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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Sparring is NOT Fighting

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

Remember, a real fight is often either a social monkey dance or a predatory like adrenal-chemical stress-flooding event that takes you totally and completely by surprise where you are in the midst of being pummeled, crowded, unbalanced with total loss of structure. As one professional said, “Say you are hit from behind, just behind the ear and the flurry is reining down on you and you have to start your self-fense from there.” What the … oh crap you are in the shit now!

Sparring is another learning tool that many assume teaches you how to fight but that is not strictly true. Like kata and other aspects of martial arts and karate they teach you a lot about fundamental principles and often, if done right, provide you teachings that help your senses and body to act and respond in certain ways. Sparring in the dojo is also drastically different from competitive events also called sparring. None of that even comes close to how an attack goes down. 

Sparring is about teaching the principles and is used to mesh out issues and changes to each unique individual so that when they do actually train, as much as you can in a training model, in a reality-based adrenal stress-conditioned model they can; first, learn how to handle the chemical dump effects and then, second work on making their efforts adhere to principles, methodologies and types of force all within the socially created conditions dictated by law, the legal system and the whims of ignorant societies often alarmed and disturbed by anything they remotely feel, emotionally, is violence. 

Another perspective on sparring in karate from the Shinseidokan Dojo blog, i.e., “Efficiency in a fight … dream on!” Clarke Sensei, if you have read his bibliographic-like book has a deal of experience in fighting, the social-n-asocial types. He and some other experienced folks, professionals, who have graciously provided teachings from their experiences all same pretty much the same thing. 

Now, I understand that the majority of those self-fense martial and karate dojo out there are going to read something like this as begin to rant, rave, whine and cry that this is all bullshit and what they do will work in self-defense but in truth - mostly, not so much. When you finally get at least a picture in your mind of what real self-defense is; what real martial arts are; what real karate is and how those work in relation to the legal, legal system and social conditions in the real world you will come to a slightly, actually a pretty big difference, different perception and perspective of what you teach vs. what is reality. 

In most social situations your karate fense may be there for you and you may get pretty lucky that it just ends up, worst case, in the ER with bruises, bumps and maybe a broken bone or two without some legal response but in truth if things go from worse to really bad and first responders have to take in the situation it is a reality that they will find your martial fense actually illegal and off to jail without passing go you GO. Ain’t life grand.

In my opinion, I suspect and theorize that most who train the common martial defense stuff are just plain lucky and often find themselves not even close to being exposed to real, the realty of, conflict with violence. But hey, what the heck, my experience doesn’t even come close to some of the pro’s I reference much like Clarke Sensei so feel confident; feel good; feel satisfied your reality beliefs are safe cause you can ignore me totally and completely cause I ain’t got the cred’s you envision - especially since most understanding is from the entertainment industry like TV and movies …

Ok, off the soap box!

Hat tip (Ritsu-rei) to <Shinseidokan Dojo Blog by Michael Clarke Sensei> as the inspiration for this post.

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

and again it was largely worthless

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

And yet, if not for the Internet people like the author of the blog who expressed the disappointment and resentment of the majority of contributors has missed the concept that the minority is actually doing good on the same social internet connections. To walk away would be a disappointment to those few who find and have found enlightened information on martial arts from ‘the few, the proud, those who are working hard to put out the truth, facts and future of karate/martial arts.’ 

If those few truly gifted martial artists allow the majority to influence their efforts and leave the iDojo then karate and martial arts truly loses and falls deeper into the mire of falsehoods, business acumen of sales over content, and the denigration of the future of the discipline. 

I, for one, have discovered and learned and grown from the contributions of the few who work diligently and honestly to convey theories, ideas, culture, philosophy, technique and experiences to those who would never see, hear, feel or discover it without the contacts made possible by the Internet. After all, it is up to those who surf for such data to data-mine the wheat from the chaff, right?

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Your Martial Mastery, Where Does it Come From?

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

Recently, I read another wonderful philosophical article from the Shinseidokan Dojo blog written by Michael Clarke Sensei. As I have come to expect, his philosophy triggers many kinds of thought and tends to make my mind think, thinking about things in my practice of karate. Today, the day I read the article, two quotes are of special note for they put out a glaring line that often divides the disciplines called, “Martial Arts-n-Karate.” 

It comes down for me to intent and distinctions in study, practice, training and experiences. It means to me that a karate-ka/martial artists must have a solid grasp on the intent and distinctions of what they practice, how they practice it and how the implement that discipline into their lives and not just for self-fense, competition or following a philosophical way or all the above. 

Far too many get caught up in the business sides and far too many who have created a methodology that takes advantage of what I am starting to call stereotypical persuasive trigger features of that person or persons that influence and persuade them to sign up and follow the business martial way. Granted, as I have expressed before, this business model is great and I applaud those who have the business sense to run such a business and actually make a solid and good living off it BUT how they do that matters too and their distinctions and intent play a significant role. To slip, slide and use such trigger tricks to cause a person to fall prey to their ‘life short-cut situation tapes or procedural memories’ is just not right. 

As one source stated, “We live in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed in human history. To deal with it, “We need shortcuts!” Humans cannot expect to recognize and analyze all aspect of each person, event and situation encountered in even one day. There isn’t enough time, energy or capacity for it. Humans must very often use stereotype, our rules of thumb, to classify things according to a few features (tapes; click, whirr) and then to respond mindlessly when on or the other of these trigger features is present.”

If honorable, those in business provide facts, truths and proper intent/distinctions as to why they sell this product, the intent and distinctions will not denigrate that business but become a driving force as to why people join up and stay, they feel honored and respected and that my friends seems to be a cornerstone to what a Sensei is and what they should provide be it business or dojo or profession or ‘The Way!’

“The common reality of course, is that the visiting teacher is on an ego-driven junket. They expect to be wined and dined, paid attention to, and have their picture taken with lots of eager disciples. Oh yes, and all too often, they expect to return home with an outrageous amount of cash that they didn't tell the tax man about.” - Shinseidokan Dojo Blog, When Your Master Comes to Call

“So...the next time your teacher comes to visit, check if they are traveling on the correct visa, ask if they are happy to share their knowledge without leaving the country with a bundle of cash, ask yourself why you invited them over in the first place, than ask yourself if  the behavior of all involved was honest. Depending on the answers you get, you'll know if your 'thinking' is wrapped up in budo...or, like the majority of karate/kobu-do-ka these!” - Shinseidokan Dojo Blog, When Your Master Comes to Call

Hat tip (Ritsu-rei) to <Sensei Michael Clarke of Shinseidokan Dojo> as the inspiration for this post.

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Find Your Strengths

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

“Find your strengths, train your weaknesses!” - cejames

We all have strengths and we all tend to lean heavily on those strengths and we all tend to lessen our focus regarding our weaknesses. Sometimes we dig a deep hole and throw in those weaknesses, bury them and then we push hard on our strengths in the hopes they will take up the slack for all those buried weaknesses. But, no matter how deep the hole those weaknesses are still there, just under the surface and ready to be exploited by an adversary and/or opponent. 

In order to attain and maintain your balance you have to take both sides of the coin that is our humanness, physical and mental, and develop them so that they are balanced first, complementary to one another second and strong third. It is tantamount to making one are very, very strong while ignoring the other arm. That lack of balanced symmetry of the body leaves the mind weak to one side and exposes us to the spears and arrows of conflict in our lives no matter whether merely social differences or resulting in grave harm or death. 

Yin-yang principles speak to the nature of humanness in the universe that exists only because of the spectrum of balance attained in the yin-yang concepts, a complementary balance of strengths and weaknesses. When you punch you are yang, when you retract that arm you are yin and it takes both sides for the arm to function properly. It is the way, the path, and it is the very nature of life, conflict and violence - all a intricate and intermixing of life’s nature.

When you train and practice you have to allow your strengths to flourish while at the same time you have to find your weaknesses and make them a part of your strengths. This is how we see yin-yang, i.e., strengths and weaknesses transforming to the far yang to become all strengths while retracting in a yin with a strength of yang to the far yin, the state we take in peace while yang is the state we take in conflict. A constant ebb and flow of the physical and mental with the spirit spanning both as if the one great tai chi that allows the one to become two, duality, but with both strengths and weaknesses while strengthening the weaknesses into balanced strength-weakness dynamic duality of spirit. 

Discarding, ignoring and/or failing to see, hear, feel and expose weaknesses in the effort to analyze and synthesize into strengths balanced with weaknesses is a failure to follow the path, the way or “Do (doah).” 

Don’t fail to follow the right path, don’t fail to regard and discover your weaknesses and you will find that those perceived weaknesses will complement your natural strengths making you spiritually, physically and mentally whole!

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Group Bonding

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

The exposure to and test of physical exertion, psychological strain, and social embarrassment, i.e., often enduring beatings, exposure to the elements, thirst, eating of unsavory foods, punishments, threats of grave bodily harm or death, etc., as initiations to membership is related to group survival culture and beliefs where the groups very survival is at stake. This is the model that military special forces types as well as basic military personnel, at a lessor degree of severity, endure to ‘earn the title’ of that group, unit or service.

Hazing, etc., as group initiation rites of tribal or fraternal societies/groups/tribes and clans because of their close ties to our very human nature in survival even with concerted efforts by social conditioning will not go away due to their criticality toward group survival dynamics. 

Add in those rituals and training requirements along with actual combat experiences the group becomes closer and more connected on levels far beyond the comprehension of most people who have not experienced such disciplines. Think of the things like the Bones Societies that make up some of the most powerful movers and shakers of our society and don’t forget that even those jihadists terrorist like groups also have their initiation rites as well. 

On a less involved way martial disciplines that are associated with the more militaristic martial ways also have a form of initiation rites that qualify a perspective member for inclusion in the group. This helps explain and understand why black belt tests can take on a more serious and often injurious nature to qualify to belong to the exclusive community of a system or styles black belts. Similar to military initiation rites as to fraternal societies the dojo graduation from the common fodder of the kyu ranks to the dan ranks requires the same form and type of initiation rite that we see in these other groups and societies. 

Even those who have made that first foray into the dan grades has experienced not just that initiation rite but a serious on-going rite of passage passing through the kyu grade systems. This also helps explain why that dan-i system was adopted and has prospered in the martial arts communities. It is simply because its very nature triggers the group driven survival requirements of a social group, it is about that survival instinct and the nature of all the tribal and fraternal group initiation rites - of passage from a normal other type human into an accepted and connected member of a special tribe that forms a bond and a social cultural belief connected bond that can withstand almost any onslaught to break it apart and kill the group or its members (see, survival again). 

You see, initiation rites of passage are a universal human experience that defies banning or social banning conditioning. Refuse it and it goes underground, i.e., you can ban sex, prohibit alcohol and try to eliminate hazing in initiation rites but they will find a way because they are perceived as genetic in nature, the very foundation of humans as if a part of our DNA. 

One study found that a “person who goes through a great deal of effort, trouble and pain to attain something tends to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with minimal effort.” The greater the requirement, the greater the effort of the initiate and the greater that group is perceived to be of greater interest, of more intelligence, and its desirability. All of this, all the troubles are ‘acts of group survival’. The spur future members to find the group that is more attractive and worthwhile - survival of the fittest (another view of what the initiation rites convey when applied and experienced successfully).

The loyalty and comradeships developed that requires a struggle to attain because they foster and build loyalty and dedication that increased the degree the chances of group cohesiveness and survival.  The greater the initiation rites the greater the group solidarity. It is no wonder that the military and by osmosis the martial disciplines (also adopted by the military in recent years) have things like the dan’i system and the rituals from kyu to dan grades, etc., it is a group survival trigger to our natures. 

In the Marines, William Styron wrote, “The remorseless close-order drill hour after hour in the burning sun, the mental and physical abuse, the humiliations, the frequent sadism at the hands of the drill instructors, all the claustrophobic and terrifying insults to the spirit which can make an outpost like Parris Island one of the closest things in the free world to the concentration camp.” 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

Joiner Effect

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

The joiner effect means as soon as you join, you just imagine your side is right all the time, even if they aren’t. I suspect it is about group dynamics of nature for the survival instincts humans need … to survive. 

What are group dynamics? Fundamentally they are processes involved when people in a group interact with one another. I would add in that group dynamics good deeper into the survival instincts of humans. I feel that those instincts, even if not consciously considered, are the driving force behind group dynamics. 

Humans are driven to associate themselves to groups. When they do find a group of like-minded and like-goal-oriented members they seek admittance. This is when group dynamics get involved because to gain entrance you have to fit a certain cultural belief system and be willing to adhere to all the groups rules, requirements and laws. When you are given admittance you will experience the “joiner effect.” 

“There are three main things that can affect a team's cohesion (the act of working together well). They are: environmental factors, personal factors and leadership factors.” - Wikipedia, Group Dynamics:

Some factors involved: Status within the group; how social identity is effected in the group and how that applies to the individual member; the groups connectedness as dictated by the groups hierarchal model, its social requirements and its leadership, etc.; how the group and individuals behave and influence one anther toward the groups goals, i.e., survival; how the group is structured to individual status as it relates to those duties and functions that contribute most to the groups survival; the groups and individuals performance; how the individuals, leaders and the group handle conflict both inside the group and toward other groups and so on.

In a nutshell, and toward its very fundamental foundation, groups as a whole are greater than the sum of its parts, an entity that has qualities of all its individual members making a group culture and belief system. The entire human species relies on group dynamics to survive and without it and those very group dynamics our species would have gone extinct long, long ago. 

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)