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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Karate’s Origins - Karate’s Destination

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.)

“ … any practice-entwined with a specific culture that then transfers to another cultural setting will change to suit its new participants and cultural setting, creating what Ko and Yang describe as a, Consistency with the local culture and identities of native participants. Therefore, with enough change incorporated into a practice, it will become more closely aligned to its new host culture than its culture of origin. … ” - Noah C. G. Johnson

It has recently come to my attention that karate, the system that originated from the island of Okinawa, may no longer embrace its origins as understood from such statements as, “What can be changed in a cultural practice before it is no longer a variant, but rather an entirely different practice all together?”

If it is necessary to connect karate to its origins then is it necessary to make sure the practice is derived “Directly” from the Okinawan cultural history and spiritual philosophy? Would anything, therefore, that deviates from that same cultural history and spiritual philosophy end up causing it to lose its origins and then become “An entirely different practice altogether?”

Would this then therefor constitute a cultural translation of that practice making it a cultural rendition of the society that embraced it without its original cultural history and spiritual philosophy?

What about the cultural origins when those same are a compilation of several other adopted cultural histories with adopted spiritual philosophies? Is the fact that when embraced and adopted then incorporated into any indigenous systems that created karate, formally referred to simply as “Ti,” the process then produces an unique culturally owned and philosophical perspective toward that particular Okinawan origins? 

If true, then if the cultural and philosophical foundations are ignored, changed or lost doesn’t that therefore make any such practice foreign to the origins and more in line with the adopted social, cultural and philosophical beliefs of those who ignored, changed or lost the systems original cultural and philosophical basis?

In this view and if this is accepted as true, then the western perceptions of karate are not aligned and therefore have morphed into a unique system of karate or empty hand practice that is governed by the adopted cultural and philosophical base of that group, society or country. If true, then karate as it is believed here in the West is not a true traditional discipline of Okinawa but rather an off shoot modified system of empty handed skills of the America’s. 

The question is then asked, “Why do practitioners hold so dear the thread to the Okinawan islands that karate is originated and passed in a form that seems hallow and empty?”

In my mind and in my view this simply means that western, westernized, karate is not a traditional or classical teaching or discipline of Okinawa and that the simple fact is this, “The system of karate as taught to those who brought it to this country is actually a modern military oriented physical discipline striped completely of any cultural and philosophical connection to the peoples of Okinawa.”

Then I would add in that western karate is simply a physical health system much like jazzersize, jumping jacks and machine oriented weight lifting with a sole purpose of creating a strong body, a healthy body and a fit body. It is merely a dance that provides people some physical activity with a book cover meant to stimulate the need for some mystical and different way vs. the norm, it is about gratification rather than a cultural and philosophical mason whose goal is to build something necessary and worthwhile, i.e., such as a mind, body and spirit.

Karate’s origins may have been derived from and created for Okinawan culture with a unique philosophical belief system but once it was transmuted to the military who brought it home it lost its essence and was infused with a new essence strictly of an American Military culture and philosophy that can be sen in many dojo regardless of any perceived connection to Okinawa. 

Now, here is a true nut - since the Japanese took over the island and instituted changes toward absorption into the Japanese culture and ideology it could be said that what is and was taught as Ti, Te, Toudi or Karate is actually Japanese. This was especially so during the post-war years where the integration of karate inot classical Japanese philosophical thinking caused karate to lose it Okinawan flavor and became a Japanese karate. If this were true, then all the karate taught to Westerners starting in the fifties to present day is actually a Japanese karate, not Okinawan. I also believe that what was taught to Americans/Westerners was actually the watered down karate created and implemented into the educational system of Okinawa and a few years later spurred that same implementation of martial arts into the Japanese educational systems. 

To support this, it is said that karate, along with the people and culture, provided an in so that they could be adopted into the Japanese culture and that both Okinawa and its cultural assets such as karate could be promoted by the Japanese government, the rulers of Okinawa since the 1600’s.

Lets add into this discussion the term, “Traditional or Classical,” as used by most to describe the traditional practice of Okinawan karate as a means to understand Okinawan culture. In the late 1800’s but more so in the early to mid 1900’s a process of modernization in both Japan and Okinawa created practices that touched all parts of the Japanese society, culture, and economy. Also take into consideration that during this time it was important to the Okinawans to be accepted into the Japanese culture the modernization process provided them the key through their implementation of karate into their educational system to create healthy young prospects for a warrior like society readying for war, WWII. 

The hallmark of all those modernization processes was to absorb, combine and fuze elements from the traditions of the core subculture and marry them to exogenous advances in technology and organization. In the end the goal was to move from a “Traditional society” to a “Modern Society.” This met with great success so by the time karate reached the westerner it was no longer a traditional system, if it ever were since karate is a modern creation from a older hand-to-hand indigenous civil system. The modernization was well into its middle lifespan and it is apparent that karate taught and/or created during the 1900’s was both a modern creation as well as the watered down creation of educational karate. There was and still is no apparent motivation for anyone to either learn or teach the old more combative aspects of karate back into its teachings especially to teach “gaijin [外人].” It was actually a economic need after the war to earn enough to feed families and make a living rather than a need to teach Marines or Military from the gaijin nations to better fight where said fighting could one day be used against the Okinawan people. I would also consider the urgency of western students who expected, self-righteously, that they should achieve black belt while working on the island where the pressure meant presenting the level in one year or less, hardly time enough to really lean karate. Since it meant a lucrative deal with the military presence changes were done and accepted to keep the customers happy and the money flowing. 

This adds additional support for the idea that truly, western karate regardless of its source or creator is a modern martial arts NOT steeped in any cultural history, since the culture was morphed into a modern Japanese driven one, nor ancient martial practice connections earlier than the very late 1800’s. This might indicate that the use of the term, “Traditional or Classical,” toward any practice of karate from Okinawa is patently “False.” 

Therefore, we the American public who practice and train karate, practice and train an Americanized rendition and the origins were lost the moment the Okinawan Sensei watched the student leave the island heading for the home land. It dissipated along with the sweat and ego pride driven desires of those self-proclaimed sensei sitting on a plane headed to the West. 

What makes Okinawan karate different?

Okinawan Karate is:

1. Okinawan  Karate is a modern invention rather than ancient.
2. Okinawan  Karate’s physical sequences set it apart from other Asian martial practices.
3. Okinawan karate was taught in an informal manner.
4. Okinawan  Karate students were taught individual forms/kata called, “Tokui-gata,” at the discretion of the sensei.
5. Okinawan Karate had no ranking system.
6. Okinawan Karate had no criteria noir did any exist or was used for advancement. 
7. Okinawan Karate students were either sempai or kohai.
8. Okinawan  Karate had no recognizable uniform (In the early years karate was practiced in every day clothes, etc. In many cases due to Okinawan weather practice was conducted in underclothes).
9. Okinawan Karate was indiscriminately referred to as “Toudi.” 
10. Okinawan Karate catered to individualism. 
11. Okinawan Karate is not structured around a ryuha system. 
12. Okinawan Karate is not taught with any historical continuity, methodological transmission or pedagogical style.
13. Okinawan karate was an intimate, pragmatic practice without the ritualize, formalized and militarized practices seen today.

The mere fact that many, if not all, of the above distinctions that made karate more Okinawan are now gone. They were in flux during the very early 1900’s and as the later 1900’s passed the completion of adoption of more Japanese culturally driven traits became the defacto ones for Okinawan karate. 

“All the changes and modifications of karate discussed were the product of individual and collective groups of Okinawan’s responding to the cultural setting and political and economical agenda within which they found themselves enmeshed.”

What this all boils down to is this, “We didn’t learn nor do we practice an ancient traditional form of martial art called in modern times, Karate. We learned a modern mesh of educationally watered down karate that has since become a westernized modern relevant to modern needs karate for sport and personal development.” If we truly want modern karate to be a means of fighting and self-defense then a huge change once again needs implementing. We have to let go of the perceptions that what is taught and practiced is traditional or classical but rather modern, modernized in the west particularly, karate. 

The one particular “Trait” I perceive here as it might relate to a traditional cultural understanding of karate is this, “The fact that karate has evolved in such drastic ways and in such a short time span is due to that one exclusive and unique Okinawan trait, the adoption and absorption of other cultural things the Okinawans found beneficial to their culture and beliefs that they absorbed that and “changed” it to suit the Okinawan’s.” In this one singularly thing we are all practicing an Okinawan cultural belief, that belief that anything and everything of benefit to the group, the Okinawan culture, for survival is good and shall be absorbed. In that one thing, we are living up to the traditions of the Okinawan’s!

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