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

I am not a leading authority on any one discipline that I write about and teach, it is my hope and wish that with all the subjects I have studied it provides me an advantage point that I offer in as clear and cohesive writings as possible in introducing the matters in my materials. I hope to serve as one who inspires direction in the practitioner so they can go on to discover greater teachers and professionals that will build on this fundamental foundation. Find the authorities and synthesize a wholehearted and holistic concept, perception and belief that will not drive your practices but rather inspire them to evolve, grow and prosper. My efforts are born of those who are more experienced and knowledgable than I. I hope you find that path! See the bibliography I provide for an initial list of experts, professionals and masters of the subjects.

Search This Blog

Outside the Box: Giri (Obligation)

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

In a long ago movie about the Japanese Yakuza a character responds to an inquiry on the meaning of giri as, “The burden hardest to bear.” In addition, addressing concerns by the other character he states further, “If you don’t feel it, you don’t have it.” Little did I know that such things went far beyond any type of Japanese/Asian cultural beliefs. 

Obligation is one of those survival things humans need, pretty much required for social cohesion and survival, for humans have a drive to survive and various things like obligation are necessary for the very survival of the human species. No other species takes this concept to the levels as humans for other animal life rely on more genetic triggers for their survival simply because they don’t reason at the levels of humans.

As martial artists we are all, at a minimum, familiar with the term giri and in case the reader is not sure here is my translation and interpretation of giri.

Giri [義理]

The characters/ideograms mean "duty; sense of duty; honor; decency; courtesy; debt of gratitude; social obligation." The first character means, righteousness; justice; morality; honor; loyalty; meaning," the second character means, "logic; arrangement; reason; justice; truth."

Often we hear of giri in martial arts circles due to the influences of the samurai legends of old Japan. In one quote it was said that giri is the burden hardest to bear. If one does not feel it, then one does not have it. It is looked upon as a debt that can never be repaid. Looking at the definitions for the characters/ideograms it is no wonder why it takes on such a meaning.

It is defined as "to serve one's superiors with a self-sacrificing devotion" by Namiko Abe. It is tied closely with the more feudal era culture and beliefs that have remained steadfast to present day.

Giri is difficult to translate adequately into western English cultural belief terms. It has been romanticized in movies and books such as "The Yakuza," where giri is a major factor in the story.

In the study of martial arts one cannot truly understand all the cultural nuances be they Japanese, Okinawan or Chinese. All three have connections and the final Japanese cultural meaning of giri is born of all three although now unique to the Japanese.

Giri goes both ways as well. Giri is a matter of two sides to one coin or as one might assume as yin-yang. For one to feel it requires the other or recipient to feel it and vice versa. If either one does not feel it then it is diminished even tho the one side can still find themselves bound to the other through giri regardless of the others feeling for giri.

Anytime there is a relationship involved the two personalities coupled with cultural beliefs and individual perceptions, etc. make it a most difficult part of any belief system.

Giri in a general sense may be related to better understand the concept to group or tribal survival dynamics. It can be related to social associations whereby loss can equate rejection and/or dismissal from the group or tribe.

Favors, concessions and obligations are all survival principles of humans for it is these and other principles, rules and/or social conditionings that are all from long, long, long ago when we were still cave dwellers who by our very physical limitations required to gather into tribes or clans just so we could survive the dangers of those ancient environments with all those predators both human and animal. 

Giri is just another way to express that humans must adhere to the rules where favors, concessions and obligations that are mutually beneficial to the group, tribe, or clan for everything and that includes their very survival - even in modern times with literally no danger from any great plains wild life. Note: for some, that danger if still very real; for some, hunters often put themselves into such dangerous environments with at least the knowledge they get to go back to proverbial civilization when the hunt is done.

In my karate for self-fense, as it should be in any form of self-fense training, this type of knowledge is a way to self-arm for the use of persuasion toward influencing a possible adversary or opponent toward avoidance and deescalation. Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, PhD, wrote an excellent book on the subject that explains the system of principles and rules better than me. I suggest you take a read, study it a bit, read it again and then analyze that along with other self-defense literature to synthesize a new way to avoidance and deescalation. Beware tho, if you miss your mark as with almost any other effort in this vane you will find the repercussions to be devastating. Also, beware that nefarious duds can also use this same trigger device to get you to do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do as well, the sword cuts both ways (yin-yang sub-principle to Philosophy principle). 

Cialdini, Robert B. PhD. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” Harper. New York. 2006.

Bibliography (Click the link)

“In order for any life to matter, we all have to matter.” - Marcus Luttrell, Navy Seal (ret)

No comments: