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

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

Please take a look at my Notable Quotes

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

I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books. Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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

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

Search This Blog


Muscles that Twitch: Karate

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

There are two types of muscle “Fibers” that are termed, “Fast twitch (Type II Fibers) and slow twitch (Type I Fibers).” Fast twitch contract quickly but tire rapidly while slow twitch contract slowly and keep going for a long time. 

If a person is looking for endurance or speed they may want to focus on the slow twitch muscles development because endurance allows them to go a longer time without tiring out and succumbing to the effects of fatigue. 

If you need speed for rapid-movements where the muscles must contract swiftly you work on the development of the fast-twitch muscles. There are two repercussions involved in the use of fast-twitch muscles, i.e., you get tired fast and you consume a lot of energy.

According to the source I used for this article, the BBC Science section on the human body and mind they state, Most of your muscles are made up of a mixture of both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers. But, your soleus muscle in your lower leg and muscles in your back involved in maintaining posture contain mainly slow twitch muscle fibers. And muscles that move your eyes are made up of fast twitch muscle fibers.”

Keep in mind that alone these terms and their development for karate and martial arts also depend and are connected to other factors necessary to make it all work, i.e., slow twitch muscle fibers contain a lot of blood vessels and rely on a need for rich supply of oxygenated blood (think of your deep diaphragmatic breathing methods, etc.) and don’t forget they also use up oxygen to produce energy for the muscle contractions. The fast-twitch muscle fibers don’t use as much oxygen to make energy so the need for a richer blood supply is less. The fast-twitch muscle fibers produce smaller amounts of energy very fast where slow-twitch muscles produce larger amounts of energy more slowly. 

Anyone with any experience and understanding in karate and martial arts for sport, combatives, fighting or self-defense can already see the value of muscle fibers for fast and slow twitch. In essence it would be optimal to have a balanced set of fibers to achieve speed when needed then the slow plodding type of slow that does not need speed to be effective. That is not how our bodies work. 

We, apparently but in need of further research and validation from medical sciences, are endowed with certain proportions of fast and slow twitch muscles. Some of us are actually born with a 50/50 split of fast vs. slow twitch. Your muscles as to fiber composition come from your genetics so the 50/50 may be a good general rule but is actually not set in stone. As individual humans that setting will be dictated by genetics and possibly other factors such as health and fitness with programs toward enhancing both that may effect the ratio’s.

It comes down to genetics along with your attitude and determination when training and practicing in programs meant to develop one type of fiber over the other. There are exercises that actually develop fast twitch muscles as there are exercises that develop slow twitch muscles. I tend to think anaerobic vs. aerobic types of exercise. 

Slow Twitch Example: Exercises that feature sustained isometric contractions with little-to-no joint movement keep the slow-twitch muscle fibers under contraction for an extended period of time. This can help improve their ability to utilize oxygen to produce energy. Examples include the front plank, the side plank and the single-leg balance.

Fast Twitch Example: Performing explosive, power-based movements, whether it is with a barbell, kettle-bell, medicine ball or simply your own body weight, will recruit greater levels of fast-twitch fibers.

In karate and martial arts practitioners often focus on how to develop and use speed but a more robust focus should be on what muscle fiber is needed to apply the methodology necessary to defend in any given situation. Some methods may do better with the slow-twitch developed muscle fiber while other methods the fast-twitch.

Bibliography (Click the link)

KATA: about certain movements

Some questions about certain movements exhibited, performed or demonstrated in kata:

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

(Note: This exercise is not to say the author of a post that inspired them is either wrong or right, good or bad or even the subject of this post, but this exercise is one to achieve a better understanding as to what may or may not have been the intent in the post and to help me come to terms with my thoughts on the concepts used and posed in the article for one specific goal - for me to understand the efforts of other karate-ka and martial artists. [my comments, thoughts, ideas, theories and beliefs will follow each question in the brackets])
  1. What is a “Kata Exhibition?” [Not assuming I understand or even know what the author meant by using the term exhibition but to me to exhibit something means to present it as a performance and performance connects me to a more competitive sport oriented way where my kata is meant to teach me things usable and effective in self-defense.]
  2. What does it mean to be “Dazzling and Impressive” in kata movement? [Seems like expressions meant to dramatize the performance or exhibition toward some agenda that may or may not fit my views of karate and martial arts as means to defend and protect against conflict and violence. In my belief system it does not equate self-defense. My goal is not to dazzle someone nor impress them as to my ability but to achieve my self-defense goals; it is also about achieving my self-improvement goals as to philosophy of karate in every day existence where dazzling or impressing others is of an egoistic nature.]
  3. How does slow movement develop “Muchimi?” [Movement in muchimi is about using what is termed as “Sticky hand” so each practitioner can learn to feel tactilely how the body moves so they can lean how to control the adversary’s movement while apply appropriate methodologies in that control toward a goal in defense. It is about feeling the various contact points one can make in any given situation where one is close enough to touch and feel the adversary’s body; to achieve a sensitivity that will “tell or convey or transmit” a type of energy through movement that transmits the path the adversary is taking or most important the movement of any methodology he may or might use against us in the attack. The movement for a beginner is slow but that is only to start so movement in general is more apropos to learning, discovery, learning then applying tactile tactics and strategies to combat multiple attack methodologies while applying appropriate principled based multiple methodologies of defense to reach self-defense goals.]
  4. Does it truly develop awareness and conscious engagement of stabilizer muscles and how does that effect practice, training and most important applications in self-defense? [awareness of muscles comes from training our tactile senses, the sense of touch especially when an attacker gets in very close to pummel you, disrupt your structure and destroy your balance in an attack. According the Medline Plus, the NIH or National Library of Medicine there are three types of muscle tissue: Cardiac, Skeletal and Smooth. Cardiac muscle cells are located in the walls of the heart, appear striated, and are under involuntary control. Smooth muscle fibers are located in walls of hollow visceral organs, except the heart, appear spindle-shaped, and are also under involuntary control. Skeletal muscle fibers occur in muscles which are attached to the skeleton. They are striated in appearance and are under voluntary control.” It would seem on the surface the terms stabilizer and mobilizer are attempts to put a spin on an agenda toward knowledge of muscles to push a specific agenda that in this case is about teaching a tactile form of defense or ability. It is like using the phrase, “Muscle Memory,” to explain fundamental physiokinetic principles that control our bodies toward a goal in karate and martial arts. Look at them as inappropriate ways to explain things that is accepted as truth when in reality such terms are far removed from adequate explanations of how things work. It is a matter of understanding and distinctions that can leas us to appropriate understanding or simply false agenda driven easily misleading thoughts and ideas. The smooth muscles that are actually under voluntary control along with those skeletal muscles provide us mobility and stability but are not mobilizers or stabilizers per se as if they are distinct and separate. Muscles when flexed, relaxed, etc. provide us the ability along with the skeletal system, tendons, cartilage and sinew, etc. where structure, alignment, etc. provide stability and mobility when muscles, etc. are used according to the situation where sequential locking and unlocking, etc., all come into play to achieve physical defense goals. Then there is the knowledge and understanding that when we use our muscles and skeletal systems, etc. to move those movements and flexes/relaxations transmit a certain feel to each event that can be understood through tactile or touch sense. The goal is to develop the ability to read and interpret those tactile feelings through our most sensitive and largest organ, the skin.]
  5. What kind of results in particular can you influence and/or effect regarding stabilizer muscles? [The only effect you can have on stabilizing the body using the skeletal muscles by strengthening them where when using instant dynamic sequential locking/relaxation tension one can achieve greater ability to stabilize the body, etc., through things like appropriate structure, balance and body alignment, etc.]
  6. What are stabilizer muscles, how do they differ from normal muscles and can you actually influence those muscles? [As previously shown there are no actual stabilizer muscles or mobilizer muscles, simply muscles that can be used to both stabilize our structure and allow us mobility, in other words movement.]
  7. In what way can one influence stabilizer muscles? [See all the above, asked and answered]
  8. What are mobilizer muscles (is there such a muscle)? [There is no such thing!]
  9. Is relaxing muscles actually in reference to neutralizing the effects of the mobilizer muscles to learn how to activate stabilizer muscles and is this even possible making the assumption there are actually stabilizer muscles and mobilizer muscles? [There is no such thing as stabilizer/mobilizer muscles; the only muscles we want to utilize in physical action are the skeletal muscles that are under voluntary control to a certain extent. The cardiac and smooth muscle cells are involuntary and involve the heart and other organs.]
  10. Can you truly differentiate between mobilizers and stabilizer muscles? [There is no such thing!]
  11. Do these muscles and their activation actually become noticeable or can be felt tactilely causing loss of balance in an adversary? [No, balance is disrupted by the actions you take, not the way you activate the muscles as to dynamic tension vs. positive relaxation. You have to have trained your entire body to move and act in ways that will allow you to adhere to fundamental principles so that you can apply the appropriate methodologies to reach your goals in self-defense. Everything else is just rhetoric and fluff, although in many or most cases unintentional, that are used by the inability to relate the essence of such concepts, etc.]
Muscle Roles: Roles are what we use to describe how we use our physiokinetic principled-based muscles, skeletal and chemical systems to achieve goals in self-defense karate and martial arts. 

Note I: There are many sites, especially health and fitness programs, that use such terms as mobilizer, stabilizer, agonist, antagonist, fixator and/or neutralizer to describe how the muscles work to achieve certain goals. These types of descriptive terminology may or may not actually meet the medical and scientific description of muscles but they are adequate to help the laymen to understand certain concepts achieved by such actions and practices as sanchin’s dynamic or isometric tension programs, etc. The recommendation I always advocate is to research any term that relates to the physical body or mind at medical sources, a variety for spice, to achieve a better understanding. Do NOT just ACCEPT anyone’s or any terms just because they seem ot make sense, this could lead you down the wrong path to understanding - validate and confirm original sources with at least three other bonafide and medical/scientific sources with appropriate references and sources of study, etc.

Note II: When I searched out types of muscles, almost every single site said there are three types as I presented in this article. All others even when termed a descriptive of a muscle were actually roles of the muscles where the skeletal are dominant for our purpose of karate and martial arts.

Note III: What we can add is there are two roles of skeletal muscles involved called slow-twitch vs. fast-twitch and this concept of muscles actions can be important to karate and martial arts for self-defense. To discover just how valid this concept is about skeletal muscle see my upcoming article on, “Muscles that Twitch: Karate Value.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Sanchin Dynamic Tensioning: Karada Kitae: Iron Body Training

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

Iron body training, what is it purpose and relevance in self-defense, combat and fighting? Is it a practice with the agenda of egoistic impressionists goals or is it actually effective in protecting out bodies against the physical violence in conflict? Are these practices more about entertainment and confidence and testing the limits of human physical and mental endurance? 

Physics of the Universe rule. We as humans can do things to enhance those physics to stretch  them a small distance but physics are physics. The real question is this, “When using a dynamic tensioning of the body along with other body-like armor aspects does such conditioning actually work? 

The answers are both yes and no, in other words it depends. When you understand the striking arts you understand that they were meant to be a socially driven communications skill where appropriate violence to establish certain hierarchal rules for survival are involved rather then grave bodily harm or death as would be a goal of combat. 

A question I find necessary to answer all of these questions and the many more that will arise as others chime in on the subject is, “Can you make use of the results of body conditioning, i.e., iron body sanchin dynamic tensioning, in the chaos of a hand-to-hand combat or the monkey dance of social mutual fighting or the predatory process or resource attack requiring self-defense. 

Lets focus on the most critical form, i.e., the predatory process or resource attack requiring self-defense. This is something we cannot predict and if it is enacted against us it means we are in a state where the predator has a high probability of success in his attack. It can involve total and complete surprise so to achieve a dynamic body tension of the iron body sanchin condition cannot be triggered unless the victim has trained appropriately to make that type of trigger one coming from the, “Unconscious learning to encode procedural memory as a type of implicit memory so that the encoded knowledge of triggering dynamic protective tension as executed by the stimulus of a physical attack, etc. Will our brains trigger procedural memory and is that trigger associated with the type of surprise, damage, balance disruption and a total loss of structure, i.e., structure by the way is necessary to achieve good dynamic tension in that instance. etc.

In a nutshell I would venture to guess that the possibility, as a rare ability, will be possibly be a 1 chance out of 100 it will be successful while the other 99 mean no success even with luck. The odds seem daunting so back to what is the real reason and benefit of Iron Body Training of karada-kitae of karate?

Please note that most of the body conditioning is to condition the natural protective aspects of our bodies as it is best suited for a direct attack, a social attack model for social monkey dancing where grave bodily harm or death are not on the table except as it might apply toward accidents. If one simply changes the dynamics of the physics involved even the hardest body conditioning can be overcome. If one trains using the appropriate multiple methodologies along with the underlying and supporting fundamental principles such body hardening can be bypassed. 

In truth, if one has a strong body and understands that the probability they will encounter a predator with this kind of knowledge and skill is very small their efforts in body hardening will actually be of benefit and will be available as long as the realty based training also exists. 

So, lets accept that body conditioning toward the proverbial iron body state is beneficial in creating the body armor necessary to mitigate effects from force and power of an attacker. Then we have to ask ourselves, “What degree of conditioning is adequate to achieve this goal?” In my short time and experience I have practiced such body conditioning and observed others do the same but sometimes to what I would believe as, “Extreme.” 

A good example is the one where Gung Fu professionals put on a demo where one proponent stands on his head, does a leg split exposing his sensitive area to another proponent with a large, long, round piece of wood. The second then strikes with the wood to the others, “wood,” breaking the round piece of wood. The one being struck then rises up to stand, bow and walk off with no signs of injury, etc. Is this extreme and more of a demo “Performance” rather than a necessary achievement in body hardening? In the end it is a personal question each who undergoes body hardening must ask of themselves. 

In my case, extremes were not practiced and the limits I set on myself were adequate wherein injuries were avoided, mostly, and the long term repercussions as I continue aging in my winter years are not present and problematic. Take heed and decide for yourself because it may or may not be beneficial in self-defense. As a challenge and a test of endurance, etc., it can be a great teacher but still you must know when to stop or limit yourself for the price in the end may be pretty darn high.

We won’t even go into the subject of proper training methods, models and applications, that is a whole new obstacle in and of itself.

Bibliography (Click the link)

I am still cringing at just the thought that someone may have actually done this (I still remain skeptical when I see such photo's). 

Stances: An Observation

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

Natural stances allow the type of movement necessary in self-defense while the often wide and deep stances are not.

The wide and deep are wonderful tools for exercise and keeping the legs strong, flexible (especially the mobility of the hips) and ???.

But, and you knew there was going to be a but, the are not good for self-defense, fighting or combatives. Deep stances reduce, limit and most of all STOP the momentum of you body mass required for power and force. In addition they require you to expose yourself as they result in a pause to reestablish moving and movement.

This does not occur with natural stances for the type of movement that allows you to instantly change tactics involving legs and movement and stability, etc., necessary for self-defense.

BUT, you knew there would be another but, this does not mean that deep stances don’t have a purpose it is just the deep stances in self-defense have a very limited purpose. At least from where I sit, deep stances are awesome when the power and force generation comes from the attacker attacking. In other words when you can use their mass movement as it approaches against them so taking a deep stance for stability, structure and the application of a methodology that actually relies on the attackers mass as it moves toward you to really apply a technique based on the proper methodology while applying principles to achieve a goal. 

BUT, you knew there would be yet another but, most rely on the deep stances assuming they are the best stance for the greatest application of force and power but in truth, not so much. 

First, assuming deep stances actually require more movement and that movement is a tell while the shorter, faster and natural stances with movement are much less likely to tell your attacker and allow you the freedom of movement necessary to get-r-done. 

Second, once in a deep stance and only if the attacker provides you the force and power to achieve a goal your strikes are going to be less powerful and less forceful and that means the attacker has an advantage. Add in that if your move and application fails the extra time and movement you have to do to leave that stance and move again is also a tell and it provides your attacker more time to act, time to act against you putting you on the defense and defending puts you at a disadvantage in an attack as in a self-defense situation. 

This once again also points out the importance of fundamental principles but more important their application in applying multiple methodologies in a self-defense situation. Mobility and speed are paramount and natural stances, provided you have time to use them cause most likely the attack was a complete surprise and your balance and structure were disrupted, so having multiple methodologies and an ability to utilize principles over technique based tactics will give you an opportunity to take back the advantage the attacker got right off the starting line. 

This is just my observation and theory toward a hypothesis toward a more applicable self-defense strategy to survive for survival is the real name of the game of life. Look at it as critical thinking so that one can practice and train so the “sensory motor predictions” of your brain, from the lizard, and create an internal model that will play a critical role in the motor actions necessary to get-r-done. 

I quote, “Our brains construction and make up permit us to transcend stimulus-response behavior, and instead confers the ability to make predictions ahead of actual sensory input. It is the prediction ability that allows us to execute a motor command compensating for the stimuli from vision to brain to be shortened so the hand meets the target through the predictions the brain uses to make it work and that is where training, etc., comes into play.”

The overall idea is to train and encode the brain, the mind, so that we optimize our actions toward survival while deep stances do have benefits in self-defense the likelihood of getting-r-done lies more in optimizing all our movements reducing tells and lengthening our lines so that we get-r-done quickly and efficiently while staying within the self-defense square. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Kata: Transitioning to Self-Defense

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

First, in a nutshell the purpose of kata are teaching us to apply fundamental principles through multiple methodologies with appropriate levels of force for defense against violence. 

Second, the actual obvious techniques demonstrated by kata practice are NOT the core meaning nor the core techniques and applications used in fighting, combat and/or defenses. Their sole purpose is the first comment, to learn about principles, etc.

Third, kata are not fighting models; kata are not sport competitive patterns; kata are not meant to teach us how to fight in any of the models mentioned in the second comment. Kata as expressed through individual and style forms are merely perceptions and theories collected together to pass along a model and ability to study, learn, understand and apply fundamental principles in an appropriate manner for survival in violent situations where modern times also require remaining in the self-defense square and training for the adrenal dump that comes from high stress-conditions of conflict and violence. 

To transition from a kata model to one that applies multiple methodologies toward self-defense in modern times means we don’t need two person drills except as a test to ensure we are applying principles properly, i.e., those physiokinetic sub-principles like structure, alignment and balance to name just a few. 

To transition from a kata pattern to multiple methodologies is to learn and understand the principles of multiple methodologies then play with them with another person such as would be done in a uke-tori relational training model of traditional karate and martial arts. Once a kata pattern is memorized then the principles must be encoded so they arrive from the procedural memory model of brain function releasing it from the obstacles and limitations of a conscious mind. It is a creative process where the actual moves and patterns of the kata are actually forgotten so one can achieve a more fun model of operant conditioning of the procedural memory or mind, what some refer to as the lizard brain. 

The many kata process of many karate and martial arts training models is about other agenda’s and commercial needs because as the historical “Stories” tell  us one need only learn one kata well. 

To learn one kata well means learning that transitional model to which I speak, write, so that we transition from the basic level of “shu” to “ha” to “ri,” i.e., learn the patterns and movements of the kata; learn the fundamental principles through the movement and patterns of kata; learn how to apply those principles into the multiple methodologies of self-defense, etc. leaving the kata behind only as a historical reference. 

Kata as a tool for a more philosophical understanding of a karate and martial art lifestyle where goals like self-confidence, self-analysis and self-improvement are still a viable model where learning more than one kata makes perfect sense. 

Just remember that too maintain a true karate and martial art means adhering to this transitional model of kata practice so that adding more does not interfere with the other over time. 

This is kata transitional training, practice and application that transcends all other forms of practice and speaks to a means of kata understanding for fighting, combatives and most of all self-defense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Three Pillars of Japanese Karate: Structural Integrity; Coherence; Intent

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

When using kata to learn and practice kata from Japan you may want to consider these pillars as the supports and structure that make the kata a worthwhile endeavor. Look at them as points that create a tripod where structure and balance connect it to the reality of application, i.e., the three legs of stability that say this kata, if applied properly, would deliver the fundamental principled multiple methodologies for defense. 

“Structural Integrity: The movements may be fast and light, or slow and heavy, but they make sense. They’re applicable.” They flow, have rhythm and a cadence that is about their use in defense, in violent situations, as long as all the fundamental principles are present and applied universally and correctly. 

“Coherence: Shin, or “mind,” is a familiar term to martial artists. In this context, it refers to the coherence of the kata. If you think of kotai as the bones of the kata, shin is the collection of muscles that allow it to articulate. Those muscles have to work in concert.” The interrelatedness of principles through a physiokinetic way toward multiple methodologies that will get the job done - right. If the kata loses that coherent connectivity then something is missing and has been inserted as a weak link that will fail in combat. 

“Intent: A real kata has intent behind it. There’s a unifying set of principles. In some, these principles will be rapid movement, either in and out or laterally. In others, it will be a strong sense of predation — karateka doing it looks like a tiger stalking prey.” The mind-set and mind-state of one who has to deal with conflict and its often violent outcome. To have such intent in the kata is to have that intent in the fight for defense. This assuming that one has trained with all six fundamental principles. 

This is a concept of kata as taught and practiced from the Japanese systems so we can ask ourselves with all the differences between Japanese karate and Okinawan karate as they apply to kata, can the Okinawan kata of karate use the three pillars to quantify and validate the practice of their kata? I would say, “Yes.” All the above even if not stressed in such a way as the three pillars of Japanese karate are still necessary traits of good Okinawan kata practice, training and morphology into applicable principled multiple methodological defense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Click for Larger View

Karate Questions

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

Reading Michael Clarke Sensei’s post today he simply asked the following questions. I suspect he was being rhetorical in asking them but I decided to answer them anyway, the answers are for me and are mind alone. Look at it as a reflective exercise I decided to share. 
  • When you take karate out of the dojo, what are you left with? [Karate … A Dojo; a thing and a place filled with emptiness that holds no void, no meaning and no heart; a dojo with karate and a life lived where every moment is a dojo through which karate is lived, breathed, practiced and applied to life itself]
  • When you only practice in the dojo, what have you got? [Dojo practice where you cannot live and breath karate, merely a means to dance the dance; karate is taking it out of the dojo and placing it firmly in your life, your lifestyle, then seeing where that leads; if you don’t leave the dojo or don’t practice outside the dojo you are just participating in a social club but if you understand that everywhere you go and every place you visit is a dojo, you become successful]
  • When the dojo is called a studio/academy/school/club, what is going on there? [who knows, distinctions are a part of karate practice or would it be better to call it the way simply because karate is meant to be a part of you as a person, to become an intricate system in support of your beliefs; to name something is to give it power and set obstacles and restrictions on it when karate is a mystery of the universe to unleash the capacities of the  human mind to take in the myriad things that make us, us.]
  • When dojo are rented halls, where's the commitment? [commitment becomes a need to earn money and money leads toward a commercialism denigrating the karate practice of a personal nature; commitment is something one carries within their hearts, minds and spirit; once we attain that commitment then a hall rented takes on a different meaning]
  • When karate is packaged, what is it being packaged into? [something tangible like a package of product; the packaging is like a box, it contains a particular something and by its very containment does not allow one to seek knowledge and understanding that exists outside a box or any one container; it is about freedom from such trappings.]
  • When karate is sold, what are you buying? [a limited supply of what you desire rather than a means toward survival and understanding; towards a horizon that sets over the universe and instead you have just a smidgeon of its possibilities often removed from its original intent, its very essence for to package up the intangible makes it tangible and therefore a box.]
  • When karate is so easy to find, what is the point of searching for it? [search for the underlying meaning and benefit you seek underneath the covering presented to attract in case something special is hidden behind the frosting; opening the box to let the true essence fly like a bird recently pushed from the nest to take to the sky, welcome to the sky!]
  • When karate is known by so many, why do so few understand it? [it is the few who seek out more than the presented outer presentation of karate for it is that hidden that provides each person an opportunity to take it the distance, not many can, will or do; there has been and always will be those who seek out the truth through their studies and practices while all the others simply dream of the possibilities while remaining chained to the rhythms, patterns and comforts of a limited life.]
  • When belts mean skill, why can you buy them in a shop? [the ability to buy something is a telling story to one who understands karate and that makes karate a product instead of something personal; relying on a symbolic meaning from an external object relieves one of the difficulty in finding a meaning toward a greater self; the belts and thier symbolic meaning are merely the chains that bind rather than the cloth that holds up our pants and holds the jacket closed also a symbolic representation of what binds life over releasing us from those chains.]
  • When sensei means 'teacher' why are so many ignorant? [a failure to see, to hear, to remain balanced, to see and hear all sides, to find the meaning of one’s heart and mind while leading the body to greater health, fitness, well-being and spirit, a wholehearted effort few find and fewer keep close to their hearts]
  • When training is so physically demanding, why are so many karateka unfit? [a failure to see, hear and feel karate; a focus on the trappings of ego symbolized in belts, uniforms, certificates, trophies and the accolades of a self-soothing nature to hid from the conflicts and violences of life.]
  • When karate is such a challenge, why is it advertised as family friendly? [product vs. a living effort]
The above is just some of the stuff that passed through my mind (Sensei Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo) as I walked my Nagasendo [中山道] earlier today. Returning home, I wondered if anyone else ever thought of such things?

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Missing Ingredients

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

What is the missing ingredients to self-defense especially in karate and martial arts? No matter how good your training, no matter how good your practice and no matter how good you feel, think and believe your training, practice and understanding of karate, martial arts and self-defense strategies and tactics without these missing ingredients every time you encounter a defense situation you are gambling big that it will work. 

Maybe it does work, maybe it doesn’t work and maybe your luck just ran out. It is one of those things that unless you work in an environment and profession where you face conflict with violence on a frequent basis you may never find out if what you are doing works or doesn’t work, you very lucky. What if one day, just one day only, you are attacked for either a resource or process situation, do you want to gamble that your stuff may or may not work?

When you study and practice karate or a martial art, whether for sport or defense, you have to decide if what your goals are for training actually, fully and completely meet those needs to attain that goal. 

So, what are those missing ingredients, the ones that are critical to you goals. In this case the gaol is to achieve a level of proficiency and understanding to achieve a state of ability in defending against violence?

First, is to “understand the entire spectrum of self-defense.” The fifth fundamental principle in critical because if you don’t understand what that means then you are going to fail, you will miss those critical needs to use defense but most of all to justify your use of defense. The best way to start on that road is to study the “tomes of self-defense” as presented my the, for my recommendation, two top proponents of self-defense, Mr. Rory Miller and Mr. Marc MacYoung. 

Second, is to “understand the entire spectrum of the chemical cocktail.” The sixth fundamental principle is critical because if you don’t understand what it means to be flooded by natures human chemical dump you will not train for it and you will freeze when it hits like a tsunami wave hits a lone human standing on a rocky shore. This along with the first missing ingredient makes a pair that leads us to the third missing ingredient.

Third, is to “understand, practice and maintain frequent training” of a “adrenal stress-conditioned realty based” training model. A training model that must be continued frequently to maintain a level of understanding and experience that will actually allow you to achieve action toward combating the adrenal dump while allowing you to act regardless, at least get you past that first critically important step in an attack, to have the ability to move, act and do something to defend yourself. 

The third ingredient is probably the one missing ingredient that even when you knowledge and partial understanding is reached for the first and second missing ingredient still means your missing this one ingredient, the one that builds a bridge across that wide chasm you must leap over to act in a violent situation - especially that first time. 

Many of us will say that our endeavors in participation of sports like MMA and UFC styles of competition will get us there but you have to remember that the differences between sport and the dangers of violent attacks, etc., will still be there and may or may not cause you to flounder, especially that first time out. Remember also, the tactics and strategies in those competitive endeavors may actually take you outside that self-defense legal square. As I indicate, the first missing ingredient is meant to help us understand the square. You want to survive an attack but you also want to survive the legal and moral ramifications that come with self-defense. 

In my limited experience and view there are few and far between karate dojo that cover all needed ingredients to achieve a solid self-defense, defense. If you practice karate or a martial art toward a defensive strategy then the actual tactics have to encompass far more that what techniques you need to use to defend yourself. Actually, it is more about the fundamental principles used to apply multiple methodologies for defense rather than techniques but that is a whole nother article. 

Lastly, you may not find all the principles of self-defense in any one defense training model. Find what training venues teach what you need so that when you bring all of those together into the one wholehearted study, practice, training and application of self-defense you will have a more complete program and ability and proficiency to get the job done within the square. 

What is so great about this time, right now, is that many more karate and martial arts for self-defense programs are coming to realize the value in implementation of those missing ingredients and are making a concerted effort to implement the teachings of people like Mr. Miller and Mr. MacYoung so that folks who actually need self-defense can find it, learn it and implement it into their lives with success.

Note: when I say continuous on-going adrenal stress-conditioned reality training I mean frequent enough to maintain that level of ability because if you don’t maintain it, it will go away. Like many disciplines similar to this, if you don’t maintain it that initial training and experience will fade away because that is just how the human experience is. It is also that one missing ingredient where not only is the basic training inadequate, because it is missing the critical ingredients, but the lack of understanding toward on-going training of this sort is “mandatory” to keep your skills at a level where they are useful. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Primary Bibliography of Self-Defense (Some titles have RBC drills included):
MacYoung, Marc. "In the Name of Self-Defense: What It Costs. When It’s Worth It." Marc MacYoung. 2014.
Miller, Rory Sgt. "Meditations of Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence" YMAA Publishing. 2008.

Secondary Bibliography of Self-Defense (Some titles have RBC drills included):
Ayoob, Massad. “Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense”Gun Digest Books. Krouse Publications. Wisconsin. 2014.
Branca, Andrew F. “The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen.” Law of Self Defense LLC. 2013.
Burrese, Alain., “Hard-Won Wisdonm from the School of Hard Knocks.” TGW Books. October 2013. 
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. "Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected." YMAA Publishing. 2011.
Miller, Rory. “The Practical Problem of Teaching Self-Defense.” YMAA. January 19, 2015.
Miller, Rory. “Convergence.” Chiron Blog. Thursday, May 21, 2015:
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.
MacYoung, Marc. “Writing Violence #1: Getting Shot.” NNSD. Amazon Digital. 2014.
MacYoung, Marc. “Writing Violence #2: Getting Stabbed.”  NNSD. Amazon Digital. 2015.
MacYoung, Marc. “Writing Violence #3: Getting Hit and Hitting.” Amazon Digital Services, inc. NNSD. April 20. 2015. 
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" Barnes & Noble. 1993.
Elgin, Suzette. "The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense" MJF Books. 1997.
Maffetone, Philip Dr. “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness.” McGraw Hill, New York. 2000
Strong, Sanford. “Strong on Defense_ Survival Rules to Protect you and your Family from Crime.” Pocket Books. New York. 1996.
and more … see blog bibliography.
Jahn, C. R. “FTW Self Defense.” iUniverse. Amazon Digital Services. 2012
Jahn, C. R. “Hardcore Self Defense.” iUniverse. Amazon Digital Services. 2002.

Explaining Mind Control in Karate and Martial Arts

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

“Accompany technique with mind-control: This one is left to interpretation. No one actually explains mind control and not many if any address this in training and practice. It is one of those ‘assumption" topics.’” - cejames 

“If you explain something with other inexplicable things you have not explained the original thing to begin with. This is deflection due to lack of knowledge.” - cejames 

What is mind-control as it applies to the practice of karate and martial arts? It is simply training the mind with knowledge, understanding and experience to control how we use our bodies to the degree where that movement and the triggers that drive the movement(s) becomes automatic and instinctual bypassing the human thinking brain and allowing the lizard brain to make it work. It is not magic and it is not mystical, it is a matter of hard work, sweat equity, reality based adrenal stress-conditioned exposure and a dedicated continuous endeavor to achieve master, efficiency and proficient application in self-defense. 

It ain’t rocket science!

Bibliography (Click the link)

Introduction of Karate to the Okinawan School System

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

The notion of "promotional" kata represented a major change in the approach to teaching Karate, a change which was begun a generation earlier by Itosu Anko.  At the beginning of the century, Itosu formulated the five Pinan kata for introduction to the Okinawan school system.  Prior to that time, Karate was generally taught privately and often in secret.  Kata were not to be spread or shared--they were closely guarded secrets!

Itosu changed all that and the government readily agreed because of the realization that military recruits and conscripts who had Karate training were physically superior to and more disciplined that their untrained counterparts.  Three of Itosu's students in particular -- Kentsu Yabu, Hanashiro Chomo and Kenyu Kudeken -- greatly impressed their physicians and distinguished themselves during military service.  In his Ten Lessons of To-te, written in October 1908, Itosu states:

The primary purpose of karate training is to strengthen the muscles, making the physique strong like iron and stone so that one can use the hands and feet to approximate such weapons as a spear or halberd. In doing so, karate training cultivates bravery and valor in children and it should be encouraged in our elementary schools. Don't forget what the Duke of Wellington said after defeating Emperor Napoleon: "Today's victory was first achieved from the discipline attained on the playgrounds of our elementary schools.

* * *

With these teachings in mind, it is my conviction that if the students at the Shihan Chugakko (old name of Okinawa's Teachers College) practice karate they could, after graduation, introduce the discipline at the local levels; namely to elementary schools. In this way karate could be disseminated throughout the entire nation and not only benefit people in general but also serve as an enormous asset to our military forces.

Itosu did in fact teach at the Teachers College, thus spreading the art to a new, and very prolific, generation of instructors.

In making the transition from very small, private or semi-private classes, to large classes of school children, Itosu decided that an easier form of kata was required.  Drawing from such sources as the Kusanku kata, Itosu formulated the five Pinan ("Peace") kata.

If you have ever practiced or taught the Pinan kata, you will recognize that they are not basic at all, but rather of an intermediate level.      

In a nutshell, the Pinan are too difficult for beginners, particularly for young children.  Nagamine Sensei wrote that the Kusanku kata (from which the Pinan were drawn, among other kata) is the most advanced kata in the Matsubayashi-Ryu system, requiring more than a decade to master.  It is usually the most advanced kata of other systems as well.  Essentially splitting the kata into five parts did not make the task much easier.

Prior to the development of the Pinan kata, three basic kata were generally taught in Okinawa.  For students of Shuri-Te or Tomari-Te (which generally became known as "Shorin-Ryu"), the introductory kata were either the three Naihanchi kata or the Seisan kata.  For students of Naha-Te (which generally became known as "Goju-Ryu"), the introductory kata was generally Sanchin.  The introductory kata were usually practiced for at least three years before more advanced kata were learned.  Okinawan school students might or might not have previously learned these kata.  It is to be expected that most had not (since the early masters generally taught very few students at any given time).

Itosu passed away in 1915 at the age of 85.  During his life, he literally opened the doors to karate in Okinawa.

Bibliography (Click the link)

The Confusion in Understanding Kata

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

Reading articles on kata recently it came to me that most who define kata are getting it right but wrong, i.e., they are simply confusing the difference between Japanese kata and Okinawan Kata, i.e., Japanese budo kata of kendo, judo and the like vs. Okinawan Karate kata. 

The first article that really does an excellent job of explaining this confusion can be read HERE.
The next article that explains some concepts on the practice of Japanese kata can be read HERE.

There will follow other articles on the kata but before I list those the following three paragraphs are a synopsis of my views and beliefs on Japanese Kata and Okinawan Kata. One note, at the list there will be an article on “Shi-kata” that I believe drives all Japanese kata. 

It becomes apparent to me when researching kata that the confusion for karate practitioners comes from the meaning and use of kata as it applies to Japanese Budo vs. Okinawan Karate. Japanese kata are technique based, i.e., a direction connection to the external form of the kata and the technique itself. I quote, “Consequently, it can be said that kata is tantamount with the technique.” 

Therefore Japanese budo kata are a technique based teaching, training and practice form. You can see this even further when the kata are named because the descriptive name are related to the kata and the individual technique(s), etc. The Japanese complete kata and the related technical content, technique, etc. In Okinawan karate kata it appears that the external manifestation is about technique when in reality the content, or what some are calling bunkai, are not the actual content, etc. I quote, “The practical skills are not defined and the kata do not clearly demonstrate the relationship between external form (kata) and technique (waza).” 

Furthermore, the names of all the kata in the karate systems are not related to the external or internal meanings but refer to ether a person who created the kata or to certain characteristics of the kata in general. The kata themselves are tools to teach certain fundamental principles toward the application of multiple methodologies rather than toward a specified technique based teaching model like the Japanese kata. I quote, “Contrary to jūdō and kendō, the names of the kata of karate such as Naihanchi, Passai, and Kūsankū etc. barely allow any conclusion about its technical contents, nor do the names of individual techniques contained therein.”

In closing, distinguishing the kata for your practice will help a great deal in understanding both the systems kata as well as its applications in general, i.e., Japanese Budo or Okinawan Karate. It may benefit to remember that the Japanese Karate is also different in many ways than the Okinawan karate if for no other reason than the Karate that was reformed to fit the Japanese beliefs, etc., came about toward the kata definition and implementation that matches the Japanese kata methods. It also behooves us to distinguish the crossover that will be apparent of Japanese karate and Okinawan karate, i.e., as more and more influence was asserted by the Japanese due to the absorption of the Okinawans into their cultures, etc. will also make it necessary to find those distinctions if you wish to retain a more traditional Okinawan karate practice. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Chinkuchi Elements (Lengthening the Line):

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

  • Intention of Zanshin. (Zanshin is a sub-principal of philosophy that manifests through the physical into a methodology useful for self defense; methodology useful for self defense;  a combination of “both awareness and experience”, etc.)
  • Perfection of Technique (often related to technique based training models but actually one of the fundamental principles, “Technique,” that addresses all the subprinciples of “techniques vs. technique, equal rights, compliment, economical motion, active movement, positioning, angling, leading control, complex force, indirect pressure, live energy and dead energy, torsion and pinning, speed, timing, rhythm, balance, reactive control, natural and unnatural motion, weak link, non-telegraphing, extension and penetration, Uke. Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression.”)
  • Fluid Movement (This one addresses tersely the sub-principles of the principle, “Physiokinetics, Breathing, posture, triangle guard, centerline, primary gate, spinal alignment, axis, minor axis, structure, heaviness, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, triangulation point, the dynamic sphere, body-mind, void, centripetal force, centrifugal force, sequential locking and sequential relaxation, peripheral vision, tactile sensitivity, rooting, attack hubs, attack posture, possibly the chemical cocktail, Multiple Methodologies [actual tactics and attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression.)
  • Speed of Movement (see fluid movement above)
  • Power of Movement (see fluid movement above)
  • Ki as an essential ingredient (a concept using sound and no sound to provide the mind-state enhancing abilities when coupled with breathing and other physiokinetic principles applied universally in karate and martial arts)
  • Proper tensing (Physiokinetics: sequential locking and unlocking; centripetal and centrifugal forces; breathing; alignment, structure, haviness, centeredness; rooting; posture; body-mind; chemical cocktail)
  • Proper breathing (Physiokinetic sub-principles)
  • Accompanying of technique with mind-control (actually applying mind-set to accomplishing defense goals through application of principles toward manifestation of multiple methodologies, etc.)
  • Being loose until the moment of contact (positive relaxation then applying physiokinetic sub-principles to achieve force and power in defense, etc.)
  • Allowing your Ki to flow through the movement (Ki as in blood, etc., that make the body work along with proper application of physiokinetics to maximize energy flow to achieve power and force in a single moment for any given situation regardless of technique based applications)
  • Exhalation makes the strike stronger (simplistic meme to convey complex actions where breathing coupled with other sub-principles of physiokinetics to achieve force and power in defense)
  • Capability to stun your adversary (chinkuchi achieved by proper implementation of physiokinetics)
  • Tighten abdominal muscles as you strike (chinkuchi achieved by proper implementation of physiokinetics)
  • Kiai (chinkuchi achieved by proper implementation of physiokinetics through mind-state, thoughts and set verbally or non-verbally)
  • Mind Control (What is mind-control as it applies to the practice of karate and martial arts? It is simply training the mind with knowledge, understanding and experience to control how we use our bodies to the degree where that movement and the triggers that drive the movement(s) becomes automatic and instinctual bypassing the human thinking brain and allowing the lizard brain to make it work. It is not magic and it is not mystical, it is a matter of hard work, sweat equity, reality based adrenal stress-conditioned exposure and a dedicated continuous endeavor to achieve master, efficiency and proficient application in self-defense.)
  • Focused strength and power (chinkuchi achieved by proper implementation of physiokinetics through mind-state, thoughts and set verbally or non-verbally)

These few, no where near complete or comprehensive, provides the practitioner the knowledge to continue research toward a fuller depth and breadth of understanding as to the concept of chinkuchi. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

There is always room for JELLO

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

I have made a lot of statements and comments and OPINIONS about the various kinds of karate and martial arts there are but I have to say with a strong conviction that regardless of my thoughts, comments, statements or OPINIONS on those different types, “They all are great, they all serve a purpose and as long as they all meet the goals of their participants - IT IS A GOOD THING!

I may be of the mind that karate is a civil model and system for self-defense and I may not feel other models or systems do or do not meet that standard, which is my standard, but in truth and regardless of history, intent, essence, etc., Traditional, Classical, Modern, etc., Karate is all good, very very good.

In my rendition of the meaning behind Tatsuo-san’s statement of, “All bottles are good.” …  “All of them serve a purpose, to hold what they were intended for.” Applies to karate past, present and possible future. All bottles (forms, models and systems) of karate are good. All of them serve a purpose, to do what they were intended to do. There is no best bottle, karate, all bottles, karate, are good.

There is always room for karate, all kinds of karate and all kinds of martial arts. They server a purpose and just because they don’t match up with my view of karate does not diminish their purpose and benefits, we all benefit from such a wide range and variety of karate practices and martial arts practices, regardless. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Weight and Age

Read it at the Aging Blog, see the link to the right side of this blog, titled, 

The Gokui: breathing methods are either hard or soft

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

Michael Clarke Sensei of the Shinseidokan Dojo blog provided the following quotes in his recent article, read it HERE, that inspired another view of the ken-po goku-i, in the old version stated as, “The manner drinking (inhaling) and spitting (exhaling is either hard or soft,” and my version, “breathing methods are either hard or soft,” have a new meaning I didn’t think of till his mentioning of inhaling and exhaling, etc., see the quote next:

“The learning of karate is at first a little like inhaling; everything new comes rushing in. At some point you have to exhale, to allow your karate to flow outward from inside. At that point you'll know if you have been breathing oxygen or stale air. The history of karate is fractured and imperfect, it contains fewer 'masters' than some would have you believe, and more heroes than you can imagine. The famous get noticed, the heroes...not so much. So, be particular about the past that you accept, or you may find yourself reading about the people who wrote history, but not the people who made it.” - Michael Clarke Sensei of Shinseidokan Dojo

When I think of inhaling I think of a soft or yin aspect but for this one I would make a stab at learning karate as hard and that to learn, like Clarke Sensei would insinuate, learning karate is hard but you have to take it in, wholeheartedly, to truly learn karate. As he often writes karate is also about what you put out as it is influenced through karate practice matters, exhaling as yang but rather a softer side when in reality it is a soft side or yin because once you achieve proficiency of your practice and training things become easier … BUT …

When I contemplate hard and soft, inhaling karate then exhaling experience, knowledge and understanding of karate while also contemplating the difficulty in teaching or passing along karate I see the dichotomy of yin-yang or hard-soft where both intertwine to make for the holistic wholehearted essence that is karate. 

One reason I advocate the study of the goku-i as well as other philosophical and theories such as yin-yang, zanshin and shu-ha-ri, etc., is that it is a mutual yet separate effort that makes for the one whole that is karate. It is how the yin-yang of principles applied to multiple methodologies that as yin are that which are hidden but crucial to the foundation of karate while karate itself is the outward manifestation, i.e., inhaling to the inner in learning while exhaling to the outer in practice, training and applications. 

In short, the concept provides another way to see your karate, to make it a deeper and wider study of a universe of possibilities derived through the study and practice of such an eclectic form of body, mind and spirit development. 

Bibliography (Click the link)