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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On teaching!

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

I read a really wonderful and enlightening article this morning, i.e., 08:44 hours on 10 March 2017, from Mr. Rory Miller at his blog, “Chiron.” A link is provided below and you should read it in its entirety along with understanding that what I write in the following are my ideas about what he wrote as to how to be a good, solid and dependable Sensei. Here is the list I extracted from my reading as to my understanding at this moment of writing (for I reserve the rights to change as I study things a bit more and gain some experiences and better understandings).
  • “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”
  • “It's about the student, not the instructor.”
  • “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 
  • “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”
  • “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”
  • “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”
  • “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”
  • “ … there is no appeal to authority.”
  • “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”
  • “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”
  • “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”
Now, as a means of possibly learning something toward a better understanding I may make some comments after each extracted quote given above and that has absolutely noting to do with what Mr. Miller wrote, ergo read the article and draw your own conclusions useful to you. This is an exercise in learning and as he indicates should be tempered, like tempering fine steel, with experiences toward understanding. 

Some background: I have some experience and expertise as an, “Instructor,” and some as a, “teacher,” but I now begin to understand that what I did in those days was limited, stunted and missing some very important traits that would have made me a better one. I did continue to study such things but, except in one case, never received a formalized training on how to teach, train and mentor. I was left to my own devices and learned by “OJT” and through observation of those leaders I worked with and for. 

I formally taught a basic job specialty course to newly minted Marine boots at Camp Lejeune for the first four years of service. I then changed into a special job that trained me extensively in methods of recruiting along with several civilian courses meant to sales and public speaking, etc. I then followed in a job speciality where teaching was a good part of that work while outside that realm I learned and taught Marines, later military and dependents, the more combative and self-defense aspects of karate from Okinawa. 

I later took up providing the services of a IT tech service support person who also used skills to teach workstation users how to use, maintain and secure IT devices. I also taught formally physical security requirements, processes and actions for staff working in a secure and classified environment. 

In short, I do have some background and experience yet the following still rang my bell in one way or form or another because it simply takes me out of the paradigm of past understanding directing me toward a better and improved way of, “Teaching, mentoring and leading.” In short, it adds a lot to my current, varied, skill set. So, with that said, “here we go.” 

Extracted Quote: “A good teacher doesn't tell you what to think, but shows you how to think.”

Comments: In a society where many ‘expect’ someone else to provide certain things for them along with the assumption that certain perceived rights means other things are provided especially when those perceived rights are thought to have been violated still confuses me because it means they have pretty much stopped learning and therefor tend to fail in understanding things in order to make their own decisions. 

Once, long ago, another black belt in a dojo where I was assisting in teaching said to me, “You explain too much, you should just demonstrate one time then let them go at it all on their own.” I thought about that for a few moments because I learned that I tend to jump in such situations and then I said something like, “Well, for them to learn and discover for themselves I do need to provide them with information that supports the actions demonstrated so they can think on their own how that all works - for them - and how that might work - in reality - then allow for the synthesis of questions and comments the entire dojo can address so we all learn to analyze as individuals while in a group we all take the analysis to higher levels so the group can synthesize something that benefits both the individual and group.”

I believe that what he was taught is that in Japan, the sensei doesn’t say much and expects the students through observation to learn. While that works for the Japanese due to their culture and beliefs that doesn’t work so well with Americans. The form of ‘shi-kata’ was established over many generations in Japan where kata are how they do everything, mostly, and since all things tend to be covered by patterned kata it is culturally understood that through observation one can learn, practice and come to understand how things are done without resorting to that harmony disturbing asking of questions we Americans need, want and require to learn. 

Because of shi-kata, Japanese learn by observation while we Americans learn by not just observation but through the use of our senses, if we are lucky, and through an exchange of communications and demonstrative effort by sensei, deshi, sempai and kohai relationships.  A bit of study of human anthropological studies explains how humans evolved where group exchanges and efforts lead to survival then we begin to understand how teaching, learning and understanding work with only changes and diversions brought about by the process itself according to the environment, group or tribal dynamics and cultural beliefs. 

Extracted Quote: “It's about the student, not the instructor.”

Comments: In my mind, humans get caught up in status, ego and perceptions from others all relating to that same status, ego and such other traits all related to tribal group dynamics of, at a primal level, survival. This is especially difficult for those not exposed to brotherhood like connections found in a lot of the violence professions so they have to learn through social conditions and conditioning - assuming the social group has that knowledge and understanding. 

As teachers or instructors or mentors our most difficult trait is to stop looking at ourselves through the old monkey dancing egoistic brain and look outward to how we can service and provide knowledge and understanding to, “Those who follow.” If we are truly one of those who came before, Sensei, then we need to focus our attentions and efforts on that student who with doe like eyes of admiration and awe of a black belt looks to us for guidance, teaching and ability. 

If you teach, truly teach as a service to your students, then focus outward on them, not on how you look; how many students you can collect; not on how many accolades, awards and trophies you can get. Focus on them and adhere to proper, expert and authenticate teaching principles. 

Extracted Quote: “Provide a minimal example and demonstrate it so you can start, then practitioners can go play.” 

Comments: I can’t add to much here for me because I only recently realized just how critically important play is in this learning process. In my old life a certain serious stoic manner was the name of the game. My recent studies of the last decade have just begun to allow me to understand that such things are natural to our species toward our very survival. I avoided such things because I was an inward stoic person and that the connections in the dojo, much like tribal, were about a collective effort to learn things toward survival of that group including competitions such as done today for sport along with a collective communicative exchange that fosters our growth toward something evolving, if you will. 

Extracted Quote: “The ability of the instructor is irrelevant, the training and practice is all about increasing the ability of the student.”

Comments: In this I feel that because martial arts and karate are as physical, tactile, as it is most assume that one who teaches must be able to do as well as teach. Most of the schools I have known of look to see if the sensei has trophies and other trappings they feel indicate expertise and we who have a modicum of understanding know that more often than not those who have that may not be the best teachers. Sometimes, a good teacher who can communicate a concept, theory and principle can be ‘average’ in their own applications but understand that the student often can take it way beyond any level the teacher may have or done. 

I no longer get on the dojo floor, I have issues - no excuses. I did the dojo floor actively teaching for over two decades but now lean heavily, as to karate and martial arts, to the keyboard or as advisor in a dojo, without being deeply actively involved physically, to provide what services I can to assist students in their own discovery of their own way. Ergo, all my blogs and my participation in the current social media effort to pass on teachings, etc. 

Extracted Quote: “At the instructor level, knowledge is insufficient. You need understanding.”

Comments: Not just academic, but a visceral level of understanding that seems sometimes mystical, or better yet, “Primal.” I am taking my knowledge, past experiences or what I call my systems, and understandings, especially in the tactile world of karate and martial arts, to another mental-physical discipline to keep my faculties sharp (I am sixty-+ years along) that is much less tasking physically just so I can keep my mind sharp and actually use new knowledge to analyze, hypothesize and then synthesize skills toward teaching. 

I use the example of ‘golf’ with its long game, short game and mind games necessary to master that discipline but not actually golf. In golf, that at one time many decades past, appeared to the uninitiated to be a simple sport found after a time that actually it was a very, very difficult discipline. This discipline I am working on is similar that appearances and perceptions tend to give it that, “Child’s game,” view of the uninitiated. Since I began not long ago I have found this discipline to be as difficult as golf and even karate. 

Extracted Quote: “When instructors have just memorized technique, they don't have the tools to explain and are left with mere dogma. With understanding you can pass on the rules, and the exceptions, (Very little about right/wrong. Lots about better) to the students.”

Comments: I can now go back to my previous example of a fellow dan-sha who thought I was talking too much. The ability to answer questions and to explain things seems critical. It must come from within regardless of its source of either hands-on OJT experience, academics or even more critically from experienced professionals who, thankfully, give back by writing and teaching this stuff. 

One of the most difficult traits a teacher must discard from their tool box is this ego driven knee jerk reaction when something is asked of us that we truly don’t have an answer for and end up regurgitating fantasies to look good and maintain that presentation of black belt sensei. A true teacher knows they don’t know what they don’t know so I advocate a response of, “I don’t know and I will find out and get back with you!”

As a karate-ka and martial artist I know that even the most elder, the most advanced, the highest level of martial arts master and karate master cannot know all the answers to every question - we are human and that is not how our brains work. One reason groups are a human primal need, a reason why service to the group is critical toward survival and why the group dynamic of cooperation are so important because without it the species of us humans would not have evolved to the present state of life. 

Extracted Quote: “There are lots of good teaching reasons to stay away from criticism.”

Comments: I can only say that when I was doing some research on human social connectivity that the three things most caustic to human relations is, “Criticism (chronic is absolutely the worst), contempt and disgust.” When one, two or a mixture of the three is present, the relationship of humans is 98% doomed! So, criticism is one of those things if used sparingly and in such a way using influence compliance principles is a good tool but when used extensively and often - is destructive, caustic and dangerous especially in conflict with potential violence. 

Extracted Quote: “ … there is no appeal to authority.”

Comments: This takes me back to my military days of being an instructor. That was an easy task from one narrow perspective because in those days being in the military you had levels of authoritative power most outside of those domains would not understand. Students had to be there, they had to sit and listen (even if it never was heard or sunk in) and you, as the instructor (why I use this term in lieu of teacher) you simply spewed forth the material and as military expected them to follow orders and learn this stuff. Thankfully, things have changed a considerable amount since the early days of my military career. 

Ordering one to just practice basics is counter productive to learning and especially understanding. Think about that one for a while, you will come to a better understanding with a little effort, right? 

Extracted Quote: “Extraordinary instructors are cool with not trying to force the statistical average onto the outliers.”

Comments: Actually, no comment because I need to contemplate this one and re-read Mr. Miller’s article a bit while waiting for a continuation on his presentation of the subject. 

Extracted Quote: “Just as there is a natural movement for a human body, there is also a natural learning. Humans, like all animals, learn best through play (even better is when humans play in groups). … playing, ideally in the real environment, is what locks in a skill.”

Comments: Hey, I am just going to play with this one a while, have some fun, do a bit of research and testing then I can better present a understandable comment. ;-)

Extracted Quote: “ … some of the things closest to our evolutionary path are complex problems that require simple solutions. Play is the way we cut that Gordion knot.”

Comments: We, if I understand the anthropological stuff on this, tend to drive toward simplistic answers and actions to get things done. We naturally take the complex and work hard to break it down into simply terms but where I feel we drop the ball is when it comes time to take the many simplistic things and make them whole again - holistic so to speak as a whole. This is why I found the idea of analysis, i.e., breaking down of complexities to study, hypothesis so that one can be creative and finally after having some fun synthesize all the separate distinct renderings back into one whole thing that can be used. 

In closing, I really appreciate the work of professionals like Rory Miller, I like the exchange of ideas and theories and possibilities and I like providing my thoughts and mindless meanderings because after so many stoic steadfast adherence to standard dogma I find this new way kind of enlightening and learning has become a joy rather than a task that must be done - isn’t that kind of having fun?

Take a look, think about it, discuss this in your dojo and then come back and give me some data to crunch, it would be most appreciated!

Bibliography (Click the link)
Miller, Rory. “Vic and Toby.” Chiron Blog. Thursday, March 09, 2017. http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/2017/03/vic-and-toby.html


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