Please take a look at Articles on self-defense/conflict/violence for introductions to the references found in the bibliography page.

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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

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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.


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The Traditional Silent Sensei

You have heard all the stories about the Asian Sensei who seldom say a word, often give no hints and when a slight hint is given it is often a slight nod of the head or a terse comment such as "you ok, do basics again," or some such white-hair long-white-beard sage like slight verbal or physical "hint." Otherwise your on your own - period.

Americans get frustrated by this type of teaching/instruction method because we give and expect long verbal explanations of "why." I assumed that the traditional silent instruction method of Asian Sensei was a cultural/custom thing and recently came across information that confirms this - quotes to follow.

Aisatsu is in the culture of the Japanese. This is a strict form or a kata-ization of things like language use, the tone of the voice in language, the facial expressions used in communications, the position and movement of the body, and a strong pull of cultural adherence to authority and seniority. It tells Japanese what role they play in their society/culture, the rules that drive every single minute detail of Japanese life and the silent system that is used to live within the culture/society confines of rules and roles. Within aisatsu is mi-narai or silent system.

Since the culture is controlled to the inth degree the silent system requires every Japanese apprentice to learn by observation and listening. They learn patience and it takes a long time to get it and when they begin to get it then they begin to do the simplest and most obvious things. There is an expectation due to the kata-ization of all things Japanese, i.e. the procedures and processes expected from all Japanese and all of them are exactly alike it becomes natural for them to perceive what they see and hear which translates to all the groups as to roles and the group rules.

Another sub-term for Aisatsu is shiji no dashi or "way of giving direction," which is Sensei does, you watch, you listen and then you do simple things waiting for the "signal" from Sensei you can move forward. A slow and methodical process and this explains why when Americans do what they do, ask questions, they tend to get the silent treatment.

Oh, yea, apparently if you push for an answer it is not considered wrong to give answers that may or may not apply to the question. Sometimes they say "hai" to acknowledge your question and prompt you to continue but does NOT mean "yes to your question."

p.s. I have read statements that some Americans who believe what they do is directly approved by Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei simply because when he failed to respond verbally they pressed the issue and finally he said, "hai." I can tell you that in the culture that does not mean yes to the question, they are just embarrassed you didn't observe and sense the answers they say it to end the discussion or get you to talk more and leave the question behind. Interesting, isn't it?

p.s.s. I have to wonder just how much American's do in the training hall they "think" is approved by their Asian Sensei when in reality it means nothing at all?

p.s.s.s. I can surmise that this form of instruction, silent Sensei, can teach how to be more aware of things in your environment - another post, yes?

4 comments:

SueC said...

Fascinating Charles. There's always going to be problems when you interpret someone's actions or words within the framework of your own culture rather than theirs. Makes you realise the importance of understanding the framework of the culture you are entering.

Kyokushinblog.com said...

A very interesting post. I have heard it said that the Japanese language is "Receiver-based" as opposed to western languages which are "Transmitter-based".

This means that in Japanese, the onus is on the listener to understand the meaning of what is said (or unsaid, in this case). The opposite is true for western languages and this explains why we spend so much time explaining "Why".

I do, however, believe that there are times when a Japanese Sensei remains silent, not because it is custom or their way of teaching, but because it is a convenient way to cover the fact that they don't know the answer. To assume this cannot be true would imply that they simply know the answer to every question! (Not that I am saying this is your supposition, mind you).

-Brett

Charles James said...

Hi, Sue and Kyokushinblog:

Thanks for the comments/feedback. Not sure about the way they interpret language as the Japanese tend to rely heavily on reading body language over the actual words.

They tend to manipulate words and rely on the ability of Japanese to perceive true intent in the cultural way body language, etc. convey meaning.

Not exact but you may get the idea.

As to the silence vs. not knowing .... I would not bet that they think this way but rather an assumption from our culture ....

Kyokushinblog.com said...

"As to the silence vs. not knowing .... I would not bet that they think this way but rather an assumption from our culture ...."

I hear what you're saying. My remark that you address was indeed meant for those in our culture who look towards Asian Sensei with a god-like reverence - I wasn't implying they believe themselves to be infinitely knowledgeable.

I just tend to be somewhat iconoclastic; it helps keep me grounded. =)


-Brett