a quote, taken out of context, by Clint Overland at the beginning of Chapter 13 of the book by Marc MacYoung, “In the Name of Self-Defense.” The quote is, “ … Speed equals innocence. … “

This is not the speed your hand travels toward the target on an adversary. It is not moving fast on your feet either. It is how fast you finish removing the danger in self-defense. It is about stopping the attacker, "FAST." 

It is about a perception of others who may be witness to the incident and it may be how the authorities, if involved, perceive this same incident when perceived from witness accounts or that most damning and worst witness, phone video’s. 


Often, speed is taught, practiced and trained as to how fast you can move, apply techniques and do kata but in reality the true value of speed is, “speed equals innocence.” 

Stories become Truth to become Legends

I quote, “The myth of ryukyuan disarmament is no older than the early 19th century but is very persistent, and in particularly popular among the practitioners of karate.” - The Samurai Capture a King: Okinawa 1906 by Stephen Turnball. 

“It was the naive observations of foreign travelers, disguising reality, that sustained the myth of bare-fisted Okinawan warriors taking on armed Samurai of Satsuma.” - The Samurai Capture a King: Okinawa 1906 by Stephen Turnball. 


Isn’t it amazing that even today some still vehemently believe in the story about karate and the disarmament of Okinawans. It was not that long ago that I actually found out the truth of it. You would think that this type of myth would be disproved long before our modern times. It just goes to show how a good story can sometimes achieve historical significance and become legend. If this is true and I believe it to be so, then it is highly likely that many of the recent stories may also be false but carried forth because, “They are good stories.” 

Bibliography:
Turnbull, Stephen and Hook, Richard. “The Samurai Capture a King: Okinawa 1609 (Raid).” Osprey Publising. Westminster, MD. 2009.
Quast, Andreas. "Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art." Lulu Publishing (Self-published). December 2013. 

Rant, Rant, ladda da di da, Ranting

One of the special forces maxim refers to a soldier's greatest weapon, the mind. It would seem that in the MA world be it combatives for the military, police, etc. or as self-defense for the masses this mind thing would be critical. There is a phrase that describes this, i.e. Kokoro no Shugyo [心の修行] The characters/ideograms mean, “Training of the mind.”

What I perceive is one must train the mind to see those things and know those things that would provide the mind with the ability to choose the proper tools in getting the job done. I also believe that by fooling ourselves or being subjected to hero worship suggestibility and other such things clouds our minds toward the true goal we have told ourselves we sought when taking up such disciplines.

To train the mind is to train it to "see" and "hear" truth in all its reality. Hiding our heads in the sand in order to promote an easier and faster path toward self-gratification not only makes us miss our targets but subjects us to dangers beyond our minds imagination if we ever find ourselves facing a violent situation.

For instance, we are human and we apply violence every single day of our lives. Have you ever gotten into a heated discussion where voices got pretty loud, you know you trying to get your point across to someone who appears to be ignoring your viewpoint? If you said yes you were being violent.
Have you ever gotten into a shouting match with another person in a bar because they may have done or said something that jerked your chain? If you have, you were being violent.

Yea, I know, that doesn't seem violent but when you think about it it is violent because the only reason one shouts in anger is when they MUST have someone else agree with what it is that are arguing about, that is violence.

Another example, women commit violence all the time as well. It is often a psychological violence but it is still violence. Get this, as we become a more "equal rights" society women are resorting to the physical application of violence and the big issue here is societies view toward women and violence. They just don't see women in the same light as men in violence.

Consider this, more of our younger women are using the physical to get their gratifications, more and more than you might see, hear, etc. The greatest danger is that men tend to think that women don't have the capability but they are just as human as men and they also have to deal with those ancient survival instincts that all humans still have to deal with and if you doubt it read, Emotional Intelligence, it explains how the brain works in this instance, really, read it.

So, kokoro no shugyo, much like the military maxim, wars are won before the first shot is ever fired by how the military create the appropriate mind-set and mind-state. It is about their training, their understanding of the enemy, their history, the tactics and strategies and a whole bunch of other stuff that is critical before he very first move from said military. A general has to know, understand and create a mind-state that is a mirror of his enemy general much like Patton of WWII and MacArthur in the Pacific. Otherwise don't bother getting out of bed cause your gonna lose, big time.


If we don't open up our minds and know ourselves and our enemy or adversary, how they commit violence and the why of it then how can we possible defend against it and how can we possible prevent it and most of all how can we ever even think that we can stop it, it is in our nature and hiding from it will not get the job done.

Validating by Rory Miller

If you don’t know Rory Miller and you have not read his Chiron blog you might be missing out on some awesome stuff. Here is a sample that from where I sit speaks volumes to the martial arts community. 



Giving Credit

A long time ago I began writing the blogs I have on Martial Arts, Self-Defense, and Philosophy of MA. In those humble beginnings I didn’t give credit where credit was due. I used direct quotes and even longer content exactly as the originating author provided. It was pointed out by another author of web sites and blogs. 

Blogs and web sites are personal venues that usually consist of personal perceptions, viewpoints and ideas, etc. Often they are simply presenting information gleamed from other more qualified and knowledgeable folks. I learned this as I went along. It began my providing names with quotes and bibliographies. I also, from time to time, posted that much of what I am writing about comes from the knowledge of others and is not my own but rather a view or perception of what I think of the material, a redaction if you will. 

Regardless, I began providing those posts of clarifications along with bibliographies not only to give credit where credit is due but to also provide my readers source materials for additional research. 

No one, I mean no one who is knowledgeable of any subject matter I present is thinking that all this comes from me, it does not. I was not born with this knowledge and experience. No one in the world comes into this world with life knowledge, etc. You learn from others and then you try your best to apply it and absorb it into your way. Normal human living, learning and experience. 

So, once again, everything you read here comes from others. As this quote states, "One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour (see, I am giving credit to the quote :-)

As does everyone, I use knowledge of others to learn and part of that learning process is to redact into my own words, which I didn’t do so well when I stared, what I am learning in the hopes of getting feedback so that I can learn. I personally think this is how it is done.

Now, if I were getting money for what I do then I would be required to go the distance to provide all the sources to include those that are fist hand accounts and remembrances even if that is all I have. If I write a book for profit or just for free I have as many of the sources in the bibliography as possible or available. I understand that is the “right thing to do.” 

If anyone finds that I have used a quote of thiers or they feel they should be credited with teaching me as read in my postings please don’t hesitate to comment and let me know. Make sure you provide me validation so I can add that to my bibliography. 

I regret wholeheartedly that I missed providing credit in those earlier years. I have and am learning more each day and my postings are there to provide hints in others research for more information and that seems like a good thing. 

What I try hard NOT to do is provide a post with criticisms laced with disgust or contempt because I feel that would diminish the information and possibly lead to others discarding such good data over some emotionally driven monkey ego pride toward some group dogma that separates the MA world into a “them or others” type system. That does not promote growth, potential and learning. Ah, the fact is that I am human and because of this need to work on this aspect daily. 

For a bibliography of this site click the link above. I have links to bibliographines on my blog sites and on the FB wall for review. When I can I do add them to each particular posting as needed. 

Thanks for reading my stuff and thanks for your kind considerations all these years. Early today someone made a complaint about something I did about ten years ago and that made me think, “Wow, I have been doing this a while now and I hope I have gotten a bit better in how I do it.” 


Thanks All!

SD vs. MA (Your MA is NOT SD, maybe :)

Oh shit, a bell is going off and guess what, it is about my long practiced and personally important martial art that is being “dissed.” Yet, all that it is and all that I thought is was is false but true. There are some very important aspects to its practice, its training and most important of all, “its applications.”

My MA as previously practiced, trained and applied is not a SD system. It just isn’t because of a variety of reasons and those reasons are all provided, in a quick and terse manner so as to get the point across without writing a damn book on that subject, by a professional who has not only trained in MA but has lived a life where as a professional he has had to apply all aspects of the SD world while utilizing a more appropriate form of MA and other learned actions through experience to get the job done while maintaining the integrity of the social requirements and the legalities our society require and apply to everyone. 

In almost all martial arts SD instruction I was exposed to and to those who were exposed to it when I gave instructions is based on both “fighting and combatives.” We tended to take the opposite end of that spectrum to teach when in reality we needed to be at the other end. Our MA effectiveness is based on the sport aspect and also the fighting aspect that is promoted as the best and greatest means of SD. Bullsh$#.

Am I angry that what I practiced, taught and believed is wrong on several levels? Nope, just glad as hell that someone finally put out information that is valid yet does not pretend to validate SD except in a more reality form thus waking up the mind to the truth of things before I find I have to defend my SD. 

Example: many MA tend to “finish the guy off” type training when the true focus should be on, “Stopping the Threat.” This attitude is what gets folks who find themselves in a SD situation getting cuffed, hauled to jail and trying to dig up a good attorney and bond agent. Fist, none of these MA’s actually teach how to avoid in the first place. None even remotely approach the topic of emotional intelligence. They never discuss or cover such things as levels of force necessary to “stop the threat.” 

Perceptions are important but the correct perceptions are critical, i.e. how you perceive the situation, the perception of that antagonist, the perceptions of the legal representatives where the first line is that officer questioning you about what happened, the perceptions of the district attorney who is taking a lead from the officer and so many other perceptions who would include all those righteous folks sitting in that nice wood enclosure with just enough room for twelve chairs and a special room where they get to discuss what a bad, bad, bad boy you have been fighting and all that stuff. 

Knowing how one gets caught up in a conflict is important and that leads to avoidance. Lets not forget how one’s ego as in monkey brain can lead you by the nose right down the path toward a time in a small confined space with a lot of big, ugly and mean folks eyeing you like a piece of meat ready for consumption. Yikes!

What is this all about? Well, I just read a section in the book INoSD that speaks to MA and SD, i.e. the differences of what is most often taught as SD in MA vs. “stopping the threat.” Not just stopping the threat but doing so in a manner that directly conuters what is taught, getting the job done as soon as possible so perceptions are more in line with SD, not fighting (oh, yea, as previously stated time and again, fighting is illegal). Does your MA actually teach this and do your moves actually promote this and are they such that they keep you from applying things that are not adequate to stopping the threat vs. fighting? 

You are going to have to do the work to find out the answers because I am not qualified enough to do so here in this post. If what I write here rings a bell and if you truly and seriously want to learn SD along with your MA and if you want your MA to be what it is and what it could be then do the work.

Personally, this is one of many things over the last ten years that has opened my eyes to things I was taking for granted. I am not displeased with the value of my MA. It is still what I wanted it to be but now I can temper it in practice and training so that I will make it valuable toward the why to my efforts with it and “NOW” if I am ever required to defend myself I will do so with the knowledge gained and act accordingly. I mean from the very first level of self-awareness through self-reflection to avoidance to the physical as a last resort and to those needs and requirements should it get that far to remain truly and completely within the SD square. 

When you do the work you will soon recognize a lot of the words as the influence of the materials that will set the stage for “Reality-based Self-defense.” Oh, and that word reality has a lot more to it than what you may perceive from this simple yet incomplete posting. Yea!

Bibliography:

MacYoung, Marc. “In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It.” Marc MacYoung. 2014.

The Benefit of Kata Training

The value or benefit of kata training in martial art has been bandied about for many, many years. I have posted many times on the value of kata training and that includes kata two person drills, etc. You can also add in the two person drills for kumite as well, with caveats. 

While reading the second go-round of the book by Marc MacYoung, “In the Name of Self-defense,” I came across his comments or questions regarding traditional martial arts kata training models. Remember, this is an excerpt and if nothing else should motivate all martial artists to read his book cause it holds “so much more” than this small quote.

“Is the repetitive motion of kata good for ingraining neural pathways and developing good mechanics? YES, IF done correctly (capital emphasis mine). Is that all you need? NO (capital emphasis mine). You need to have someone actually try to hit you in one-step drills so you learn the importance of moving off line and the need for correct structure against incoming force, among a variety of other things depending on the training and teacher. Then you can tweak your kata so you train yourself to perform it effectively against another person. … (ellipse, of course indicate missing words) Does someone who has had years of training in a traditional martial art school need to go through adrenal stress or scenario training? YES (capital emphasis mine). … (ellipse, of course indicate missing words) There is no such thing as one-stop shopping for all your self-defense needs.” - Marc MacYoung, In the Name of Self-Defense, Chapter 9, page 200 or print version (second and third paragraph).

Mr. MacYoung makes some general comments on things to do to enhance your MA experience if you desire it be effective in SD but I will personally assume there is more that must be taken into consideration and that is covered in other materials and training. My goal with this post is to provide those who traditionally train their kata model to consider that it will be of great value as long as you enhance that training with additional reality based adrenal influenced, etc. training. 

In my view from where I sit and that seat is not necessarily one that takes all considerations into light but I do believe wholeheartedly that most, not all, traditional/classical martial arts tend to gloss over this type of training and practice because it is not an easy path to follow and incurs some additional efforts and means leaving the more convenient ways one trains and practices. It is kind of out of the box type thing. 

Bibliography:

MacYoung, Marc. “In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It.” Marc MacYoung. 2014.

Challenge the Monkey

To achieve some semblance of control over our emotions, as to the monkey brain, we have to achieve some understanding of how the emotional mind actually works. It all parcels into the traits and components that make for a good martial artists and is inter-connected in how we achieve a modicum of ability in the fuller spectrum of self-defense.

Emotions are described as, “Any agitation or disturbance of the mind, feeling, passion; any vehement or excited mental state. A feeling and its distinctive thoughts, psychological and biological states, and range of propensities to act. - Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

In martial arts we try to build character. We do this because good character leads to a greater psychological discipline required to have better moral conduct and that conduct is how we apply our martial prowess in daily life as in conflict. Character is built on self-discipline and that is the bedrock of character.

The keystone to character is the ability to motivate oneself and to guide oneself in all life’s disciplines and this is critical in the study, practice and application of martial arts be they for sport, self-defense or combatives and so on. 

Emotions by there very nature require we keep them under our control, or control of reason. It is also important to see how those emotions are affected by both past and present but also how they influence our present. As once stated in a movie quote, “when the past comes knocking we can never tell where that will lead.” 

We have inter-connectedness of emotions to our moods and to our temperaments. This interconnectedness also influences our present state of mind and that means our present actions accordingly.

As can be indicated by this terse commentary on emotions and character we can foresee the importance of our emotional intelligence for that quality, more than any other, will direct and lead us to the type of conflict resolutions that the mere physical will miss completely. It is that Yin that goes with the Yang that is conflict and violence. 

Personally, I believe more than anything that our emotional intelligence will gain us far more in self-defense than any other aspect of this large and complex subject. 

Remember, “Character is the psychological muscle that moral conduct requires. It is the bedrock of self-discipline. The keystone of character is being able to motivate and guide oneself. It takes will to keep emotion under the control of reason.” 

Oh, and remember that the monkey is driven by emotions and they are usually out of control. Challenge the monkey by taking back control thus allowing you to use the monkey along with the lizard to achieve something useful. 

Bibliography:

Goleman, Daniel. “Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition].” Bantam. January 11, 2012.

Emotional Reasoning

“It takes will to keep emotion under the control of reason.” - Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman. 

More so in conflict than most other situations one’s emotions run rampant and the key to survival is learning to recognize when emotions are hijacking your human/rational mind and the emotional/monkey mind is controlling actions at the speed of light. This is probably the most complex aspect to acquiring character that comes from emotional intelligence. 

It has been and is currently being bandied about in the world of self-defense, martial arts and combatives that the monkey is the culprit to many of the conflicts we encounter. In a sense that is true but who controls the monkey. We tend to perceive our emotions as some uncontrollable thing that is part of our humanity that is uncontrollable, but it isn’t. 

As a SD person, a martial artist and once who had come to believe that all things are about us, as an individual person, are controlled by us, as an individual person. The moment we refute the idea that our actions are due to something outside of us we begin to control ourselves in a way that promote more control over our monkey brains. Our next step then seems to be learning about our emotional minds, the monkey mind, so that we may begin to understand just how much control we have over it and its affects on us in life and not just SD, etc. 

We have a rapid-fire emotional reaction to things that are of an urgency that is inter-connected with our primal survival instinct. That instinct is still with us regardless of things like the “Industrial Revolution” or the current revolution, i.e. the “Electronic/Technological Revolution.” Humans are still subject to evolution even when our influences cause change because natural evolution still takes millions of years provided we survive any cataclysmic change to our Universe. 

The slower emotional reaction is also there to plague us depending on such things as our culture, our beliefs and our knowledge. If you don’t know about something you cannot control that something when it hits you between the eyes, ergo why knowledge from academia, society, our perceptions in our environment, etc. along with the beliefs we build through daily life events. The slower emotional reactions are those that come from our attitudes, our beliefs, and our internal discussions. 

We can be either pessimistic in our thoughts and words and deeds or we can be optimistic. This slow thought process tends to be recurring in our active mind chatter of daily life so it can simmer and brew first in our minds as our thoughts and then as circumstances dictate they lead to feelings, feelings of joy or feelings of anger, etc. Get where I am going here, our thoughts lead to how our emotions work, dominate or balance out depending on various controlled factors that are ours to control and use while being independent to what others think, say or do. This will influence our more rapid-fire emotional actions and reactions. 

Our rapid-fire emotions are such that to gain control over them we have to develop a mind that is knowledgable of those instincts that cause such emotions to rise up and take control. It is about taking the monkey out of the equation and allowing the emotional mind to say what triggers and how. This cannot be done through ignorance so knowledge of this process is important and the only way to change that is through appropriate ongoing, continuous, diligent and “reality-based” methods so the lizard, the brain that is instinctive in nature, can use that training in lieu of other more naturally driven instinctual methods and models. 

So, how do we gain that kind of knowledge that will allow us to recognize what emotional reactions we are having and to apply the right kind of training to achieve a more emotional intelligent reaction and action based from those emotions? See the bibliography for that answer:

Bibliography:
Goleman, Daniel. “Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition].” Bantam. January 11, 2012.


Push Up Bars (Some refer to as Chinkuchi Bars)

Stopped in, finally, to a hardware store to see if this is doable and that they had the parts to put it together. Except for stock shortages all these parts are available. I also noted that for the handle you can go bigger to fit, then when you put in the corner pieces you can downsize the legs in circumference and make them shorter as the t-base fittings for the bottom add on a bit, about 3/4", etc. 

Now, as soon as I can get to Home Depot, bigger stock and should have the smaller pipe, I will get the materials and put them together for use. I then will play with them not only to gain some stability training for my muscles but to self-analyze how they contribute to fundamental principles application as it pertains to this concept of chinkuchi. 

Note: This concept of chinkuchi push up bars being indicative of having what some refer to as, “good chinkuchi,” is part of the reason why I am making these. The actual bars as created by a group of Isshinryu practitioners are not available to non-members and I suspect if they did make them available the costs would be out of my expense range for this type of thing. Regardless, I will make these, test them out, use them and then come back with my opinions as to whether these actually test a persons chinkuchi as defined by both the group and my standards. 


WARNING: This device is meant for use in a controlled and safe way and must be monitored by someone who has experience using this type of device that really appears to work the stabilizing trait of our muscles. Use them in a manner that ensures your health and safety.

Note: I made an adjustment to the parts used, I replaced a T-Base into the closed cap shown in this snapshot. It just seemed a better way to go and it still has a semi-rounded end to closely match the original bars by the original creators of the proverbial "chinkuchi bars."

Click for larger view.

Bujutsu [武術] to Budo [武道]

The combative form of martial arts are referred to as “bujutsu.” The more philosophical and spiritual (non-religious meaning) practices of martial arts are referred to as “budo.” There is a middle ground as well called, “Bonpu budo [凡夫武道].” This is addressed as the “three stages” of martial arts.

Martial arts disciplines began as combatives systems for armies and individuals. They were purely physical and practiced to overcome/defeat/kill the enemy in combat. They are/were designed as a practical approach to defeating an adversary by means of great bodily harm or death. This is why it is called bujutsu.

The middle ground of martial arts is about the creation and living of a more spiritual discipline to aid the warrior of bujutsu in their applications. It was a self-analysis type of model with the intent to self-cultivate ones mind through moving meditation, thus improving one’s physical performance. This is why it is called bonpu budo.

The upper stage is what some might refer to as, genuine budo or just Budo. This is where we reverse the concept that the Way is the means to improve one’s physical discipline but rather the physical discipline becomes the method or model to guide the practitioner on the path, or Way, toward a more spiritual path. Budo are no longer strictly disciplines meant for killing, or in modern times self-defense, but become models through which practitioners aspire to greater moral perfection. 

Bibliography:

Mann, Jeffrey K. “The Butjutsu - Budo Stereotype.” Classical Fighting Arts. Vol. 2 No. 27 (Issue #50):62 - 67

Self-Awareness

Becoming conscious of one’s own character, personality, feelings, motives, and desires. Creating a capacity for self-perception thus becoming self-conscious. It is becoming a person with the ability and capacity for introspection. To recognize oneself but most important to achieve a level of emotional intelligence so as to recognize one’s feelings and emotions with emphasis on emotions. 

The result is a knowledge and intelligence toward over very feelings. Feelings that govern our thoughts and reactions. To know if our thoughts and emotions are ruling a decision rather than the human mind, i.e. the monkey is driving the bus. It is about seeing deep within so that one can see the consequences of allowing the monkey to dance so that alternative human mind choices can be made and then apply them to create decisions about handling such things as conflict, anger and violence, etc. 

Self-awareness is about recognizing and acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses; seeing within yourself a self that is positive and realistic so as to avoid the more common pitfalls that come from the effects of allowing the monkey free reign in conflicts. 

Managing the monkey means managing your emotions and to do that you have to have that emotional intelligence so as to identify, name and address such emotional effects. You need to realize what is behind such emotions such as when some perceived hurt triggers anger when that hurt is more emotional than actual or real.

SA is about taking responsibility for the self, i.e. the human, the monkey and the lizard, so all your decisions and actions are right, correct and acceptable to society as a whole. 

It is about the ability to see reality so that you can distinguish between what someone says or does so that your own judgment and reaction is appropriate to the situation at any given moment. It is about being assertive over being angry or fearful. It is about creating the ability to provide conflict resolutions to yourself and thereby to others as conflicts arise. 

Look at it as Aristotle did so long ago, it is about developing a higher level of emotional intelligence or as he said, “Emotional Skillfulness.”

Bibliography:

Goleman, Daniel. “Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition].” Bantam. January 11, 2012.

CPW: Experts, Masters and the Knowledgable

Experts are those who have taken the time, made the effort and have shown due diligence in a discipline so as to learn, understand and know about that discipline but there is a hitch. 

The hitch is those who follow. If the expert, master and the knowledgable fail to convey that what they are passing is subject to correction, change and falsehood then those who follow fall into the pit that creates dogma, a dogma that is irrefutable and unchangeable. 

Through out history the experts have gone as far as killing others who refute or question their teachings and beliefs. When persons reach a higher level of expertise they often fall into the pit that what they do and their level of expertise means they know it all and no one can tell them about their discipline. 

Some times this leads experts into a false sense of superiority over anyone with less time, less knowledge and less experience. This fogs the teachings and often instills a certain attitude not only in the leader but in the followers. 

Experts, masters and the knowledgable are seekers of change, growth and progress, not just knowledge for knowledge can fool you into thinking there is no more and there is no chance that what is known is changeable and open to falsehoods created by self-limitations. Experts are aware that what they are experts in can become simply a stepping stone toward another different discipline and this is what expertise means, a means to a greater depth and breadth of life that stimulates progress, a progress with no end. 

Experts sometimes succumb to the monkey mind by labeling any attempt to expand and question a belief as blasphemy and blasphemy is a good excuse to validate the current dogma and to give excuse to punish those who don’t follow the doctrine. 

Liar, cheater, blasphemer! Experts see these traits as a signal that they must self-analyze and self-evaluate and seek additional validations of both their expertise and those questions, comments and criticisms that could open the next door along the path of that discipline often leading to a new discipline. 


Experts, masters and the knowledgable are leaders of those that follow and seekers of truth that will build upon and provide growth to the discipline along with the expert and those who follow. 

Stabilizer Muscles

Ok, lets get to it, lets discuss how we can segregate and exercise those special muscles we call “stabilizer muscles” to improve our martial arts practice, training and most important of all “applications.” You know, those muscles we use to provide us stability when punching and kicking, etc. These muscles need to be addressed with special exercises that will result in what some call “good chinkuchi.” Wait a minute …..

Here is the rub when someone makes the statement that some exercise or system provides for stronger stabilizer muscles therefore creating a stronger body part, i.e. hands and wrists, feet and ankles, etc. If you do some research, especially in the fields of kinesiology or anatomy, you will not find any category called, “Stabilizer muscles.” 

Here is a more exact response to the notion of “stabilizer muscles,” whereby to stabilize the human body our muscle can and do ACT as a stabilizer during the execution of a movement. It is all about what you are asking a muscle to do depending on the task at hand. Our muscle can act as both agonist and antagonist when performing an exercise or the performance of a particular task. 

Depending on the task or exercise the muscle can act as a stabilizer in order to allow other muscles to function as needed for that exercise or task. It is a bit like this, “Understand that when a muscle contracts it pulls equally from both ends. In order to have movement at only one end of the muscle other muscles must come into play to stabilize the bone to which the other end of the muscle is attached, in place.”

Another defining explanation is that a stabilizer is more a set of muscles that contract so that there is no significant movement so that it will maintain a posture of fixate a joint. In that light then it is understand in karate circles of Okinawa a chinkuchi action is about “fixating a joint or set of joints, etc.” In one suggested physical exercise the forearm, wrist and hand muscles will fixate so they don’t move or move only very little to achieve a solid unmovable forearm-wrist-fist configuration while the rest of the body continues to move its muscles in the agonist and antagonist fashion signifying normal muscle activity. 

Note: my explanation is a bit simplistic and may involve a bit more explanation of complexity but you get the idea.

So, in a nutshell there are no “stabilize muscles” as if a type of muscle you can dedicate an exercise to in development. It is more about utilizing your muscles in an appropriate way to both move and stabilize the skeletal system so that movement and certain types of moves can be accomplished in the most economical and beneficial way maximizing the strength and physiokinetics of the body, i.e. those that are explained by the fundamental principles of martial systems such as posture, spinal alignment, structure, sequential locking and relaxation and so on. 

Bibliography:
Yessis, Michael. “Biomechanics and Kinesiology of Exercise.” Ultimate Athlete Concepts. 2013
Yessis, Michael. "Kinesiology" http://doctoryessis.com/2013/01/02/what-are-stabilizer-muscles/

http://www.exrx.net/Kinesiology/Glossary.html


Know When to Hold-em, Know When to Fold-em

Note poker but in self-defense. As you are aware there are rules in self-defense. They are not necessarily the ones your self-defense instructor told you but the ones society imposes on you if you are dragged into court to convince the judge, jury and prosecutor that you used self-defense properly. 

Marc MacYoung, in the book “In the Name of Self-Defense,” states pretty succinctly, “You have to know when to stop!” He also states and I came to realize that a lot of what martial artist are taught regardless of whether the moniker of self-defense is there or not, is illegal and will get you in a lot of trouble if you use it in a defense situation. 

Mr. MacYoung, over the last few years along with some other professionals such as Rory Miller, has rung my bell a lot causing this little light bulb to click on in my brain bringing me to the conclusion that what I had practiced and taught is NOT SELF-DEFENSE!

The concept of knowing when to fold-em or STOP makes self-defense very, very difficult to learn and to teach. It brings to my mind the criticality of “knowing” what self-defense is and how it applies in “reality, reality, reality.” 

Mr. MacYoung provides some real world examples of what and how easy it is to cross that line, the line that is printed with “STOP HERE NOW!”

My example for this post is the cross over kick in my system. Usually this kick is applied, bunkai, when you have taken an adversary down to the ground and you cross over the kick while restraining the adversary by his hand and arm and kicking them in the throat, face, chest, etc. to “finish the job.” There are so many examples in this one statement that say, “Oh Shit, you crossed the line dude!” Once you cross the line, in most instances, you are screwed, screwed, and screwed. (note: trying to put a little written color into my post like Mr. MacYoung in his book - makes for a fun read of his stuff while learning, great combination)

Bibliography:
MacYoung, Marc. “In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It.” Marc MacYoung. 2014.


The full verse: “No when to hold-em, know when to fold-em, know when to walk-away and know when to run!” sounds like good self-defense advice, yes?

Ego-Pride

I am surprised that both ego and pride don’t appear in the fundamental principle of martial systems. When you look at the principle of Philosophy you encounter sub-principles that may or may not address these two but unless one is versed in how this affects training, practice and application you may fall prey to them.

When I think of ego and pride I think of the monkey (thanks to both Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung for exposing me to these concepts). The monkey brain seems to have its own unique emotionally driven approach to things often at odds to our thinking brain, the Vulcan mind of logic and common sense. The monkey uses emotions to take control and to make the person think that the things it drives us to do are “good, logical and beneficial.” So far from the truth it is just not funny. 

In Martial Arts circles with an Asian philosophical flavor they talk about getting rid of ego and pride. They do recognize that both tend to push people to take inappropriate actions yet these same Asian philosophies fall prey to things that may have been acceptable and relevant to the times but in modern times end up sending folks down a deep and dark hole called civil, legal and emotional hell. 

This is an attempt to bring the monkey up and into the training of martial artists because when you allow the monkey out of its cage you can find that training, practice and application are far removed from any and all aspects of self-defense. 

Even police and military are governed by rules that would put such actions taught under the auspices of traditional combatives tend to cringe under the scrutiny of others who take a vested interest in their actions. No wonder the professionals are subjected to restrictions and limitations that tend to hinder doing the job safely, etc.

I have to agree that those traditional Asian arts or combatives have it right, that ego and pride can misalign the true objective of such disciplines and that holds true today with repercussions that most don’t know about or even begin to understand - until it becomes way to late. 

When I think of the philosophical principle and sub-principle of mind, mushin, zanshin, etc. then I also think of the monkey (emotions, ego, pride, etc.) that affect how we train, practice and apply our lives toward conflict. Even when many definitions of these sub-principles may not extend outward to encompass such esoteric concepts it becomes something teachers and practitioners/professionals need to consider. 

I believe Marc MacYoung, in the book “INOSD,” states that many incidents of violence come from emotions and how those emotions are expressed from the mouth of participants. 

Bibliography:

Bibliography - updated 8-21-2014


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Just Sayin

I know that I can be a bit intense sometimes and that my pursuit of knowledge and clarity in my martial arts (actually I do it in most of what I do) sometimes seems or is perceived as pushy, opinionated and critical. If you have been on the receiving end I apologize. I apologize because it isn't about you, what you are, who you are, what you believe and in MA what you teach or don't teach. It is actually about knowledge, a huge thirst, a dedicated attempt to understand as much as possible. When I write, talk or do I want it to be as close to correct as possible and that sometimes leads to friction (actually conflict because friction is about conflict).

With one individual I have, of late, been a bit critical about some aspects of what they are presenting electronically and via media like video's but I tend to expect a great deal from those who teach. I expect perfection from myself and tend to be harder on me than others when I am wrong. I expect a certain level of perfection of other teachers, or in this case Sensei, and when it is not present, my perspective and perception, I tend to get a bit animated and aggressive to see the complete picture - the rest of the story you might say. Especially when I perceive ego, the monkey, taking over due to any number of reasons both real or imagined.

It is a shame when such things cause one or the other participant to take umbrage and remove their presence from the conversation, so to speak, thus resulting in a loss to both sides.

If I have caused it you can bet I will regret it far more than most ever would and I will be harder on myself than anyone could possibly be to me. It is a personality flaw I am working on diligently.

The deal here is that such changes, sometimes, when involving habitual traits takes time to reprogram as in I know in the last few weeks or so I have been especially "monkey-ish" and allowed my ego to lead the charge for knowledge. That I apologize for, wholeheartedly.

Regardless, when you fail to provide a complete picture, i.e. explanations and reasoning behind things that are oriented toward self-defense and martial arts you are demeaning the system, the practitioners and most of all - your self. In a discipline such as what constitutes self-defense, fighting and/or combatives whether it be a vehicle of martial arts or other physical activity you endanger folks. If someone does not have the "rest of the story" they can be hurt, injured or incarcerated along with other peripheral troubles such as civil law suits, large legal and medical costs and truly deep and damaging psychological repercussions that affect you, your family and your friends.

One reason, here it comes, why I recommend so much, present so much and make the suggestions I make to gain knowledge. It is why I am so, sometimes, aggressive when I encounter things that don't seem - right.

If it were merely something like missing a meal or taking a wrong turn it would be less important but when it involves lives, living and heath, etc. then it can be of greater importance.

So, with that, as to those who have recently un-friended my from their FB sites and removed the ability to participate in such important things I apologize BUT it is important and I believe in what it is wholeheartedly and when I get less than the best from someone in such an important role then I am saddened, both for them, for me and for those who follow what is done, taught and believed.

Have a great day!

Ma-ai or Distance

In any self-defense situation the distance you have and maintain between you and your adversary is important. As long as you have distance you can dial down your need for dangerous activity that can both get you hurt or killed and get you out of self-defense and into jail. 

The following quote is from the book, “In the Name of Self-Defense,” by Marc MacYoung. It is a quick way to determine and practice how to judge safe distances with an adversary. There is not hard and fast spacing, like say five feet, due to the size of an adversary. As the height changes so does that distance where an attack can occur.

“Stand if front of a friend and measure the distance from his or her eyebrows to the floor. Take that same distance and lay it down on the floor between you. that is pretty much an empty-hand person’s attack range (weapons extend that range). that’s the distance they can reach you with using an empty-hand attack without taking a step. Draw a line halfway through that distance. the half closest to you is kicking range (where they can reach you with a kick). The half closest to him or her is punching range where he or she can strike you. But to do that, one has to step closer.” page 74, chapter three of In the Name of Self Defense

Note that this is just what it is and is easily changed due to various conditions including but not limited to adrenal effects, etc. In other words your spatial acuity is changed in a violent situation thus making this a bit harder to actually determine accurately. This is why one should get the book and read the entire thing cause there are so many variables. 

I just thought this quote would be a good starting point for a newbie martial artist trying to get a handle on ma-ai concepts. One additional aspect to the concept of ma-ai is that many martial artists attribute only that type of ma-ai that involves sport competition type encounters but in INOSD it is about that range that will tell you someone is within attack range. Add to this, attack range without other variables is simply an attack range. The danger may or may not actually be there. There is more …… Think JAM and to find out about that part, guess what :-)

Bibliography:

MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.