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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Experience, what is it?

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

Experience literally is defined as, “Practical contact with and observation of facts or events; the knowledge or skill acquired by experience over a period of time, especially that gained in a particular profession by someone; an event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.”

So, in our community of martial arts and karate when someone says they have forty-one years of experience does that actually mean, forty-one years? In that forty-one years one might ask, “How many of those years, months, weeks, days and hours are actually hands-on experiences?” There is more you know because when you sit down and consider it the truth would kind of make a person realize that their experience is not what it seems. 

For instance, using myself as an example, in the self-defense world with or without martial arts and karate as the tool for that what is considered experience? In what I would say is forty-one years of experience upon reflection and by taking into account the time and effort directly attributed to that experience forty-one years doesn’t really measure up. 

Before I continue a couple of things. First, experiences depend on the intent of one’s efforts in a discipline. I can truthfully say that the majority of my experiences, in general of life itself, consists of the efforts to be socially mature to get along with others, etc., then toward the very thing I rely on to survive, work. I have a lot of knowledge, understanding and experience in what I do for work because, in truth, that consumes almost all my time. 

Now, back to martial arts and karate experiences of forty-one years where the truth of it is when analyzed you will find that the time and efforts spent on learning, practicing and training take up almost all your time for a period long before you enter into the arena that gives you real, realistic and beneficial, experience. 

Lets discuss that, you really cannot count training and practice as experience if, for example only, you are relying on it for self-defense. Realistically, training and practice are those tools that teach you the necessary knowledge, understanding and SKILLS you will need to actually gain experience. 

In another way, if you want your training and practice to contribute to experience then you need to leave out self-defense as the intent where many lean toward the more philosophical self-help type of training and practice. Then those two by taking on a different objective actually contribute to those levels of experience. 

Since my efforts in martial arts and karate are about defending oneself in conflict and with violence often called, Self-Defense, then we can gain a bit more focus. In this area of expertise there are also two types of experience; first is that which comes from applying the knowledge and skills attained through the efforts of training and practice in a training reality-based adrenal stressor model (note: most don’t even come close to this even those luminaries who make that claim especially if they were not professional conflict guys and gals). Just going to the dojo and training on the dojo floor without certain traits, etc. is not truly relevant experiences.

Now, I have had only a handful of encounters that were not socially driven conflicts with violence, those are human natural socially driven monkey dances that seldom expose you to grave harm or death except in accidents, etc. I was exposed to events that would have caused grave harm and death and survived - those are experiences that count. When you lay them out and look at them as facts using certain views you find that, in my case, those experiences cover such a small span of time that in the end they don’t even count. 

I was a Marine on active duty from 1972 to EOS of December of 1981. I did not serve in a combat zone, I did server during Viet Nam which ended mostly in  1974. I did encounter life threatening events while serving but not from enemy combatants but from other Marines who felt they didn’t need to follow orders and such of the Marines who directed their anger toward the bringing of such messages or orders - me. I survived but again looking at the duration to which all those events occurred the total experience of them all, since they lasted mere minutes, doesn’t even total up to an hour.

Let me remind you that often professionals, my combat brothers in the Marines spoke of combat as well, will say that ninety percent of the time they wait, they train, they practice but the actual combat time is often minutes to maybe hours. My combat experienced Marine brothers who served in Viet Nam would say the stress was always high because they never knew when the enemy might attack the compound or you would hear the mortars coming in but true combat experience of enemy facing combat often was only a short time in between all the other times. 

So, when I said I had forty-one years of experience then laid out that on paper as to actual time in training, in practice and in gaining experiences through kumite, tournaments and personal dojo contests more freestyle then kumite drills it breaks down to a very small time span.

Lets use the first year of diligent, continuous and concentrated training, practice, etc., of Isshinryu in the Hansen dojo of Dean Henry Sensei. We met a minimum of three times per week for two, sometimes three, hours. That equals six to nine hours a week. I could say we practiced for over fifty-two weeks that year but is that truthful or accurate - nope. 

I, and other Marine karate-ka, often spent time outside the dojo practicing and training. I often, at chow time, evenings and on weekends would visit other dojo or train with my dojo-mates to hone my skills. Lets be conservative, I trained with others about 8 hours outside the gym each week. 

Now we have six to nine hours in the dojo and another eight hours a week in the category of, “Other.” Lets be generous and use nine hours + eight hours for a total of seventeen hours of training and practice in karate. But, yes that but does kind of negate that set of facts for we are talking about experience levels earned and for self-defense that means some form of training, practice and applications the meet the realty-based format along with actual hands on violence oriented experiences. Realty based, none; real violence based about one hour per week exposure through what we at the time called Ville-patrol where we would encounter and handle drunk and rowdy Marines out in the villages on liberty so they don’t go to jail or have to feel the wrath and punishment of the JP’s or Japanese Police. In that one hour of exposure I would estimate actual hands on to be about maybe ten minutes.

So, now we have seventeen hours and ten minutes of actual experience that MAY be applicable to true experience in karate self-defense, not the philosophical form, and when you actually put it down it isn’t much and isn’t “IMPRESSIVE.” 

Now, lets take that one week and extrapolate a full year. First, assuming training and practice count for non-violent experience we have 17 hours a week x 52 weeks in a year to = 884 hours total for one year. Take 884 hours and translate that into days (8 hour day) and you get 110.5 8 hour days of training and practice. Not quite one year since about 255 days are spent not in karate training or practice. “A HUGE eyer Opener don’t you think and I am being generous too.”

Now, lets deal with actual relevant hands-on experience dealing with violent Marines at 10 minutes a week x 52 weeks = 520 minutes. 520 minutes in one hour, sixty minutes, chucks = 8 hours or one work day of hands-on experience in that one year. 

Now we are going to assume for the sake of instruction and example that one, then the other and then a combination of both are used to explain three kinds of experience and for the span of forty-one years.

First, training and practice of 110.5 days x 41 = 4,530.5 days. Lets make that years now, 4530.5 / 365 (days a year) = 12.5 years of total experience.
Second, hands-on experience of 1 day (8 hour day) a year x 41 years = 41 days over forty-one years total experience handling physical violence regardless of whether social or asocial in nature. 

Granted, this is controlled and is example of only a a small part of one’s life and in my case there are other minutes and maybe an hour of hands-on defense against those who tried to harm me or kill me but in the end, if laid out logically and truthfully amount to not much hands-on experience. 

So, in fairness, I would assume, unjustly and not really realistically, that most of those who claim to have forty, fifty or more years of experience in karate as practitioner and/or teachers that the numbers will be a bit higher especially if they do the self-improvement philosophical interspersed with sport and show martial arts and karate. Me, I could then make a guess that my total years of experience in karate studies, training and practice accumulated to about - maybe - thirty years total and that is with spending a lot of my waking moments thinking about, theorizing a lot and study of the discipline toward a better understanding, etc., etc., while not doing in the dojo extensive training, practicing and honing of my skills as much as I would like. 

Lets add in the truth that when I led a dojo most of my time was not accumulating actual hands-on experiences in karate but rather that of teaching where teaching teaches the sensei but often at the cost of honing skills and such. It doesn’t change the overall experience levels regardless of training and practice intent on my part. 

Note this as well, as I aged and distanced myself from environments and situations that may or possibly could lead to conflict and violence the actual hands on real life experiences diminish rapidly. In truth, to my mind, that is a good thing because now I can attribute my experience levels to the true model of self-defense called the art of avoidance and the art of deescalation through verbal self-defense. Since I have reached my winter years of over sixty the experiences of kumite, drills, self-defense instructions and lessons, etc., also diminished a lot because simply put I retired from teaching and since it was not a profession or business that too makes it different.

Now, a question comes up as to why present this article and subject? Another question is to ask, if true then why do martial artists and karate-ka insist and resist the information and will go to war to refute it? 
  • why present this article and subject?
    • In a most general way it comes down to our personal belief systems, the very systems that help us survive and cope with obstacles thrown at us as we live our lives. Humans, sometimes unrealistically but still it works for us, will require a belief system for survival, status, and connected membership in a tribe like environment that all are based on nature’s survival needs. This one would need some additional research and study on the part of the reader because it is a large complex issue and subject but worth the effort.
  • why do martial artists and karate-ka insist and resist the information and will go to war to refute it? 
    • First, humans have this need to not be wrong. When being wrong hits on a belief then our emotionally driven side will resist that vehemently up to actual violence. It takes a huge effort to see and realize when one has something incorrect and thereby make the change. It is also about our minds believing that if it works and it has not failed us that regardless of facts, truth and relevance now or toward the future we will naturally and with strength resist acceptance and change. 
This is a long article and if you are reading this then you spent the time with it to which I express my appreciation. One of the hallmarks of human survival is both cooperation and communications to which this articles intent applies. So, with that I would really appreciate any constructive communications where we can exchange ideas, theories and BELIEFS toward the possibility of change whether it is changing my mind or yours about this eclectic discipline we all love and practice and live. 

Note: It just occurred to me, if the above is true and valid then it seems even more impressive that those whose forty plus years in karate and martial arts that their accomplishments and such are even more impressive, awesome and just plain accomplished!

Bibliography (Click the link)

1 comment:

Charles James said...

I am really privileged, My sensei began his training in martial arts in the fifties much like other veterans who pioneered karate, etc., here in the states.

One of my teachers sensei was Nagle who also started in the fifties or there bouts. My sensei's brother also studied under Nagle sensei directly.

Hmmm, both, along with Nagle sensei, starting in the fifties bring to the table a combined experience of about 180 or more years; so if I am correct, correct me if I am not, I now have an accumulated 224 years of accumulated/combined experience and teaching, awesome!

I didn't realize it was even remotely possible to attain such experiences.

Naw, actually the only experiences I have are my own. My sensei has his own, his brother his and Nagle Sensei his as well (God rest his soul). I did benefit from the passing of such knowledge and experiences with only one caveat.

My sensei who trained with his brother and along with Nagle sensei experienced things at the same time and in the end my sensei's experiences are those he chose to assimilate from his exposure to Nagle Sensei, his students through cooperative exchanges, his brother through cooperative exchanges and with the knowledge that all that still trickles down to only that experience one can gain through their personal actions, studies and experiences all their own.

It would be impossible to take a persons totality of experience and express that in a teaching environment for to do so would need as much time as the original person spent in experiencing those experiences.

So, sadly, it seems that I can't claim to experience 224 or even 180 years of experience as benefiting me in my experience.

What I can say is this, "Through the effort, dedication, diligence and spirit of giving my sensei passed on to me what knowledge, wisdom and experiences he experienced as best he could considering the limits and limitations of being human and for that I am thankful."

No amount of wishing or wishful thinking or egoistic effort is going to add any more knowledge, experience or understanding to my knowledge, experience and understanding just because I think, believe or say that I benefitted from 224 or 180 years of combined experience or experiences.

Apples and Oranges are still applies or oranges. No matter how I collect apples and oranges; no matter whether I string them along side by side or arrange them in pairs or even try to blend them together they are still apples and oranges with the only exception that when blended they become something a bit different as to taste but in essence they are still apples and oranges.

YES, the ego is in this comment and it is a bit of a monkey driven emotionally driven thing but, "The truth is out there, you just gotta let it in Jesse!" No one said controlling and managing the monkey brain was easy. I am still a work in progress in that regard.