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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Benefits of Karate-gi in Training

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Depends solely on what kind of training the practitioner is trying to master. Let’s first discuss the karate-gi. The karate-gi was adopted by the famous Judo person, Sensei Jigoro Kano. He adapted the more traditional wear of other Japanese clothing to the more appropriate judo-gi with the uwagi that had reinforced traits to hold up to the rigors of judo practice, training and competitions. The karate-gi was then created when Gichin Funakoshi Sensei decided it would work well with his teaching of Shotokan Karate-do.

On Okinawa it took a bit more time before the karate masters accepted and adopted the uniform. Mostly, they ended up at the start using the pants, the zuban, with shorter legs, i.e., cut just below the knees, due to the hot and humid weather of Okinawa. Many still remained true to the underwear without shirt or jacket in practice and training.

It can readily be seen that the judo-gi for the way of judo in competition or sport oriented practice and applications held a great deal of benefit. It was strong and resisted damage allowing for gripping, etc., to apply the various judo techniques, i.e., throws, etc. It also met the cultural beliefs of the Japanese people that also led Funakoshi to adopt it as well since his needs and efforts where somewhat based on the Japanese accepting Okinawan karate/martial arts by the Japanese (especially with the implementation and reasoning toward an educational form of martial arts). 

The benefits of the judo-gi were felt to be strictly toward its social acceptance and uniformity. As to the benefits of the karate-gi for karate-jutsu-do it was almost strictly about Japanese acceptance and its educational use, i.e., Japanese schools, the educational system, used a uniform for students and teachers to a uniform for martial education fit that bill.

Here is where its benefits in training pretty much end. Remember, if you are practicing what you refer to as a “Traditional” Okinawan karate practice the karate-gi, technically, is not a traditional karate uniform of Okinawa. 

Okinawan karate before the adoption of the Judo-gi was extremely laid back in its teaching models. Almost all the etiquette we see today didn’t exist in those very early years. The closest I can find as an example is the Japanese traditional undergarment for men called the “Fundoshi [褌: ふんどし]).” The Okinawan versions look a bit different and cover a bit more but seem to be the same. Also, this is about what we know of karate or toudi practices from the late part of the 1800’s into the early 1900’s until the judo-gi was finally accepted and adopted sometime in the 1950’s or so. 

Again, Okinawan karate teachings were very laid back with only the minimal courtesy type etiquette, most of what we see today came about due to what we American’s call “Supply and Demand” the demand of our military occupying the islands led to a lot of the formal Japanese etiquettes’ to be adopted. This is not unusual even for Okinawan’s when you remember that they are a compilation of many cultures due to their economic trade systems, etc.

None of the materials of historic significance actually speak to the karate-gi except in the last sixty years of karate development in both Japan and Okinawa. All of us just have to rely on what we believe. Now, as to beliefs, there are a lot of misconceptions about karate and Okinawan karate-jutsu-do simply because no one was provided the answers or it they were it was few and far between. The stories that spread often came about when questions were asked and answers were not available. In the early years of karate in Okinawa and in the United States when students began to demand to know more the venues to find answers were scarce. Then add in the language and cultural belief barriers often the answers given were more about keeping the social need for harmony along with the fact that many of the early Okinawan pioneers, i.e., those who taught in the early 1900’s, also didn’t know the answers to many of the questions. It seems to my studies that it is human nature to create answers when answers cannot be found so a lot of what is taught and believed is actually not accurate. The following are examples of stories that propagated that are simply modern creations rather than historical facts.

STORY: It makes sense in self-defense to be dressed so the benefit of the uniform is to have clothing that is comfortable for training while durable to resist wear, tear and damage. 

COMMENT: The karate-gi is not relevant as outer wear in modern times for self-defense. No one is going to be wearing, in modern times, a karate uniform for daily wear. In self-defense training a part is about the physical techniques used to defend and in self-defense you are going to be wearing normal clothing for the day’s tasks be it pleasure or work. As an example, my every day wear is a t-shirt, a short sleeved dress-like shirt made of cotton, trousers either jeans or dockers, and athletic shoes such as Nike’s. If I am attacked requiring self-defense strategies, tactics and goals it will be those cloths that will be involved in the fight for defense, not a canvas like karate-gi. The karate uniform is nothing close to what it is like when wearing street clothes and believe me when you first train in the street clothes the differences will become glaringly apparent.

Next, the karate-gi is about being bare-foot. Except in very rare instances none of us is going to defend ourselves in bare feet. Add in that most often that kind of training, not reality based, will be done bare-foot on a clean smooth hardwood floor of a dojo. The street is way different with all kinds of dangerous obstacles. 

STORY: The karate-gi offers valuable attributes to the practitioner, when one practices and teaches they need to look to and see “Lines.” The obi lines, i.e., when worn correctly it shows the hip movements so it can be seen clearly by the teacher. 

COMMENT: This goes against anything I know of or can imagine as to the wearing of the obi. If this were even close to being true then it would be simpler to revert back to the traditional way of training by wearing underwear type shorts with no shirt and no shoes because if this were true you could see the body movement and not be misled by a student’s effort to make the obi and obi ends move so the teacher can see it.

Also, this type of thinking goes directly against the fundamental principles of martial disciplines toward effective fighting or self-defense. It comes down to energy, what is wasted and what is economically used to create force and power. Excessive movement to make sure your instructor can see those lines (cannot for the life of me figure out what the heck that means - it seems like one of those creations to provide answers rather then seeking out such things as principles, etc.) by your excessive and unrealistic movement so the obi will flip around and the ends will move. This sounds also like how one justifies excessive energy bleeding movement by making sure the ends of the obi that dangle are longer than they should be. Realistically, the obi for the karate-gi is an adaptation of the obi used by the Japanese traditional kimono clothing to hold the clothing closed at the waist. 

The principles of applying karate are about economic motions, not excessive obvious motions to show “Lines.” 

STORY: Ideally, the pants should be above the ankle so that the foot can be seen when someone walks, moves within a stance, or even kicks.  As we look at the gi top, we already know that it can mimic a shirt with the benefits of not ripping.  It also has lines that allow even the most basic of instructors to see if the student is doing the move properly.  … 

COMMENT: First, a model that works on critiquing specifics of movement, etc., is not teaching about fighting, combatives and self-defense. When a student becomes focused in getting a particular movement “Exact” then they tend to fear failing the instructor and work toward that goal rather than a goal where one’s goals include the implementation of principles efficiently and proficiently in the chaos of a violent situation. As far as a novice karate-ka being able to see the feet does not benefit stances, movement, etc. it is about finding things to correct in making it look like it is a benefit. If this is just a means of self-improvement, self-discipline and/or the “Way” of karate then alone that is fine but if this is about the essence of karate that includes self-improvement but is more about fighting in defense then “Not so much.” 

Note: Here is the rub with some of these stories, the hold a type of logic that feels right when heard, seen and practiced by the inexperienced. Look to the definition of “Epiphanot” where it is the “Idea” that seems like insight but with close analysis and scrutiny and research are often found to be pointless, mundane, incorrect and often the root of bad decisions. It is actually a “False” epiphany. 

STORY: If you are using a 100% cotton gi when striking and punching in kihon, kata and kumite and done properly with force, it produces a snap sound.  If students cannot produce a sound or worst if the instructor cannot, you know that you are in a low quality school.

COMMENT: First, power and force cannot be determined simply by making our sleeves snap and pop. This is one of those gimmicks used to analyze a kata in kata competition. It is a false sense of perceive force and power but actually is a draining, bleeding off of energy that becomes lost when actually trying to apply force and power to an attacker to stop a threat. Take a closer look at the principles involved in striking or punching with force and power effectively and you find that muscling it wastes and bleeds off energy and when you apply that punch or strike it pushes rather than hits with the type of powerful impact force to do damage and stop an attacker except in rare instances involving amateurs. 

Second, for practice of karate-do, the empty hand way, experienced karate-ka often appear to make it all look simple and easy. They are relaxed, flexible and move like a professional dancer due to experience and lots of practice applying principles leaving out the mundane, pointless, incorrect wasted motions and sounds. 

Third, if you assume unjustly and incorrectly that because you don’t see the traditional karate-gi in use at a training hall and that its students and instructors are not snapping their sleeves or pant legs and if you find them moving without the perceptions of muscling it you may actually be in the presence of a good martial arts instructor. If you believe and assume otherwise as this story indicates you are going to find nothing more than a “McDojo.” 

As we can see, the karate-gi as a benefit to the practice and training of karate all depends on why you are taking up that practice. In a lot of ways it functions well and creates a sense, not exactly reality and traditional, of tradition as we Americans perceive it along with how we accept it for ourselves over actual historical fact or social cultural belief reality of that source, i.e., Japan and Okinawa. 

One of the hallmarks of karate is the education, training, practice and use of “Awareness.” Awareness is a lot more than most think and one, just one aspect, is a self-awareness toward tricks, stories, legends, etc., that are listed as epiphanot’s, i.e., the mundane, pointless, incorrect, etc., that seem logical, relevant and applicable to karate especially if for combative, fighting and/or self-defense goals. 

What you want for relevant reality based training scenario’s don’t exist in the clean pristine Zen like dojo. It does not involve traditional, NOT, karate-gi and it does not mean snapping and yelling and popping clothing. It involves reality, not stories, legends and falsehoods. 

Note II to Instructors: If you don't know do the research. It is not detrimental to your status, your expertise or your experience as a karate-ka to not know something. If you don't know, say so and find the answers because that will gain you far greater status in the eyes of your students than making up bullshit because you cannot admit you don't know something. Consider this especially if you teach self-defense because if your students have to defend themselves it is a high probability that they will fail resulting in either grave bodily harm or death. Is your ego and pride worth it? 

Bibliography (Click the link)

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