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


Trade Industry Martial Arts

“The Trade Journal for the Martial Arts Industry” Kind of gives you the sense of today’s martial arts vs. yesterdays traditional form of martial arts practice. You are given two dichotomies here, one is martial arts and the other is a business model, i.e., “Trade” and “Industry.” 

Even the titles of the more modern periodicals tells the story, “Martial Arts Professional,” and so on. Even the more symbolic titles still tend to lean toward a business model martial arts, i.e., “Classical Fighting Arts.” 

It also demonstrates how the community tends to mix and match terms in a manner not necessarily about the MA or the traditions but rather the best combination to “Sell Martial Arts.” It is truly an industry!

The question comes down to, “Is this a bad thing?” As long as the participants in either form, i.e. the trade industry vs. the classical or traditional communities, are distinguished as a separate and distinct entity then “No, no issues.” It comes down the the distinctions that separate the two so there is no confusion especially to the novice or uninitiated. 

Look at it as the difference between “Personality vs. Character.” When it comes to martial arts especially in regard to self-defense “Distinctions” becomes critical as the mistaken understanding of what you are practicing and training can mean damage and death in a SD situation. 

Watch this program for a peek into the start of martial arts in America, it will give you a distinct difference from what is done today. Take note of Joe Lewis’s comments at the end when he compares the substance of 1968 martial arts vs. the flash and personality of todays martial arts. 


“Time is Relative” - Einstein

Have you ever heard the story that Einstein tells to explain how relativity works. The space travelers who experience ten years pass while on Earth they experience twenty years passing where the space travelers age only ten years while Earth experiences twenty years in age. Apparently we humans tend to have “Two clocks” in our bodies, minds and spirits. 

“The human body can sense and react to time differently. A good movie passes quickly, while a boring movie goes slowly.” - Dr. Philip Maffetone

We all have experienced this time difference when reading books that really grab us and the movie example quoted above so we all realize that we can “Experience two time clocks” in all we do in life and this goes as well for martial practices. 

What I am getting at is, “In our fast-paced society we tend to put time in a short time frame. Relative to that, everything else we do may be distorted, including our practice and training time slot.”  How many times have we not gone to the training hall because the “Time” allotted seems daunting especially after a long day of hectic slamming of things into that, “Fast-paced society” that we have to live in?

This is where self-discipline comes in yet for many it is not actually about the level of self-discipline but rather our perceptions as to the context of time-spent doing things. We can experience training time in a compressed fashion that seems fun, enjoyable and most beneficial in all ways or as a drawn out period of time that seems daunting, tiring and just plain not fun. 

How do we get our mind-state or mind-set to balance out our two time clocks so neither seems daunting and tiresome? Dr. Maffetone, in his book, provides examples used for training and experiencing sport like events such as running a marathon, etc., to work toward balancing the two time clocks. 

Note: also, timing comes into play with this as well not to forget the time distortions we can encounter with adrenal flooding in conflicts. It seems interrelated or inter-connected. It also, to my mind, accounts for perceptions as well. All worth considering when creating a training model for self-defense. 

Bibliography:
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000


Breathing and Movement

First, continuous breathing is a must. Holding your breath to accomplish some physical exertion is a no-no. Another very important part of the breathing process is how we breath while we move. An example is when swimming one normally turns the head to the right to take a breath. The experts recommend you actually turn your head to the right on one breath then the left on another breath. This back and forth process balances out your breathing. 

Your breathing to the motion of your body provides many benefits and to fail in this results in bad breathing and adverse effects to the body, mind and chemical balance of the body. When you realize that the whole body physically responds to the breathing process it is easy to come to realize that proper breathing moves the abdominal muscles that keep them strong without actually doing sit-ups and stomach crunches, it provides proper spinal alignments, i.e. spinal flexion and extension. 

In martial arts the connection between how we breath along with the movement of the body also contributes toward maximum efficiency of the body, i.e. as used through the application of the fundamental principles of martial systems. 

The placement of the sub-principle of “Breathing” within the principle of “Physiokinetics” is significant because proper breathing is critical to achieve many of the other sub-principles such as posture, spinal alignment (proper spinal alignments, i.e. spinal flexion and extension), structure and the ability toward relaxation and sequential locking and sequential relaxation, etc. 

One reason why kata practice is significant in Okinawan karate as well as other martial disciplines, it provides a vehicle for proper breathing methods within their movement, rhythm and cadences that all run on the movement and the breathing as synchronized for maximum proficiency and efficiency in martial applications. Add this to bunkai, etc. then you begin to see the significance in principles based training and practice. 

Bibliography:

Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000

As for Combat, Fighting, and Self-Defense: Interchangeable Terms? Or are they?

First, combat and combatives are more in line with the military system of hand-to-hand. Where I come into an issue is the actual “New” combative martial arts instituted within the military, i.e. with my focus toward MCMAP, they seem to have adopted the more sportive aspects rather than true combatives that most can get through the more ancient videos of the older WWII era military teachings. Regardless, the effort “Should” be about those skills necessary to “Kill the enemy.” Even so, because of all the political and civilian pressures due to ignorance to war our military are stlll handicapped by “Rules” that non-combatants and nonmilitary bleeding heart type civilians don’t, won’t and never will fully understand the need for separation of combat from politics and civilian influences. Still, combatives are about military hand-to-hand killing goals.

Second, Fighting is just that, fighting. Look at it as social type violence or what I sometimes refer to as “School Yard Scuffles.” It is that stomping, yelling, spitting and finally the over handed round about punch or the bumping of chests to fist-t-cuffs social type stuff and sometimes the out and out blitz attacks one might have to encounter when the monkey dance begins. This is not about predatory stuff as those often can be about you getting put into the hospital or funeral home by doing inappropriate actions exposing you to violence. 

CAVEAT: Fighting is also a part of the realm of self-defense. Yes, it is, but only when you leave the self-defense square/circle and end up fighting. Know this, “FIGHTING IS ILLEGAL!” If you leave and enter into the fighting arena you are breaking the law. Well, when I say this sometimes others will say, “What about tournaments and competitions - that is fighting!” Well, yes it is but it is what they call sanctioned fighting and its allowed by law under controlled circumstances (Emphasis on controlled circumstances mine) BUT when you take it out of those controlled circumstances then it is illegal. Even the fighting or sparring we do in dojo’s are “Controlled circumstances” and allowed. (Note: I often wonder, if sparring gets out of hand and turns into violence would or could that be looked upon by legal systems as illegal thus open to legal actions?)

Self-defense is about combating unwanted violence against you, yourself, your body, etc. It can be about the safety and security of others under certain circumstances but know that those circumstances are very, very narrow. Often, the legal system assumes that you DO NOT HAVE THE DUTY TO ACT in violent situations when it comes to others, etc. The best way to convey the complexities of SD is to read the over four hundred page book (I am working on its study for the third read through as I write) by Marc MacYoung titled, “In the Name of Self-Defense.” 

Note: there are others that should be read and studied if you are about self-defense. Not combatives or fighting but self-defense because combatives and fighting are illegal. 

Finally, where I have issues as stated in this original post is, “ … these terms can actually impact how we conceptualize our opponent and how we subsequently conceptualize our training … “ and I agree wholeheartedly about this because the “Distinction is critical” especially when you begin to articulate what it is you do when accounting for your actions with legal authorities. This is why reading the books for SD practitioners and especially teachers it absolutely “CRITICAL!”

You have to remember that everything you do, say and believe will have affects on your articulations when dealing with legal and civil issues. Even the advertisements to your dojo will be brought up in those situations against your claim of self-defense. What you articulate in posts like these also will be exposed to legal scrutiny and used as well. The killer death techniques taught in your training will also be exposed so it warrants careful consideration when you write, speak and act both in life and in the training hall. 

Bibliography:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.

Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997

Diaphragm and Stomach = Breathing

Often, in martial practice I am asked how to breath properly. I often answer with, “It depends.” So today, I am going to lay out the very fundamentals of breathing. 

First, proper breathing involves many things but the absolute fundamental is that breathing involves the stomach and the diaphragm. There is an important connection between the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles. 

A small fact that the so called six pack stomach is actually a hindrance to achieving a full and comprehensive breath. If the muscles of the stomach is too tight it tends to inhibit the proper functioning of the diaphragm thus affecting adversely the oxygen intake and carbon dioxide removal from the body. 

Like many things, the relationship between the abdominal (stomach) muscles and the diaphragm must be balanced for peak efficiency. If the balance is off it affects the body’s entire structure. This causes issues with the lower back, the neck, the shoulders, and even areas of the hips and the knees. 

One of the important things to remember, “The chest should NOT be a major player during normal breathing. It should expand significantly ONLY during the forced inhalation, and only after the abdominal muscles have relaxed during the breathing process. This usually occurs when a person is working out or when competing or even more important during a conflict/violence where that breathing process can actually assist in controlling such things as the adrenal flooding effects, etc.

A tense stomach is often a result of stress because we all tend to hold our stomachs or abdomens tense. Then there is the image factor where men tend to think that having a belly is wrong and does not look appropriate, i.e. the old adage in gym class to “hold the stomach in and the chest out,” image. 

To check your breathing, sit quietly and focus your mind on your body and the breathing. Hold your hands while standing on the abdomen and lower spine, breath slowly in and out and then visualize how that area where your hands are as a ball you are attempting to fill with air. 

Check you capacity using a simple test, hold your breath and see how long you can, i.e., you should be able to hold your breath for about 50 to 60 seconds. Try training your breathing with the “Straw Test.” This helps you to train your diaphragm, i.e. breath deeply, and slowly, in and out of the straw. You may be able, to start, do this for a few seconds so work your way up, slowly over time, till about a minute or more. Work up to several “Sets” of one minute each, three or four times a week, for up to 8 weeks. 

This is a fundamental way of breathing naturally and normally. It all occurs down around the abdominal area utilizing the diaphragm and stomach/abdominals, not the chest - except in those instances requiring the deeper diaphragmatic breathing. Once you lay this foundation of the fundamentals of breathing then you can expand on that by learning the breathing required for martial disciplines or other Yoga like disciplines for health, fitness and well-being. 

One key basic fundamental that you should add to this mix, is always breath during all movement and exertions. We tend to hold our breath when doing certain actions in the mistaken belief that it gives us more power and strength. It may feel that way but it is not optimal. You should breath in and out continuously with no stops in everything you do especially in martial arts. This is important to remember especially if you end up in a SD situation because continuous diaphragmatic deep rhythmic breathing is going to be your savior along with all those other SD goals, tactics and strategies. If you feel, like when bench pressing heavy weights, a need to hold your breath to get that bar up then you are lifting way to much weight. Proper weight lifting, like martial arts, etc., involve the type of continuous breathing.

Bibliography:
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000.

A Close-In System (Isshinryu)

A bit of mindless meandering here, when I see seminars and demonstrations of martial disciplines and they present that system, like Isshinryu does, as a “Close-in” system I wonder how they define “Close-in?”

Often, in seminars and demo’s along with dojo practices, at least in the Isshinryu system that is my main system of practice, I hear the presentation and then when the actual actions are presented I see something else. Example: a close in system that actually practices kata, kata bunkai, paired kata practice, paired drills, kumite and competitions they all assume kamae, etc. that don’t appear to be “close-in.”

I guess I don’t understand their definitions of close-in fighting, combatives or self-defense references and meaning. For me, close-in means, “When I enter into a physical situation where hands-on become required I move in quickly so that I am within their elbow range. Elbow range or just outside of it means that my body is so close that my hands or fists if projected outward in a strike would extend past their spine. It means my body is so close that I can shift from close-in strikes, elbows especially, and knees especially and I can easily grab, twist and manipulate the others body with mine. 

I am so close-in that I can smell his breath and determine what he had for lunch. I can actually see the blood vessels in his eyes. It is like going in close for a take down but remaining on my feet using my entire body to unbalance his then use my hands, open, and knees, and elbows to end it fast. 

My type of close-in is about jabs, uppercuts, elbows to the ribs and jawline, etc. and that legs and feet are about movement to take me off his center line while maintaining mine so that such moves will unbalance and stop the damage so I can extract myself from the violence and move away safely (to remain as possible within the SD circle/square).

This goes on to the actual over the presentation when bunkai are demonstrated and explained. The distance may be closer than most who rely on the distance so that the legs and feet can be utilized but still not actually what I perceive as “close-in.” 

Admittedly, it took almost twenty plus years for me to realize I was in the same boat. Take for instance when explaining the Isshinryu system the traits that exemplify that system are, i.e. close in fighting for more realistic combative ability, and then we would practice and train for sport oriented competitions that actually put distance between competitors vs. close-in quick and blitz like attacks you could encounter in a street situation requiring self-defense. 

I am not preaching that anything is wrong with how one applies their craft be it close-in or at a competitive or social violence type distancing but the disparity between what is being passed vs. actuality or reality is a very wide chasm between perceptions and reality. 

Lets use the legs for determining close-in as I perceive it. If you can kick your opponent with the ball of your foot when the leg is extended in a front kick with the ball of the foot, you are not close in. Now, if you can end the attack in a SD situation this way and you are using the proper level of force for SD then you are good to go but if not, then you have to work harder and longer, not good. If the only thing you can do adequately with your leg and feet is to raise it up and stomp it down on the shin or instep or top of foot while doing what ever with your hands on the body of the adversary you are not really close-in but you are getting closer in on your adversary. if what you can do with your legs and knee now is knee the thigh area or the groin or even the ribs while smelling his breath and staying “INSIDE” his arms by his elbows with enough distance between your bodies to move hands, elbows, etc. to hit, twist, grab, move, etc. and apply the knees effectively you are “close-in”

Now, is Isshinryu actually a good “close-in” martial system? Yes, it is and it was originally meant to be taught that way and why it shifted into a more distant type of system may never truly be known or understood. All you can do is speculate, i.e. maybe due to misunderstandings by the students in the fifties, the luminaries who brought it to the USA. It may be to adjust it so that higher kicks that seemed to dominate the tournaments in the sixties and seventies and where close-in strikes and kicks were hidden from judges, etc. cause a shift or change, and so on. 

If Isshinryu is in fact a “close-in system” of karate then it means it was meant to move in quickly, very close to the adversary and then apply appropriate techniques and combinations and so on to get-er-done within the SD circle/square. Then that would indicate that all kata would have bunkai that actually related to “close-in” SD or fighting or combatives. It would mean that kumite would also stress that close-in bunkai.

Most of the kicks in Isshinryu would then be such that the stomp kick,the cross kick, the knee and other such techniques would be such that the practitioner would never raise their legs, knees or feet higher than the thigh or midsection and the off balance of said applications would be countered by the ability to grab, hold and manipulate the adversaries body, limbs and head to remain in control much like the Muay Tai fighters grabbing the head while jumping up to knee the opponent, etc.

Maybe the disparity is more about the water down effect of moving karate into the educational system and when taken for the military teachings in the fifties and later adjusted back but still simplified to a more sport oriented model. The answer are in the pudding so to speak so when you hear one thing and see another then it should turn on a light and one should say, “Hmmm, what a minute, something is wrong here.”

I believe it was stated that karate was great concerning body mechanics but when applying them is sparring, fighting, competitions and SD models it loses its ability to be adequate and effective. 

Lets say “close-in” is grappling range but not just grappling but strikes and kicks and such that can be used along with grappling and manipulation techniques, etc. 

Actually, when I practice my kata now I tend to visualize being close-in and it is very apparent that many of the bunkai originally taught to me as Isshinryu are actually ineffective in many ways especially in regard to SD. Try this out, do a search on “close-in fighting” in images and see what you see. It will be apparent that except in those systems like jujutsu, judo, etc. not many pics of karate, kung-fu, etc., actually depict close-in fighting style. 

(Note: notice that even my graphic does not include a really close-in shot because except for grappling, judo and jujutsu, etc. I couldn’t find any real close-in karate snapshots.)

Another bone of contention when one presents the traits of Isshinryu, i.e. the twelve traits unique to Isshinryu, you can see by my post that actually very little of those traits actually apply to the Isshinryu practiced. Read that post HERE.


Click for LARGER View!

Stretching - to stretch or not to stretch?

“ … Not only does stretching NOT warm your body and prepare it for exercise, but it can be harmful.” - The Maffetone Method by Dr. Philip Maffetone

Stretching as to its benefit is very controversial. It is understood that stretching for most who exercise are not necessary for proper warm up and cool down. The only time stretching is necessary is for those disciplines that require a greater range of motion like dancers and apparently martial artists. The critical part here is that stretching requires a substantial commitment to time. It is also said that of the two types of stretching, i.e., ballistic vs. static, that static be used and ballistic be avoided. In addition, professionals, want those who stretch to understand that according to some studies it can be demonstrated that increased flexibility through stretching produces more injuries. 

This brings up the question for martial disciplines that use stretching, is it necessary. My perception is that stretching is not necessary but warming up and cooling down is - regarding health, fitness and the prevention of unnecessary injuries. My perception as to martial disciplines regarding a need for greater range of motion is - it ain’t necessary for self-defense or combatives or even fighting. Most stretching involves, in martial disciplines, higher kicks when in reality as to its realistic applications in SD, etc., is the higher kicks are not necessary or even recommended. 

If one trains properly and one warm’s up and cool’s down properly along with health and fitness levels then injuries are vastly reduced and even when they occur the recuperation and healing time is reduced. In a real SD situation in the only part that leaves physical application will not require one be stretched out to prevent debilitating injuries. Granted, in a violent conflict one does not have time to warm up and cool down properly but all the training will still make for “Muscle memory” so when the body is taxed to that extent the injuries and recovery will be better. 

Isn’t it interesting just how much of what we “Thought” was good exercise actually ends up be detrimental to our fitness and health. One reason I appreciate it when I get recommendations for things to study like the recent recommendation for the book, “The Maffetone Method,” as it has provided “Food for thought” regarding how I train and practice. 

Bibliography:

Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000.

Force Decisions Teaching Self-Defense and so on ...

First, I am not an expert on force decisions. If you wish to study the subject for your self-defense requirements or for teaching self-defense or learning about what SD is before seeking out a training hall for self-defense then read the bibliography. This post is about my perceptions regarding a post I read that had a variety of “Self-Defense techniques” taught in their training hall as self-defense. 

Second, I am making some assumptions about their view of what techniques qualify for their self-defense. I am assuming they either know or do not know about the full spectrum that is self-defense because if they actually know of it as I understand it from my sources (see bibliography) then they would not be using those particular techniques or at least they would be supplementing them with reasons and qualifications as to the necessity for that level of force. 

Third, I am again making an assumption from their quote that what they teach and practice is strictly self-defense and not sport yet they don’t mention any of the legal and moral ramifications along with such things as “Stress adrenal flooding reality based no bullshit training models” because when providing those questionable techniques for SD they are making the assumption that MMA competitions provide all you need, etc. 

Forth, the following quotes, of course, are removed from the entire comment made so they will reflect a specific context in this discussion. The remainder of those comments simply explained their reasoning of that statement or quote.

Before I provide the list of techniques that prompted this post let me say that “There is no ONE method or model of training that will provide you ALL you NEED in SD!” Don’t believe me, then at least read the bibliography (not all inclusive or exhaustive as a list but a very good start) below before you jump up and down proclaiming I am “full of shit.”

The List (my comments are in italics):

disarm people with guns

In reality, if I understand it correctly, anyone who is armed with a gun needs to be handled according to the script because not one of the techniques I have witnessed for gun disarms are actually a realistic self-defense move. Add in that there are many other ways to handle a gun situation then dropping down into your karate or kung fu moves that is all likelihood will get you shot are not recommended. This comment is open ended and made on an assumption that is not from experience or even good research into SD and firearms. Me, I would hope that I could, and I can, avoid situations where I would be confronted by a gun. This subject is like knives, it is often taught as a cool karate move and most of the actual and important stuff you need to know about guns and SD are left out for ease of teaching or from ignorance of the instructor due to a lack of research, relevant training and/or plain old ignorance. Uh Oh, now I am in real trouble!

Practice, practice, practice

The only real comment I can make is, what kind of practice? Just practicing karate moves or any other type of SD physical techniques will not do it. It is the type of teaching method and the type of actual practice and training that will give a person the tools to act when an SD situation rears its ugly head. One aspect that is missing from, my assessment and mine alone, almost every single MA SD course is training and practice involving a “reality based adrenal stress induced flood training.” What most consider adequate flood type reality training is actually sport oriented and thus very limited. I am not saying that type of stress is not beneficial but it is, in my view, incomplete. Then ask, do they practice how to avoid conflict/violence? Do they practice applying levels of force according to situations at any given moment? When you ask such questions you begin to gleam just how much more is necessary to teach, to practice and to apply self-defense.

serious practice and mental participation

I can get under this one but it must be clarified and distinctions made if it is to point to the full, complete and relevant knowledge and experience to actually teach, learn and apply SD in reality. 

realistic attacks

By who’s definition? How does one determine realistic attacks for self-defense along with realistic techniques to combat said attacks? What about social verbal aggression, how does one defend against that when all they learn are physical counter moves that could be interpreted as aggression thereby making you the aggressor meaning you attacked someone vs. you defending yourself from someone. Verbal aggression is violence and an attack so, “How do you teach that and what are the techniques (not necessarily physical applications, etc.) you will teach and they will use to handle that situation. Remember realistic attacks are not standing back, bobbing and weaving and then striking out at a safe distance as many attacks are a surprise or at least telegraphed before hand and they tend to be either socially driven over hand large punches, etc. to those more violent very close in aggressive blitz like attacks that come out of nowhere type attacks. 

studying what the actual common attacks are, and simulating those (HAOV), you're not really training for self-defense

There are no common attacks as this implies, i.e. this guy will do this punch and you will block and counter attack with this punch, etc. Yes, there are common things that will happen, scripts if you will, that are learnable but as to actual physical attacks as common, not so much. You can view indicators that will “tell” you that something is amiss and most times if you don’t slide into your monkey brain you will be able to see them but again to lump them under “Common Attacks” might be a bit convenient yet not realistic. 

I'm quick to recommend something like boxing, Muay Thai, or Judo to someone when they ask about self-defense is that those systems pressure-test common attacks every night (straights, hooks, clinched knees, side headlocks, etc).

I agree that boxing, Muay Thai and/or Judo will provide you many things that are useful for self-defense but where I draw the line here is that since they are sport oriented that they are not truly providing “pressure-testing toward common attacks.” Granted straights, hooks, clenched knees, etc. may be relevent toward SD provided they are actually proper levels of force applied to that given situation but to make them a blanket “will work because of” statement is not good. Everything is of value. Some will say that karate is absolutely great for body mechanics, i.e., physiokinetics, etc., but most karate dojo don’t teach their system where it matters for SD due to such influences like sport orientations. 

All the disciplines you listed we IMHO sportive as they have rule sets attached.. However they would all be deemed more than capable in a self defence scenario... we can't pressure test them fully as they are clearly too dangerous

This statement is ludicrous as it implies that simply knowing that something will translate to the wold of SD in conflicts/violence makes it so. That is not true. Yes, they have aspects that will be beneficial toward SD but as to the how and how one gets them there is outside the implied teachings in the MA disciplines. This clearly too dangerous maxim is a convenient explanation to push away the fact that there is missing information and knowledge about SD and MA as an SD tool. it is convenient because to say this is to imply that what is said is factual when in reality it is merely a deflection away from having to answer the question with, “I don’t know.”  It is also a matter of contest that one can pressure test them fully, pressure test how and with what? Is the pressure testing involving reality based stress adrenal flooding with no bullshit training and how that is defined as well? It just plain ain’t that simple guys.

something as simple as having a guy gear up in a Bulletman suit and have him act as uke is actually really, really close to reality, compared to going through motions but not making contact or following through.

Yes, the bulletman suit is a good tool but even so if it is used incorrectly then it is just a tool like the heavy bag. You can beat on the heavy bag or the makiwara all day long for years and years yet find that your perceived ability will most likely not even trigger what technique you used on the bag and makiwara toward your adversary. Having a bulletman suit is not reality yet it can and often is used by professionals who actually teach reality based no bullshit self-defense, etc. There, once again, are missing components to this statement and one should not assume that they are there when on the training hall floor. 

a man that is physically very fit and trains hard and competes In a system that will keep him safe against 90% of the worlds nasties

Really, I don’t get this statement at all without making a lot of assumptions. What system are they talking about? Is it a reality based no bullshit adrenal stress flood induced type training with reality based situations, etc.? How can anyone state that it will provide “90%: protection against the worlds nasties, who and what are the nasties? Are they your friends at a bar who drank to much and got roudy enough to take a swing at you or are they a process predator who has staked you out for an ambush because you are drunk and walking home in the dark on a street where no one else is present or aware that you are a target when you get blitzed up side your head, etc.?

an application that involves the snapping of a neck or the striking of a throat (just of the top on my head) groin strikes, eye gouges..

Ok, this guy professed with the strongest of words that he was strictly a self-defense oriented martial discipline and that his training and practice is all about SD and SD only. Yet, he teaches and practices “snapping the neck” as a good and relevant application of SD. lets look directly at the "an application that involves the snapping of a neck or the striking of a throat (just of the top on my head) groin strikes, eye gouges." The snapping of a neck, ILLEGAL. The striking of the throat, depending on the situation and the JAM you are working under it could be perceived by the authorities as too aggressive and unnecessary leading toward legal difficulties. If it resulted in death then they will look at your level of force and its necessity according to the actual situation you are in. In a nutshell it will most likely take you to court and possibly to jail. The groin strikes depending on your JAM level may be viewed as ok but the eye gouges also depend heavily on your JAM and the level of force society and the law allows as necessary for SD. Remember, if you claim SD you are admitting to breaking the law but for reasons acceptable under the law in your area which means they will break out the microscope and nit pick speculate and try their hardest to show it was not necessary. Along with that those who sit in the legal system as well as society as a whole look to eye gouges as very aggressive and you will have a very difficult time convincing the legal system and the jurors that it was "necessary force." Just saying, …. and this is off the top of my head and I would recommend reading "In the Name of Self-Defense" by Marc MacYoung to get a real grip on the SD thing if you are serous about being a SD MA.

You can cover most of those areas in protective equipment. You can simulate eye and throat strikes against a mannequin head that someone is holding and moving around like a striking pad. Anything that "snaps" the neck can be trained as a neck crank that is applied at moderate speed until the tap

Ok, simply read the last entry as this simply validates that the individual was taught and still believes that if he is attacked and he applies the eye gouge or the throat strike or worst of all “snap the neck” techniques he is home free, it was self-defense officer. A good clue is that the last thing stated was “until the tap.” I guess if the adversary is having his neck snapped all he has to do under the adrenal flood effects is “simply tap out.” 

I have found that the best way to train based on my limited experience with violence is the prearranged kumite at full power and Kata.

Well, here again is the missing components such as the adrenal stress flood with relevant situations type training. Just participating in dojo kumite, not reality training, and applying full power in kumite and/or kata, not reality training and so on, will get the job done. This person really does need to read the bibliography. 

we could all work in a system that has (sportive) techniques and still be "fairly sure they would work"

The only way to address this is, “Do you really want to depend on being FAIRLY SURE it will work” when you are under attack by some really big violent process or resource predator, etc.?

So, that is all I can say about the quotes in a terse written form. Again, you gotta get the idea that what is taught as SD today may not be truly SD. Knowledge is power and to begin gaining that power can be achieved by reading the following:

Bibliography:
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette Haden, Ph.D. "More on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense." Prentice Hall. New Jersey. 1983.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1995
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997

About Kata

In a recent question posed at the Ryukyu Martial Arts FB Wall about kata I posed or suggested that the question was limited in nature and did not provide a true picture of what folks should be looking to in the practice of kata. These are my thoughts and are also very limited simply because the art of kata, like the art of self-defense provided in Marc MacYoung’s book “In the Name of Self-Defense,” is not that simple to explain in the written word. Even so, there are books upon books on this subject worth studying to gain a true understanding of what kata is and why it is an intricate part of the martial disciplines. 

Bibliography:
DeMente, Boye Lafayette. "Kata: The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the Japanese." Tuttle. Vermont. 2003.
Tokitsu, Kenji. "The Katas Meaning behind the Movements." Shambhala. Boston & London.
Kane, Lawrence A. and Wilder, Chris. "The Way of Kata: A Comprehensive Guide for Deciphering Martial Applications." YMAA. New York. 2005.
Wilder, Kris. "The Way of Sanchin Kata: The Application of Power." YMAA Publication. New York. 2007.

Here is my comment on this persons questions:

Hi, Liam Renish: Nice question. It is not that easy to answer by written word. It is not a matter of “going as hard as possible,” or to “Leave it all on the mat to the point of exhaustion.” These are way limited and don’t really give a full picture of the kata.

First, kata are simply a string of techniques that were supposedly created by the ancients to convey fighting ability to students that may not have experienced fighting or combat. They were talented enough to create the kata in a form that flowed with cadence, rhythm and purpose - at least as they were passed down they were slowly changed to reflect what is studied today.

Second, most of the kata westerners learned were not the originals but rather the watered down versions created in the very early 1900’s for the educational systems, i.e. for children or young adults. 

Third, although today’s martial artists are steadily studying and converting today’s modern kata back to what they use to be when Okinawan karate was called either “Ti” or “Toudi” where each kata also conveyed specifics that promoted principles as one practiced. This means that the kata and its string of techniques contain certain applications BUT that is not all inclusive as those bunkai change according to the particular training context as practice and training continue over time.

It is about certain principles as applied holistically as one practices kata solely then in paired practice, i.e., Uke and Tori models. Underlying each applied application according to the training situation requires certain things such as void or a certain cadence that would apply a certain type of power application also governed by the training situation. 

Take a look at the following principles that underly every aspect of martial disciplines and then consider that when practicing kata, any kata, or combinations, etc., that each and every single principle is applied to maximize that particular application of technique and/or combinations according to any given training situation, that is always fluid in nature, to “get-er-done.” 

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

PRINCIPLE TWO: PHYSIOKINETIC PRINCIPLES (Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, ???)

PRINCIPLE THREE: PRINCIPLES OF TECHNIQUE (techniques vs. technique, equal rights, compliment, economical motion, active movement, positioning, angling, leading control, complex force, indirect pressure, live energy and dead energy, torsion and pinning, speed, timing, rhythm, balance, reactive control, natural and unnatural motion, weak link, non-telegraphing, extension and penetration, Uke.)

PRINCIPLE FOUR: PRINCIPLES OF PHILOSOPHY (Mind, mushin, kime, non-intention, yin-hang, oneness, zanshin and being, non-action, character, the empty cup.)

Principle’s One through Four: 
Pearlman, Steven J. "The Book of Martial Power." Overlook Press. N.Y. 2006.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: PRINCIPLES OF SELF-DEFENSE (“Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence (Social and Asocial), Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Predator process and predator resource, Force levels, Repercussions (medical, legal, civil, personal), Go-NoGo, Win-Loss Ratio, etc. (still working on the core sub-principles for this one)”Attitude, Socio-emotional, Diplomacy, Speed [get-er done fast], Redirected aggression,  )

Principle Five: 
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979.


So, in closing, kata is not about going as hard as possible (although as an exercise that may be just “one way” to use your kata) or to the point of exhaustion (actually, it is counter productive to go that far at least on a regular basis but once in a while may be ok as another “way” to do kata but that is not the all of kata) as that is not the true purpose of kata. Look at kata as a blueprint of what you need to do and an intricate part of basics in martial disciplines for there is much, much more to it than that.

Traditional Karate, Really?

Westerners tend to “Think” they are training and practicing a “Traditional/Classical” martial art but are they? Lets narrow it down to the Okinawan system of karate, or Ti (pronounced Tee). Today’s Okinawan karate has many aspects that are not original to the Okinawan indigenous form of “Ti.” 

First, the Okinawan’s have embraced many of the aspects now in karate from the Japanese changes in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, i.e. the dan-i system, the karate uniform as adopted from the Judo uniforms, etc. The language is also a part of Okinawa now, i.e. Japanese over Uchinaguchi/Hogen dialects and the form and function of karate has been expanded using the “Educational Versions” instituted for the betterment of the Japanese efforts up to and into World War II. 

So, just how much of the Okinawan karate is actually Okinawan karate. It seems to me more of a blend of Japanese, Chinese and Okinawan influences than Okinawan in a traditional way regarding the actual cultural societal influences before the 1500’s or so. 

When you look to today’s Okinawan karate community you begin to see influences from the westerners who were stationed there in the fifties, sixties and all the way up to today. I would venture to say that many of those influences are actually indicative of today’s Okinawan karate and that the only thing that Okinawa can claim exclusively is the birth of karate, while actually given credit to Funakoshi Sensei while in Japan, provided the framework that led to modern karate whether it be Japanese, Okinawan, Western or European. 

I understand Okinawa wanting to get credit for and become the father of modern karate as they well should since karate, even seen in its many forms and functions today, is actually the grandchild of the Okinawan empty handed Ti. It kind of ends there when you begin to understand all the influences especially in the 1600’s and finally at the end of the 1800’s and on into the early 1900’s. 

True karate from its source of Ti disappeared, mostly, when it was implemented through the water down effort to the educational version meant for young children, due to the devastation of the World War. All attempts today to regain the true essence of “TI” are from the base of the educational karate since most, if not all, Ti masters died during the war or just before as they aged. 


In a nutshell, from my perceptions and perspective, true Okinawan Traditional karate does not exist. It is a combination of many influences starting with China, the Japan as well as other Asian influences including Korea. It seems that the empty handed martial arts of the area, Asia, are a collection of many systems to individual cultural systems of the receiving country or nation or society or culture, i.e. Japan, Okinawa, Korea, China, etc. It is a bit like the good ole USA, we are unique in our own way but are we not truly a mixture of many cultures and belief systems that make us what we are? 

Dojo’s, Styles and Systems are just Tribal

“In tribal societies make-up plays an important role in establishing the status of the individual within the community, and gives him a cultural ‘badge.’ It true protection is it affords the person that they are of that groups membership.” 

This quote once again suggests that our pension toward martial arts as to clothing, i.e. karate uniforms and in particular the belts, being subconsciously perceived as “badge” to indicate status within the group and most important group membership. This all falls back on our instinctual survival needs, i.e. survival depends and depended heavily on tribe’s or groups today. 

It seems logical that our search for groups to belong to closely relates to how we would identify ourselves as individuals, with a critical component for survival, and our identity with a group, within a group as to hierarchy, status, etc.  

When I think of today’s martial arts with the unique names given to styles or systems, the associated groups as identified through dojo affiliations, and the larger inter-connected associations through associations (the word ‘association’ is actually significant for group identity and identifiers).

If this were not so, today’s karate would be still under the name of “Ti” and all styles, systems and other affiliations would not exist, not be necessary and not be sought after so strongly or defended so strongly against all “Others/Outsiders.” 

Everything we look for and accept is about this type of social group tribal survival protection power achieving dominant/subservient model that makes up the dojo and all its relations and inter-relational makeup (pun intended).

Bibliography:

Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979

Chambering the Fist in Karate (Isshinryu)

In Isshinryu, the chambering of the fist is considered a very important application of fist strikes, punches or thrusts. In reality that particular way of using the fists and arms violates the fundamental principles of martial systems. In other words, although this positioning is considered “Offensively Powerful” it is not “Defensively Sound.” 

The chambered fist relies heavily on hip-waist-torso movement and the distance it travels to build momentum. Granted, if one applies such a technique along with other principles it does achieve a certain power but as to defense in reality, not so much. I have a few theories why this is so and why it is used in karate.

First, it is a novice teaching tool. It is designed to teach exactly what is being violated. It teaches us about the structure of the shoulder, arm as upper-lower-hinge joints-wrists, etc. along with the structure and alignment of the body as it relates to the Earth, the legs, the knees-hips-torso and so on. When you add in such things it does produce power but ….

The chambering requirement is not efficient in defense. It takes time to travel from that hip up to the target. Granted, when coupled with a lot of the principles along with the power generation produced through proper application of said principles it simply produces a “Tell” along with a “Tell from observation of attack hubs” that is just too much time for an adversary to take advantage. 

When you begin to consider the nature of a true attack be it social or even asocial in nature (with all that goes with those two terms) you just don’t have time to use such a technique. 

It is an excellent tool to teach about things like physiokinetics and techniques but when the concepts and principles are learned then it is time to actually implement proper application of techniques using the principles to maximize it use for defensive situations. 

It is about using a better positioning of the arms and hands for defense. You can produce all the required and optimum power necessary by holding the arms and hands in a “Defensively Sound” position than chambering at the hips. At this position, held up and out/extended with hands, arms, etc. covering the upper torso, neck and head in a bladed position, attack position, where it can be applied after providing a defensive guard with power and speed and simplicity and natural action and reflexive action and centeredness and triangle guard, and structure and all the principles as taught, supposed to be taught anyway, in martial applications for defense. 

See Marc MacYoung’s book, “Taking It to the Street: Making Your Martial Art Street Effective.” See page 120/121 for the “Wedge” for a view of how this applicable defensive posture is formed, looks and applied. The wedge deflects incoming force, see page 123/4. 

Remember, a self-defense situation, if it goes physical, requires close in fast application of defense in about three moves or so to properly defend and stop an attack while maintaining the integrity of the SD Circle/Square. 


Small Circle Jujitsu or Judo

Just wondering if any of the folks reading this blog have experienced training in “Small Circle Jujitsu” as developed by Wally Jay? I have decided I need to supplement my training and practice with something that will provide locks and throws that will allow me to apply same in a SD situation. 

Any comments, feelings, etc. toward this martial system? The following are the instructors at the local training hall. 

Head Instructor: Professor Lee Eichelberger
                          Judan - Tenth Degree Black Belt               Kodenkan (Danzan Ryu) Jujitsu
                          Judan - Tenth Degree Black Belt              Small Circle Jujitsu
Asst Instructors: Professor Janice Okamoto
                           Hachidan– Eighth Degree Black Belt        Kodenkan (Danzan Ryu) Jujitsu
                           Shichidan– Seventh Degree Black Belt     Small Circle Jujitsu
                           Sensei Dennis Dias
                           Yodan– Fourth Degree Black Belt             Kodenkan (Danzan Ryu) Jujitsu


Also, I am considering Judo, what are your thoughts and feelings on both? Either one as a preferred primary? I am looking to expand my base from the striking art of karate. 

The Fifth Principle

This immediately reminded me of the movie, “The Fifth Element.” It made me think that in the movie there were four elements similar to those from the ancient Chinese, i.e. Earth, Water, Metal, Fire, and wood, etc. (Yes, there are five elements but the fifth there is also pivotal, i.e., one is depicted in the middle.)

Here I am also considering, in the creation of the fifth major principle of the fundamental principles of martial arts, a fifth principle that is pivotal to teaching martial arts or any such art as a means of self-defense. I am looking at MA-SD in particular especially since most, if not all, MA’s teachers are claiming their system teaches self-defense.

I understand why all MA teachers declare their system as a self-defense system. After all, martial arts are all based on the physical application of techniques against an adversary. It does not matter whether it is an attacker on our streets, a predator seeking either a process as an end goal or a resource as your money into his pocket, or a social fight in a club over a football game, all of them profess they teach a complete and comprehensive system that will defend against conflict and violence. 

This is just not true. So, in that light I added in the fifth principle as a balance point between a way vs. a process of protection that remains within the acceptable tolerances laid down by law, society and spirit. The following is a revised set of sub-principles for the fifth principle of the fundamental principles of martial systems with emphasis toward self-defense. 

PRINCIPLE FIVE: PRINCIPLES OF SELF-DEFENSE (“Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence (Social and Asocial), Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Predator process and predator resource, Force levels, Repercussions (medical, legal, civil, personal), Go-NoGo, Win-Loss Ratio, … The following are the required sources to define, discuss and expand on the sub-principles. These are the minimum to provide substance and validation toward a more full understanding that go way beyond a blog post such as this.

Principle Five Bibliography: 
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Goleman, Daniel. "Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]." Bantam. January 11, 2012.
Miller, Rory. "ConCom: Conflict Communications A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication." Amazon Digital Services, Inc. 2014. 
Miller, Rory and Kane, Lawrence A. "Scaling Force: Dynamic Decision-making under Threat of Violence." YMAA Publisher. New Hampshire. 2012
Miller, Rory. "Force Decisions: A Citizen's Guide." YMAA Publications. NH. 2012.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Morris, Desmond. “Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behavior.” Harry N. Abrams. April 1979. 

Caveat: I am still working on this so expect changes as I progress. Also, consider that in order to accept them and make them your own you, YOU, will have to vet them through the training hall with sweat, pain, blood and tears with a smidgeon of fun and laughter interspersed through out your efforts. 

The core or corner stone of “ALL MARTIAL SYSTEMS” is about defense, fighting and combatives. Fighting and combatives are not relevant in today’s modern applications because they are both “Illegal.” You cannot use them in self-defense and that is where almost all MA’s are applied today. Adding in the “Fifth Principle” allows a fundamental core that benefits the teachings of martial arts. It expands on the use of the other four. It governs or balances out the mind-state/set toward a more balanced martial system. It could be excluded like at least two or three out of the original four but then you would have a partial rather than a whole, is that the true goal of learning a discipline and system?


Isshinryu and Self-Defense

I am going to piss off a lot of Isshinryu’ist with this post. I am going to literally undermine their belief system about Isshinryu. It is important to “KNOW” that this is not a blanket statement about Isshinryu but rather a personal perspective as to my personal perception as it came to be from the training I received from the Instructors I trained under. It is going to be about a belief system based on assumptions and misinterpretations over these many years. The reason I am saying it will piss off a lot is because they will immediately jump to the Monkey brain side and assume I am talking about their Isshinryu, not true. This is about my Isshinryu and my perceptions from my Isshinryu cultural belief system. Sound confusing, maybe it will become clear as I write. Oh, if you stick with me on this then thanks and congrats for working toward an open mind. 

First, my original reasons for taking on a martial art was because I grew up as a slight person up to around the age of fifteen. Because I was small and an introvert I believe that made me an easy target. 

Second, because of my introversion and pension for being a loner along with my being such an easy target I endured some socially driven status type dominant type focus from others especially the football team who thought I made a good football. I, naturally, looked for some way to handle this type of stuff but, HONESTLY, I had no role model to follow. My father was, to my mind, useless. My older brothers, one who was just too busy with his life with a larger span of years separating us was a good guy but didn’t fall into that big-brother type role model. Nothing I could identify with and often both he and my next older brother, especially the next older brother, were more an obstacle than a mentor or guide or role models. 

As to the next older, I endured things like his testing to see how easy it was to break someone’s jaw to chasing me off the baseball field with a bat type thing. I actually think about it and was on the receiving end of his abuse more than almost all my other encounters, those few I have written about before, as a whole. At least it feels that way. 

Third, and the point here, is that all this along with “No role models,” led me to finding my own way and, as many have probably done at my age level, my first idea was created by exposure to “Bruce Lee movies.” So, on my own I sought out trying to find a way to learn. No martial arts in my area so I went to the gym to learn boxing. Then later, I tried to learn MA from books. Yadda, yadda yadda the same ole story many marital artists from my era have told as it seems that being bullied and other such drivel tends to be the defacto story of MA practitioners. Maybe it is true for all of us and maybe not.

I am digressing. Back on topic. Needless to say that without a good role model and no roles I could find with those in my neighborhood who stood out as “Tough guys,” as my only sources I almost, almost, ended up on the criminal side of life and yet something, something innate within me, resulted in my making the decision that maybe I needed a different role model. Jack Webb, The DI, Jan Michael Vincent, Tribes and finally First Sergeant Jeff Yates, Marine Corps Recruiter led me to joining the Marines. 

I was exposed to many sources of handling conflict and violence but here is where I get back on track with the topic, those lessons on handling conflict and violence were NOT about Self-Defense. They were more about fighting and interspersed with what was thought of at that time as combatives. You know if you did military time, the hand-to-hand, at that time, was in sufficient to get the job done so as a good Marine who wanted to be prepared for any eventuality, especially if I was going to be sent (I wasn’t sent tho) to Viet Nam. Note that a lot of my exposure to conflict and violence in the first four years of serving actually came from other Marines in the Barracks and at Liberty. We lived in open bay type barracks and the social times split those area’s into sub areas or tribes of culturally and belief different groups. 

Anyway, in 1976 I was also exposed to Judo and a form of Karate from Hawaii. Neither of these were about SD but rather how to be an aggressive fighter and as most today are finding, that ain’t the way to true Self-defense.

Ok, enough background as I may be entering into the world of, “Hey dude, get to the point will you.” Well, in 1976 karate became a focal point for me. The Samoan who worked with me using me more as a punching bag opened my eyes to many things including getting hit and getting hurt. When I was finally sent overseas, to Okinawa, I was primed for something a bit more structured so I could learn, practice and train.

Fourth, I was stationed at Camp Hansen, Truck Company, located just inside the Camp Hansen main gate across the street from Kin Village. I was informed that this, Okinawa, was the place to learn karate. This is where fate, luck, and good karma came my way as the last three years were difficult in many ways (think big city and working the projects as a Marine recruiter), came my way in the form of a fresh First Sergeant arriving about a week after my arrival. FS Warner Dean Henry as our company First Sergeant came to me to see if they had a karate dojo on base. When he found the Hansen gym had none he told me he would start a dojo teaching Isshinryu. Yea for me, I was his first student and that was the beginning of a long history of friendship, mentorship and study of Isshinryu.

Isshinryu and Self-defense, I was taught that Isshinryu was the “Perfect self-defense system,” as well as a perfect combative system to supplement any training the Marines provide in hand-to-hand combat. Not really true. Let me explain.

First, again, only because of my exposure over the last decade has it become apparent that a lot, mostly, of what is taught as self-defense is not self-defense. The physical teaching called self-defense was actually about combatives in the form of Physical techniques that are aggressive and geared to, as they often said in the training, take your adversary or attacker out. Even then, what was taught, as I am becoming more aware of today, what was taught was more in line with mostly social conflicts with the monkey dances, etc. against opponents less trained and often geared heavily toward a more competitive form of application, not self-defense even if they spouted off that it was the best SD in the world. 

Second, again, although my sensei actually took our sparring sessions more toward close in-fighting scenario’s it was still geared overall as a sport or educationally geared format or model and that is not all inclusive toward a SD world. We had a lot of fun, we scrapped and hit hard and got hurt and really worked toward a SD but did not get there.

Third, again, Isshinryu had everything we needed to become good at self-defense but it came with obstacles and handicaps. The only reason even a little of it became good regarding self-defense is because Henry Sensei, having tested his skills in bar brawls, fights on the streets and some hand-to-hand in Viet Nam provided some of his insights to his sparring sessions. That was luck, to a degree, on my part.

As to Isshinryu it was taught to Henry Sensei, and thus to me, didn’t contain the skills or techniques relevant to close in-fighting for self-defense and didn’t even translate, as bunkai, to application of adequate techniques that would “Work,” in a type of encounters that would span the entire spectrum of violence under the heading of applying SD, etc. It never applied truly relevant violence in a way that could be countered by the techniques within the system because I find that as it was taught it was the “Educationally watered down system” as applied to the Okinawa and Japanese school systems. 

Granted, as to various fundamental principles, of which I could not actually name because in that time explanations were deferred and we were expected to assimilate it by hands-on practice and training, underlying Isshinryu we still learned a great deal about what is often called “Body mechanics” , etc., and that is always good but the caveat here is when taught to apply them we were taught the wrong applications. 

Take a look at physiokinetics for the principles taught. We were left to create our own bunkai, so to speak, for SD when our mind-set/state was not actually SD oriented. 

Granted, as Marines we were actually more inclined to learn what would be considered combatives by today’s descriptions but actually would they have been good toward hand-to-hand in combat. Since I didn’t serve in combat and didn’t have to apply what was taught in combat I cannot say for sure yet Henry told me that he used his knowledge a few times but those encounters were not against combatants in Viet Nam but encounters with attackers while on leave in the local villages, etc. In other words more of a social nature with many having the type of “Perceived Intent” to kill over just as either a process or resource goal. 

In a nutshell, Isshinryu has the potential, with adequate changes, to achieve a goal of self-defense. Because of its original creation as a close in type system as explained by its core traits it is a great close in system and many of the things one needs for SD are there to use with one issue of a magnitude of huge proportions, it is not taught that way. 

Finally, another huge issue is Isshinryu is not taught completely in regard to the five principles of martial systems, i.e. it is missing the principles that make any system effective in SD. It is and still is missing that one principle that I added to the fundamentals, the principles of self-defense, i.e. “Conflict communications; Emotional Intelligence; Lines/square/circle of SD, Three brains (human, monkey, lizard), JAM/AOJ and five stages, Adrenal stress (stress induced reality based), Violence, Pre-Attack indicators, Weapons, Social and Asocial, Predator process and predator resource, Social Violence, Force levels, etc. (still working on the core sub-principles for this one)”

Isshinryu is a great traditional form of karate. Isshinryu is NOT a self-defense system as it is taught today. Isshinryu DOES have the potential for being a great SD system as far as the striking aspects are concerned. Isshinryu is a great system to incorporate all those other forms necessary to round of the system toward a more complete and comprehensive MA for Self-Defense. It has one psychological obstacle that must be overcome to achieve this goal, the mind-lock toward the belief that the system MUST remain original and intact with the creators original forms taught so many years ago, i.e. late fifties and early sixties. If Isshinryu’ists can remove the blinders created from such mundane and obsolete beliefs, create more open mindedness and “See” within the system and “Change” that system toward its actual roots from the Okinawan ancient practice of Ti they can find all the necessary components for self-defense. 

One of the reasons I have decided to drop the name of Isshinryu in my personal practice is because I am, slowly, changing my perceptions and mind-state/set toward those things I feel will be beneficial toward utilization as a SD-MA are being done. It is still Isshinryu and still the essence behind my efforts but to achieve a SD posture it has to change. 

For me, for my practice and for my efforts trough the art of writing I am trying to convey the ideologies, theories and results of my efforts so that others can contemplate, consider and vet out for themselves such things that will, hopefully, result in changes that will teach their students the full, complete and comprehensive martial art of self-defense. 

Bibliography:

Note: This is not comprehensive simply because I was not tracking my sources until someone was kind enough to point out its importance. I started to gather the list so that others would realize that although it may sound as if I am the all wise martial artists and MA philosopher it is actually a compilation of other sources along with my own thoughts, ideas, theories, and knowledge

I apologize to those who came before me if I have forgotten you and your material, which has contributed to my search for knowledge, and hope that if you recognize something and don't see your sources properly acknowledged you will let me know with kindness and understanding.

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