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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Maintaining a Cultural Connection

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

When trying to keep culture alive, we usually talk about the things we as individuals, or communities, deem worthy of keeping alive. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping every aspect of our cultural past alive – just those things that work in harmony with the new times or environment. For any culture to survive, it seems that it must adapt. 

I hear the words, “we must keep the culture alive”, when karate-ka are trying to maintain that cultural connection to their art. The Okinawan Karate Culture is what I think they mean but is that really what they are doing? 

Okinawa does have its own unique culture, at least at one time it did when it was dealing with other Asian nations in the 1600’s and beyond. Is that culture still alive today or have they simply assimilated so much outside cultural influences that the original culture is lost in the mists of passing time?

Lets assume for a minute that Okinawan karate is connected to the Asian culture as described in the following. In a nutshell culture is about a socially driven sometimes religious oriented and other characteristics of a group of people which contribute to the specifications of the population that make up that group or tribe like group. It comes down to the human need to be unique in relation to others will achieving a dynamic, also unique, toward the tribe or groups survival. The characteristics of a traditional Asian group or family is as follows:
  • Tendency toward a strict hierarchical structure, with the male holding the higher status and the first born son also holding such status.
  • Males holding higher value simply because of the perception that they carry on the family name, i.e., lineage.
  • Females due to a perception of less importance to the family and tribe hold a lessor role. 
  • The female role is passive and must adhere to the husband’s family, be subservient to the males, do the domestic thing and of course bear male children.
  • The male role is as a provider to the family and to the tribe or group, to be a good son; obligations to be a father and good husband second as to obligation over the duty as a son.
  • The patriarchal husband-wife relationship.
  • Respect for ancestors and the elderly who hold a special status in the family and group.
  • Loyalty beyond reproach to authority figures.
  • One way communications, i.e., adults speak to children.
  • An obligation toward collectivism with a family and group focus toward interdependence.
  • Family is central and the primary social unit, group or tribe.
  • Behavior of the individual reflects on the entire family and group where harmony is paramount.
  • The group is about discipline where shame and guilt are used for control and to train children.
  • Loyalty and honor to family while avoiding shame and embarrassment is required.
  • Problems are hidden and avoided publicly and handled within the family and group.
  • Mental issues outside the culture of harmony, loyalty, etc.s are shameful and represents failure.
  • Emotional traits are not displayed and when controlled and hidden are seen as a sign of maturity and self-control.
  • Care and concern are demonstrated by meeting physical needs.
  • Males, especially fathers, are authoritative and distant, showing hardly any emotions, and primary duties involve providing for the family and groups economic and physical needs.
  • Females, the mothers, are more responsive to offspring but with less nurturing and more verbal and physical punishments; they meet emotional needs of children and server as an intermediary with the father.
I do readily perceive that these cultural traits do influence the karate dojo because most of those cultural social norms of the Japanese or Asians are naturally and normally adhered to when in the dojo much like when they leave the home and enter into the society where social norms driven by these same cultural characteristics and beliefs will naturally be a part of that dojo. 

Now, once we here in the West began to learn and study the system of Okinawan Karate observing the rules of the dojo and the etiquette may meet some of the fundamental cultural influences but in truth you have to ask if holding on to those cultural characteristics are necessary and contribute to karate as it is passed on to other cultures and belief systems such as ours for Americans. 

In order to understand, as some karate masters asked of the American students, karate they were told they should understand the Okinawan culture but as can be seen it may not have been the fundamental cultural beliefs and perceptions as indicated, it may have been a cultural connection through the various cultural oriented way of life outside of the karate or martial arts dojo. 

So, then one must ask themselves, is there actually an Okinawan Karate Culture and if so what it it? It is apparent that their basic Asian culture of family and group are NOT conducive to keeping the culture around karate or martial arts alive or in maintaining some perceived need for a traditional karate and martial art. It comes down to us being hugely different to the Asian culture with many things and characteristics strange and a complete opposite to our own cultural belief systems. 

So, again, what are the actual cultural beliefs and characteristics that would represent Okinawan Karate culture? Can anyone truly say what they are and why they need to be preserved and how they effect training, practice, applications and their passing down to connect and maintain a cultural lineage of the system? 

I challenge everyone reading this who is involved in Okinawan Karate and other Martial Arts to provide those cultural mandates? List them out like I listed the basic Asian Cultural characteristics because if we truly mean to hold and maintain a connection to the Okinawan Culture through the same characteristics and to hold close those unique Okinawan Karate Cultural Characteristics then we first have to know of them, study them, learn them and fully understand them in all ways, right?

It comes down to this for me, I hear meme’s and quotes all the time about how we must maintain the traditions, the culture and the beliefs but few, if any, actually understand and know what that is - exactly or as close to exact as humanly possible. Do you know and understand when it means to make those statements, to say we have to maintain the culture?

I do recognize that karate is a unique characteristic of the Okinawans and it may well be truly a cultural asset is the Okinawan’s believe today. When reading an article by Sensei Charles Goodin he asserts that karate is an aspect of Okinawan cultural that has spread to many countries across the world. But I don’t perceive that as an aspect of the Okinawan culture but a representation of a discipline created by Okinawans but then again I am splitting hairs.

It is a part of the Okinawan society and simply from that association it will be influenced by and created from the Okinawan cultural beliefs if not directly then at least from influences brought into the dojo and its practices such as rei and a culturally driven form of etiquette. Maybe the Okinawan Karate Culture involves certain characteristics seen in their society derived from beliefs and influences from the ancient classics and those unique forms of etiquette used in all aspects of their society and therefore in the dojo. Then there is the uniform but consider this, that is derived from Japanese budo and created for Judo and adopted for Karate, so is it actually a part of the Okinawan culture?

Lets break it down, in truth the physical characteristics of karate and martial arts are more about fighting, combat and defense against aggression, harm and possibly death. The socially driven etiquettes and cultural assets created from the perceptions and beliefs of that social entity are not actually a required part of the practice and training since karate and martial arts don’t require them to exist and be effective as shown by their adoption around the world. If you removed any such culturally driven etiquettes, etc., would karate and martial arts simply cease to exist, not so say me. 

To hole and remember a culture is a historical documentation of the peoples themselves, not the created disciplines much like creating a clock, the clocks creation my be an artistic demonstration of the individual through their past experiences and perceptions and learnings and understandings unique to them and the social group but it is still a clock. Remove the clock from the society, its social culture and beliefs and mount it on a wall somewhere else in our world it remains a clock regardless. To maintain the culture cannot be conveyed by taking karate and martial arts classes even in the countries of origin because we are NOT Okinawans or Japanese or Chinese. We cannot become them unless born to the society and raised by its culture and beliefs.

There have been many foreigners who lived almost their entire lives in Asia and still don’t feel they understand the culture and its beliefs expect in a very academic way. They attempt to document the culture and beliefs but in truth that doesn’t allow them to remain true to it or to live it or to pass it along to those who follow us.

In the end, a Koryu Sensei who trained under a Koryu Master of his martial arts for decades in Japan immersed in the cultural side simply by living there and associating with that cultural belief system was still told by the master upon leaving, “Your are an American, teach Americans as you would teach - Americans, not as you would Japanese.” (not an exact quote)

I feel we are unable and incapable of remains true to the Okinawan or Asian culture but we can respect and pay tribute to it as best we can through study, learning and our attempts to understand the culture and beliefs but otherwise the effort is futile for no other reason then we are NOT Asian, we are Americans. 

p.s. simply visiting the culture; simply observing and enjoying aspects such as cultural historical Okinawan dance, etc.,; and participating in dojo of the Okinawans is not enough to understand and them maintain that traditional cultural characteristics. You have to live it, immerse yourself physically, mentally and spiritually in it, there is no other way otherwise your just a tourist. 

One final time, lets look at this like we would look to the various karate styles, i.e., “Isshinryu uses this kind of fist to strike; Gojuryu uses this kind of fist to strike; and Shorinryu uses this kind of fist to strike.” In truth, a strike is a strike and principles of that strike are exactly the same regardless of whether they are implemented in the Isshinryu way, the Gojuryu way or the Shorinryu way, right?

Bibliography (Click the link)

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