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

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A Typical Day

I was contemplating my daily workout to see if I am doing enough or doing too much. I am sixty-two years old and my wife got wind of my daily stuff and mentioned I may be doing way too much.
  • 0501hours: I get up from what is often a good nights sleep, about seven or eight hours.
  • 0502hours: I do a variety of calisthenics to include squats, pushups, trunk twists with weights and some dumb bell weight work. 
  • 0830hours: I take a break from work to run stairs. I do five flights, up and down, for about five repetitions, sometimes ten for a total of about twenty-five to fifty flights. 
  • 0930hours: I take a break from work to run stairs. I do five flights, up and down, for about five repetitions, sometimes ten for a total of about twenty-five to fifty flights. 
  • 1030hours: I take a break from work to run stairs. I do five flights, up and down, for about five repetitions, sometimes ten for a total of about twenty-five to fifty flights. 
  • 1130hours: I take lunch, an hour, perform chi-gong exercises then a tai chi chuan form. I then do squat jumps, pushups and two visualized kata with focus on different scenarios as well as principles, etc. Then I repeat that with the same routine but the next two kata the same way. Then I repeat until all ten kata are done along with the exercises, etc. I also do lunges before beginning the kata/exercise/visualization, etc. processes.
  • 1400hours: I always do ten repetitions of the five flights for a total of fifty flights up and down to finish out the day.
Note: Yes, I am at work but I have the privilege of working at a place with what we call flex hours, i.e., we call it exempt and non-exempt where I am the non-exempt. That means I can flex my hours throughout the day as long as I complete or make up to achieve eight or more hours of actual hands-on work. There are days when I don’t get any exercise because of the work loads or the time requirements or the project time constraints, i.e., end dates coming up fast. 

I also go home and occasionally walk two miles with my wife and we meditate for a minimum of fifteen minutes a day. Then there are the weekends where we walk two or five or eight miles dependent on schedules or how we feel. We do five miles without fail on Sundays and this weekend, being memorial weekend, with a three day weekend we will walk what I call, “The deuce (two miles), the wooden nickel (five miles) and the crazy-eight (eight miles) walks.” That doesn’t include chores or errands or outings with and without friends. 

Do you think I am overextending myself physically? I don’t feel it mentally at all except every now and then I get to thinking, I can stop now on these stairs I have done enough only to tell myself, I don’t think so, can’t quit and can’t turn back, gotta get it done mentality ;-) I am sixty-two years old after all and I am semi-retired, i.e., I don’t actively teach in a dojo, I don’t actively participate with others in the dojo now and I do spend considerable time self-individually-training in karate and martial arts with lots of research, study and other learning things ergo all the articles I write on my blogs. 

What do you think, too much or not enough?  (Note: I do spend an exorbitant amount of time contemplating, analyzing, studying, dissecting, and synthesizing things about writing, creating and developing things of martial arts disciplines and defense/offense, etc. Marc MacYoung has another writing on violence for defense out and it is awesome!)

Karate as an Organism

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

“The idea that organizations are more like organisms guided the attention toward the more general issues of survival, organization-environment relations and organizational effectiveness, and away from goals, structures and efficiency, which were key themes in the machine metaphor.” - Franz Osinga, Boyd Thesis

Reading this quote while studying the thesis Mr. Osinga wrote about Colonel Boyd’s work, A discourse, it occurred that modern martial arts, to include Okinawan and Japanese forms of karate, are practiced as to goals, structures and efficiency especially as they would better apply to the teaching, educational implemented, oriented model that needs criteria to learn and test for thus promoting the dan-i system, sports and commercialism. This apparent has a negative effect toward the martial arts as a defense/offense discipline even when used in sport competitions. 

Although the underlined talks about the machine metaphor that still applies to how we structure the training models especially for control, power and often status driven egoistic models of martial arts. It takes the human out of the equation. It makes it easier much like the conventional applications in defense/offense vs. the maneuver applications in defense/offense where the first opens the door to ease, instant gratifications and multiple choice questions and answers in testing, all models used to measure learning in an educational environment such as schools and universities where true organic studies through analysis and synthesis are suppressed until the level of education for doctoral thesis work, much like Osinga’s work on his Boyd thesis. 

Now, using the organism guide or model we can redirect our attention to the human, general, issues of life itself toward nature’s instincts of survival, the social relations of groups or tribes as to survival and the effectiveness of the tribe as well as the individual as an independent entity association and connected to the tribe or social cohesive one, the dojo with dojo mates along with sensei, deshi, senpai and kohai, etc. 

I can see how an organic take on the study of such a dynamic discipline like martial arts would also require a morality to counter moral turpitude (Conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals. Crimes involving moral turpitude have an inherent quality of baseness, vileness, or depravity with respect to a person's duty to another or to society in general. Examples include rape, forgery, Robbery.), a moral concept necessary to learn and apply such dangerous and potentially deadly discipline in accordance with survival requirements (moral) of the independent individual toward the social tribal survival needs and requirements. 

This concept warrants a lot more study and analysis in order to synthesize a possible beneficial model toward the growth, depth and breadth of marital arts disciplines training, practices and most importantly its applications. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Click for large, readable, view!

Competence and Athleticism

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

In a recent email from a reader he/she asked the question, “If avoidance, escape and evasion are the best defenses to conflict and violence then why bother with learning and practicing martial arts or any self-defense system?” Well, I wrote back to tell them that part of avoidance is not just about avoiding an environment or avoiding a monkey dance attack or avoiding that ego driven response to some slight from others but rather the development of an armor that comes from body language and attitude or mind-set. 

We train and practice the full spectrum found in the discipline of self-defense. It spans from the art of verbal defense, to conflict communications and on into the various levels and pathways that lead up to violent conflict. You can’t just take and assume that learning how to avoid conflict will work every time.

It is tantamount to teaching military to retreat and not train them in warfare that includes engaging and fighting the enemy. How long would that military last in war? 

So, we train and practice in appropriate ways so that we develop, feel and project both competence and athleticism. Both come from our belief in our skills to handle all kinds and types of conflict as well as all kinds and types of violence, NOT JUST THE FIGHTING-EXCITING STUFF.

If an adversary is sizing up targets they tend to feel and often perceive a person when they have competence and athleticism and they also feel and perceive those without that competence and athleticism. The target will be the one that will require the least amount of effort and the least amount of potential danger when they ply their trade, which is why we train and practice accordingly - to develop and HAVE an attitude and demeanor that says, competent and athletic. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Kata, Forms and Drills - Oh My!

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

Trying to find historical accounting of kata seems daunting especially since there is little to no accounting of its origins in any definitive historical document. There are many theories, idea’s and beliefs all from various studies, studies done more in our modern times from a strong curiosity by the practitioners to gain a bit of understanding as to what are kata, where were kata first created and practiced, when did they first do kata, how did kata become the foundation for martial arts and why were kata created and so on ad-infinitum. 

The only source that I could find on kata is a study and presentation written by Boye Lafayette DeMente on the cultural system of kata the underlies every aspect of Japanese society, i.e., “Kata: The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the Japanese.” 

Where I also theorize on the idea of kata from this source is both Japan and Okinawa were influenced a great deal by the Chinese influences as to both culture and etiquette. Since that seems to be true it supports the idea that, like taking off shoes upon entering a home or dojo along with bowing, etc., such cultural etiquette’s are not unique to karate and martial arts but simply the natural inclination of the martial artists to use those same cultural etiquettes in the dojo. When you view how the society works in every day living you see bowing and kata like aspects that have made their culture and efforts, especially in creation of products, so spectacular.  

It also explains quit well why certain aspects of teaching karate and martial arts is more observational then taught through words because everything is kata and kata is everything means that once a kata is created the harmonious beliefs of the culture require learning by observing and not by talking, questioning and listening especially since words are often, at the times kata became a part of social practices and conditioning, inadequate to explain things. It was therefore expected that a student would observe and practice until what they performed as kata exactly matched the kata of sensei. 

Take the written characters of the Japanese language, you can include Chinese and Okinawan as well since almost all of it is derived from ancient Chinese influences. The characters are exact, they have certain patterns that must be followed and they all require a huge amount of practice, practice and more practice to master and commit to memory. There are certain patterns followed as the student achieves a certain level of competence when learning to write, read and understand those characters, i.e., kanji, etc. so one can perceive a kind of kata-esque process to learn and memorize a huge volume of characters. 

It appears that many of us, in the West, due to early influences and limited knowledge and understanding of karate, martial arts and their kata assumed that the kata were unique and an intricate part of karate and martial arts. Like many other cultures where military training involves drills, i.e., also a combination of moves and techniques in teaching inexperienced military to fight, etc., the kata-esque practices are not exclusive to Asian military disciplines. These kata are practiced throughout history and are critical not just to learning and teaching combative aspects of war but also critical to the ability to analyze the atomistic concepts to create, or synthesize, new more appropriate tactics and strategies so that military expertise can achieve the goals of war that are most effective to the times where fought.  

I also feel we tend to attribute more meaning to the kata than is meant and necessary. It is more about certain principles and applications of methodologies then specific/specified techniques, offensive vs. defensive and their combinations toward a more dynamic changing situational applications. In a time long ago where words used were more symbolic rather than exacting, where such exacting words of description along with observational teaching and learning requirements put the principles and methodologies in the dark where over time and with experience practitioners came to know of them in a more primal conditioned way rather than one easily related and connected to articulation vs. just physical demonstrative methods. 

Kata are, like drills and other methods of other cultures, exceptional in passing down knowledge of combatives from generation to new generations with a requirement toward analysis and synthesis to accommodate changes in time, culture and the way of war that always evolves. The ancient Chinese “Cheng-n-Ch’i” concept is critical to learning from and teaching kata like methodologies that tend to transcend time. 

I like to liken kata as to words, i.e., each word is a technique driven by a methodology, an idea, that is coupled with other words to form, kata, an idea or theory or concept appropriate to the moment or situation and the sentences collected appropriately to tell the story, the story of kata work in a similar fashion where as time passes and kata evolve along with the culture and beliefs of the society that word or words change, the structure of the sentence changes and the meaning of the sentences and paragraphs convey a new, yet ancient, story appropriate to the modern times at that moment and in those situations. 

To truly understand kata, forms and drills you have to learn and connect them to the ancient ones but you also have to allow them to evolve, even if only in how they are interpreted and applied, according to the changes of human social evolution or they become merely artifacts of a time long past. To truly learn, understand and accept kata for what they are requires being open to change and evolutionary necessities of the kata. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

The “Art” in Martial Art

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

As I was practicing today a “Oh crap moment” occurred, it came right smack dab in the middle of an intense practice of a method or methodology with visualization. It finally occurred to me the true meaning of the term art used in martial arts. 

To apply a martial art for combat, fighting, defense/offense and sport you have to acquire, develop and increase your ability to apply the discipline using patterns randomly and appropriately in a rapid changing dynamic way to surprise and dominate your adversary. The uniqueness of each moment and situation often from the chaos of the unknown you have to traverse the OODA in a manner that is artistic in nature. It is the creative process of applying a discipline in a manner that assures winning, attaining the goals of defense/offense in a dangerous and often deadly encounter. 

It cannot be done by memorizing set patterned combinations of techniques often specific in application but a dynamic creative application of principles and methodologies synthesized on the fly under duress, the adrenal chemical dump with its effects while remaining within the self-defense square and while limiting the bodily harm and possible death. 

Look at it like the sculpture who looks upon a large chunk of marble then who chips away at it seemingly random and without intent or purpose to expose the art hidden within the chunk of marble. Every situation, like every chunk of marble, will have some unique, different and new hidden art that when chipped at with chisel and hammer, the principles and methodologies of defense/offense, to expose that one of a kind and unique piece of art underneath. 

In defense/offense you create from practice and training a scheme that changes constantly to the moment and situation by pulling things apart (analysis) and them putting them back together again (synthesis) in new combinations of seemingly unrelated actions and ideas that are related to one another in finding how they would work in real-time, that is art and the artistic endeavor and discipline. It is about acquiring knowledge and understanding from experience, training and practice both direct and indirect to create a piece of art, an art piece that gets the job done. 

It takes insight, it takes imagination and it takes initiative to learn, comprehend, shape, discover, innovate, relearn and adapt to each unique and often changing moment for each situation much like seeing the art in a chunk of stone and then bringing that piece of art out and expose it to the light. When you use the term art in martial art, you apply this belief and discipline of artistic creativity to the martial or the military art of war. 

Karate is also an art and even tho not derived from the art of war it is a prerequisite to those arts, weapons, that are used in war. It is therefore a new concept to accept that arts be they martial or karate or even others from other cultures, etc., they all fall under being an art! 

Understand, the way to reach such concepts with accuracy and validation means to take ideas and theories and explore them, discover as much about them as you can. To think, comprehend and adapt them to the possibilities through the connections discovered from study that are insightful, full of your imaginations and derived from your initiative to think out side the box so you can shape them, learn from them, do them, achieve goals by their use and adopt them to your discipline, this is art at its very best. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. “Analysis and Synthesis (artistic endeavors) is thinking that consists of pulling ideas apart (analysis) and while intuitively looking for connections that form a more general elaboration (synthesis) of what is taking place. The process not only creates the discourse but also represents the key to evolve the tactics, strategies, goals, and unifying themes that permit us to shape and adapt to the world around us.” - Colonel John R. Boyd, USAF Deceased

Click for larger view.

“We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back again (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.”  - Colonel John R. Boyd, USAF Deceased

Boyd’s Quiz

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

Colonel Boyd would use this quiz along with an exercise that ended up creating/building a snowmobile. It is an interesting exercise and it, to me, is about thinking outside the box. Making connections from seemingly disparate individual things into one thing or seeing multiple things in a way that makes one or more different things when synthesized into something - new. 

It is also about, “Making novel connections to solve problems to win against an adversary under severe time constraints. Usually some deception or other stratagem is required to create false perceptions. Perception is everything, and manipulating that is the essence of strategy.” - Grant Hammond, The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security 

It is also about, “To make connections, to synthesize, to push the limits of personal knowledge, to expand horizons, to think about myriad apparently unrelated topics, in short, to build snowmobiles.” - Grant Hammond, The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security

What becomes important to maneuver defense/offense is developing and maintaining this ability to build from disparate things the one thing that you use to build tactics on the fly and under pressure so that you can use them in a situationally unique appropriate fashion while facing the uncertainty of violence and the unpredictable changes that brings in defense/offense. 

Bibliography (Click the link)
Click to read and see larger view.

bodyslammed by the cops - Marc MacYoung

Why this behavior will not only get you arrested, but bodyslammed by the cops

Hints (Rules) Regarding Police (the following is not an article by Marc MacYoung, its all me)

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

I was raised in a time and a society that taught us to respect authority. Authority in my time were the police and the military and all they consisted of and represented. In my sixty some odd years of living whenever I dealt with the police I automatically, call it a socially conditioned response, gave respect through my demeanor, i.e., I was respectful in my actions, I was respectful in my words and I not only listened to what he or she had to say but if they asked me to do something, I did it - regardless. Now, regardless means to my mind that I did what was asked regardless of how it made me feel; regardless of what I thought my rights were and whether I felt the process was doing to those perceived rights; regardless of whether the police’s words, actions or deeds seemed right or wrong to me. I know and knew that if there were such a problem I could redress those later through proper channels - regardless.

I know, from experience, that my ability to walk away without any muss or fuss with the authorities it was due in no small part to the way I act and acted with those same authority figures. An example, I was arrested and I was very polite with the officer and as a result he didn’t throw my in a cell. He let me remain in the lobby with the desk sergeant, call my boss who had my pay check (in cash) and wait there until my boss arrived to pay me so I could pay the bail. He could have put me in jail and I could have spent the entire weekend there waiting to see a judge and so on but I suspect bcause he had to and because I was polite and compliant to his instructions he still had to take me in but because he had a choice I spent that time well and paid the bill to go home. Seemed like a win-win to me except I really hated to have to pay out that money - arghhh, but if I had not broken the rules that would have been party money for that weekend.

Here is the rub, with very, very, very few exceptions, if you end up on the bad side of law enforcement I can guarantee that you will be there because of - wait for it …. YOU! It is your responsibility to know and understand the rules of society and it is best you also take the time to learn how the legal and laws processes work especially as it regards the first responders - the POLICE!

In Marc MacYoung’s article on this very subject, “Why this behavior will not only get you arrested, but bodyslammed by the cops,” he provides the reader with a lot of data/information that, if you listen and learn, will almost always help you deal with the authorities, the police, as long as you have not already done something that requires they arrest you. You still have a chance to walk away and if you follow the rules regarding police your chances are pretty darn good.

Oh, and yes, now that you read his article, it is a lot more complicated and it takes a lot more than an article or a list like below to know, understand and utilize what is needed when dealing with the legal system and those first responders - POLICE - and with that I lead you to Marc MacYoung’s book, “In the Name of Self-Defense.” He teaches a wider and deeper way to understand these things before you have to deal with them under stress and adrenaline - can you say, “Monkey Brain Antics?” NEXT … (Note: the reason I add my list of rules is because humans tend to glaze over in the eyes when confronted by long detailed articles - yes, this one is long too, so having some shorter terse way to get thier attention seems appropriate and we all only hope it inspires them to read the longer version, yeah inspiration!)

In the movie, “The Lost Boys,” their Grandpa says, “there are ruuulllees!” Well, folks, if you wish to have a successful and beneficial encounter with law enforcement, Police, you have to abide by rules, there are ruleeessss when encountering police! What are those rules?

Rule 1: Be polite and when you feel like you need to talk, be POLITE.
Rule 2: Comply with ALL instructions from the Police without question and without resistance, passive and non-passive.
Rule 3: Remember, your behavior both spoken and physical, will go a long way toward a successful encounter with police. See rule one and two.
Rule 4: Do NOT FAIL the personality test of Police, see rule 3.
Rule 5: Learn and understand the legal and justified under use of force policies of legal authorities such and especially as police. 
Rule 6: Learn, know and understand the concept of resistance and that there are different levels of resistance. That resistance is a pattern that legally allows increased levels of force - learn about them then see rule 3.
Rule 7: Do not resist the police, not passively and especially not actively. You can talk but do so while complying and NOT resisting. Read rule 3.
Rule 8: When you are asked to do something, comply.
Rule 9: When the officer then TELLS you to do something, realize you made a mistake and read rule 8. 
Rule 10: When the officer then ORDERS you to do something, realize you are in deep doodoo and read rule 9 and 8. 
Rule 11: When the officer then tells you that you are UNDER ARREST, shut the f*&^ up, comply with no resistance and let your lawyer do all the work from that point on - too late, you screwed the pooch and resistance of any kind will just pile on the problems you and your lawyer will have to deal with later. 
Rule 12: Remember your RIGHTS:
  • You DO NOT have the RIGHT to DISOBEY a lawful order by POLICE! (Note: it is not up to you to determine lawful/legal as to his duties, that is for lawyers/professionals)
  • You DO NOT have the RIGHT to resist and/or participate in civil DISOBEDIENCE!
  • You DO HAVE THE RIGHT to experience HANDS-ON by Police when you engage in non-compliance active or passive actions!!! (Note: don’t allow yourself, or you alligator mouth, to go past the TELL of the Police ASK-TELL-ORDER process)
Rule 13: If more police show up; read Rule 3 again!!! More police means you and your friends failed the personality test and failed all the rules, so buckle up and ready for the ride - it’s arrest time in the old corral of justice. 
Rule 14: Remember, Police are Professionals and - YOU ARE NOT!
Rule 15: READ the following article by Marc MacYoung. I am not kidding, you can actually learn something that will keep you out of the Police encounter and guess what, it can be done long before the first responders HAVE to respond to you and your location!!! Think, count to ten and then follow the rules.

Bibliography (Click the link)

History of Principles and Methodologies

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

Although these two concepts seem new and modern they are in truth ancient and historically relevant to modern times. The difference is in how they are presented and explained. Modern times and modern studies especially with the advent of the Internet has provided an unpresedented ability to articulate, verbally and by written word let along through video media, the terms and concepts that in the past were convey through the spoken and written words of great men but from words created to the times and to the materials such as books used but afforded only by those with means to purchase and study, the upper classes. 

As time passed and progress achieved changes were created, synthesized, from an analysis of what had passed before, much like sensei holding knowledge from perceptions and experiences, that didn’t actually change those ancient beliefs and knowledge, they just changed the way they were written and spoken so that greater clarity could achieve greater results. It came down to literally teaching through new by connecting that to the old and paying honor and tribute to those who came before by adding to the clarity of their teachings for the future making their teachings timeless much like the modern translations of the ancient classics like Sun Tzu’s Art of War. 

Example: Indirectly the mechanized use of tanks gained acceptance when it was connected to and heir to the armored horsemen of ancient times and is a natural means of reviving the decisive role the calvary played in past ages. This technique was used to connect the Huey Helicopter to the Army’s Calvary by connecting the new ride into battle with the old time honored ride into battle on horseback, the Huey the new horse to take them into battle.

Principles and methodologies have always existed and have always been an intricate part of learning martial arts and karate for defense/offense, protection, combatives and in training, the contests between practitioners. It isn’t anything new, often many of them were taught through demonstrative teachings rather than the spoken word, this from the cultural belief systems of Asian sensei. It is now a matter of bringing those ancient some what secret teaching methods out into the light so that modern practitioners can better understand and therefore better analyze and create, synthesize, their unique perspective and practice of the ancient disciplines of karate, in ancient times called Ti or Toudi in Okinawa, and martial arts of Japan. 

Because the teaching methods of those times involved kata, kata became the articulation of methodologies and principles such as the form taken, kamae, where sensei would touch, strike and create resistance so that he could check things like structure, alignment, balance and other physiokinetic sub-principles but by the demonstration and inherent understanding that the mind perceives unconsciously vs. the conscious understanding we in modern times and western cultural belief systems rely on to learn, study and understand. 

It is not about right or wrong, ether the ancient teachings or the modern. It is about understanding the indirect methods of teaching and understanding the teaching methods that are from another culture vastly different from our own. In our culture we strive to understand but from more of he senses than the eyes and the actions of the body. We need to see, to hear, to touch and to experience as a whole so that our minds understand so that our bodies more readily achieve progress in a way conducive to our learning and applying the knowledge to real-life situations be they normal or that of violent conflict. 

When the teachings use such terms as physiokinetics or multiple methodologies it is to expose the hidden foundation of the techniques, drills, kata, and tactics taught that are what we see as the cover of a book but to expose the more depth and breadth that comes from reading between the books cover. 

Liken it to reading the art of war where the Chinese characters are strange and undecipherable to our culture and mode of communications, to have experts “Translate the material” so that it is understandable to our communications model, our culture and our belief systems. 

If you cannot fathom the old then you cannot make use of them for the new because the new is not new since nothing under the sun is new. It is about taking the old, analyzing it by breading it down into its parts and then creating something seemingly new from the old when put together in a way that makes sense to our culture and way thus synthesizing what seems new but is rather a more relevant old-new way to reach goals and to win and so on.

For those who practice karate, remember that before karate it was Toudi and before Toudi it was simply Ti and now due to analysis and synthesis, terms never used before but the same as how they manifested new for their times, we have a plethora of systems and styles all derived from that one, wholehearted, system called Ti. The only way to pass on the old is to create a new-from-old that is not truly new, just another way of looking at the old and making the old work for the new - modern man and modern times. 

Bibliography (Click the link)


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

I am so thoroughly enjoying an eBook that I took a moment to present some information that previously I mistakenly misunderstood as fact when in reality it was - inappropriate. I use and have used instinct and instinctual to describe the unconsciously trained behavior but now find that to be just - wrong, incorrect and inaccurate. 

Instincts, as you can read in the quote that follows, are not changeable. Instincts are hard-wired and cannot be trained out of us but “Primal Conditioned/Flinch Responses” can be trained out of us. If you read this then go back and read my past posts when you read the use of instincts or instinctual simply replace that in your mind with primal conditioned responses. 

“PRIMAL CONDITIONED RESPONSE in lieu of instinctual, instincts cannot be changed. Flinches are PCR, etc. PCR is what we learned that work best for a given situation and they happen faster and without conscious thought ergo why many mistakenly assume they are instinctual, these reactions come from a different part of our brains. Whatever strategy one found worked the first time often makes it their primary PCR, at least until they find something better and train that response to replace the previous one. Primary Conditioned/Flinch Responses can be changed and that is how learning to effectively defend oneself does.” - Marc MacYoung, Writing Violence IV: Defense

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. “Like all animals, humans have instincts, genetically hard-wired behaviors that enhance our ability to cope with vital environmental contingencies.” Instincts are to do with visible muscular action in response to releasers. Releasers are triggers which set off chains of instinctive behavior. Although instincts are not learned, in some cases their performance can be improved by experience and practice. Properly, it is used only of well-defined acts whose causation is inherited, and which are triggered by specific stimuli called releasers. Other terms for instinct are fixed action patterns (FAP) and innate behavior chains.

Instincts defined: where the confusion in this instance comes from is the term is a natural or intuitive way of acting or thinking; a natural propensity or skill of a specified kind; the fact or quality of possessing innate behavior patterns. Looking at these other definitions may validate the use of instinct or instinctual but for clarity in the use in training and practice I would use PCR as a better, clearer, way to describe what we are attempting to do. In regard to an actual instinct, we can sometimes enhance that instinct through training but that is out of my expertise comfort zone. 

If Character Were the Prerequisite

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Kowakan Dojo provided a most excellent article today on, “The Waiting Game.” ( )  It reminded me that most of today’s karate and martial arts would not last very long if that were the way to enroll. We don’t do those things and the chances of them every returning would be astronomical as to the obstacles against. 

In an earlier article about rank with quotes from other karate and martial arts luminaries speaks to the commercialization of karate and martial arts too. Both would result in few taking up the challenge and even fewer going the distance - a lifetime of training and practice. As to the dan-i system, that came about when circumstances resulted in karate and martial arts being made a part of the educational systems for political and social conditioning purposes. The old way of karate was a dojo in the Sensei’s yard or other remote and hidden away place, no rank and very few students/practitioners. You hear stories all the time of the dojo consisting of two or three students who had to “qualify” to be accepted.

Sometimes acceptance would be achieved only if someone of note provided you a recommendation and that someone had to have a solid close relationship with the sensei. Now, with the educational versions being pushed that meant big, big classes with lots and lots of students and often only one sensei. You CANNOT teach large groups adequately in this discipline, it is not doable without sacrifices. 

The old stories of how the sensei would test the discipline, the attitude and the character of the prospective student may or may not be true but I do understand from some solid sources that this practice came about during the span between the samurai era and this more modern era of the way vs. the combative ways of martial prowess. 

Lets say for the sake of argument, karate sensei in those early years would use the character prerequisite to allow or gain entrance to this dojo. Then the question arises, whose concept of character? What constitutes a good character and when is it truly evident that the person has that character best suited for the karate disciplines? These very same questions arise in our modern times and you add to that, “How does the sensei resolve the need to make a living in the dojo and the acceptance under the character requirements he or she may have to teach and them to learn?” 

In truth, this concept is doable and would achieve a lot of great results. It is also my belief that this type of model, character prerequisite, would work commercially. I believe that a person of integrity and character that teaches karate and martial arts through actions and deeds acts as the character litmus test over time. Most who have that integrity and character tend to teach a certain way and that way often is seen by those lacking such character as a waste of time and who tend to walk out the door soon after starting. This is actually one reason why sensei with character and integrity tend to have higher turnover and tend to teach outside the means of making a living other than karate and martial arts. 

I am of the belief that such sensei can and do work with a character prerequisite but not the one told as follows in this quote from Kowakan’s blog:

“The martial arts at that time were taught to only carefully selected students whose character had been observed closely by the teacher. This of course, was not a guarantee that all persons selected to become students met such qualifications, hence the long term testing and evaluation period of performing chores and learning only basics. The unworthy would be weeded out or kept at a basic level. … What we can glean from this tradition of making students wait is that the apparent paradox of martial arts reducing violence may simply come down to a selection bias as this sort of practice would aid in weeding out undesirable students, but not completely eliminate them.” - Kowakan Blog, The Waiting Game (quote by Chojun Miyagi Sensei

This is especially true here in the America’s, folks without an appropriate character and integrity tend to want things quickly and with minimum fuss and muss. The kind of dedication, diligence and attitude to last and learn in karate and martial arts, traditionally speaking, tends to weed out the chaff from the wheat real fast. The time spent is often minimal and what they learn is a few basics that will do them little to no good regardless. 

Character is a prerequisite in certain dojo and it is perceived and determined by a sensei of integrity and character through actions and deeds both in and out of the dojo. Those with character and integrity stay, those without leave and that is life. The “Waiting Game” is still ON, just done differently than the old stories. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

Gokui, Principles and the OODA

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These three concepts of karate and martial arts regardless of the why of the discipline are all mutually beneficial not only in relation to one another but to the relationship and connectivity of their individual parts. Everything is about “one” and everything is about “Duality of Yin-Yang.” Even these three, when combined and connected holistically, are about the one and the duality of yin-yang. Yin-yang drives them all and they all are derived from the mutual benefit of each one, the yin to yang and yang to yin.

The OODA is thought of in a linear mechanical way, this has been discussed before, and many assume a one-dimensional understanding where one “Observes” then when necessary “Orients” on the observed thing or situation or phenomena. Then once we orient we then have to make some sort of decisions such as, “Shall I cross the street or shall I remain here?” When the decision is made then we act, we stay or cross. This is how I once thought the OODA worked and that processing the loop faster would give me the advantage but in truth it is a lot more complex than that linear mechanical one-dimensional definition. 

Principles are the same way, when we thing of yin-yang we assume it means hard-soft (as to karate and martial arts applications) and that goes for other aspects of principles. We tend to take them one at a time, learn about them then apply that linear one-dimensional understanding to our practice and training. It is only when we truly look at the sub-principle of yin-yang that we begin to understand that it and other principles don’t stand alone and are not learned or applied atomistically, separately, but as a whole one principled based application toward the discipline regardless of the why of our practice and training. There is, like the OODA to be further explained later, an ebb and flow and morphed mixing of the two to get a balanced one whole product or action.

We can say the same to the gokui, the ken-po goku-i, that is a terse Zen-koan like tome that is also thought of and understood from a single one-dimensional atomistic linear mechanical meaning. When they read about seeing all sides they assume that means the eyes through direct visual signals sent to the brain provide us something to observe and orient on that could be either good or bad further influencing the decision processes. Seldom does the person or system go past the linear single dimension concept toward a more robust one holistic wholehearted continued concept and meaning beyond that singular belief. It is one reason I re-wrote the gokui into a continuous single sentence that can be analyzed into distinct and separate concepts where the individual then synthesizes back into a more robust and complete, unique, understanding that teaches us more about ourselves and our study of karate and martial arts. 

In the OODA the OO, observe and orient, are independent and distinct concepts and processes yet to work both mutually support the other in order to achieve the results intended. Humans observe everything in their environment then compare that to the perceived understanding of that environment, outer world, into an inner world. What is assumed is that the individual observing actually knows and understands what it is they see, hear, touch and so on because of their perceive inner world. They fail to understand that to orient to the observed phenomena they must first know of it and understand it completely and utterly. You must orient on what that is, what it is you must know, what you need to know and what you need to know that you don’t know. 

Orient on that first, encode that to the perceived inner world of your mind and then use that to compare when you observe the outer world so that you can make a decision that you will act upon. Still a simplistic explanation but shows how we circle around the entire loop rather than one, the next, the next then the act or actions. Orient also effects our decision processes because to find an appropriate actions you need to decide on one and that comes from experiences as perceived by our observation of things and how we orient on those things making decisions along the way as to what is appropriate to what event and what is not. You have to observe that you need to know something, you have to orient on that, then you have to decide to study and understand what it is you need to know then you have to decide on how that gets encoded in procedural zombie sub-routine/functions memory and that also takes your orientation and decision so that when you act, in training and practice, you make the right decisions according to your observation and orientation during the training and practice processes, actions and decisions along with analysis and synthesis processing in an appropriate way as another decisive actions on your part. 

Using the OODA processes is how you first learn of the principles, then you analyze them as individual distinct things until you understand and begin to orient them with one another to make for one holistic whole that changes rapidly in the moment and situation so that you end up absorbing and encoding the entire principles so that progressive training will allow you to draw on them in the decision and action process of the loop.

Then there is the gokui, did you know that the gokui also makes references to the Chinese ancient classic, The Art of War of Sun Tzu? It is not just the first two lines that are more spiritual or mystical as to the sun and moon or the heave and earth, that also connect to the ancient book the I Ching, but to the way and means of battle in the art of war. It comes to mind once this is accepted that the simplicity of the gokui acts as a key to open the door to what you can achieve for yourself and in your use of the disciplines as related to the art of war. 

Balance and unbalance being like a weight is not just about physically unbalancing an adversary but also is derived from Sun Tzu’s teaching that a battle best won is the one not entered into, i.e., unbalance your adversary in mind and spirit and you can avoid doing battle, or fighting. 

Sun Tzu speaks to energy, the ordinary and extraordinary forces used in battle, speaking to how they “end and recommence; cyclical, as are the movements of the sun and moon. They dies away and are reborn; recurrent, as are the passing seasons. As the sun and moon cycle through the heavens that surround us cause the Earth and man to experience the passing of seasons and those seasons matter in the strategy of the art of war. 

The OODA, the Fundamental Principles and the Ken-po Goku-i are all like the teachings of Sun Tzu in his chapter on Energy, i.e., “The primary colors are only five in number but their combinations are so infinite that one cannot visualize them all.” His teachings are inter-connected and mutually beneficial and our other concepts of karate and martial arts also connect; if you open your mind, your body and your spirit to change, chaos, and an opening of the box you can see what cannot be seen, you can hear what cannot be heard and you can touch that which seems untouchable. 

These are the concepts of the Gokui, the Fundamental Principles and the OODA and yet, they are not the end all of what is out there. You just have to let them in. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

One Dimensional vs. Multi-dimensional

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I was flipping through the BB mag this weekend where I like to check on Dave Lowry's Martial Way article. This month's article is on  Kuzushi, a term. It reminded me how easy it is to make the assumption that such things are defined on an initial definition but Mr. Lowry's article reminded me that, especially karate and martial arts, is often only one dimensional in teaching while, in truth, it is about how we should always look for its other multi-dimensional facets - like the multi-faceted diamond.

We see a diamond and see its beauty but when we look closer, under a jewelers eyepiece, we begin to see its many faceted beauty beyond the surface. The diamond’s true nature is about its particular form with numerous facets that provide it with its true brilliance, it is about cutting the rough stone and the polishing it to a brilliance that reflect colors that can reach fifty-eight facets. The better the cut, the better the brilliance and the smoothness and clarity of the reflecting facets that when cut properly turn the stone into a multi-faceted rainbow of brilliance worth many times more than a mere stone of a one dimensional state.

Each facet has the potential to change the light ray that travels the paths that connect each in a unique way. The dimensional make-up of a multi-faceted diamond tends to convey a certain amount of information and that makes for a multi-dimensional nature of the light inside that effects what is seen and presented to the outer world. There is a reason why a diamond is thought of as a girl’s best friend, because of the symbolism through the cutting and creation of a many faceted or multi-dimensional creation from a rough simple stone.

It is this that makes karate and martial arts more than a mere stone of simplistic physical activity into is realistic traditional and complete multi-dimensional discipline, just like the creation of a diamond. The practitioner is the rough stone, the Sensei is the jeweler’s eyepiece and the cutting tools whose job is to find the many facets of the student and help them cut, polish and temper the stone into a diamond; an efficient, proficient and master of his self and discipline. 

It is this concept that resulted in the connections I see in Boyd's Cycle or what some call the OODA loop. It is the input and output of his seminal works I refer to as the Modern Art of War. A synthesis of his experiences and studies in air combat now relevant to both military combat and Business, let alone personal as well. Boyd’s Cycle is about the analysis of a stone and the synthesis of the diamond and the many facets or multi-dimensional aspects create the modern art of war he created.

When Mr. Lowry presents other facets of the term Kuzushi, you can see how our disciplines are in fact a "Way", as well as an art - an Art of Personal Combat. Personal combat or defense in civil cases is about not just the applications of techniques but the entire human mind, body and spirit developed and crated to apply such disciplines for appropriate purposes, goals, tactics and strategies. 

It is likened to opening an old closed door discovered in a hidden area of an old ancient building, the excitement of discovery tempered with a bit of trepidation of the unknown. It is the fear of this unknown that locks the modern karate-ka and martial artists into the one dimensional practice of their disciplines. Unlocking that potential does bring great things. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

On Physical Defense

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Hey, don’t assume this stuff is written in concrete because this is simply me trying to gain perspective and understanding to the Boyd OODA loop, patterns of conflict, and his Discourse on Winning and Losing; so all of the following is my learning curve. Take it for what it is, an attempt at understanding through analysis and synthesis.

Compare maneuver warfare to the traditional attrition warfare? 

The question that comes to my mind, like sports, many who teach and use karate and martial arts skills, supposedly, tend to do so as if in a sport contest. The question that comes to my mind, sports are geared toward an attrition like type of competition where two face off and use strength and power to wear out their opponent until they give up. The question that comes to my mind, if this is so then maneuver tactics seem superior to the attrition or smarter, because it is more about the mind aling with speed and maneuver, say going off centerline, etc., to achieve a goal of stopping an attack. Simplistic, I know, but in a sense and fundamentally this theory may be valid. 

In a self-defense situation it has been said and I have noted that there are patterns presented along a path that can take you to physical violence and also to bypass that violence is you learn those patterns, recognize them along the way then consciously make a decisions to take a different path like toward avoidance or escape-evasion or deescalation (the order only matters as to how you feel best toward appropriate actions from your observations/orientations, etc.

In a nutshell, my theory, the differences between attrition type defense and maneuver defense is, “attrition is about training toward a strength oriented approach of a face-to-face effort of fighting, illegal that is, toward reducing and depleting the strength and effectiveness of your attacker through a sustained pressure attack. In other words, fight like fighters till the other guy quits or drops from exhaustion or some other accidental injury, etc.

In a nutshell, my theory, maneuver is more about utilizing your mind to apply skills that take into consideration all forms of self-defense much like the patters or paths that lead up to physical violence, i.e., in other words knowing, understanding and recognition of the physical violence road the choosing to take a different path toward say, “Avoidance and/or Deescalation” or “Escape and Evasion,” and so on. Recognizing those patterns or roads to violence means you can make a choice that can defeat your adversary with out ever going to war or fighting or using physical force within the self-defense square and so on - make sense?

This is much like Boyd’s “A Discourse (that include patterns of conflict or expands on it)” where he advocates using strength against weakness (manueiver) rather than strength agains strength (attrition). 

A driving principle of a discourse by Colonel Boyd is a driving principle of a concept of surfaces and gaps; one wants to create gaps to flow through and thus flow around surfaces (maneuver) rather than crash against them (attrition).

It comes down to creating, training and understanding instinctively your strategies, goals and tactics but when it comes to applying them you remain  true to your intent but also allow the freedom of judgement to determine exactly how your goals and strategies should be accomplished. In other words you use the concepts of cheng and ch’i with speed, fluidity, and change through use of multiple methodologies - that would include within a maneuver mind-set to change the course or patterns so that physical violence is avoided for more appropriate end goals to stop an attack. It allows you to be self-empowered to both recognize and take advantage of opportunities, as well as gifts from your adversary, that you may encounter in conflict. 

In other words, like Boyd’s art of war, harmonize your actions and initiative of situational requirements with your goals, strategies and tactics. It is to remain true to your intent but to allow change and creativity to stop an attack. It is real-time change to transform responses to transformations in actions that create operational fluidity not tied to simple attrition but to the more acceptable maneuver defenses. 

Add in a combination of choices provided by a maneuver, non-attrition, type of tactics through a solid tool set of principled based multiple methodology in combination with movement and speed and fluidity and tempo with rhythm, so that when an adversary takes up a defense against one, they become vulnerable to another offense from you. It them becomes an operational OODA loop cycle that adjusts to the rhythm and tempo you set in this mannger or set of tactics, etc. It is a application of variety (principled multiple defense methodologies), rapidity (speed, fluidity of changes, etc.), harmony (the cohesivness of applied methodologies, strategies, goals and tactic toward adversary confusion, etc.), and initiative (the ability to change situational applications of tactics and strategies without losing the intent of tactis and strategies in real-time).

Think of attrition and maneuver for self-defense in this way, i.e., “Karate is an attrition system relying in strength and the power of that strength while Aikido is a maneuver system that relies on the adversary’s use of force, power and strength.” Does that make sense, both have their strengths and weaknesses just like applying self-defense of you and an adversary (assuming it is just you two and his friends are not there to pitch in). You can either apply your karate directly and forcefully to wear down the strength and stamina of your adversary or you can apply your aikido to use his against him or even better you can use your maneuver skills to avoid the violence or deescalate the situation and thereby avoid the violence or escape-evade the adversary as they approach to apply their conflict and possibly violence skills against you - Yeah, that sounds even better. 

Oh, lets not forget that for maneuver self-defense you can actually stop conflict and violence of a more serious nature by taking stock of yourself, your contributions in a conflict that can and do escalate things to physical violence and stop that mind-state when you encounter that first on-ramp down a path to conflict and possibly physical violence - yeah, that sounds even better and that fits a mold of maneuver that I might symbolize by calling that, “Patterns of Self-Defense.” (working things out, in other words still analyzing toward a synthesis of something a bit different)

Bibliography (Click the link)

About Principles

Rory Miller has an awesome post today, read it here, that reminds me to say, “Although I write about fundamental principles", don’t assume that these are the only principles involved in such things like karate and martial arts because within those disciplines there are other principles involved all of us need to learn and understand.  

Another set of principles as an example are provided on Rory Miller's video about "Joint Locks," where he also teaches about certain principles involved in the training, practice and application of joint locks. 

Formalized Tactics

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In reading up on Sun Tzu along with references to Clausewitz there came a quote or meme that is used throughout the arts of war, formalized tactics. Formalized tactics was the conventional form of war and is still used in many places even today. We used it in WWI and partly in WWII but who knows what was in effect during the Viet Nam era, to confusing and much like Sun Tzu states, if the campaign is too long then you have lost the battle. We lost that one bad.

What does this have to do with karate, martial arts and self-defense or self-protective disciplines? Well, the arts of war, especially that of Sun Tzu, are such that they can be applied to any conflict and any from of violence used so it can be used at this low level of fighting, combat and defense (Note: don’t get caught up in the use of the term defense, read Mr. MacYoung’s latest eBook on defense). 

In karate as well as many of the Japanese forms of karate and martial arts the training and practice tend to lean heavily on “formalized tactics.” Yes, this is my view, my perception and the distinction I see in things like basics (use of ten or so upper and lower techniques in warmups and practice), kata (formalized patterned sets of techniques and combinations chained together and often defined under the heading of tactics or particular techniques based actions, reactions, attacks and counter attacks, etc.) and various drills or what some call kumite-drills (set pattern kata applications in response to attack like kata applications set in certain patterns). Needless to say, this could go on and only in contests/competitions do you see a straying from such training and practices but often in a very limited and formalized set or sets of combinations, i.e., combinations consisting of a set of particular techniques found by the applicant to work with some consistency in the contests/competitions, etc. 

Some karate-ka will see this as just plain stupid, not karate, but hey, isn’t there a lot of subjects, topics and training not done that is karate because of expediency and instant need for gratifications, i.e., rank, recognition, status, etc.? I like to think that even some of the more obscure and seemingly insignificant subject matters actually contribute toward a better understanding and hopefully a better application of our disciplines especially when it comes to self-defense or self-protective disciplines. 

Formalized tactics as I describe are a good thing, to a point. I have written about this a lot and it does require a change in the status quo of modern karate and martial arts in all its practiced forms but seems to my mind a necessity much like Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict (OODA stuff, etc.) where modern arts of war need to move to maneuver warfare over the conventional formalized versions of war previously used and found to be lacking even in ancient times.

In all the arts of war it is believed in some circles that the only author to date who is literally timeless is Sun Tzu and I feel, to date in my studies, that Colonel Boyd has achieved that status if for no other reason then his studies analyzed and then synthesized into his modern art of war. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

p.s. some of the professionals I study have indicated that the more formalized tactics many try to train and apply to self-defense tend not to work ergo why I  tend to stress breaking away from a formalized training discipline to one that is more creative in nature and use the formalized training to learn about principles and methodologies, etc., “A training Tool!”