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
Kanji - Shikata (kata) connection
The character, romanization word, was found through the original book of reference, the Shin Gi Tai, by Mike Clarke where a reference was made as to karate kata being of greater importance over the system of Te vs. the current belief that kata is a part of Te. Clarke Sensei's reference material led me to the book on Kata or "Shikata."
In that study material we find references to "kanji." I will try to bring a bit of interest to this by some data that led me to believe that kata drives Japan, and I believe now Okinawan, Karate - shikata.
Shikata is often referred to simply as "kata" for brevity so I will do the same in this and any followup postings. But I want to begin with references to "kanji" to continue this particular post because kanji seems from my studies so far to be the reason for kata.
Some historical influences to kata begin with Shintoism, the way of the Gods. Then of importance is Buddhism, Confucianism, the ideographic writing system, and other cultural influences from China. All this led to a "highly controlled behavior" model that would express subservience and respect toward superior beings. There are then presented various other factors that led to kata in Japan that should be fully understood so "read the book."
This post tho wants to speak to what the author presented as the "mother of kata." Kanji, what was called by the Japanese as "Chinese Letters." Korean scribes transcribed Japanese language into Kanji. The writing of kanji involved other principles but in a nutshell it resulted in a particular form of training to lean how to read and write the complicated characters where the strokes to create kanji became kata-ized, i.e. the conjoining strokes were taught is very specific order and there were no deviations allowed. It was referred to as "way of writing" or "Kaki-kata."
The mental concentration and mechanical aspects of writing in kanji required memorization and that is done by repetitive practice over time. It involved thousands of kanji characters which were more of a translation of concepts communicated by sounds vs. simply utilization of what we use, i.e. A, B, C's which also became a very personalized experience with strong mental or psychological aspects.
The mental concentration was governed by specificity in a kata like manner. The learning process for kanji resulted in a high degree of the sense of group harmony of form and style which imbued a deep sense of aesthetics. An art form or way of writing. It also, much like we profess to achieve in karate kata practice, provided a means to increase a person's patience and to persevere in all they do to an extreme.
The requirement to practice and learn kanji became the "way" to shape Japanese physically, intellectually and emotionally further binding them to the group mentality through this kata of the kanji writing. This became a core aspect along with others to create their group style culture.
Every person in Japan were now required to follow this kanji-kata to create these characters in a manner that became an art form which is known today as "Sho-Do or Way of the Brush." We call it calligraphy.
Writing kanji also denoted one as being of great character and worth. Thus was born shikata or kata. It is not much of a stretch even for non-Japanized persons practicing the Asian traditional martial arts to see that this led to the kata within the art from the kata-mization of the art itself. As you read the book on its many subjects which are all governed by their individual kata you begin to get a fundamental understanding beyond our limited view of what we perceived, until now, as karate kata.
I may have it right or maybe wrong but you can begin to see why understanding of the kanji that describe the sounds as some more conceptual meaning could lead to greater understanding of our practice and training.
p.s. of you wish you can view shikata/kata as very detailed procedures to get things done.
Clarke, Michael. "Shin Gi Tai: Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit." YMAA Publishing. New Hampshire. 2011.
DeMente, Boye Lafayette. "Kata: The Key to Understanding & Dealing with the Japanese." Tuttle Publishing. Tokyo, Vermont and Singapore. 2003