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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


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A Kata Formality: Symbolistic Respect Displays in Martial Systems

In a recent posting at the "Talk Isshinryu Forum" the question was posed, what is the purpose and/or meaning of a the diagonal step with the left foot out and back as a prelude to kata-rei and kata performance. I would describe is as follows:

"Step out diagonally forty-five degrees with left foot, return, bow/rei then begin kata."

There are a variety of methods to begin and end kata as to etiquette - in general. One might be to stand in musubi-dachi, rei, step out to the right with the right foot and then begin the kata with some defensive move, etc. Actually I think this is the "norm" one might find dominating most karate kata.

Even with that generic etiquette prelude to kata performance, practice and training does it actually have any meaning or symbolism in Asian Okinawan Martial Systems, i.e. Isshinryu, Gojuryu, Uechiryu, Shorinryu and others? Are we humans actually taking a more holistic meaning and trying to move it without merit to the more atomistic view?

I asked a few sources for some feedback on this particular practice and got two answers. One is that it was introduced by Kichero Sensei, Tatsuo Sensei's first born son, and practiced by the IWKA members. The second answer I got was Uezu Angi Sensei created it as a symbol or sign of respect for Tatsuo Sensei and is practiced by his organization and Dojo.

In my final analysis it really doesn't matter and it is not significant outside either circle of influence be it the Uezu or Kichero Sensei source and/or requirement. I can understand this perspective because I also changed this process of start and end kata by the new positioning of my hands. I take on a posture similar, regarding the hands, as the Isshinryu-no-megami. I do this to indicate I have respect for Tatsuo Sensei and what he accomplished in his one heart system of Okinawan karate-jutsu-do.

I will express emphatically that I do not require anyone who trains with me to perform their opening sequence to kata this way, it is my way and my display of respect as I suspect it was for Uezu Sensei. He just made it a part of his organization, his dojo and his students.

p.s. as one single source stated, anyone can derive some purpose out of anything and everything we do be it karate or flower arrangement. It is a matter of belief and perspective. 

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