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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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!”