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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Mistaken Power

Baka-chikara means, "stupid crazy person brute strength." (this borrowed from the classic budoka blog) Although my first introduction to this phrase was on the subject of kata tournament competitions I still use it to explain a current model of karate practice. I am not saying what I am about to post does not have benefits but rather that those who perceive this type of practice as strong and powerful are mistaken. It seems that way.

When practicing karate we have two fundamental methods of practice that lead to all other things, first is the basics or fundamental techniques. These are called, in Isshinryu, the upper and lower basics. Second, are the kata.

When you see a kata being performed with an appearance of straining, struggling, turning red in the face effort with lots of hard snaps and pops you may say to yourself, "WoW, what a powerful karate-ka." This is baka-chikara. When you see a competitor who looks like they are about to have a heart attack from the effort and the kiai is yelled in such a manner that you can almost feel and see their throat and vocal cords exploding you have a baka-chikara.

This is not karate, it is not powerful, it is not true strength and the yell is counterproductive. Power when properly applied doesn't seem powerful when viewed similar to watching kata practice. Yes, it is a good way to get a type of exercise that once was called dynamic tension exercise. It is similar to doing the breathing and tensioning effort in sanchin. It is not powerful in the model of power transferred out of your body and into the target. It does demonstrate strong muscles, tendons, and cartilage, etc. but it is not a demonstration of principles such as sequential locking, body alignment, posture, etc.. that all contribute to power, speed and strength, etc. The kiai is a whole different subject and post for this type of baka-chikara kiai is merely a demonstration of dancing with the stars, i.e. a way to impress judges who don't have a clue about the martial arts or the clue they have is a mistaken one.

It is all counterproductive because it wastes energy. In the fight you want all your energy to go to stopping the fight and seeking safety. That means all or as much of your energy production should flow to the target and not get wasted by inappropriate tensioning, etc. The only "instance" of tensioning is approximately when you hit the target when all the body is aligned, balanced, properly postured, moving in the right direction and then in one split millisecond of tension is applied as long as other principles such as distancing, penetration, etc. are involved and balanced. 

When I witness such demonstrations I don't say what wonderful power and speed and ability, I say, "nice exercise." If you are simply using kata practice such as this  type then you are providing exercise for conditioning and a model for practicing and implementing properly applied principles. Then again, if you are doing this correctly then the baka-chikara goes away and that perception of power, strength, speed, etc. is less detectable until you see it applied in the fight. 

I can also see this type of training model, like the deep stances used in some systems, as a means of building and conditioning the body and yet that is novice level practice. It is important that as one achieves understanding of the various techniques that they then begin applying the principles that involve things like "economical motion" and so on until they apply all the principles in every technique with the ability to mix, match and morph them into appropriate technique for any given moment and situation. This is one reason it takes time, effort and due diligence to gain this type of expertise and hopefully mastery. 

When you can perform kata with principles then you will perceive strength, power, speed, etc. but it won't look like someone is straining, struggling and appearing exhausted, etc. It will appear powerful and strong but the practitioner will appear relaxed in a positive way and will make it seem easy while not easy. This is hard to describe but when you see it you will know. Take a look at the early films, not the USA films, of Tatsuo-san in the honbu dojo doing his kata, i.e. strong, fast, powerful yet not strong, fast or powerful as if pushing the body hard, holding dynamic tensioning outside of the actual contact with a target, etc. 

Again, there are benefits from using dynamic tensioning and manifesting the principles such as sequential locking but there is a right way and a wrong way to demonstrate them. Finding the balance that allows you to adhere strictly to the fundamentals principles of martial systems (which is manifestation of chinkuchi as well) that is often demonstrated by those who have mastered karate but all the other stuff is meant to impress the uninitiated or the ignorant while promoting ego pride driven power  of self. This is not karate. 

When one is doing sanchin they are not fighting but using the kata to develop chinkuchi through breathing, dynamic tensioning and sequential locking and sequential relaxation, etc. That is what is being tested with sanchin shime, etc. Watch even the hard system when they actually practice kata drills and kumite sparring, etc. 

I feel it is time to stop taking extremes of either hard or soft aspects toward our karate and focus on using those in the principals to achieve proper balance toward perfecting the use of principles in all the techniques we derive from our system and other systems we study. I wish that I had discovered these things twenty or more years ago and I am grateful I am now able to implement many of these things into my practice today. It is never too late, I am sixty years and loving it.

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