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

Hey, Attention on Deck!

Hey, NOTHING here is PERSONAL, get over it - Teach Me and I will Learn!


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

WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE

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 (this applies to this and other blogs by me as well; if you follow the idea's, advice or information you are on your own, don't come crying to me, it is all on you do do the work to make sure it works for you!)



“You should prepare yourself to dedicate at least five or six years to your training and practice to understand the philosophy and physiokinetics of martial arts and karate so that you can understand the true spirit of everything and dedicate your mind, body and spirit to the discipline of the art.” - cejames (note: you are on your own, make sure you get expert hands-on guidance in all things martial and self-defense)



“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


I am not a leading authority on any one discipline that I write about and teach, it is my hope and wish that with all the subjects I have studied it provides me an advantage point that I offer in as clear and cohesive writings as possible in introducing the matters in my materials. I hope to serve as one who inspires direction in the practitioner so they can go on to discover greater teachers and professionals that will build on this fundamental foundation. Find the authorities and synthesize a wholehearted and holistic concept, perception and belief that will not drive your practices but rather inspire them to evolve, grow and prosper. My efforts are born of those who are more experienced and knowledgable than I. I hope you find that path! See the bibliography I provide for an initial list of experts, professionals and masters of the subjects.

Hard Target

Make yourself a hard target by creating a mind-set and mind-state prepared to do violence along with all its baggage.

You already understand that hardening is a layered security measure that begins with the environment. 

Next is your neighborhood followed by your street and then your home. Your home will also include family.

You know that if your home is a harder target then next door that in all likelihood that house will be targeted and yours ignores - at least you hope.

This is about hardening yourself, not the physical part after all you are a karate-is, but the psychological.

One of the violence professionals I know of has said, you have to give yourself permission to act with violence. You have to know and understand what that entails all the way to being forced to kill another to protect you and yours from being killed.

You might be saying to yourself right now, “that’s easy,” and I would beg to disagree because as human beings we are programmed to avoid killing our own species. Unless you have, stepping across that chasm is going to be the most difficult thing you have ever done. Just ask a combat vet.

Things are getting dicier every day and if it continues unabated you may be forced to act - all on your own with no one else, especially the police, and you want to survive, right?





Challenge Pushups and Karate

It all began when someone developed what is called, "Chinkuchi Pushup Bars," that was contested (by me I think) due to some anomalies along with concern for the reality of what the bars accomplished and symbolized. This led to the "challenge pushup bars" I lean toward to accomplish a more realistic physiokinetic reality based objective and skill. 


First, the chinkuchi bars are hand made and cost about $300. Hm, that is pretty expensive and when you see a pair then get a bit creative you can make your own for about $30. Just because they have the titled that was awarded by a luminary in the Okinawan karate communities does not make it so and it also DOES NOT make in NOT so. (double negative in there somewhere ;-) )


Second, if you define chinkuchi then relate that meaning and understanding (by the way even one of the most experienced, knowledgable and expert karate-ka I know of today still cannot truly relate the concept soooo) of that to the chinkuchi bars and how they are performed you find some interesting pro's/con's as to their validity and viability. 


This is why, when I first created my own set of both the chinkuchi bars and the challenge pushup bars I began an analysis and comparison to my understanding of the chinkuchi principle. Most of my on-going collective understanding of all three, i.e., first, chinkuchi; second, chinkuchi bar and pushup; third, challenge bar and pushups, I began to relate chinkuchi to fundamental principles and the benefit of the bars to the "stability and stabilizing skills of our muscles, bones, tendons, etc., that contribute to the application of force and power of our bodies, particularly the fist, to an adversary or opponent (predator vs. competitor). 


All of this can be found in the following list of references found at the end of this article. 


So, the graphic I am including are the three sets of challenge pushup bars that can be made for less than $30 from any hardware store and can be used in order to achieve stronger stabilization of our muscles, bones and sinew to apply strikes and punches of the most effective and powerful kind and that is what we all want anyway, right.

  • Stage One: this set has a short single leg as seen in the graphic so that a beginner, not necessarily in karate or to physical fitness but rather to challenge pushups, can begin development of stabilizing musculature.
  • Stage Two: a medium length of the single leg as seen in the graphic that adds greater instability to challenge the musculature to maintain a stable pushup structure to build up the ability of the stabilizing muscles, bone, and sinew. 
  • Stage Three: this is the final set with the longest single leg as seen in the graphic and I have found this one the most challenging to date. This does not mean that a longer one cannot be made and used but I have found stage three to be sufficient to get the job done taking in the concept of diminishing returns often found in physics once you begin to apply the concept in the reality of nature, the world and our universe. 


So, last remark is a warning that one should use all the recommendations including a protective floor cover to ensure that accidents don’t happen that could result in sprains, etc. to the wrist or hands. You must be able to do standard regulation military types of pushups before even attempting the challenge pushups. DO NOT ATTEMPT using these without proper guidance and a good deal of caution. 


When you actually become proficient in challenge pushups you will see marked improvement in karate as to makiwara, heavy bag, and other types of practice and training. 


Using the Challenge Pushup Bars

Chinkuchi Pushup Bars or Challenge Pushup Bars Chinkuchi/Challenge Pushup Analysis/Research

Grip & Stabilization

Pushups

Homemade Challenge Bars

Challenge Push-up Bars...

Chinkuchi and Pushups


Shugyo [修行]/Shuyo

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


Shugyo polishes away the rust/tarnish of the body. It makes a person a bright sharp sword, which is, of course, what a person desires to be. This requires consistent, continuous and relevant, efficient and effective training, practice and hands-on realistic experience. 


This brings to mind that state of mind of one who is expert in self-discipline. No matter the title, i.e., a master of tea ceremony, etc., all have the general fundamental meaning and the term used is, "Muga." A word used in a cult of Zen Buddhism. 


The training involved leads to experiences whereby one acts and thinks, "with no break, not even the thickness of a hair" between one's will and one's actions. If one fails to achieve expertness then there is a lager chasm between the thought and the act, i.e., the difference between triggering the lizard brain vs. the human brain whereby the latter requires a longer span from thought and action making the OODA faulty. 


This is called, "the observing self or interfering self." 


To bridge that self or gap one must use appropriate reality-based adrenal-conditioned training and practice regimens to achieve effortless instantaneous appropriate actions bypassing the human mind and directly triggering the lizard brain. 


You have to learn and practice the physical while training and practicing the psychological and you must learn "muga."  To practice in the dojo start with a level floor, concentrating on a few inches of surface to support one's body. Gradually raise the standing room until one can stand easily on a four-foot pole/piller. When perfectly secure on that pole/pillar, the student then "knows." His or her mind will no longer betray him or her by dizziness, vertigo or any fear of falling. 


Another favored methodology to help the practitioner to "know" are the Zen Koan, the problems introduced to the practitioner. None are meant for rational solutions. This is part of the mental/psychological training in expertness, i.e., to "Know." 


What the also begin to "know" is, "That goals and objectives may be achieved or attained with present means if the eyes of one's spirit are opened, i.e., anything is possible, and with NO help from anyone but oneself."


The underlying philosophy of Muga is the belief and concept of as if one is "living as if already dead." This state of mind eliminates all the self-watchfulness and by that fear and circumspection. He becomes dead, who have passed beyond the necessity/requirement of taking thought about the proper course of action. 


Therefore one can say, "I will live as if I am already dead," as meaning one's complete and utter release from conflict. All my energies are free to pass directly to the completion of my purpose. One's self-observation and its burdens are no longer an obstacle between self and goals or objectives. This allows a state of positive relaxation thus removing stressors, strains and tensions. All things become possible.  


————————————————————————

Muga-mushin [無我無心 (selflessness)]


The first two characters/ideograms mean, "no self; selflessness; self-effacement; anatman (no-self, the Buddhist concept that in nothing does there exist an inherent self, soul, or ego)." The second two characters/ideograms mean, "free from obstructive thoughts; innocence." The four characters/ideograms means, "mind devoid of obstructive thought." The first character means, "nothingness; none; ain't; nothing; nil; not," the second character means, "ego; I; selfish; our; oneself," the third character means, "nothingness; none; ain't; nothing; nil; not," the fourth character means, "heart; mind; spirit."


Muga mushin is the state that the warrior seeks when the mind and body are free to work together wholeheartedly as one, a holistic state of mind often referred to in modern times as a "present moment mind." This is believed in martial circles as a state that exists when training is complete, whole, and one enters into a void.


————————————————————————

It is a necessary test of body and mind to find out what a person will do when that point rears up and blocks progress. Does one push past it and what are the intent and reasons for pushing past a certain point are all questions that must be answered in training and practice - before you are tested by the fires of violence. 


As a Marine, inactive status, we were trained to and past that point if for no other reason than to find out what we are truly made of, capable of and to open our mind to the fact that what we think may be our limitations and extend that to a point that makes 'our point of no return is faster, better and more capable' than the person attacking you. There are no obstacles except death, for being a Marine is being a person whose limitations can only be set by that point in which the body, mind and spirit leave us due to no other reason but, "death." 


In training and during my active duty as a Marine I came to understand that the only way I could be hindered in the path I followed is if I let my mind accept the unacceptable and as a Marine that was not going to happen. I have met my enemy and he is myself and trained and practice and applied my skills both old and new to surpass any possible pitfalls, obstacles or obstructions that could possibly hinder my progress. 


One of those concepts with a wonderful mystical term in Japanese that speaks to practitioners taking their training session to its limits and then setting higher limits above and beyond perceived limits is called, “Shugyo [修行].” 


We train occasionally to exhaustion also because when we are in the mix of protection-n-preservation that adrenal stress-conditioned situation often bleeds our energy levels quickly so we have to learn to feel that level of exhaustion where our arms will barely raise up in defense, etc., leaving us vulnerable to more damage from an attack. 


In another way of seeing shugyo, it should be the type of experience that consistently and accumulatively adds to the challenges of each instance, i.e., in short, once you experience the first challenge always make the next one more demanding and more intense than the last. If it is not at least this type of challenge then it can never be truly shugyo, austere training. 


Also:


Seishin Shugyo [精神修行者]


Seishin and the first two characters/ideograms mean, "Mind; soul; heart; spirit; intention." The first character means, "Refined; ghost; fairy; energy; vitality; excellence; purity; skill," the second means, "gods; mind; soul." Note: See the shugyo entry for that word and set of characters.


The Okinawan's believe that Seishin Shugyo or spiritual training is the "training that comes first." They use a phrase, i.e. Oku Myo Zai Ren Shin," that has a meaning that, "in order to find the secrets, one must first have spiritual training." It is also said, "Polish the heart through the polishing of technique." 


This adds more meaning to "shugyo" and its importance to the study, practice and training in the art of karate-jutsu, the Okinawan art of the empty hand.


Shugyo [修行] The characters/ideograms translate to, “Ascetic practices (Buddhist term); training; practice; discipline; study.” The first character translates to, “Discipline; conduct oneself well; study; master,” the second character translates to, “Journey; going.” 


Read also: 

https://karatequestions.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-is-shugyo-austere-training.html

https://isshindo.blogspot.com/2012/01/shugyo-austere-training-training.html

https://mymartialselfdefensephilosophy.blogspot.com/2017/01/true-shugyo.html


For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)

Spirit

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


In general and fundamentally: those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period.


It is critically important that intent is well defined when trying to understand what it means to use, have and develop one’s karate spirit. 


After all, as we already know; the concept of mind, body and spirit has been bandied about by its proponents for eons and seldom has it been explained because in the Asian mind one was raised and taught about Japanese spirit and that is expected to apply in every facet of Japanese life. 


Sensei believe that one knows spirit and he need not spend valuable time verbally explaining since the very actions of every Japanese has lived and breathed spirit.


The conundrum is the new American student who will assign their individual belief, perceptions and realities to what they think spirit is then try to assign that to karate spirit.


Our intent in the dojo is the training, practice and application of karate therefore we shall use that intent to give spirit substance and understanding to its meaning.


Now, go back and read the generic definition of spirit and you get, “character of a person and/or group as to thoughts and attitudes such as one’s character toward concepts like honor and how that affects one’s attitudes in the efforts applied in training, practice and, most critically important, the application of skills in applicable experiences. 


This type of “Tao,” if you will, opens the floodgates to things like philosophy, etc., that leans heavily to one’s cultural, reality and beliefs as first applied on the first day in the dojo and as it evolves accumulatively during progress in the same dojo.


Sensei and dojo-mates can provide insight once the basic explanation given herein is provided; So the practitioner can grow and evolve there own spirit. 


Then there is other intentions, such as as sport oriented one as well as the one mostly of a philosophical nature like “The Tao of Karate.” Each will move off one path to another as one trains, practices and applies the mind, body and spirit To their efforts.


For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)

Boundaries

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


Marc MacYoung has some good stuff in this concept and I would recommend highly you visit his site to catch up on "boundaries." This is my take on the subject of boundaries for self-protection. 


First and foremost, one must create, believe and set there own boundaries and do so in a way that it becomes as natural as breathing so as to NOT induce stressors above what would be normal for every day normal life and behaviors. Look at it as a layered concept that triggers the heightened awareness to warn you when the signs on the road indicate some sort of obstacle or obstruction or danger coming down the road you are traveling.


First, look out past your outer safety zone to see whether things are "comfortable" or "not comfortable." Let your natural feelings through your understanding of what is normal/comfortable and what is not normal/abnormal/uncomfortable. You already do that because we often travel around when some spidey sense tinkling makes us automatically more aware because it kind of trips the old freeze, flight or fight response. This will happen most times long before you enter a zone of danger with possible violence. 


Second, once you determine something out there is making you feel uncomfortable start your analysis, "What is it that makes this feeling rise up, what abnormality is triggering my spidey sense?" This is the time you assess what is going on that is out of synch with the environment you are in or are entering. This is the time for avoidance because if you cannot determine what is trigger the spidey sense, an abnormality that makes you feel the discomfort, you should be looking to exit, stage left or right or to the rear, and get "the flock out of there." 


Third, there is always the chance that something got past your outer perimeter of safety, the outer boundary you have set for initial detection and warning, and that is when you must know and believe of secondary boundaries that can be set when approached in the exclusion zone, the area immediate and in close proximity to you, by someone or something with potential to cause harm and even death. 


They have passed into your limited area or zone somehow and then entered your exclusion area/zone meaning they are in direct access to you, your body and your safety/security, i.e., close enough to smell their breath; close enough to reach out and touch you; close enough to reach you with a leg/foot; close enough that with one step they can now do you harm. 


If they enter your exclusion zone but have not yet reached that distance of one-step entry to your body then you can physically and verbally begin to set immediate security boundaries by "putting up the open hands facing toward the approaching person or thing, verbalize that they must stop and then demand they immediately stop or as a last resort if that fails begin the movement to keep distance of relative safety between you and them, or it or him/her while articulating that boundary you need for safety and security. 


While moving, keeping the hands and arms up in the defensive open-handed/palm out to them position and maneuvering to put a barrier/barricade between you and them/him and trying to find and escape to safety. 


Be prepared both physically and mentally to act, act as in to use self-protective methodologies with appropriate force necessary to stop the onslaught be in continued movement to your body or an actual physical violent attack. 


Remember, you may keep talking to explain to yourself, your mind, and to witnesses along with social media video recordings that what you are doing is within the boundaries of self-defense, the legal version or term. Two things happen, the internal verbalization along with vocalizing it tells your brain/mind what to do and keeps you on track when the adrenaline begins pumping. It also provides a distraction to the person on the attack as well as inform everyone and everything within hearing/recording that you are not the aggressor while implanting such thoughts into the witnesses head/mind so later, during questioning of first responders, you are setting the stage of legal and moral and socially acceptable self-protection for self-defense.


You see, setting boundaries in levels that allow you to think and act accordingly moves the adrenal stress-conditioned triggered emotionally involved responses to a lower lever so that your monkey mind does not take over the reins and drive your buggy over the edge of the cliff that is social and legal moral and acceptable actions can cause as much or more damage than the act of physically applied self-protection methods for self-defense. 


This is a lot like the boundaries of social interactions you use to keep others under control when in close proximity to you, i.e., distance from folks you don’t like and allowing closeness to those you do like, etc. When you have a meeting at work, when you are dealing with work associates for a mutial project and when you are at a function for social or work to socialize are all examples where you already create and maintain boundaries for social comfort, etc.


This is just the same process except that it involves your entire environment where more dangerous situations, events and people out of your control while traversing said environment to protect, defend and ensure security and safety. Doesn’t that sound beneficial? 


Note: if you are on facebook you can find Marc MacYoung’s page, as well as his FB No Nonsense Self-Defense page, to find his current sources of information, “boundaries,” as well as a lot of other great subjects of defense, etc. 


For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)

The Coveted Black Belt

It's a symbol and as such tends to have a unique meaning to every person who will earn and wear it. It also has meaning to those considering taking up the challenge by joining the dojo regardless of the reason. Most who try to define it tend to lean heavily toward a more consumer and/or social meaning, i.e., what it means in a very basic way. 


Some of the reasons I have heard to its symbolism:

  • It means you are a bad ass;
  • It means you have mastered the art it represents;
  • It means my hands are deadly and I will have to register them with the authorities;
  • It means I can defend myself in the streets;
  • and so on …

What does my black belt mean to me? Well, it all depends on what span of time in my past you want me to discuss because the symbolism of the black belt has come to mean many different things to me over the decades and today, it holds a past for me but otherwise it is just my obi. The obi I once wore in my dojo and it the dojo of those who I had the pleasure to train and practice with. 


It symoolizes:

  • Hard work.
  • Dedication.
  • Sweat equity.
  • Self-reliance.
  • Self-confidence.
  • Self-control.
  • Knowledge.
  • Understanding.
  • And a brotherhood of karate-ka of all those who are a part of the karate community.
  • Respect and admiration for those who have gone before me with special emphasis on my Sensei, USMC Retired Sergeants Major Warner Dean Henry who brought me into the family we call, “Isshinryu.”

You see, even tho I no longer wear it, it still holds special memories and beliefs and accomplishments personal to me and me alone and will do so even sitting in my dojo-bag at the back of my closet. I am proud to have accomplished so much and now believe that I have finally come to a place in my life that the black belt means something significant and bountiful and special to me, me alone regardless of what others may or may not think, feel or believe. 


Shikata

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


In Japan, training is of a nature that it is explicit for every art and skill. It is "habit" that is taught, not just the rules of a discipline or skill, but the aspects necessary to develop and create a skilled habit. In Japan, regardless of the discipline be it the use of chopsticks, proper entry etiquette to a room, or the art of the tea ceremony, the movements are performed over and over and over, literally under the hands of one who came before, i.e., sensei if you will, till the skill, method and methodologies become automatic. 


The one's who are charged with teaching assume that those pursuing the art and discipline will "pick-up" the proper habits when the time to employ them comes around. 


Click to see search results at the Isshin-do blog on the term and use of shikata: https://isshindo.blogspot.com/search?q=shikata


For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)

Karate Koan: “How Many Sides on a Circle?”

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


The overall answer to this one is, "It depends." That is where the conundrum comes into play because it does depend on circumstances along with beliefs, philosophies and both perceptions and concepts. The question alone can trigger a mind boggling set of answers all dependent on, "It depends." 


The overall answer to this one is now, “What limitations are you going to put on the answer?”


It can be said a circle, closed, has only one side and that is the side on the outer aspect that makes a circle. Some may assume that inside a circle does not exist but if it does then there are two sides to a circle. 


It can be said that a circle is made of of degrees and that if we conceive each degree of the circle is a place holder for a person to stand than each degree becomes a side so there are 360 sides to each circle and if that is possible then each degree on the inside of the circle gives us 720 sides. 


Of course if you use the four points of the globe, i.e., north, south, east and west, much like in the ancient classics then you have only four sides to that circle and there are not inner sides because the four points of north, south, east and west would not exist making the inner part of the circle - void. Thinking this way one who applies martial skills and methodologies does not have a way to apply those skills to the inner part of the opponent unless you can allow the inner part of the circle to have substance, i.e., likened to one’s psychological side of the mind then one can apply certain psychological princples and methodologies to an adversary’s mind to enhance those outer physical skills and methodologies to defeat the opponent in the conflict often coming with violence - both physical as the outer circle and mental as the inner side or sides of the circle. 


You see, so far, that without any additional qualifications to the question thereby narrowing down all the possibilities there is often no end to the responses you can provide when applying thought and creativity to a karate koan such as “How many sides on a circle?” If you don’t qualify it like this, “How many literal sides are on a drawn one dimensional circle?” Then you have limitations and obstacles and restrictions to guide you toward a more direct and literal answer. 


This once again adds to the last answer because now we know that depending on things this circle now has multi-directional capabilities beyond a singular, one dimensional drawn circle so that 360 degree now also has 360 more degrees at every original degree mark leaving us with an almost, seemingly, infinite set of sides or possibilities making the basic concept of, “It depends,” even more complex in its simplicity. 


For reference and sources and professionals go here: Bibliography (Click the link)