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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The Allure of Kobudo

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

I have practiced and trained karate and kobudo for approximately forty years. I have often wondered why we are attracted to the practice of kobudo. I considered my own feelings toward it especially from the beginning and felt the only reason I took up kobudo is because it was a requirement to achieve a black belt. 

I also understood in those early years that to teach you needed to have a solid grounding and foundation in kobudo even tho we all were teaching karate or empty handed disciplines. Still, it appears that for most it is about how fast they can start learning about kobudo or weapons. It puzzles me even more when the weapons taught are ancient ones not really relevant or even useful in our modern times.

Yes, I have heard many arguments on the necessity of kobudo practice and training including the one where it is stated that weapons contribute to the applications of the empty hand in fighting, combatives and self-defense. 

I went with this for about two decades learning and practicing the Isshinryu kobudo kata, i.e., the bo, the sai, the tuifa and the kama (yes, some are not actually taught in traditional Isshinryu dojo). As with the empty hand kata there are eight kobudo kata and I could perform them all with a few extra but then I began to feel the practice of kobudo was not really contributing all that much to my practice of karate especially toward fighting, combatives and especially self-defense. Then again I didn’t truly understand the realm of self-defense until the last decade, I was actually practicing to fight and that as we now know is illegal.

Is the practice of kobudo actually about the flash and a natural instinct of humans to resort to weapons over any type of hand-to-hand combat? I think that is so or at least it may be a part of the whole reason why kobudo holds such a strong draw to karateka and martial arts. I remember how many would urgently learn the moves of kata required just so they could start on their first weapon and consider this to be one of many reasons why karate as to empty hands has fallen short of a full deck that has passed on and down to today’s inadequate practice of karate.

Why is kobudo taught as a part of karate? There are kobudo sensei and dojo that focus exclusively on weapons but I have yet, outside of my teaching, to observe any karate dojo that remain exclusive to empty handed practice, training and various applications be they sport, combative or defensive. Remember, I have limited exposure to the world and vast communities of karate and kobudo. 

I also believe that karate, martial arts and especially kobudo or weapons have caught the public’s eye due to those early movies from this wonder of Kung Fu, Bruce Lee. I remember how I wanted to learn about the nunchaku especially after seeing the speed, grace and fluidity of its application in his movies.

Yet, for me, it was his empty hands that really caught my attention and I have always felt that in all my years of training, practice and studies. I also consider the possibility that the early karateka, early 1900’s pre and post WWII, got it backwards by teaching weapons during or within karate when originally, or so I understand, karate or Ti were prerequisites to weapons training for combat. It became my understanding and belief that karate held only a state and status as a prerequisite to weapons, i.e., you had to learn how to control your body, mind and spirit before taking up the dangerous and deadly weapons that were NOT bo’s or sai’s but swords, halberds and bow-n-arrow or archery.  

I began to lose interest in the weapons and slowly dropped them from my practice with no discernible differences or changes except without the added weapons training my focus and learning curve on empty hands grew a bit more, faster and with more depth and breadth. This was the time I started to drop off all the kata and focused on one or two and sometimes a third empty hand kata vs. sixteen kata altogether. This was the time I felt the old adage that one could learn all they needed about karate from just one or two kata and it would take a lifetime to do so with that one or two kata. 

Then, a side story here, I came to realize that kata and technique based training and teaching models were inadequate and inefficient for a lot of reasons and then understood that the reason one kata could teach you all you need for self-defense were the fundamental principles underlying effective defense methodologies. Focus on those and it won’t really matter how many kata.

Back to the allure of kobudo, I suspect it is that instinctual need to put distance between humans because of the natural and natures instinct to do no real harm to our own species therefore moving away and extending our capabilities with weapons becomes more acceptable. 

In the Marines they spend a lot of time teaching us about weapons, all kinds, along with the bayonet on the end of a weapon, our rifles. Then the spent, at that time, just one day on actual empty handed fighting. It was easy to come to the realization that in the fight/combat one would only use hand-ot-hand if no other means were available, none - no weapons even a big stick by the side of the road so to speak.

The only reason I can see to require empty hand kata before kobudo is to learn about the body, mind and spirit through learning, understanding and apply principles and methodologies so that weapons can be studied, practiced and trained. Once that stage is hit then a total focus can be applied to kobudo but that is not what exists in most dojo and the only reason I can think of is, commercialism - earning more money and retaining students along with testing and so on. 

There is no allure of weapons for me, there are not needs, wants or desires. I don’t need to impress anyone and I don’t need the false sense of expertise and ability you might get from weapons training. Other than an aesthetic presentation I don’t consider kobudo a benefit toward modern combatives as a professional military person and no benefit toward the average citizen who may need to defend themselves in our society.

It does have benefit for a competitive endeavor also about aesthetics or presentation similar to the floor routines of gymnastics. 

Anyway, regardless of this article or any other the allure of kobudo still alludes me and a decent explanation. I guess that human nature and our need to test ourselves since our more combative natures are less necessary still holds sway over us as can be seen through our sports. There is nothing wrong with this but still …. I guess I kind of liken our allure to weapons like the industry that has sprung up about self-defense of guns and knives, etc., it is an industry and that means it is going to earn someone somewhere money even if what is being sold is just bullshit.

Bibliography (Click the link)

Empty hand then weapons :-)

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