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
“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
“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
Characteristics of Japanese Arts
The characteristics associated with Japanese arts are:
Kanzen Shugi (the beauty of complete perfection)
Seishin Shuyo ( mental discipline)
Toitsu (integration and rapport with the skill)
Then the article goes on the provide the "steps" followed:
- The establishment and formalization of the form or pattern (kata): every action becomes rule-bound (Keishikika).
- Repetition, repetition, repetition of the pattern or form (kata) (hampuku).
- Mastering the form (kata), as well as the classification of ability on the "way" to master which results in grades or levels. (kyu and dan)
- Perfection of the form (kata) (Kanzen Shugi): the beauty of perfection.
- Finally and most importantly to kata or form expression into reality is going beyond the pattern or form, where one becomes "one" with it (toitsu).
Common Expressions regarding this process of practice and training:
Kata-ni-hairu or follow the form
Kata-ni-jukutatsu suru or perfection of the form
Kata-kara-nukeru or going beyond the form.
As we practice in an atmosphere we may not fully comprehend the process to achieve this goal is due to a requirement to practice in a place where the atmosphere is one of quiet, obedience, and respect. This is the same requirement in Japanese Arts for absolute obedience and respect of the master-student relationship.
When we are on the receiving end of this type of training or relationship, i.e. Sensei-Deshi/Sempai-Kohai, we may not fully understand "why this is so" until we find out by our research or, hopefully a Sensei who explains well, by instruction that the core of this form of training/instruction is derived by the deep belief system of Zen Buddhism where originally Zen and Chinese Buddhism/Taoism were the impetus of furthering this form.
In Taoism it was believed that only through discipline can one achieve such levels of practice and we may find that this is how it all began in China by the influences of buddhist doctrine where exercises were provided to strengthen the mind and body thus the spirit of the individual.
This form of instruction provided the ability to teach many persons at one time and became a means of teaching the teachers. In order to accomplish this task of teaching the masters a formalization, similar to the one's where karate, etc. were implemented into the school systems of both Japan and Okinawa, was required called, Do practices. This began for Japan in the Edo period.
When implemented the outcome was arts such as budo (bushido), sado, kado, shogi (Japanese chess), reading and writing, abacus, and most other types of learning in Japan. There were "forms" to follow, and teachers needed to study the forms to train the students. To me, this confirms the need for these forms if we intend to pass along the traditions and traditional forms of martial practice. It is the core.
I have also found that although the Japanese might want to forget the influences of China that they, much like Okinawa, received a great deal of influences concerning Taoism and Buddhism that have been accepted and changed into the current Zen Buddhism practices that permeate the entire history up to the current minds of today's Japanese. It seems to me the one commonality that binds China, Okinawa and Japan in a spirit that may be separated only by prideful ego beliefs, etc.
No matter the differences in systems or customs of each country the system of teaching/instruction at its fundament core are these systems of training, i.e. patterns or forms (kata). Even in the tea ceremony there are forms to follow.
The reason for such repetitive and perfectionist practice is to build good character and a sense of "harmony" with the discipline. Following such patterns/forms results in the individual developing a mind that discards all extraneous thoughts promoting present moment mind of "no-mind [mushi]" which promotes full acceptance to reality which is a core to learning and understanding any kind of "Do" practice.
Mushin: Where one achieves a singular thought and action the is the essence of the spirit of "do."
In this system the perfection comes first after many years of such practice, i.e. repetitive forms or patterns. Once this is achieved the person has found the "way" and in perfecting the way the practitioner goes beyond the forms and develops new patterns and approaches to practice and follow and instruct/teach. In other words this is bringing their practice full circle, i.e. "one."
This does not mean we remain steadfast in the pattern or form. The term, "kata-ni-hamatta-hitto, or rigid, inflexible people stuck in the form, cannot be creative and bring growth to the art unless they adhere to the original form and pattern yet reach the point where the must go beyond the form, i.e. kata-kara-nukeru.
This for me provides the core of why I would continue to practice and teach kata. Even with the advent of digital video capability where one could record the system the recording of the core of the system is still best served by pattern or kata or form.
Davies, Roger J. and Ikeno, Osamu. "The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture." Tuttle Publishing. Tokyo, Japan. 2002.