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

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


I've stopped knives that were coming to disembowel me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Martial Body and Mind Conditioning (Working on some Theories)

The first term that comes to mind is, “karada-kitae.” This is body conditioning. When a martial artists, traditional, thinks of this term they usually think of Hojo-undo, i.e. more specifically the makiwara. What I tend to think of when I talk about karada-kitae is not just the makiwara but other techniques and exercises that toughen up the entire body. 

The reason I wanted to discuss this model, as well as mind conditioning, is because there is more to body conditioning that merely conditioning the knuckles, ball of foot, etc. Usually when karada-kitae is practiced it conditions specific parts of the body. Some of those conditioning exercises focus on the parts of the body that are naturally able to take a blow, etc. due to physiology, etc. The body naturally takes certain impacts if the body is healthy and in physical fit condition. 

When I start to speak of karada-kitae I lean heavily toward conditioning the body to endure the stresses, strains and pains that may come from an attack against a person requiring self-defense. I also think of the conditioning of the body to make it strong and resilient so when encountering damage in a conflict the body holds up well enough to allow you to extricate yourself from the attack, the violence being rained down on your body. 

I like the makiwara, I feel it has its uses above and beyond mere body conditioning such as the fist - fore-knuckles, etc. It comes back to conditioning the body using a variety of tools be they weights or some form of cardio conditioning. It is about strength and endurance so the body can with stand a violent attack. 

It is about doing things on a regular basis to keep that body in that condition. It is the ability to endure such things as “spartan race type ability,” or “death race” fitness and ability or the current rage of “cross fit” fitness and ability. Those types of stresses that constantly expose your body to the hardships of the obstacles that put your entire body to its limits. 

Then there is exposure to the chemical rushes that come from stress and emotional floods such as fear and anger. It your body cannot work and resist those effects and those damages an attacker is inflicting then you are done. 

Stressing your body in a variety of ways is essential if you want to have the ability to apply self-defense. There is more tho, as body conditioning or karada-kitae is only what is necessary for training the body. It is similar to professionals like the military, etc. to achieve a level that will prepare them for the rigors of combat and to maintain that level of conditioning through out a career. 

Karada-kitae in the fullest and complete sense is not a weekend model but a dedication to that degree and type of condition through out one’s entire life. You can’t just do this stuff like a fitness club session, i.e. three times a week, etc. It takes a daily effort to maintain that type of physical conditioning that will prepare your body for physical violence. This is long after all the other self-defense knowledge and learning that is necessary long before you step on the training floor. 

Note: The idea about karada-kitae, body conditioning, is that you can only condition those parts of the body that will have a natural ability to resist the strike or kick. There are parts of the body you cannot strike or kick without doing considerable damage. The idea with this conditioning is to train the body and mind to not let the strike, kick, etc. when it lands to distract you from acting. Many when hit solid and hard tend to freeze up with wonder as to why that hurts, etc. Much like striking the hands and feet, etc. where it is recommended that for every hour of training you spend ten minutes actually hitting something hard. It goes the other way that you should be hit, hard but with control, to get used to the idea you are going to get hit. I would say that during the ten minutes per hour of training should also be spent getting hit. Not the light touch type hits that get you points but those kind that will stun you. Working through the pain of that and the discomfort will tell your mind that you can still act, still move, still do something even when you feel the strike, kick, etc. 

Then there is “shin-kitae [心鍛え].” The forging of the mind. The first character/ideogram means, “mind; spirit; heart,” the second character means, “forge; discipline; train.” 

Shin-kitae is about training the mind in martial arts. If a martial artist is going to also practice with a goal of self-defense there are additional mind-set training that is required because a self-defense situation involving a physical attack results in other factors that are not always encountered in martial arts training. Especially when martial arts, karate in my case, involves more traditional, health, fitness, philosophical, etc., training for human personal betterment and so on. Example is training the mind to deal with the adrenal rush, that chemical cocktail that the body dumps when stressed with fear, anger, or both as well as other emotional stuff. 

All the karada-kitae along with various “shugyo” training sessions will lead you toward that type of shin-kitae. But, before you dive deep into shugyo, karada-kitae, shin-kitae involves a solid knowledge base. That base should be made up, if you want your martial art to be self-defense oriented, the type of information that involves the complete self-defense spectrum. 

I decided on this term because many give lip service to forging the mind. The one thing that will get you from here to there in self-defense is your mind and the mind-state and mind-set you have. There is more than just having the willingness and ability to apply self-defense fully and completely, within the laws and societal rules set for SD. Even one who has the mind-set to do what is necessary they still need to train the mind to overcome the lizard when it decides that it wants to handle it one way even when your thinking mind has told you to do it another way. 

In addition, a mind-set and mind-state will give the one person who may not have the level of skill of a martial artist but having the right mind-set and mind-state can often carry the day for them while a martial artist who fails to address such things or overlooks such things will get their hat handed to them in an attack. Example: “I know of a sixth degree black belt sitting in a restaurant who was approached by an attacker, seemed like a revenge thing, who simply threw his coat over the guys head, jumped on him in the bench seat of that restaurant and then commenced to pound the crap out of him. The assailant simply walked away, out the door, to his car and drove off.”

Shin-kitae is a term created to use so that such things are addressed when training in self-defense even if not a martial art. 

Using such martial terms as “mushin” and so on are cool and interesting but if they don’t actually cover those mind-states and mind-sets along with shin-kitae then they are just interesting terms - lip service. 

Another viewpoint to shin-kitae is you develop a mind-set and mind-state that says to an attacker, “You are not an easy victim. No matter what, if you attack this guy you will have to pay a price for you efforts, or just simply your body and mind says, ‘It ain’t gonna happen dude!’” Your mind-set and mind-state is going to tell your attacker simply that violence is not going to get him what he wants!

Another aspect of training the mind is the need to realize that reality sucks. It sucks because when someone decides to attack you they are going to come at you as if they are a total maniac and they are intent on doing you a lot of damage, really really fast. He is out to give you serious injuries. If he breaks something all the better especially when it cause your mind to seize and you curl up in a ball hoping for the best - he will stop and go away. 

You have to know there is nothing going to intervene with him doing you damage other than your actions. There are not sensei or senpai to stop the match - it ain’t a match either. There are not judges and most of all there are no rules. Most don’t realize this and don’t know how to handle it when it comes and that is why I created the term “shin-kitae” to push to the forefront of your mind that this stuff is critical to make your self-defense training and practice - WORK. 

You are going to react out of habit and that habit comes from how you train both your body and your mind. Karada-kitae and shin-kitae are just tools to help you reach that level of mind-set and mind-state with a body able to withstand punishment and damage until you can stop the attacker and run to safety. 

Shin-kitae should include some sort of mind training the promotes what a real attack is like and how you respond. The following quote from Marc MacYoung should spell this out a bit, “It’s a totally different set of physics, a different mind-set, and a different set of motor skills to be able to hit an angry, charging person in a vital area hard enough to stop him.” This is a major mind bending difference from what you train and practice in the dojo, from what you apply in sparring in the dojo and what you use to win a tournament match. There are differences and they are apparently wide and where this touches on shin-kitae is that it takes a lot more than merely thinking, “I have to do this to make it work in the street.” What I am getting at is your training, if includes self-defense, must put your mind-set and mind-state into practice and training. If you focus on martial arts as a traditional practice thinking that it will easily move into the realm of self-defense then you are looking to get your clocked cleaned and that will introduce you to the thoughts and feelings that, “my martial arts doesn’t work.” 

Just thinking that things will work without putting that to the test in some kind of realistic training and practice means you will act out of habit when that screaming, charging and suicidal attacking asshole comes at you in all probability things will fall apart and you will get hurt. 

Don’t believe me, do a fact check if you will and research all this from others who have lived this kind of life and have ooodles and ooodles of experience using self-defense in the streets. 

Bibliography: http://isshindo.blogspot.com/2014/07/clarification-on-content.html

Ok, what are some other ways of achieving shin-kitae, lets try achieving a model of training that includes “Stress Training.” This is a big deal because if you cannot train under stress at least part of the time and by part I mean so that it is encoded into your brain so that the lizard uses it in the fight then it won’t work. The type of stress that produces all kinds of body and mind effects such as those imposed when the body and mind run into the kind of stress that induces fear and then the adrenal rush hits you and does all kinds of neat things that can impede your effectiveness. This is a whole nother ball of twine and you need to seek more in the bibliography. 

Another shin-kitae is to learn what violence is and what it does so that you are not hit unexpectedly when violence enters your life. Knowledge is one way to achieve this goal then training in stress, etc. along with realistic scenarios will help you achieve this mind-state and mind-set. This is another reason why you have to “work hard” at differentiating between sport, fighting, combat and self-defense. Just saying you have to make a change is not enough - you have to train it and train it enough to matter to your thinking, monkey and lizard brains. 
Here is how you train for the street, seen our a scenario-based training course. That was easy, seek out a scenario-based training course to augment your martial arts training. Then do what Marc MacYoung suggests, nit pick your system to find those things best suited for self-defense. 

Shin-kitae is necessary if you want self-defense but here is the rub. Most who take self-defense never, every encounter a situation requiring self-defense. Most physical altercations are on the side of social violence and that is another whole story you would get from sources such as the bibliography given above. 


Karada-kitae and shin-kitae are merely fundamentally basic tools to train the mind and body so as to create a spirit that will overcome such adversities that end in violence. Then again, maybe I have it all wrong. Geez Louise!

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