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

Search This Blog

Traditions of Secrecy

Poppy Cock! Recently I read an article on the Okinawan masters where reference was made to "sparse documentation and a tradition of secrecy," that leaves me thinking poppy cock. Yes, due to many factors their is little documentation on the history of Okinawan martial systems and their respective masters. If no other reason were available the devastation of Okinawa during World War II left little behind regarding their martial history except the handing down of it by word of mouth. We all know how reliable word of mouth is, right?

I want to touch on the so called traditions of secrecy. I have mentioned this in other subjects/topics. Most of what we westerners assume as secrecy or secrets is no more than a misinterpretation of the culture and beliefs of the Asians. If you want to learn about the history of martial arts of Okinawa then look to the documentation from the Chinese regarding their martial history. After all, the indigenous system of defense often referred to as Ti or Toudi is the foundation of China Hand or more modern Empty hand martial arts. It is not hard to understand that the Chinese influences were and are great in that area of the world.

China can be detected in their influences through peripheral historical documentation even if that documentation is slanted toward the culture of the writers, i.e. Japan, Korea, etc. Okinawa, as the historical documents indicate, had contact with all of those Asian cultures with China being its closest influence or dominant influence. During Okinawa early history they relied "heavily" on trade, shipping trade. They have clear evidence in documents, even documents written by European and American sailors, that China had created a presence on the island of Okinawa and had exchanges in culture and beliefs from both ends. That exchange would include martial arts since martial arts were part and parcel to the warrior that is China. Much like Japanese martial arts being dominant in their early feudal era samurai driven culture and belief system. 

Consider that the Japanese and their shikata driven culture and belief systems, also derived from Chinese and other Asian influences, had great influence on Okinawan culture and beliefs beginning with strong influences through Japanese occupation by the Satsuma clan of samurai from Japan. Nothing was held in a tradition of secrecy. It was governed as many things of modern time are governed, by a hierarchal system where classes didn't cross the lines, i.e. peasants did not cross the line into samurai martial systems. etc. No one was more strict on this maxim then the Japanese of those times. This influence has and will continue even today.

Japanese and Okinawans didn't speak of things because the strictness of the shikata type culture created a system whereby everyone knew their cultural kata and recognized each one instinctively. Martial artists or practitioners would recognize the kata of the disciplines and the masters would assume that by observation they would instinctively learn the system thereby removing the need to "explain everything." What we westerners perceived as a tradition of secrecy was not secrecy in that cultures system but rather an instinctive ability to perceive without other means of communication. 

It is easy for us to assume some inscrutable aura of the Japanese and by influence Okinawan's because of our culture and belief systems. We are just the opposite of what they live and breathe. This contributes to the mystic of the martial arts and was a huge influence on our drive to learn the unusual and perceived different cultural discipline that is martial arts. 

It is interesting to read the historical manifest we push out in our martial arts writings that when seen wholeheartedly and holistically in an indirect way actually tell us what I theorize as true because that historical rendering speaks of influences from China and other nations in the early years of Okinawan martial prowess. We get mired down in what is interesting vs. what is true and that adds to the mystic of the disciplines pulling us toward that practice. 

There was no tradition of secrecy because to those born and raised in those cultures it was plain to see as the noses on our faces. We can give many atomistic reasons why this may not be true but as with many things it is the whole that tells the story and not the individual lines. This is maybe why we have martial arts personalities vs. martial arts character and personalities. 

We westerners get so caught up in the individual details we forget to step back and look at the entire picture to see the whole landscape. It is looking at the leaves or trees and not seeing the entire forrest. We miss so much beauty and what that brings because we can't pull back and see the whole picture. 

Don't think for a minute that I am saying what is written is wrong. It is speculation and what is important is the perceptions, perspective, culture, beliefs and the times in which they are written that influence validity. As Shimabuku Tatsuo-san tried to convey to the first generation practitioners, you have to learn about the culture and belief system of Okinawa (and by association historically the Japanese and Chinese) to understand karate (or anything Okinawan, Japanese and Chinese).

We martial artist of the west are grasping at straws when we should be looking out over the entire field to see the rest of the story. 

Think of it this way, some will read this post and focus in on one or two statements. They will go either to explanation of that particular statement or they will flame on it in disagreement. Not many will see the individual statements then remember that it is the whole paragraph that gives meaning and that the whole paragraph connected with the entire post gives another more meaningful meaning. They will fail to see the whole field over the individual straws.

No comments: