Blog Disclaimer :-)

Zen Koans as they originate from Zen masters testing or challenging Zen students with parables, i.e., simple stories used to trigger a sudden realization in the student of a moral nature. Martial (Zen-like) Koan (or parable like quotes) studies are taking the practice of Zen Koan’s to trigger on-going realizations in the study of martial quotes that will lead toward martial enlightenment - toward a spiritual state of mind that allows for change. It is through such changes that both the discipline and the student can achieve higher levels of understanding through acquired knowledge and experience. Welcome to the “Martial (Zen-like) Koan Studies!”

Koans, or parables (a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson).”

Caveat: Please make note that this blog 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 blog 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.

This blog is mine and mine alone. I, the author of this blog, assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.)

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

instill fear and cause pain

“Attackers have a goal, ‘to instill fear and cause pain; to assault from a position that gives them maximum safety while exposing you to maximum fear, pain and damage; to assault you by surprise; to assault you up close and from a position that dominates leaving you crowded with compromised balance and structure, etc.’” - cejames

Comment: serous self-defense tends to lean heavily toward the uncomfortable, to be taken out of that zone where humans tend to gravitate. Self-defense in all its complexities has become a “Profession.” It has become as serious and complex and confusing as other professions like the military, police and security. So, once you take the time to study self-defense and all that entails can you say that SD is a profession? SD is NOT a hobby and it is not a SPORT but it does involve a lot of serious aspects such as physical and mental damage along with legal ramifications not to leave out or diminish the long term effects on self and family and friends and socially. 

quicker, easier, more certain

“Higher levels of force -- quicker, easier, more certain. But the higher level of force, the more it takes to justify it.” - Rory Miller, Justified, Justifiable, Prudent and Smart dtd. Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chiron Blog

Comments: See the last quotation and comments. 

In general, higher levels force

“In general, higher levels force are quicker, easier and more effective than lower levels.” - Rory Miller, Justified, Justifiable, Prudent and Smart dtd. Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chiron Blog

Comments: Levels of force is another of those teachings left out of martial arts and self-defense. Once the use of higher levels of force were seen as combative and indicative of a warrior in battle but in modern society that socially condition against all types of conflict and violence that level becomes critical in remaining within the self-defense square. See the next quote.

one is stronger when

No one is stronger when they're tense. No one is faster. No one is more flexible or agile. We all know this. All of us. And even the instructors would pay lip service to it... but there was an awful damn lot of practicing tension while talking about relaxation.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, Concretes and Abstracts

Comments: I feel, especially the American culture, we all are socially conditioned toward a tension, both mental and especially physical. We instinctively and naturally know that to hold tension is to incite stress and stress of all kinds tends to be detrimental to our overall health and well-being. It is even more incredible how we gravitate toward tension, something I suspect comes from a natural instinct to survive, i.e., tension is felt to be a natural armor of the body and it is but to hold it unnaturally and for longer durations is counterproductive toward health, well-being and toward survival. Our cultural society has been conditioned as well toward a more ascetic presentation meaning a leaner and more symmetric  body presentation that is seen in the discipline of “Body Building.” When we perform and practice kata the focus is primarily on that symmetric ascetic presentation with any flaw seen as fault to be punished by a loss of points toward winning that competitive trophy. 

hitting the heavy bag

“I was hitting the heavy bag, doing as I had been taught, throwing fast, loose karate punches and tensing them at the moment of impact when Mac said, ‘You realize that's unnecessary, right?’ I was flustered. It was the way I was taught. I hit hard. I started to argue and explain. Mac continued, ‘All you need to do is get these bones (he indicated my metacarpals) in line with these bones (the radius and ulna).’  Then he completely shifted my understanding of martial arts ‘Tensing and clenching are what people do when they don't understand structure.’” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, Concretes and Abstracts

Comments: Uh-oh, an Oh-SHIT moment reading this one. Notice that his lessons involved the application of physiokinetic principles called structure, alignment and others?

efficient tools

Memorizing techniques is easy. Nice and concrete. Teaching power generation, targeting and conformation is a good size to chunk the information. It gives beginners efficient tools and increases flexibility in hours instead of months.” 

Comments: To memorize is to encode the hard drive memory that is controlled and governed by our human brain and our human brain much like a hard drive is slow and cumbersome but teaching to understand is about encoding that Random Access Memory directly by the lizard brain. RAM is something that can be encoded in hours while hard drive memory is just files holding information not accessible to the lizard. 

experience leads to understanding

Technique repetition may lead to knowledge. Actual experience leads to understanding.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, Concretes and Abstracts

Comments: To understand means you have achieved the ability to act appropriately, it means that when instinct and the lizard kick in the training becomes readily available when simple repetitive technique does not achieve availability in the fight. Repetitive technique training is easy, training to understand is difficult. If your goal is to look good and win trophies, fine - but - if your goal is to survive an attack then understanding is the path to take. The next quote explains more …

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

based training is concrete

Technique-based training is concrete. "He throws a straight punch and you outside block, side step and throw an inside knife-hand strike. Go do a thousand reps." It's easy to teach. He does X, you do Y. Reps. But I can think of zero actual fighters who find this valuable (except as a business model). To deal with chaos you need to train with chaos. And train is the wrong word. You need to play. Partially because play is the way animals naturally learn, partially because, in a complex system working rote drills hampers more than helps. Principles-based training involves understanding the principles and applying them in chaos. It's much harder to teach, because knowledge isn't enough, the instructor must have understanding. It's less measurable, less "objective" but infinitely more useful under stress.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, Concretes and Abstracts

Comments: Not till recent studies did I ever consider the obstacles created by the technique-based training model. It was one of those, “What you don’t know you don’t know” type things. It is one of those concepts that may not be implemented in programs teaching commercial self-defense, mostly or at least for many. The few who do are unique and professional while the others are commercialized and common. It means taking a complex and converting it into a simplistic so you achiever realistic goals. 

Animals learn through play

“Animals learn through play and the first exposure to randori should be fun and slightly overwhelming but shouldn't make them feel terrified and helpless.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, The Process of Principles Based Training

Comments: Fun takes on new meaning in the world of conflict and violence for self-defense. It took a while to let it in that fun would be beneficial in SD training and practice. It sometimes seems one must assume a very serious attitude toward this discipline leaving fun in the playground and since that time, for me, I have come to understand what role fun has in training for reality, reality of conflict and violence in self-defense. Fun is fun and fun can be fun while encoding things so the lizard can learn and function when required. Ain’t that fun? Just remember that fun is just one part of the whole necessary to achieve goals in self-defense.

not about the

“It is not about the accumulation of knowledge but rather the achievement of understanding.” - cejames

Quantity achieves commercialized goals while holistic achieves reality based defense goals.  

previous instruction

“A lot of martial artists have been damaged by their previous instruction. These are the one’s who are always asking if they did it 'right' or which finger to use or how to grip. They are so used to being corrected that they are more concerned with the instructors criticism than success or failure they can feel. You have to deflect this by asking the only question that matters: ‘Did it work?’” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, The Process of Principles Based Training

Comments: The atomistic vs. the holistic is the name of this game. One is used as a tool toward a commercialized version while the other is used as a tool to achieve self-defense. One is to nit-pick until all the practitioner understands is how to perfect every minute detail of a movement/action and one is about achieve an overall goal of not succumbing to the physical attack where grave bodily harm and even death are very real and possible. A certain amount of the atomistic may be necessary in teaching principles but that ends quickly to allow for training in a holistic way to achieve goals. 

know your principles

“ … you need to know your principles inside out. Then come up with ways to demonstrate them. Not techniques to remember, but sensations to feel.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Training, The Process of Principles Based Training

Comments: I see this as a lead toward appropriate change in the way martial arts are often practiced for self-defense. Think of the maxim used in karate toward the practice of basics. Basics are considered those rudimentary hand and leg techniques practiced, practiced, and practiced so more pretty much ROTE, i.e., without reference to the many factors of the adrenal influenced act of self-defense. In reality the underlying principles are glossed over or just plain ignored as to their principles. In reality it is all about application of principles. The technique(s) such as upper and lower basics are not about the actual technique but rather the proper application of principles while practicing those basic techniques. 

In the end the actual technique(s) are not of any significant importance but the proper application of any technique relies totally and completely on those underlying fundamental principles of martial disciplines. All the repetitive practice in the world without principles and other factors will not achieve true self-defense.

It must be remembered that regardless of the additions to martial arts to make sport the core essence of every single martial discipline is the application of the mental and physical toward ending violence applied to the self. In other words whether as a means of communications or as punishment or to achieve a goal the application of martial disciplines, in essence, is the application of body damaging harm to another human being in a violent way. 

Only the individual

“Only the individual who has come to terms with his self can have a dispassionate attitude toward the world.” 

Comment: Dispassionate may not be an accurate way to look upon this meme or quotation as it will, may or could relate to martial arts. Modern Western thought on this subject was best describe through an explanation of the mind-sets involved where the mind of humans is divided into three distinct yet combined or overlapping minds. The human mind where one works with the rational, the impartial and the emotionally freedom that best suits every day living while the monkey brain as an irrationally egoistic pride driven mind works from the instability of emotionally driven actions and reactions that are far from cool, calm and composed. Finally, we have the lizard mind, that mind that is trainable and instinctive and often driven from beneath and outside influences of the human brain while often succumbing to the antics and irrationality of the monkey brain, the one that often leads us to, gets us into and participates with gusto in the emotional mode of conflict and violence. 

One one has become self-aware and has the ability to self-analyze tends to have the intestinal fortitude to see, hear and feel those emotionally driven egoistic pride driven monkey antics so they can learn, understand and thereby train toward a more unemotional driven monkey mind ways toward a more driven instinctive (properly trained through our human minds, etc.) action and reaction trained thoroughly by our human minds so that when required the switch is flipped to somewhat disconnect the human/monkey from the lizard so it can achieve results and goals with appropriate actions and reactions. 

rubric of Japanese martial traditions

“Okinawan Karate-do teachers promoted their martial art under the rubric of Japanese martial traditions descended from the warrior class and embracing bushido. … Funakoshi, in his attempts to popularize Karate-do on the Japanese mainland, failed to explain in his books the difference between how the same terms were used on Okinawa versus Japan. This mistake was compounded when his books were translated into English. As a result the ‘myth of samurai’ in Okinawa Karate-do was born.” Kowakan Blog

Comment: All seems to have achieved confusion, a confusion that has become the defacto accepted truth of Asian martial arts with particular emphasis on Okinawan Karate. Survival is about how we achieve it through group dynamics. Groups require members who will accept group rules, hierarchy, status and position so that the overall cohesion of that group will maximize its proficiency, efficiency and defenses toward its survival. The Okinawan’s as conquered citizens under Japanese rule came to realize that to survive they MUST make changes, changes that would meet the needs, rules and requirements of the Japanese group - group meaning tribe or in modern speak, “Society.” This led to the concerted efforts of those in martial arts leadership to do what was necessary to gain Japanese approvals and acceptances in the martial communities that are both modern and koryu or traditional. It can be said that these changes led to a greater acceptance of Japanese martial arts, now including Okinawan Karate and Kobudo, not just in Japanese society but world wide. 

These changes caused a melding of language, the characters/ideograms of the written language, cultural (especially relating to martial arts, i.e., the creation of modern budo and bushido, etc.) belief systems where one without extensive understanding of traditional Okinawan cultural beliefs could not and cannot perceive differences except in some more obvious ways.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Funakoshi Gichin. In his writings he continually emphasized Karate-do as embracing the Japanese spirit of the samurai (Yamato-damashi) and referring to Karate-do masters of the past as warriors or samurai.” Kowakan Blog

Comment: This makes sense, the need and desire for acceptance in a group is instinctually strong, it is about survival. When the Okinawans were “conquered” by the Japanese in the sixteen hundreds they became Japanese whether they liked it or not. Since that time they have been totally and completely absorbed and indoctrinated into that social societal belief system. Although they, like all conquered, hold tight to many social and cultural beliefs but in essence to survive in the new world they needed to become a contributing member of the Japanese tribe and that led to the need to establish themselves, create a perception of status and need to the Japanese and this led to the strong need and desire of karate masters, as well as other Okinawan’s of historical importance, to seek out the greater status holding Japanese to accept them and provide them both status and need, etc. Funakoshi, in his urgency to become an accepted bushi, Japan like not the Okinawan version of bushi although that was needed as well, he made efforts that often left out important information that would have connected the new karate to the old as to heritage of ancient Okinawans and so on. Needless to say that ended up become the defacto modern belief system that is only now being brought to light to all practitioners who will listen and heed the possible truth to this. 

any given topic

“On Okinawa, on any given topic, you will find at least two highly regarded masters who will state the complete opposite.” - Andreas Quast

Comment: A huge reason is a lack of documentation in historical archives of Okinawa. The Okinawan karate proponents of history were focused on more important issues over their history. Those same masters were not historians and what they practiced and taught didn’t have any effect on their social beliefs or their social standings nor in regard to any significant historical facts. Like the maxim we hear today, “Stop talking and just train,” I suspect those forefathers who practiced and taught karate were far more interested in practice, training and most of all applying it then documenting it for either posterity or historical reasons. 

find another way

“ … because something is justifiable doesn't mean you couldn't find another way. My personal definition, Justifiable means I could convince a jury, Justified means I can convince myself there was no other way out. Prudent means it would be stupid to go in at a lower level.” - Rory Miller, Justified, Justifiable, Prudent and Smart dtd. Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chiron Blog

Comments: Remember that what is justified does not depend on your definition of justification but on the definition of others influenced by emotions, ignorance and that media driven monkey shit we assume is reality. 

Justified and justifiable

“Justified and justifiable are not always the same thing. In 1992, the Oregonian surveyed Portland Police officers. One of the details: In the four years before the survey, 86% said they could have fired with full legal justification but chose not to. There are some implications of that -- for every 28 shootings, officers bet their lives they could find another way about 900 times. And were largely successful except, of course, dead officers don't get to fill out surveys.” - Rory Miller, Justified, Justifiable, Prudent and Smart dtd. Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chiron Blog

Comments: Reminds me of legal vs. illegal; right vs. wrong; good vs. bad; fair vs. unfair cause it does depend and mostly it will be bad and go bad so buyer beware!

things are going bad

“The essence of self-defense is that things are going bad. You are behind the curve. The threat is bigger and stronger and/or armed and/or crazy and/or multiple. You are surprised and almost certainly off balance with minimal room to run or maneuver, no time to evaluate and plan, with compromised structure and likely injured before you knew it was on.“ - Rory Miller, Justified, Justifiable, Prudent and Smart dtd. Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Chiron Blog

Comments: Just three things; first is awareness, second is awareness and finally it is awareness - long before it goes bad don’t ya thunk?

mindful introspection

“Karate is a blend of physically challenging training supported by mindful introspection.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo blog

Comments: And yet that only touches the very surface of the pool that is martial arts, karate, conflict and violence in our world. So many fronts, so many necessities and so many dangers, obstacles and obstructions to living free - is that even possible in a modern society? 

and, I hope not when

“If and, I hope not when, you get into an altercation with another individual, then every aspect of your life will be on trial. Every statement or post on your social networking site. Every martial arts/self-defense class you have ever taken. Everything you have ever done will be scrutinized and examined by the District/Prosecuting attorney. It can and will be used against you in ways that you never thought possible. If by some chance, you are found not-guilty, then be prepared for the lawyers in the civil case that is coming to play even dirtier than the D.A. Your character, reputation, family history, everything about you and yours, will be on display for the jury and world to see. Thing it is a joke? Talk to someone that has been through it and you will find out just how bad it can be.” - Clint Overland, Forward to “Scaling Force” by Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane

Comments: No where else but in this modern electronic society and culture have we made ourselves exposed and susceptible to the emotional whims of others based on instant media edited editorials both written and videoed. Even the most innocent of actions or deeds are now recorded and stored for eternity that will, if unlucky enough, expose you to the emotional media driven judgements that will kill your reputation, your life and your economic security let alone take you all the way to jail without even the hint of ability to pass go, go directly and without the chance of even being judged with full, complete and comprehensive evidence. Life sucks …

impending social violence

“It is relatively easy to de-escalate impending social violence so that things won’t get physical, especially if you are willing to lose face. It is only possible to de-escalate predatory violence by appearing to be too dangerous to attack. If you are alert, aware, prepared, in decent physical condition, and capable of setting a verbal boundary, those are all major warning signs to the predator.” - Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force

Comments: Predator vs. Prey; who would have thought in these modern times that such terms would still be required. To learn this one has to be open-minded and accept the facts that humans are still vicious animals who are ready to pounce on “others” for personal gain. It is the animal in us morphed into a form that allows for a more modern version of conflict and violence even tho the ancient forms still exist and apply. Socially, accept the fact that your monkey is going to have to pay the price of “Loss of face.” It is the best way to achieve success in the gaol of remaining in the self-defense square as well as avoiding damage, possible grave bodily harm and the injustice of justice for fighting. Asocially, accept the fact that conflict and violence will be dangerous, damaging and could lead to death. Achieving an awareness and a body language that transmits your lack of victim and prey status is critical avoiding a predator. Accept that “It cannot happen to me” is a human socially mandated, driven and conditioning from those who sit high enough to never deal with it directly while being incensed emotionally through media exposure allowing them to take a high stance based on ignorance and stupidity while the monkey has it fun at your expense. Make it so ….

agree or disagree

“I present ideas so that the reader can enjoy the ideas that are put forward. You don’t have to either agree or disagree with them, that is not the point as the goal is to make you reconsider ideas about your martial arts studies.” - unknown

Comments: No idea, no one idea, no theory, no one theory is about truth. Truth is not about that one thing that seems indisputable but rather a truth that comes from the study of ideas and theories so we can learn, grow and understand as humans. The only indisputable truth in life is that truth changes according to the growth of knowledge and understanding from discovery. Discovery can only be achieved when one realizes that truth is disputable therefore ideas, theories and truth are simply one-stop in the path toward truth as an illusory concept that makes humans, human. Isn’t that the “Truth!”

Friday, August 7, 2015

what is going on

“Situational awareness - knowing what is going on around you. Specifically, it is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend factors that can be important for your safety and welfare, such as the existence of potential threats, escape routes, and weapons.” - Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force

Comments: Knowledge, yes I said knowledge. To ignore such things and to assume that conflict and violence will disappear from human existence if we just don’t teach it to others leaves those who fail to learn this lesson as victims. To avoid being a victim you really have to achieve an awareness that allows time for avoidance. To avoid being a victim you have to achieve a mind-set and mind-state based on knowledge, at the very least, along side training and experience to remain aware. If you don’t know this, if you don’t know what you don’t know and if you don’t take actions to resolve this state of ignorance then when things go “Hinkey” you will suffer the consequences. One very important aspect is after-effects of violence. If your mind has no concept then when true violence is experienced then the mind dies and the psychological results will be even more devastating. 

not to win

“The goal of self-defense is not to win the fight, but rather to avoid combat in the first place. … Nevertheless, sometimes despite your best intentions, you may find yourself in a situation where there really is no alternative but to fight. When it comes to such circumstances, particularly in an asocial violence scenario, you cannot stop until it’s over.” - Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force (pg. 49)

Comments: The worst position anyone can find themselves facing and how you prepared matters. Fighting is always a last resort and still a necessary discipline each of us has to be proficient in if for no other reason than, just in case. Ignoring conflict and violence in the hopes it will just go away is to leave oneself open to grave bodily harm or death. The only way to combat adversity is to know it, recognize it and then prepare to deal with it. 

address or acknowledge

"Asian martial arts do not even address or acknowledge the need or existence of any of these critical survival self-defense skills at all. Instead Asian Martial Arts follows a syllabus almost wholly devoted to the practice of physical technique alone. The majority of that physical technique is wholly impractical for most people to employ effectively in an actual self-defense situation too." ~ Christopher Caile

Comments: Truth is always the hardest obstacle to overcome but it is still the truth. As a discipline of a violent nature transcends actual experiences then those who follow will lose site of what works and what is simply theory. The forms and functions of martial arts are about learning how to apply certain principles rather than certain technique. Only when the whole of all principles are trained, practiced and then applied can one achieve reality-based ability. Losing site of this leaves the obvious that is applied specific and individual technique and to apply the technique for technique’s sake means leaving out principles that are evident and applicable in handling conflict and violence. Truth is about self-analyzing thought processes and perceptions so that reality has room to enter, modern martial arts closed that door. The quantity of technique has smothered the underlying principles of the discipline of conflict and violence so that the important gets diminished to make room for the unimportant. The unimportant is merely the tool and plan to get to truth and martial arts truth is learning, practicing and applying fundamental principles of martial discipline.  

to understand

"I came to understand that there is no decision made without consequence, no choice without responsibility, no privilege without obligation, and no change for the better without torment." - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comments: Change is inevitable and a part of life especially in conflict and violence. It comes down to acquired and accumulated knowledge but more important is how you use that knowledge. Then the intestinal fortitude, awareness and maturity to make the right decisions because whatever is decided and acted upon will have consequences, ramifications and repercussions, i.e., mentally, physically, and legally. 

next three quotes

1. “Tracking back to the original questions, 'just' cooking is way more complicated, deep and involved. Yet with training and experience we easily navigate through massively complex processes in order to produce.” - Marc MacYoung, “Mac and Cheese Idealism,” MacYoung’s Musings Blog

Comments: We often assume that the simple actually produces the complex much like cooking from scratch to cooking from a pre-packed boxed meal, i.e., baking a cake from scratch or cooking a complete meal by nuking a television pre-packaged dinner. Both will feed you but only one truly achieves reality - a cake vs. TV dinner. Cooking from scratch is complex and takes processes much like the discipline of chemistry to achieve a finished product so why do we assume we can take self-defense and assume we can stick it in a microwave and get the same results?

2. “We tend to minimize the complexity of what we do actually know. At the same time we become vulnerable to anyone trying to 'sell us' that complex issues are simple and all about 'one thing.'  The latter especially in the form of soundbites, advertising and narrative.” - Marc MacYoung, “Mac and Cheese Idealism,” MacYoung’s Musings Blog

Comments: The human mind tends to lean heavily toward simplicity. After all, our ancestors lived in a simply time and a simple way, i.e., they were born, they learned to hunt and gather, they learned to protect the tribe, they breed and they died. It doesn’t get simpler but in modern times our human natures created such complexities that fog our minds hiding the simplicity of life itself losing our humanity for the sake of the complexities of modern technology leaving us whirling in a flood of complexities pulling us down to drown in the whirlpool as water down the drain. It is no wonder we gloss over the simplicity of conflict and violence along with the disciplines of that profession for the sake of gratification toward complexities that make us feel superior as an inferior animal. Do we really have the ability to think and reason? Are we really superior to the Lions and Tigers and Bears? Have we truly progressed from when we were the simply ancestors living on the plains hunting and gathering for us and the tribe? 

3. “Simplistic answers and an abundance of confidence really appeals to the part of our brains that want to reduce the complexities of life to simplistic narratives and never mind reality (much less all those messy complications).” - Marc MacYoung, “Mac and Cheese Idealism,” MacYoung’s Musings Blog

Comments: Isn’t it about our need for answers easily perceived and therefore perceived easy to live? Don’t the simplistic answers we need for comfort and self-soothing actually leading us blindly into a convoluted life where conflict and violence increase and dominate while we fool ourselves into “Believing” things are getting better? 

the truth of one’s belief

“I feel strongly the truth of one’s belief that the answers one gives to life’s crucial questions are never truly spontaneous; they are the embodiment of years of contextual experience, of the building of patterns in each of our lives that eventually grow to dominate our behavior.” - Kreizler

Comments: Years of conceptual and contextual experiences real, imagined and created by that complex computer we call our brain and the software labeled “Mind.” Patterns both reality based and created from each individual life till they dominate and drive us to do the things we do, to do the things we think and to do the things born of that process. 

someone they trust

“A belief told to others by someone they trust is, for most people, a subjective truth and no more based on fact than the belief that the world is held up by four elephants standing on the back of an enormous turtle.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comments: Once a belief sinks its tendrils deep in the mindset and mind-state the harder it is to communicate because that depth and breadth of connection is hard to extract, separate and open the mind to other aspects of life. When one truly believes to the point that fiction becomes fact and that fictional fact becomes a way of life then to cease that type of living involves death, a death fought against by the holder with more intestinal fortitude and vigor and force than any true aspect of reality. It seems humans live in a matrix that actually exists and its core program and programmer is our beliefs as coded by the monkey. Nothing informs us better that our goals must involve the monkey and that becomes problematic especially with conflict and violence.

the ethics level

“An argument at the ethics level is not perceived as an attack on identity. An attack on the belief level is very much an attack on identity. … If you can explain yourself from a deeper level you are more likely to get the other person to comprehend your point of view. … at the belief level it is much more difficult to make change. … “ - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comments: Beliefs are and have been the bane of humans in regard to conflict and violence. Identity, status, etc., within the group for survival still has its tendrils wrapped around all we think, say and do. It is the nuclear reactor that runs the monkey brain and therefore the emotional gear box that runs us down the monkey path. Using communications to achieve balance and success in handling conflict and violence thus is all about how well we tackle the complexities of the monkey’s emotional maturity. It’s complicated. 

identify the ‘other’

“Once you identify the ‘other’ as, not only ‘different from us,’ but as some sort of alien species both beyond our comprehension and below contempt, they suddenly become surprisingly easy (even desirable) to kill. … identifying your adversary as something ‘subhuman’, it is possible to achieve a killer mind-set in short order. … how you view your adversary will greatly influence your reaction to his provocations.”  - C. R. Jahn, Hardcore Self-Defense

Comments: Othering is as natural as breathing, blinking and the inevitability of deaths knock on our doors. 

Ground Fights; in real life

“On Ground Fights; in real life, the winner in a ground fight is not the strongest, the meanest, or the most skillful. The winner will be decided by whose friends get there first.” - Rory Miller and Lawrence A. Kane, Scaling Force

Comments: Group dynamics regardless of friends or not friends for in a group if the atmosphere, the feelings or any other negative emanations will influence everyone toward the danger of conflict and violence even if normally a solid citizen. It takes one of great intestinal fortitude not to succumb to the influences of natures survival monkey group dance, the music is too loud, too enticing and too hypnotic. It is the nature of the dance and the dance can go either way. 

compilation of fundamental

“A physical compilation of fundamental principles of martial systems practiced singularly or paired to simulate possible applications of principles in self-defense with and without reciprocal force and power in a reality-based adrenal flood physical and mental state.” - Charles E. James

Comments: Total confusion in the modern concept of self-defense. Through study of appropriate materials then training toward appropriate goals is one key of a keyring filled set of options. A terse way of describing that which is elusive to most yet available to all. Goals, Principles and Application of the entire thing is self-defense. 

Associations exist

"Karate Associations exist, and continue to do so, in a vain attempt to instill a sense of  ‘quality control’ into karate.....the decline in standards (both moral and physical) has plummeted under their watch.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo blog (slightly altered by me, slightly)

Comments: It seems to me that this rises up from the human need to group together for survival. It is like the electromagnetic that pulls metals to its center, it is an irresistible pull of nature. It is human nature that causes such dysfunction because except in small personal groupings the larger groups tend to lose connectivity and it is a personal connectivity that fosters group cohesion and cooperation. 

teach anyone to strike or kick

“You can teach anyone to strike or kick, but you need it all to apply self-defense. Kicking and striking are only one element of an effective self-defense. You need to know how to handle the situation in a variety of ways (various fight methodologies).” - A compilation of quotes and parts of quotes by Alain Burrese

Comments: Think of the methodologies that when combined provide the necessary forces and power that stop a threat. Then add in the when it is necessary and when it is necessary to cease and desist applying such methodologies. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

side of the eye

“Peripheral vision is vision from the side of the eye. It is not as focused as a direct gaze - you can’t read with it and colors are less certain. It does, detect motion quicker and allow for faster response time then focused vision. A good fighter does not watch your hands, he put his gaze where any movement form you hands or feet will register in his peripheral vision. The ‘thousand yard stare’ puts almost everything in peripheral vision and is a critical skill in combat to detect ambushes.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comments: The true question is, “Do self-defense programs address this aspect of the various tools you need for defense?” What about the others?

a scared kid

“Your predator may be a scared kid feeling like he is losing control on his first crime and does not know how to regain control without resorting to extreme violence. It may be a hardened felon who will use extreme force without any thought of you, just a quick assessment of the odds of getting caught. It may be someone who enjoys the feeling of domination as he makes someone bleed and beg. It is very, very unlikely you have hit any of these personalities in normal training. Most instructors would not let an uncontrolled predator anywhere near their dojo.” - Rory Miller, Scaling Force

Comments: The trouble with tribbles effect; the trouble with reality as it relates to training and the complete and utter disconnect many martial arts self-defense aficionados have when it comes to conflict and violence. Too many who think they know, don’t. Too many who think they know and that is from media interpretations, don’t. Makes for a very difficult situation when the rubber hits the road for those who don’t. 

practiced against feeds

“Most techniques in martial arts are not practiced against attacks. They are practiced against feeds. A feed may have a similar motion to a punch or stab, but it is designed and delivered specifically to be defeated. A little slow, on a known line, maybe slightly over-extended or held out for just a second. No matter how much it looks like a punch, almost every element is different in a fight … and so people who have practiced against feeds are terrifyingly often completely blown away by the intensity, speed, ferocity and pain of a ‘simple attack.’” - Rory Miller, Drills: Training for Sudden Violence.

Comments: Training Flaws. You can train in flaws or you can have flaws that come from sources of your flaws leaving only assumptions and assumptions don’t just make an ass out of you and some guy named assumption, it can leave you crippled or in jail. Since martial arts are looked at and perceived as the epitome of self-defense disciplines due to media, television and movies it becomes important to work the flaws out of the martial arts before it goes to the fight. 

from any source

“ If you can't extract information from any source, and see how it effects you, you need to learn how to. Drop your own biases, and just take the info for what it is.” - Terry Trahan, WeaselCraft Blog

Comments: Humans tend to make assumptions based on their perceptions, distinctions and past experiences where they might discard something important that could make for a bad day. You have to train out your biases, etc. along with ego pride driven monkey brain crap or you lose out and sometimes the loss is damaging, do you want that?

gravity slightly

“Most people shift their center of gravity slightly to chamber or set up or prep a strike or kick.  …   Between the reaction speed of touch and that you act on precursor movements, you will find yourself defending actions before they happen, sometimes before the threat has consciously decided to move.”  - Rory Miller, Drills

Comments: How many times have you encountered someone in training who seems to detect what you are going to do before you even know that it is what you are going to do? Reactions are important in an attack since a predator often has chosen you as a victim because they assessed and decided you were an easy target. It doesn’t mean your training was bad but everyone at one time or another tends to lose that state of awareness leaving an opening so reactions matter, breaking the freeze or the OO bounce if you will gets you there and if touch is trained then that reaction is at the fastest speed you can achieve - mostly.

faster than peripheral

“Reaction time to touch is faster than peripheral vision reaction time and much faster than focused vision.” - Rory Miller, Drills

Comments: When training for self-defense one trains their senses. Self-defense will mean close in, touching, physical violence so training to use your largest organ, the skin and touch sense, means learning to act and react without the human brain thinking machine slowing the process down. Consider this, if you feel a certain sensation that says, “Oh shit, I am under an attack,” then the touch response goes directly to the lizard for action and it does not pass either the human brain or the monkey. This is where and why training and practice, especially involving adrenal stress conditioning, becomes critical to self-defense. 

disrespectful is a motivation

“Being disrespectful is a motivation for a lot of violence … Disrespecting someone in a tweet, on Facebook, or in texts should be titled as #askingforabeating.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

Comments: As we distance ourselves through media and technology it also becomes easier to be rude and disrespectful because most often the recipient has not way to use violence to set the record straight. One very good reason why being humble and polite and other such things when you are not in the same room as someone who may have triggered your monkey brain and it also trains you to handle such things when the monkey decides to act. Same as dealing with police, i.e., be polite and comply with their requests. In other words try to be polite and use appropriate verbal technique when in conflict to evade and avoid violence. 

wisdom, if you prefer

“Enlightenment ( or wisdom, if you prefer) requires us all to take the fog (moralism, idealism, righteousness, etc.) out of our eyes and then escape from our ceaseless, petty, and divisive moralism. The perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose; do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart; If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.” - Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

Comment: The gokui of Isshinryu speaks of “Seeing all sides,” meaning one should be able to see not just with the eyes but the mind. The eyes and mind together form a union that allows us to see and perceive and distinguish those things that make us unique. Seeing how the path runs toward violence is just as important as seeing the tells that say physical violence is immanent. Seeing how our ego’s, our pride and our actions produce reactions and then seeing how we can avoid letting them create a violent environment is seeing, truly seeing. Only when we open the minds-eye to see all sides can we achieve such a level of enlightenment. Clearing our minds-eye to allow everything and every moment to appear with its reality exposed is the way of this path. 

natural selection

“Human nature was produced by natural selection working at two levels simultaneously. Individuals compete with individuals within every group, and we are the descendants of primates who excelled at that competition.” - Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

Comment: It is no surprise that the term “Primates” is used, i.e., the old “Monkey Brain” explanation of human participation in conflict and violence. Competition is conflict with everyone reaching for the goal of things like, i.e., “ego, pride, status, honor and face.” All of those things that trigger the monkey antics that most often get us humans into more trouble than we might want or expect. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

to communicate during

“Keep trying to communicate during the fight. The least it will do is clue in the witnesses. This is most important legally when you are winning.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Communications means “Articulation” and that does a few things. First, it means you are breathing; second, it means you are communicating to the threat as well as witnesses with the hope the message is about you defending as a victim; third, it can be used to support your self-defense stance as a lot of that articulation/communications is to your mind or mind-set allowing your breathing and comments to spur you on toward accomplishing the goal of stopping the threat while remaining within the self-defense square. 

The four elements

“Fights are multi-layered. The four elements: you, the threat(s), the environment and luck; physical and mental forces; legal and social customs; what the fight is about and what both parties think it is about.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Reminds me of the flaw in martial arts self-defense, the idea that defense is static and easily taught through technique teaching. I also perceive that layering within the fight to include those aspects that result from that same fight, the repercussions from fighting such as the psychological (i.e., how that level of psych damage comes also from our societies distancing humans from the reality of conflict and violence as an intricate part of human existence, etc.), the physical (the damage to our bodies that can be crippling, etc.) and the moral-legal ones (i.e., the social stigma’s assigned through ignorance to those who participate in or are forced to use violence, etc.). As one luminary to this world said, “It’s complicated.” Ain’t that the truth. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

both your instincts

“When both your instincts and your martial training are keyed for dominance, it can be very easy to forget that your primary goal is to escape or to stop the threat. There is a difference between training to win a dominance contest and training to survive. All sparring matches - weapons, duals, MMA, or point fighting, are dominance contests, not survival contests.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Add in that most MA are actually training in person-to-person violence so when do you actually translate your actions into self-defense leaving behind that type of socially driven violence thereby entering into and remaining steadfast within the self-defense square? Does your training and practice address this transitional mind-set? If not, the monkey will remain where it finds the most comfort and that means dealing with all that resides outside that square …. ops!

Person-to-Person Violence

Attention Martial Artists, “Martial Artists are practicing and training in ‘Person-to-Person Violence.’ As a hobby, they practice and play at things that are heinous crimes except in very narrow circumstances.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Wow, I wonder how many martial artists actually know about this one? We all make assumptions based on assumptions that what we do is both a way and a means of self-defense. It seems we all just hear a new thing then assign that to what we are doing without so much as a, “Does this actually apply to our martial arts?” “Is this actually self-defense in accordance with the laws and rules of modern society?” It is no wonder when we apply them we tend to end up in criminal fixes. When I see person-to-person-violence along side heinous crimes I think about just how easy it is to have other perceive martial arts as a deadly weapon(less)  system making its use about being held to much higher standards by those in the legal arena. I also understand just how the use of martial arts, as effective and ineffective as they may be dependent on certain criteria as taught, takes a self-defense claim to a higher level where understanding the realm of self-defense becomes even more critical. 

designed to hurt and damage and overwhelm

“Attacks are designed to hurt and damage and overwhelm. Offensive moves in sparring, as often as not, are designed to deceive, disconcert or score … which are very different things. .. When it is an assault, you add the element of surprise and it becomes a flurry of damage with no thought of defense.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: I often think, “Can, MA SD programs see the hints?” Do we still make the assumptions that any attack is how all attacks occur whether in competition or a fight or an attack on the street, etc.? Why has it become so, is it because of the long period of relative peace and the progress of mankind that has distanced us from our base instincts and human conditions? Sparring at its very best may be a more communicative part of social group dynamics in the survival aspect of life. Socially we enforce hierarchy that encompasses such things as status within the group for survival that uses forms of social like violence to enforce and control, is that the true nature of martial arts as practiced in modern times? Is it the real form practiced even in ancient times as well? 

no animal naturally

“ … no animal naturally weakens itself. Tigers never starve themselves to look better to other tigers and snakes don't slither over coals to show their bravery.”  - Rory Miller, Chiron Blog, “On Power.” and I would add this quote from the Alien movie, from Ripley, the main character who said, “Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.” Alien Movie Quote

Comment: You don’t see them screwing each other over for a percentage? A quote that spoke to how the animal kingdom works except for that most unusual animal of all, humans. There is no ego, no pride and no monkey dance emotional actions and reactions from the other animals, they hunt to eat, the fight to protect the group, the procreate so the species lives, the sleep to recup for the next day and that is about it but we humans tend to go way beyond our needs in surviving. You gotta wonder about humans. 

an end-state

“Power isn't an end-state. There are no weak or strong people, just people at different places on a given continuum. And power is not linear. I am stronger than K, but she is smarter and more artistic than I am. R has more money, but J has more skills. Q can access a deep level of viciousness, but W can access an equally deep level of empathy. Power is not a scale but a net of ever-interconnecting methods of affecting the world. And in each strand of the net, you have attributes and skills that both affect the strength. AND … Power is about growth or stagnation. Comfort with power is required to use it.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Blog, “On Power.”

Comment: When power is mentioned to certain groups the very first thought that comes to their minds, assumption and conjecture involved here, is how much force they can apply with a punch or a kick. Seldom do you hear about the variety of power and force one can access and apply in life’s many disciplines. Real power can be many things, it can be an ability to avoid conflict and violence and it can be what is applied to stop a threat quickly with limited damage to both parties. A weak person can have more power applied than a very strong person, i.e., one of small and slight stature and the other large and muscular with a larger structure and stature. There is a limited amount of force and power each person has where the level applied matters more in its efficiency rather than muscularly. It comes down to the physics of it, the physiokinetic applications optimally and efficiently applied. Sometimes power is more about our minds then our bodies. The ability to think and reason trumps the ability to hit hard, fast and with maximum power and force. Hitting with the mind in avoidance and deescalation is far more powerful than applying a particular martial techniques with power and force.

is entertainment

“Sport fighting in all its forms is entertainment. The absence of blended attack methodologies shows how ineffective hitting alone is and fools us into thinking it is effective. Sport fighting ‘Mimics’ fighting and that also makes us believe it is effective when in fact, we are being fed a double dose of ineffective.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (combined and edited quote)

Comments: Reality, we hide from reality because its realism and truth makes us feel “Uncomfortable and Fearful.” This produces anxiety and we modern humans have lost the connection between our current fictional self-soothing self to the real life self that understands and deals with the reality of conflict, violence and the very real potential of violent conflict. Our fear has taken us further toward that which we fear that we fear it more resulting in our efforts taking us further down the rabbit hole causing even more fear now based on ignorance and dangers that are just no longer present. We perceive and assume that the normal social communications of conflict and violence are at such dangerous levels when nature itself designed us and these social communication tools to not cause grave bodily harm or even death. It can be that lack of understanding, knowledge and acceptance actually makes the socially driven communications skills derived from striking and punching so that they open the door to more accidents that cause grave bodily harm and even death - a veritable looping like the OO bound in the OODA, we are frozen in a state of denial, fear and anxiety that actually feeds the loop. Can we break the loop? 

impacts, drives (pushes),

“Methods to Build On: impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. To stop a threat empty hand striking alone is not enough. Striking, unless the attacker falls down, itself is very unlikely to stop a threat. Moves to stop a threat are combinations of the types of attacks/methodologies, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. The danger in the assumptions that disciplines such as boxing, karate tournaments, mixed martial arts, and others tend to disallow the use of these methodologies in stopping a threat. It comes down to either ‘Blending or combining” where sport blends different punches and kicks while to actually end a threat requires ‘Combining’ the attack methodologies, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (combined and edited quote)

Comments: This speaks for itself, mostly. It is that one statement that if used properly in seeking out the rest of the story will make the entire system of self-defense more real toward the reality of self-defense in lieu of remaining in a self-soothing delusional system ineffective toward self-defense. "It is not how hard you hit, it is how you blend methodologies to stop the threat." - cejames

add to punching

“Strike enhancers add to punching/striking, if we want to get more out of punching/striking use the enhancers. Enhancers increase the speed of the punch/strikes effectiveness.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (slight change my doing)

Comments: Striking and punching are INEFFECTIVE except in those cases where one uses enhancers and principles to achieve an effective strike or punch yet still - to stop a threat with a much wider margin of success you need those methodologies necessary to actually stop a threat in the shortest time possible, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. We can never forget the gravity of any self-defense situation and the fact that if we cannot contain ourselves and remain within the self-defense square the repercussions are huge, like the tsunami waves that pound the coastal shores of the birthplace of karate, Okinawa. 


“Punching is one of the most INEFFECTIVE ways to stop a threat. The hitting part of the brain is different from the killing part the “Lizard” uses for hunting and survival. It is the social order part of our brain that punching seems to reside.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

Comments: A reason to justify why it is imperative to study, study and study some more. Those types of self-soothing myths of martial arts self-defense, fighting and combatives would be extremely dangerous if not for the fact that most violence encountered is social in nature where the goal is not grave bodily harm or death but communications. The one spot where there is crossover is the required “Rules” that exist in social violence or conflict and the “Rules” that exist in all martial arts practices and training (except in those rare cases where reality based adrenal stress condition training exists, etc.). Asocial violence also has rules but those rules are, “Different.” Knowing and accepting the truth of reality in conflict and violence is the very first step anyone takes for self-defense, there is no other path. Our need and instincts take us to the part of the brain that deals with the relative safety of a rule based social conflict and violences where, except in cases of accidents, grave bodily harm and death are off the table. It is often the “Accidents” that end up taking it to the world of self-defense and whether you are still in the square or not. It is about how the legal system will still take you to the wall because of that accident. As Marc MacYoung, and others, say - its complicated. Yes, it is and the processes we take define how well we reach toward reality over the self-soothing delusions we build instead. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

by awareness

“One develops skill in martial arts by awareness, observation and above all the correct practice.”  - Redacted from a quote by Peyton Quinn, Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

Comment: There are many paths this leads to … what is correct practice, that is subjective to the goals of that practice. What kind of observation and is the individual open to that view or is he or she already biased because of history, perceptions and perspectives set by experience and/or exposure to various sources including media. Skill, in what and for what purpose and goal. To assume any specific meaning hinders understanding and progress. To remove assumptions and seek out a fuller spectrum will help but to overcome our natural biases can really cause issues.

a catch-22:

‘It doesn’t take a predator to trigger a stress response in modern humans. Some research shows that even feelings of social pain–like rejection and loneliness–zoom along the same neural pathways as fear.’ So we have created a catch-22: we’re punishing efforts at building and maintaining resilience in a way that requires a lot of resilience to overcome.” - God’s Bastard, Building Anti-Resilience

Comments: What we train in and for is important. Sticking our heads in the sand models while creating emotionally unrealistic answers for the sake of self-soothing instant gratification of ego and pride dominate when logic, morals, righteousness, legality, etc. should be used. 

emotional responses

“ … our society now revels in emotional responses for their own sake. It doesn’t matter if they are valid, or useful. It just matters that we have them and display them as hard as we can. With enough repetition, this anti-resilient behavior can become our go-to response in times of stress.” - God’s Bastard, Building Anti-Resilience

Comments: The creation of a self-defeating non-sensical society that creates distance and voids rather than social survival connections.

on the ‘news’

“As soon as an event breaks on the ‘news’, it’s now popular to launch into an emotional response about it. Do not wait to find out more information about it – what are the details? Where does the blame sit? Did it even actually happen? The popular response is to go right on ahead and emote wildly. Choose a side and feel as hard as you can!” - God’s Bastard, Building Anti-Resilience

Comments: The monkey dance is not just about how we use pre-attack indicators and verbal violence, etc., to get what we want. Drama is about the emotional based reactions to stimuli, those triggers within all of us that make us do stupid and irrational things.  It is what drives our drama oriented agenda based media events and now that we have instant recording capabilities with easily editing methods we can create, morph and frame it all into a dram monkey dancing oriented inflaming trigger that all humans react to then add in our pension to create smoke screens against the less dramatic and often logical boring factual news so that we can incite, inflame and create drama. The issue tho is often that end result causes more damage then the actual situation(s). We create such chaos and emotionally changed incoherent and inflammatory stories that folks actually end up jailed, economically ruined and physically and psychologically damaged. It is no longer about justice and it is no longer about facts but rather about ratings and self-soothing societal ego pride driven emotional gratification over right moral justice and so on ….

society that abhors

“For a society that abhors conflict, we seem to be awfully determined to deprive ourselves of the means of avoiding much of it.” - God’s Bastard, Rise of the Cyborgs

Comment: Simple fear, fear of that which causes damage, damage that is both physical and psychological. Our fears are making us lose site of nature and nature’s way. In reality losing that connection actually creates more fear creating more damage and creating more ignorance that simply restarts that infinite loop of simple fear. The only way to overcome fear is to face it, accept it and then learn how to control it for our sake of survival. Great wrong is committed in history simply because we fear something then therefore assume that fear will go away if we make that which we fear also go away when nature will not let it go away because it is in our very nature. Life is a pisser. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

practice created by

“Styles are just styles, styles of practice created by people who often have no real or limited experience in actual fights or self-defense situations. Practitioners who look good in the dojo but who would be defeated by a true fighter if that practitioner’s training had been NOT directed toward adherence to a style, but only on the pragmatic ways to fight and defeat an adversary. The practitioner must perfect the few techniques/tactics actually needed in a fight as the fight dictates, those that are not fancy or complex.”  - Redacted from a quote by Peyton Quinn, Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

Comment: There are no styles per-say but systems and all systems are founded on principles. Principles underly all systems and styles therefore there is only one system, a system based on principles, goals, strategies and finally tactics. Tactics and strategies set to achieve goals rather that either winning or losing achieve their ends through proper application of principles. Everything else is ego driven beliefs that stroke ego’s, pride and self-soothing processes to make one feel good about themselves and so on. Alone, not a bad belief but when coupled into conflict ,violence and violent conflicts can be an obstacle that inhibits achieving a true goal of stopping a threat. 

far removed from

“Modern dojo are too far removed from the reality and simplicity of defeating an adversary and tend to make it more complex than it really is. Sensei do this to maintain students and their fees. There are not that many ways to fight a person. You don’t need the many techniques such as martial arts schools might teach when you are in a real violent situation. Develop a sincere spirit, a willingness to engage and enter on the adversary and end the fight.” - Redacted from a quote by Peyton Quinn, Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

Comment: Commercialism, commercialized and agenda driven drama oriented self-soothing places of social clubbing over self-defense violent conflict resolution oriented, etc. Fighting, stopping a threat, is much less complex and convoluted in essence while most tend to create more self-soothing salable systems for profit and fun. Self-defense is not fun, it is dangerous and potentially life threatening. If the distinction is to socially gather for fun and recreation that is all good but the distinction should not be clouded by false information created to self-sooth while digging deep into your pockets. Modern martial disciplines have lost their way (pun intended) and it is a true practitioners effort to regain that ground that will bring the reality of the training and practice back on the proper path (pun intended)!

touched by an enlightenment

“ … a person who has been touched by an enlightenment, a piece of knowledge so great it no longer matters that they have a non-existent knowledge of history, that they avoid considering any subject long enough to have a deeper grasp than “an important person says”, that their day-to-day dealings are superficial, instantaneous and overwhelmingly emotional.” - Bill Reader

Comment: Think about the chains that bind us to the monkey brain. There is no such thing as ultimate knowledge or understanding except in the knowledge and understanding that all things change and all things progress making knowledge a chaotic, fertile and evolving entity/concept. An open mind ready, willing and able to accept and change fluidly to each moment is true enlightenment yet the hardest gaol to achieve. The monkey has held our minds for millennia, expect a battle daily. 

the key to

“In most real-world conflicts, the key to victory lies not on a battlefield, or in any one special strategy or tactic, but inside your opponent’s head.” - Bill Reader

Comment: Your mind-set attacks his mind-set. Understanding the mind-set concept allows you to intimidate the adversary’s mind-set changing his mind-state allowing a psychological opening. Attack your adversary’s mind and the body and spirit will follow. More often than not, the battle is won or lost before the first blow provided you make use of your psychological mind-set tool. 

exploit your weight and

“If good body mechanics (fundamental principles, i.e., physiokinetic) are used (power generation) and you exploit your weight and/or the threat’s motion (power stealing) there is an enormous amount of force in a decent strike. The only reason most hits are not extremely devastating is because so much power is lost to inefficient structure.”  - Rory Miller, Drills: Training for Sudden Violence

Comment: The quote speaks for itself. Personally, it opened my eyes to the fallacy that striking arts are so effective in self-defense, fighting and/or combatives when in truth it is a combination of things that stop a threat. 

power you put

“The ideal is that the more power you put in your technique the more solidly you feel forced directly into the ground. No bending, not twisting, no swaying.” - Rory Miller, Drills: Training for Sudden Violence.

Comment: Structure, posture, centerline, spinal alignment, axis, structure, HEAVINESS, relaxation, wave energy, convergence, centeredness, body-mind, centripetal and centrifugal force, sequential locking and relaxation, ROOTING and so on. All these and a few more required to reach this state. One reason why practice, especially under adrenal stress conditions, is critical to achieve success in this process and one reason a lack thereof results in striking as a poor focus toward a primary tool in resolving a conflict when violence is involved. 

principles at play

“It's vital that karateka focus their attention on the principles at play, rather than the techniques being used.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Principles; principles;  principles;  principles;  principles;  principles;  principles;  principles;  principles;  and more about principles.

to 'score a point'

“Karate based on an ability to 'score a point' is a world away from conditioning the mind and body to deliver and to some extent, take, a determined blow.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Mind-set and mind-state are those beliefs, perceptions and perspectives that allow us to achieve goals that face and experience such violence, at the extreme end of the spectrum, that often kills the spirit and is followed by, at the least, great bodily harm vs. at the most, loss of life. It comes down to perspective and how one feeds that perspective then how one trains, teaches, practices and applies that end product toward self-defense. 

the main activity

“Training is the main activity, socializing is an important element, but it is never allowed to equal or surpass the time spent on the dojo floor discovering karate, as the late Shoshin Nagamine sensei once said…’Through the ecstasy of sweat’.” - Michael Clarke, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Training and Socializing, the yin-yang elements of the study, practice, training and teaching of a martial discipline.  The yang that is training must take precedence over socializing is critical to remaining steadfast in the disciplines essence and true intent. Socializing, in this instance, must take a back seat to training. Socializing is meant to create a bond and a social understanding as to group survival leading to the individual survival. In that like it takes the back seat only because the ultimate goal in martial discipline is to develop the mind, body and spirit used for survival. It is apparent that in our modern society that such socializations are taking precedence over training, that is a mistake and deviates from the essence and intent of a martial discipline. 

not teaching people

“We are not teaching people how to cope with conflict, protect themselves or even stand up for themselves. As a result they are traumatized by violence. Then this trauma is pointed to as proof as how horrible and bad violence is.” - Marc MacYoung paraphrasing a quote from George Silver.

Comment: Conflict, violence and violent conflict has been a part of human nature since we waled upright for the first time. Nature’s evolutionary process is extremely slow. Our diving head long into the industrial and eVolutionary process has outdistanced our humanity and our nature while our progress skyrockets past the outer limits of the home galaxy. By our very progress we have lost our connection with ourselves and nature. By our progress we have lost a great deal of understanding for the sake of instant gratification and personal ego pride driven accolades giving a false sense of who we are rather than what we are. This evolutionary loss due to our need and speed for greater satisfactions along with our drive to achieve a comfort far and away from our very nature left us ignorant to its purpose and its necessity toward human existence and survival. As with many dysfunctional effects this merely creates a loop to feed our misguided impressions of what conflict, violence and violent do for our survival causing a greater perception of how horrible it is and how bad it is thereby spurning on the never ending loop - round and round and round we go. The only course available is like breaking the freeze, break the loop be recognizing it, acknowledge its existence and then make ourselves do what is necessary to make it right then repeat as necessary until the goal is reached.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

has no power

“The belt has no power, gives no insight, and bestows no skill. A belt without the character to endorse it, is a bit like a car without an engine...useless!”  - Michael Clarke Sensei, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Distractions and the art of misdirection. Not of someone else’s agenda but one we all propagate upon ourselves. There are reasons and good purpose to the use of symbols but only if that symbol is defined in a very definitive way and accepted universally as truth with meaning and positive benefits. Anything less is just a distraction from the true nature of the discipline, the true nature of what is important, relevant and reality-based. 

nor are they an excuse

“Gasshuku are not camps, they're not seminars either; nor are they an excuse to behave like bunch of adolescent children on a school excursion. For karateka, gasshuku are an opportunity to immerse yourself in your training; to train more often than your normal routine will allow, and to discover if you have what it takes … “ - Michael Clarke Sensei, Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Stretching yourself, i.e., your mind, your body and thus your spirit. No where else will you accomplish such feats except in actual combat - then you will see exactly what and who you are. 

being accepted

“Having an instructor is not the same as being accepted by a sensei, learning a syllabus is different from absorbing principles, and pursuing an idea (budo), is unlike anything you will ever encounter in a 'karate club.'” - Michael Clarke Shinseidokan Dojo

Comment: Clarke Sensei has a greater sense of the connectedness of karate to the world of conflict and violence hardened and forged through personal experience as a proponent of violence in his life. He hits the crux of practice and training in a very terse relevant statement given above for our study. The club is as different from reality of violence and conflict as is water from air. 

Observations on Kata

McCarthy’s Ten Point Observations on Kata

Kata: Geometrical configurations of defensive composites. Despite their obvious anaerobic & holistic value, I do not believe that kata (by themselves) teach self-defence, but rather culminate the lessons one should have already learned. Understanding this, I would like to share ten important points we consider mandatory study for learners of Koryu Uchinadi.

Comment: I agree, the kata are merely inter-connected techniques used to teach and practice fundamental principles. 

1. Our position is that the physical culmination of animosity (manifested acts of violence) historically served as the catalyst from which early & innovative people first struggled with to develop plebeian defensive practices.

Comment: Then just say, “Manifested acts of violence.” In truth the empty hand systems did not historically serve as any type of catalyst in order to develop defensive practices but were used, at least historically for karate on Okinawa, to provide a pre-requisite to the teaching, practice and use of empty hand enhancers, i.e., weapons. In history except maybe in the cave dwellers time man or humans always gravitated toward weaponry. 

2. Identifying the varying acts of physical violence that plagued this early period most probably allowed innovative pioneers the opportunity to divide them into separate categories for the purpose of empirical observation.

Comment: I cannot perceive any relevance from this statement to the study and practice of kata. What varying acts of violence? What early period? Nothing allowed innovative pioneers but combat and violence of humans have always provided a need to create ways of stopping the threat or just destroying a threat. Throughout history it has come to me as empty-hand is a last resort when all other means are exhausted in the fight and in combat. Empty handed systems were more about communications within a tribe or group to enforce its rules, procedures and hierarchy. Hierarchal driven rules, procedures, processes and laws all come about to ensure the survival of the tribe or group and by its size all the way up to any given society. 

3. By recreating each act of violence in a safe learning environment, innovators were better able to study their habitual nature & understand them.

Comment: This is impossible, one cannot study the true nature of conflict, violence and violent conflicts in the “Safety” of a learning environment. The mere fact it is called a “Safe learning environment” constitutes rule requirements and that in and of itself changes the dynamics of conflict, violence and violent conflict. Granted, to pass down what other experienced professionals have learned in the fight, in combat or in self-defense must be taught to those without those benefits and that is done in a training environment but in truth that environment must hold reality and adrenal stress conditions as close to reality as possible limiting injuries that would make the combatant non-productive. 

4. By developing two-person drills innovators were provided with an opportunity to come into direct contact with each act of physical violence in order to develop functional responses while also discovering how to react to human error [Murphy's Law].

Comment: Two-person drills cannot put someone in direct contact with each act of physical violence. All they can do is assist the practitioners in achieving some semblance of proficiency in applying fundamental principles of martial disciplines, i.e., the fighting systems. To put someone or a set of someone’s in direct contact with acts of violence indicates they must actually go out and engage in violent acts and this is not the most productive way to teach, train and practice for the injury and death rate would be huge. 

5. Physical emulation and, the inner-drive to better ourselves, has certainly formed the foundation on which more important discoveries could continually be extrapolated & interpolated over successive generations.

Comment: Emulation of conflict, violence and violent conflicts in a training environment is practically impossible. You can only introduce a person to certain principles and effects that would be present in an actual conflict with violence, i.e., principles of achieving force and power along with the adrenal stress conditions one encounters in violent conflicts but not actual violent conflict. 

6. By removing the attacker [HAPV-side] from the two-person exercises a solo composite [i.e. a re-enactment of the application principles] remained, which ultimately became ritualized into a mnemonic tool: i.e. something used to aid the memory. 

Comment: Basics are not fighting or combat. Kata are not fighting or combat. Kumite is not fighting or combat. They are not the type of patterns that associate the field of combat into a training environment. Therefore solo practice cannot and will not achieve a mnemonic tool to associate fighting, combat or defense with its many attributes as a patter, idea or association to assist remembering some combat environment, not even to associate that training to actual applications. No one ever knows if they can get it done in combat, the fight or in defense until they are in the fight, in a defense situation or in a combat zone. As stated, most training is a type of familiarity with actual experiences in combat, a fight or in defense along with the tools that help us learn and apply principles for force and power to stop a threat at all levels but until you step up to the plate and swing away - you just don’t know. Then and only then can you start to accumulate experiences that will NOT answer the questions of the next encounter but will help you alleviate obstacles that may or may not rise up in the next encounter. It is the nature of the beast.

7. Kata (Hsing/Xing in Mandarin Chinese) unfolded from (Chinese) innovators linking together mnemonic tool. By linking together solo composites into signature configurations those pioneers developed abstract forms of human movement with wonderfully holistic overtones. Not only culminating the defensive lessons already imparted the abstract forms could be embraced at various levels of intensity, depending upon the learner's individual prowess, as unique methods of nurturing physical fitness and mental well being ... a from of moving Zen.

Comment: The effort and results of linking solo techniques or combinations into a configuration indicates a set patter when in violent encounters the only pattern is the chaos of fighting or violent acts. Again, this is why such things create false ideas and theories in non-experienced students who become non-experienced teachers where false information and false practices propagate down the line only to be discarded when the rubber hits the road that usually means a lot of gravely injured and/or dead people indicate things are not right. Most of what is described is good in creating healthy and fit bodies along with stronger minds for self-confidence, etc. rather than direct connections to actual experiences in a fight, in combat or when defending with physical force. It is an attempt to cross the great divide from training to actual violent conflict with ideas and theories that usually have nothing to do with combat, fighting and defense. 

8. Understanding this evolution should help make it more evident that kata, by itself, does not teach self-defense, but rather, culminate the lessons one should have already learned.

Comment: The concept and applicability of those learned lessons are in question here. Yes, it is true that kata do not teach self-defense. They teach the physical, i.e., physiokinetic principles, characteristics necessary to achieve a goal in self-defense such as proper structure and posture, etc. to generate force and power when fighting, defending or when applying empty handed combat, in combat. 

9. I believe that this art, as understood and embraced by the Uchinanchu (Okinawan people), was never a cohesive or coherent practice during Okinawa's old Ryukyu Kingdom. At the turn of the 20th century innovative pioneer, Itosu Ankoh, brought various embryonic practices out from behind the closed doors of secrecy, synthesized and simplified them into a single practice and introduced it to the school system: see note below. With kata being the principal vehicle through which to drill large groups of school students, emphasis was placed upon physical fitness and social conformity, rather than on understanding what acts of physical violence its defensive applications addressed. Supported by Government-serving [DNBK] propaganda ["Budo (of which karate became a part) was the way that common men built uncommon bravery"] an entire nation was lured to such practices. In an effort to forge "bodies of steel" and compliancy, in support of Japan's war machine during that radical period of military escalation, Itosu (by mistake or design) reshaped the original practice & purpose of kata to form over function and established a modern cultural phenomenon.

Comment: This statement tends to overshadow all the others and comes closer to the actual intent, as much intent as one can determine without actually discussing that intent with Itosu sensei, of modern karate as seems plausible in truth and practice. 

10. Ponder this question, whether by mistake or design, what happens to functional application rituals if and when their original outcomes are lost or changed? Outcomes always dictate the training methods used to accomplish such goals. Change the outcomes and you'll need to change the training methods! Studying kata for many years, I was lost in what Bruce Lee described as the "Classical Mess." I wonder what Sir Winston Churchill knew about kata with his comments about mother Russia ("A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma").

Comment: Here once again the author refutes many of the earlier comments to present some greater reality from ideas and theories that cannot be substantiated in any way yet it appears to come closer to truth. 

Note: Based on older practices [i.e. Kusanku, Passai, Useishi, Chintou, Jion, Naihanchi, Chinte, Jitte, Jiin, & Seisan, etc.] Itosu Ankoh, in April of 1905, while in his mid-seventies, "Officially" introduced five reconfigured sets of mnemonics [Pinan kata] at both Okinawa's First-Junior Prefectural High School as well as the Shihan Gakko [Teacher's College] as a simplified form of human movement.

General/Overall Comment: See all then internal comments. It is apparent to me that many of the statements are hidden and disguised in words and phrases such that the novice and student make a presupposition that because of its make up and presentation it must be true, factual and relevant to practice and training. Much like trophies, patches, and other accolades used to misdirect the true intent of martial disciplines toward a more social club like emotionally driven ego and pride like interactions allowing self-soothing practices over the more dangerous and disquieting truth of conflict, violence and violent conflicts.