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

WARNING, CAVEAT AND NOTE

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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OPINION PIECE: What exactly is a Grand Master ...

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

Well, mastery is a most awesome goal in the study and practice of martial arts and karate and that is a given but where I lean toward hesitancy is using master and grand master as titles to recognize a most fallible human being. When one has mastered something, become an extraordinary expert in some discipline, then I ask the question, have they mastered the system? 

What is mastery? In a literal translation of the word we are told that mastery is a comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment. Master is about control or superiority over someone or something. It is also said that mastery is the action or process of mastering a subject or accomplishment. 

When we remove one letter from the word we get, “Master.” 
  • A master is a person who has people working for him, especially servants or slaves. 
  • A master is a person who is a skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity.
  • A master is a person having or showing very great skill or proficiency.
  • A master is one who has acquired complete knowledge or skill in an accomplishment, technique, or art. 
  • A master is one who has the ability to gain control of; overcome. 
Now add on the first word, Grand, and we get.
  • A grand person is one who is magnificent and imposing in appearance, size, or style. 
  • A grand person denoted the most important item of its kind. 
  • A grand is a thousand dollars or pounds - money.
  • A grand is a grand piano. 
Now, lets try to add the two and see what comes up, “Grand Master.”
  • A Grandmaster is a a chess player of the highest class, especially one who has won an international tournament.
  • A Grandmaster is the head of an order of chivalry or of Freemasons.
  • A Grandmaster is the head of a military order of knighthood, a lodge, fraternal order, or the like.
  • Also, grandmaster. ( lowercase) a person at the highest level of ability or achievement in any field.
  • Lastly, there is a definition of a Japanese grandmaster (lowercase) in martial arts. “Grandmaster (or Grand Master) and Master are titles used to describe or address some senior or experienced martial artists. Typically these titles are honorific in nature, meaning that they do not confer rank, but rather distinguish the individual as very highly revered in their school, system, or style.” 
Another title that is used and connected to this articles subject is, “Soke.” (Quoted from Koryu.com)
  • If Internet websites can be believed, in the English-speaking world the Japanese word soke has become a title for individuals who claim to be "great grandmasters" or "founders" of martial arts.
  • Surprisingly, however, the term is not explained in recent English-language dictionaries of martial arts directed toward general readers, nor in the more authoritative books about Japanese martial culture.
  • Apparently this very obscurity provides commercial advantage when it is invoked in a competitive marketplace crowded with instructors who promote themselves not just as high-ranking black belts, but as masters or even grandmasters.
  • This English-language usage stands in stark contrast to the connotations of the word soke in Japan where, if it is used at all, it strongly implies loyalty to existing schools, deference to ancestral authority, and conservative adherence to traditional forms.
    • Despite what many seem to believe in the West, as a Japanese word soke has never meant "founder," nor does it mean "grandmaster."
My intent here is to convey the convolution of title used indiscriminately throughout the American or Western martial arts and karate communities. You can read more about such things here: Soke: Historical Incarnations of a Title and its Entitlements by William M. Bodiford

In general, my perception and interpretation, grandmaster itself as a title would mean that a person who has attained the highest level of ability OR achievement in any field, in this case martial arts and/or karate, who is skilled in the art and way and who has accumulated or acquired a complete knowledge, understanding, and skill in the art or way or jutsu of martial arts and karate. In essence it is about one who has demonstrated through actions and deeds the ability to gain control of themselves and have overcome those internal obstacles of the ego to be in the moment and of the way of martial arts in theory, as a philosophy and toward the physical, mental and spirit of that discipline in every facet of life in and out of the dojo. 

Now, with all the masters, grandmasters (lowercase for a reason guys), soke’s and other such trappings created out of original historical context by the West has seldom, truly and honestly been accomplished. Having a high rank is not indicative of mastery although is often a symbol of years of practice, a solid understanding and the ability to adequately relay such expertise to others in teachings. 

When I looked up Soke [宗家] I found one translation that gave it the English, “Head of family; originator.” First character translated to, “Religion; sect; denomination; main point; origin; essence,” and the second character translates to, “house; home; family; professional; expert; performer.” Here is an interesting point tho, when the characters are translated elsewhere not one translation says anything about its use in martial arts or karate circles except sites in the West that run a dojo, a business. 

Then there is its usage, historically speaking, some titles are honorary and awarded in recognition of services, expertise, understanding and ability in a discipline. They are not meant to be titles used indiscriminately in a more egoistic self-soothing and self-serving way. In one view, to use such titles in this way simply states that the one holding said title is not worthy of that title of honorary recognition. But, then again, our way in the West is about self-esteem, self-soothing and the gratifications we can get wherever and whenever we can to … self-sooth and give ourselves the belief we have self-esteem. 

Now, this is presumptuous of me and many will say that because I don’t have such recognitions and connections that I am just whining about what others have achieved. It is not true because the research I have done, more than most in the communities without some form of dissonance involved, comes from those who have spent decades studying and coming to understand the more historical facts of martial arts and karate. Koryu, is one form of traditional martial arts or jutsu.
  • Shihan [師範] is translated to mean, “Instructor; (fending) teacher; model.” 
  • Hanshi [範士] is translated to mean, “Fencing master of the top rank.”
  • Kyoushi or Kyoshi [教師] is translated to mean, “Teacher (classroom).”
  • Renshi [錬士] is not even translated by one source but is translated on a Shinjinbukan web site as, “Refined, polished Samurai expert.” 
  • Sensei [先生] is translated to mean, “Teacher; master; doctor; with names of teachers, etc., as an honorific.” 

Now, I am not Japanese and the year I spent on Okinawa is no qualification what so ever and just because I spent the last ten years studying various sources of note on Japan, Okinawa and China does not mean I am an expert but I do believe I am knowledgable, at least enough to pose theories and questions on the subject.

Here is my theory, by belief, on the titles. They are symbolic of certain things in general and toward expertise in martial arts and karate. In truth, as I perceive and distinguish the above translations those titles, including Sensei, may not be appropriate for martial arts and karate at all. 
  • Shihan is just an instructor or teacher of the fencing martial arts. Not to say that by its usage in martial arts, general, and karate could bring about an addition to the translation but it is pretty clear that such a change has not been implemented in any of the translation sites, other than martial and karate sites, to be used in martial arts or karate.
  • Hanshi is about fending and one who is a top ranked fencing expert. As with shihan above, if it were adopted and accepted by the masses for what is is used for today in martial arts and karate then the translations would reflect that change, right?
  • Kyoushi/Kyoshi just means teacher, in a classroom, and I would accept the dojo as a classroom and therefore, along side sensei, would accept kyoshi and sensei as the same level, meaning teacher. 
  • Renshi means polished samurai expert and no one, not one outside the Koryu circle or family rates to use or be honored by that title. As with the others, if accepted and used in this assumed meaning in martial arts it would be reflected in the translations, etc.
  • Sensei, is a teacher and is accepted even in martial arts, karate and the dojo. So, sensei as it is used in the West is the only one in my view, perception and belief as valid usage in the martial arts and karate dojo. 
I am proud to have done the work, come to understand the martial karate way and Jutsu and to have accomplished a lot toward knowledge, understanding and belief along with pretty good applications, etc., and that is enough for me. I judge myself to myself for myself and except in general fundamental ways allow for others to influence my self-judgement of self. I can always, and do, compare what I do, say and teach with others where I do what I call, “Data Mining,” to remove the chaff from the wheat so my understanding, etc., is based on more factual historical aspects rather, mostly, than emotions and ego and pride. In that light, if I had or were honored by my peers with such titles and symbols I would hold that close and have pride that the group accepted me as is, not as they expect and that is enough where I would take such trappings of accolades and respect, put them away in my office desk and on rare occasions take them out to honor the others for their view of me and my capabilities but they would remain there for personal reasons and use and views. 

I would not allow those accolades, titles, etc., to be used in public or even in private or even on correspondence, etc. It would be inappropriate and lead too far toward egoistic pride filled self-esteem building self-soothing aspects not of my way. I would prefer to witness the absorption and use of my teachings on the dojo floor, that is the only true recognition because that application toward action and deed by those who follow my mentoring attempts speaks volumes above and beyond mere titles, ranks and other accolades. I have always felt that when one mimics and synthesizes what you say, do and how you act into their efforts and lives, when they synthesize that into their own ways … that is the highest recognition anyone, me especially, can achieve even in one lifetime. 

p.s. back to the grandmaster and other such titles, who actually qualifies and validates that level even as I describe it above? If it is the dojo members, how can they assess and qualify then award such a title since none of them are masters or grand masters. It is an honor when your membership, dojo mates, think highly of you and want you to be recognized but if they don’t hold the rank, they don’t have the accomplishments and have met the criteria (whomever does that too?) and have no real knowledge or experiences to set the standards then is it valid? Is it true? and is it reality? Hmmmm, a bit like me being a san-dan and then deciding my student should be a Yo (Yon) dan? Hmmmm … now that I have thoroughly pissed about everyone in the martial arts and karate communities off …

Bibliography (Click the link)



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