The Other World

The Other World

Dojo life is different. For some it is ideal.  Dojo life is dignified, collaborative, strong and devoted to freedom. Different from a world of coercion, deception, isolation and dependence. In some places, where our friends have trained for many years, dojo life is over. Classes banished to cyberia.  No more daily renewal through training with groups […]

One Unique Technique

One Unique Technique

There are two foot and leg techniques in naihanchi kata. They have distinct functions.  When stepping side to side we snap our knee up. It is used as a knee strike when the opponent is in close contact range. At a slightly longer range it might be used as a blocking technique, as it is […]

Mind Training in Kata

Mind Training in Kata

Mind training begins as soon as physical training begins. If you make an error, you notice it, fix it and move on. We cannot get stuck on the error, regret it, announce it, or have an emotion about it. We learn to instantly fix it and forget it.  Continue In a combative situation we may […]

Killing People and Taking their Stuff

Killing People and Taking their Stuff

Killing people and taking their stuff has been popular throughout history. Many great historical figures are considered great for doing this. Empires have been built on it. Sun Tzu, military genius, guide for every military in the modern world, taught how to do it. Although he recommends taking people’s stuff without killing them, if possible. […]

Sakiyama’s Final Challenge

Sakiyama’s Final Challenge

It was unlikely we would ever meet again. But training was not over. To continue, Sakiyama Roshi, abbot of Kozenji Zendo in Shuri, Okinawa, presented me with this: He asked that I study it; penetrate its truth completely. He told me to visit his dharma brother when I returned to the US, train with him […]

Fourth Annual Summer Seminar

Fourth Annual Summer Seminar

Five days of good training, inside and out. Mountain Karate, NC and Castro Valley, CA Yamabayashi Ryu Karate Do – 山 林 流 空 手道

山林 Yamabayashi Shorin Ryu Karate

山林 Yamabayashi Shorin Ryu Karate

Our style is Yamabayashi Shorin Ryu Karate. Yamabayashi means Mountain Forest.  It can also be pronounced San Rin.  Name In 2017 I formed Mountain Karate Dojo, where we practice Mountain Forest style karate. Our dojo is in a region of mountains and forests; their strength, stability, endurance, adaptability, vitality, variety and resilience inspire us. Sources  Yamabayshi […]

Renzoku 連続

Renzoku 連続

There is a karate myth that Renzoku only means “no count” – that it is nothing more than a command to perform kata without a verbal count for each move. The moves are still performed as if there was a count to separate them – moving from one posture to the next, with an intentional […]

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Sugar is an addictive drug. It makes you fat, sick and depressed. It has many forms and names. It is in most manufactured food. It is easy to get addicted to it. It is difficult to quit.  But once you do quit it is easy to do without. And when you do without it you can […]

空

Our hands have no fixed form. They change, as we use them for different tasks. Their form is “empty” of a fixed nature.  Hand is written “手”and pronounced “te” in Japanese. Kara “空” means “empty.” Our hands, as we use them in karate practice, hold nothing. They do not grasp any implement or object or weapon. […]

Training and the Milgram Experiment

Training and the Milgram Experiment

The fist about to smash my chest was traveling close to the speed of sound. I sent it past me and it disappeared. I had done it a thousand times. I was barely able to do it this time. But I did it. Then I did it again. And again. The fist was my training […]

欢迎 Spring Outdoor Training

欢迎 Spring Outdoor Training

欢迎我们的中国游客 – to the MountainKarateNC website! So good to be able to share perspectives with you, and with all our visitors from around the world. Photo copyright © 2021 Tarleton Brooks

Moral Kata

Moral Kata

Martial artists develop powerful concentration in training. In bursts, under pressure, and for sustained periods of endurance training, our ability to focus goes far beyond the capacity we would have if we were untrained. That deep focus comes, little by little, naturally, as we make effort to meet the high-performance demands of our training. We […]

Threats and Miracles

Threats and Miracles

In the dojo we train vigilance as a tripwire for defense. In every class we work to maintain awareness continually. We do that in class formalities, hojo undo, kata practice, two person drills and kumite.  Compressing the perception-response interval – the speed to action in a combative situation – is decisive both in training and […]

Competence and Freedom

Competence and Freedom

Our first line of defense is to know the difference between right and wrong.  But staying out of trouble is not enough.  We need to build our ability to do right. Doing things well gives us freedom. Here’s why: If you do not take care of yourself, if you are unable to do much that […]

Resistance is Futile

Resistance is Futile

  To increase speed we create conditions in the dojo where speed is essential: kumite is one way, speed drills on a bag or on hand-held focus targets are another, two-person choreographed contact drills, with accelerating pace, are another.  We can also do speed work in kata. Using kata and other solo drills – times when we can focus on our own body […]

From the Start

From the Start

Welcome. Here is how the process works. At first you don’t know what to do. Then you do. That’s the two-part version. Everyone experiences it.  At first it is uncomfortable and it feels difficult. But it is exciting and it feels like it is worth the effort.  As you condition up it starts to feel […]

Successful Training

Successful Training

“Do each task for its own sake and everything you do will succeed.” How can it be? In the dojo, if you do the technique you are doing, right then and there, with full commitment, then you will succeed at that technique. It may not be perfect. Your work may not be complete. But you […]

The Sharp Edge of History

The Sharp Edge of History

A guy walks into the dojo and says: “I just want to learn to fight.” He paused for a second. “I really don’t care about all that other stuff.” He didn’t say what other stuff he meant. We didn’t ask. He wanted to learn to fight.  We teach that. He started that day. What he […]

Having a Practice

Having a Practice

Having a practice is not the same as doing an activity or learning a skill set. An ‘activity’ is interesting or pleasant or distracting or edifying or fun. We enjoy it. It might make a lasting impression, but it probably won’t. Go to dinner or a movie, play a game or go for a walk. […]

How to Encourage Mushin or “Flow” in the Dojo

How to Encourage Mushin or “Flow” in the Dojo

Researcher Steven Kotler writing in the Harvard Business Review, listed four conditions that produce a flow state – intense concentration, goal clarity, feedback as to how well you are doing, and a properly matched challenge to skills ratio. We use these continually in martial arts training.   If the challenge level is set lower than the […]

型 Kata

型 Kata

The Japanese character for the word “kata” shows two hands linked together using an implement, like a knife or a sword, to cut into the earth.  To build a house you might pour a concrete foundation. Before you pour the concrete, you dig into the earth and build a form, out of wood, to hold […]

Senior Karate Training

Senior Karate Training

Our Senior class is for people 65 years old and older.  Sometimes classes for this age group are watered-down version of “the real thing.” Older people are sometimes treated as less competent versions of younger people. They sometimes think of themselves that way.   New technology makes old technology seem obsolete, and irrelevant, and sometimes ridiculous. It […]

Just, Not the Same

Just, Not the Same

On the first day I received these two belts they looked nearly the same. The same two-inch Shureido black belts, the same gold embroidered kanji, the same five characters on one of the ends of each belt – “from Sakiyama Sogen” – the teacher who presented them to me.  On the other end of the […]

Mountain Karate is Outstanding

Mountain Karate is Outstanding

Every student in our program builds fitness and flexibility, with a level of challenge that’s just right for them. We teach a complete, authentic martial art, for practical self-defense. The atmosphere is friendly but serious. What we don’t have: high priced belt tests, big egos, a cult-of-the-founder, or long term contracts. Our instructors are experienced […]

Sakiyama Sogen’s Last Letter

Sakiyama Sogen’s Last Letter

“The final hurdle for us is to be free from the limitations of our own ego. The disease of modern people is that they are slaves to money, power, fame, etc. They are enslaved by their own egos, and are unaware of it. You will become a true master when you become aware of it, and become free of it. There is no easy way, but it is the most important task, one worth devoting one’s life to accomplishing. This is the central task for anyone trying to master a true martial art.

Takuan’s Solution for Practical Combatives

Takuan’s Solution for Practical Combatives

Combat training simulates conditions of high stress. It works that way now and it worked that way in Tokugawa era Japan. Under hyper arousal we experience changes in sense perception and physical performance that can hinder our effectiveness: Our field of vision contracts to a small circle right in front of our eyes, an effect known […]

The Dojo and the Crime Scene

The Dojo and the Crime Scene

  Amid all the shouts of f*ck the police there are millions of people who call the police, every day. For help. Most of them are calling because they are afraid or have been hurt, or their stuff has been stolen. They are calling for help.   Often, they call for protection from drug dealers […]

Funakoshi’s Crisis Intervention – Bun Bu Ryo Do, Part 1

Funakoshi’s Crisis Intervention – Bun Bu Ryo Do, Part 1

Funakoshi Gichin’s book the Karate-Do Kyohan (空手道教範) is a concise and comprehensive technical manual. It is meticulous and accessible and, without confusing beginners, opens the door to deep understanding for practitioners with the experience to grasp what is there.   In it, Funakoshi Gichin bookends his technical material with personal comments. At the beginning he explains his motive for […]

Ansei Ueshiro’s Nin Tai

Ansei Ueshiro’s Nin Tai

One day Ansei Ueshiro walked onto the training floor. This was the first time I had seen him there in my three years in the dojo. I had met him briefly several times over the years. Those of us who started in the 80s had never seen him do karate.  Mr. Ueshiro was an early […]

The Kansha Controversy

The Kansha Controversy

If you do a word search on the titles, keywords and quotations in the articles I have written over the last few years you will see, month by month, who has been inspired by what I have written: who has republished it, or who has changed some words, reordered the ideas and posted it as […]

Kensho: Phase Transformation, III. 3

Kensho: Phase Transformation, III. 3

  “The Path of Seeing” – Kensho, Entering Phase 3     8th century Indian Buddhist monk Kamalashila, in his Stages of Meditation, says there is only one way to reach the path of seeing: through the “thorough analysis of the nature of the mind.” This point is not disputed in Zen.     Bodhidharma: […]

Damatte Keiko: Phase Transformation in Kata, I

Damatte Keiko: Phase Transformation in Kata, I

It was a short drive from the dojo to the beach – on Okinawa you’re always close to the ocean. The driver was a long-time karate practitioner who agreed to teach me a new kata during the last few days of my visit. This stretch of beach was wide-open, with the endless sea, brilliant sun, […]