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
First, as to Okinawa and Japan, the distinctions may not be a far apart as one might imagine. After all, the Okinawans over the years and even centuries have been able to keep their core culture intact even when pushed to change by the Chinese or the Japanese - when Japan pushed into their lives around 1600, I think.
Another consideration here is that both the Okinawans and the Japanese were heavily influenced by China. So, it might bring the two closer in the etiquette department simply because they both took from and created from the Chinese their forms of etiquette and thus their unique cultures.
The use of names, use the last name and to add formality and politeness add the -san to the end. When it is added to either the last name or a title it shows respect and is perceived like our use of Mr., Mrs., or Miss. It is used when talking to both men and women. Adding "chan" to a first name is not recommended.
Using titles is still important to the way of the Japanese. It remains a key social grace even today. Titles are even more important in Japan's business world. In my humble opinion the dojo is also a business situation and is hierarchical in nature so using and adhering to "Sensei," "Senpai," and "Kohai" would be the most courteous and correct form of etiquette. Now, here in the states it is not necessary unless you are trying to learn the rudiments of Japanese etiquette to remain within a traditional form of practice and training. But important is to get it right or it may be perceived when you visit or have visiting Japanese/Okinawan Sensei. (Quick Note: I use to use "sempai" but have since determined the correct way is "senpai.")
Rei, the bow. First know that the bow is not just a formality of the martial art dojo. It is cultural and traditional method of expressing such things as a greeting, respect, when apologizing, displaying humility and when you understand and accept something. The world of the martial arts uses the term "rei" but actually the term used in a traditional Japanese is "o-jigi / oh-jee-ghee." In a nutshell as a martial artist you should use what is called the "medium bow."
Medium Bow: Arms extended downward; hands rest on the legs above the knee; body bent to about 45 degrees angle; normally held for two to three seconds except when you wish to add more meaning to it.
Light Bow: Body bent to about 20 degree angle; held for only a second or so; hands down at the sides;
Generally, use the medium bow to greet those senior to you or to whom you wish to show a special degree of respect and when expressing feelings of humility, sorrow, or an apology to someone. If you encounter, say in the dojo, the same highly place senior several times in one day you greet them with the medium bow the first time that day then a light bow thereafter.
Ok, what I am getting at is if you wish to incorporate a more traditional aspect to your training hall then at least find out what that means and at least, a minimum, stick to this simple guide to get it "right" otherwise give it a rest and leave it alone - use the American etiquette way.
Caveat: this is my personal understanding that came about today, the 21st of December 2011, due to my continued studies. i have casually related it to the martial systems with the knowledge more informed and experienced practitioners with considerable experience in Japan and/or Okinawa may state otherwise. if so, go with their interpretations as they have the experience. this is an attempt to at least pass along a form that will be looked upon as a genuine attempt to honor the Japanese way as best as a foreigner can without being seen as impolite, insincere or insulting.