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


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

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The Sword Saint, what made him great?

Prepare to feel your hackles rise up. The skin will get goose bumps. The hair on your arms will raise up striaght for I am embarking on a journey into the answer to the question, "What made Musashi Miyamoto Sensei a great swordsman?"

My Favorite version of his book.
Chaos vs. Kata (Shikata)

Zen, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc. along with its resulting hierarchical society governed by Daimyo and Samurai created a clearly class conscious culture with the resulting strict, dogmatic and kata-ized customs in support. When you begin to realize that even the smallest movement of the body was strictly governed by rules, kata style, you realize that even those sword schools in feudal Japan were governed by their strictness.

If sword schools were sanctioned by the Shogun then it goes to show that they too would be held to the kata-ization of how they train, instruct and apply the art of the sword. The only variances being slight, and approved, variations to the kata that were governed more by the individual groups involved then the society as a whole.

If the stories of Musushi were even partially accurate and true then it becomes apparent that he resisted assimilation into any group, even samurai. Musushi didn't take any type of training under any organized school of the sword, maybe. Considering how he acted so individual like vs. the group cohesion of society it goes to show his application of the sword would not adhere to any kata or rules of any school.

He observed schools, thought of the strategy and tactics and then applied them to defeat all who faces him. Rules are a hindrance to spontaneity if it remains rigid and inflexible. He was spontaneous and flexible.

Example, most sword schools of the time (I think this is accurate) tended to use the sword with two hands in a duel. I believe one hand was on horse back to slash on both sides of the horse but ground duels were two handed, I believe. Because Musushi's duels and practices didn't stick to such doctrines he ended up discovering his two sword style which was an anathema to the kata-ization of sword schools. In other words, he broke all the rules and was untouchable due to his application of that attitude to his fighting.

He gained notoriety before he could be judged otherwise thus associating himself to influential samurai in his travels that gave protection. Look at it like this, the mini-series Shogun was from the book of the same name which was very loosely based on a true person associated with either a daimyo or shogun. The reason Japanese even of that era associated with such chaotic nature was by association it allowed them freedom from the shackles of the society rule.

Even Japan today is handcuffed by shikata and all those trappings through kata-ization. They are just now arriving at the understanding that although a great boon for them it also comes with great difficulties they will take a few more generations to overcome. If Musushi broke the mold he did so because of his lack of exposure to society and then his continued solidarity to no one but himself until his death. After all, didn't he supposedly live in a cave where he wrote the book of five rings?

When you read the book I can see the connection that his knowing and understanding the kata of each sword school, his ability to be spontanious and his strategy to deviate from the norm of sword duels sent those samurai into what is called today as the OODA loop, i.e. hey, he ain't fightin fair.

In truth it would seem to me that this orientation is closely associated with nature's survival instincts therefore explains why we humans today tend to lean toward processes and procedures that are kata-like, where we tend to dogmatically adhere to the way karate was taught by the master and therefore end up stifling our ability to transcend all the rules.

Just some thoughts I was having ;-)

"Slavish conformity to traditions and formula's fetters the expressions of individuality ..." - Kakuzo Okakura


Rick said...

At , Chris Hellman, the author of The Samurai Mind spends a lot of effort tracking down information about Musashi.

John Vesia said...

Here's a good one Charles:

The author, an American living in Kyoto, trashes a documentary on Musashi he saw on The History Channel.

Charles James said...

Rick, appreciate the link.

John, thanks for the input, yours in Isshinryu!