Empty Hand vs. Gun

Empty Hand vs. Gun

When Indiana Jones faced a massive scimitar-wielding warrior he smirked, drew his pistol and shot the swordsman dead.  For some people that incident put a bullet in the head of martial arts. Done. Outdated. Silly. Gone the way of the cavalry charge, the knight in armor, the sword and shield. That has not proved true.  […]

The Momentum of Truth

The Momentum of Truth

At first enthusiasm gets you in the door. You imagine yourself as you want to be, with great skill, great confidence, great power. The reality of the first hard steps in training is acceptable. You can overlook not knowing what you are doing, not being able to do as much as you want, lower in […]

Sixth Annual Yamabayshi 合宿 Seminar June, 2023

Sixth Annual Yamabayshi 合宿 Seminar June, 2023

June 7 – 11, 2023 合宿 Intensive training High altitude outdoor training National Yamabayashi ryu black belt testing New tactics and techniques New bunkai applications Visits by outstanding practitioners or Yamabayashi Ryu held at Mountain Karate, Yamabayashi ryu honbu, Saluda, NC. Registration now underway.

The Moment of Truth

The Moment of Truth

If your life is framed by the choice between gain and loss, fame and obscurity, praise and blame, and pleasure and pain then you are done. It is too late. As practitioners we have a better basis for deciding what to do and what to avoid.  By practitioners I do not mean all people who […]

Healing Your Body with Your Mind

Healing Your Body with Your Mind

If you look at people who live under pre modern conditions, embedded in the natural world, doing what they need to do to live, you can see that their bodies are healthy and their faces are calm. They walk, they work, they live together. Maybe they farm, they gather, they hunt. Certainly they protect their […]

On the Street

On the Street

Martial arts training can sometimes get trapped in an inward frame of reference – what we do, how we do it, what my teacher says to do to get the next rank, and so on. It is possible for martial arts to drift away from practical demands, and a genuine self-defense frame of reference. That […]

Mirror Image in Kata

Mirror Image in Kata

We do Rohai as a kagami- or mirror- kata, because it is the most one-sided of all our kata. For example, all the knee lifts are on the right. None are on the left. There are many complete asymmetries in Rohai. To balance the training we get from it, to be able to execute all […]

Assault

Assault

Our training benefits us every day of our lives, in many ways. Health, stamina, strength, flexibility, confidence and focus are ours, continually. The self-defense model of training is very useful because it gives a sense of immediacy and urgency to the way we move and think, which can be more intense than some games or […]

Bugs and Features

Bugs and Features

Over the course of training people change. Whole new qualities appear. Some start out thinking they are unstoppable. They learn about the limits of talent, and the benefits of training.  Some start out feeling that they are behind the curve, because they are learning something new, and don’t know how to do it yet. There […]

Satisfaction on an Autumn Evening

Satisfaction on an Autumn Evening

Here is an interesting poem. Partly because it sounds good in Japanese. Like the sound of a stream as you step over it. And because a cascade of thoughts and feelings come from it: この道や, 行く人なしに, 秋のくれ Pronounced: Kono michi ya, Yuku hito nashi ni, Aki no kure Sometimes translated: Along this country road, Goes […]

Breaking Good

Breaking Good

Once your opponent’s balance is broken you can neutralize his threat.  He may break his own balance by error or lack of skill. Or you can break it for him. Our balance will be attacked. We cannot afford to lose it. We need to maintain it or to recover right away. We have control over […]

How to Rotate

How to Rotate

“I move, I lose balance. What do I do?” In the beginning you learn new things. As you speed up, even as a good athlete, you’ll lose balance from time to time. You feel it. It is easy to see what is going wrong. There is some deviation of the central axis of the body […]

What Sakiyama Saw

What Sakiyama Saw

In these three articles I tried to convey something of what was exchanged between myself and influential Okinawan Zen priest and karate master Sakiyama Sogen, Roshi: True Karate Do His translation into Japanese, and distribution to the karate community on Okinawa, of my vision of the potential of dojo practice… Sakiyama Sogen’s Last Letter    His […]

Facebook Departure Time

Facebook Departure Time

Shortly after I took the Mountain Karate pages off Facebook, more than two comments poured in, asking about that step.  To me time spent on Facebook was like time spent in the airport. A lot going on. Most of it not very interesting. An airport is not a place where most people want to be. […]

Play, Work and War

Play, Work and War

There is a lot of info out there about ways to train. Both physical training and meditation advice, as they are presented now, are highly biased toward self-attention. If you have only trained in this modern mode, it might seem that there is really no other way to do it. Here is something to consider: […]

How Things Get To Be The Way They Are

How Things Get To Be The Way They Are

The first day of after-school karate at the elementary school was, in the beginning, not quite chaos, but it was not the orderly, focused, respectful atmosphere of the dojo either. The kids there for the first time lined up when I told them to, but they wiggled and talked and did what they do after […]

You and Me

People sometimes feel afraid. But it passes. They may get complacent. Both are dangerous. In training we learn to protect our bodies from assault. Our bodies get strong, fast, flexible, skillful and under our control.  As this happens, we get the ability to protect others – family, friends, neighbors or strangers who may be in […]

Participation in Advanced Training

The mind training aspect of advanced training depends on a powerful foundation of martial skill. In advanced training classes we emphasize endurance, power training, speed and timing, and other aspects of martial competence, under higher pressure than we may take on in other classes.  This intensity and habituation to high-demand performance gives us the capacity […]

Penetrating the Truth

Penetrating the Truth

When you begin training you get advice. You try to understand. Sometimes the advice is easy to use, like “Close your fist.” Often, even though the words are familiar and the grammar makes sense, what to do with the advice remains obscure. As a result of practice, the meaning becomes clear. By returning to the […]

Why We Train

Each person has their own reasons to start.  Some join to get in shape. Some to stay healthy and strong. Some want a calm, clear mind after a hard day’s work. Some want confidence, to know they can take care of themselves. Some have a had a bad experience which they will never allow to […]

Training Focus

The training time before and after class is best used when it has the same focus and sense of purpose as the formal class session.  When we are paired off with a training partner before or after class we can best use the time to explore and test interpretations and applications, or to help newer […]

Yamabayashi Archive

Yamabayashi Archive

Here is a searchable archive of articles posted on this site, published since The Good Fight, through September, 2022. (Articles omitted from this list are excerpts from included articles.) This archive also appears on the Links page. These and older articles are on the Posts page. Intro 山林 Yamabayashi Shorin Ryu Karate Bloodlines Sakiyama Sogen’s Last […]

Power in the Storm

Power in the Storm

The gas in your car has enough power to move tons of metal, fast, for hours.  Cars keep that power isolated and stable. If you burned that gasoline all at once it would make a big boom. Spectacular, like in a movie, or deadly, like in real life. And it would be over quickly. Not […]

Action as Medicine

Action as Medicine

He sat alone on the wooden floor of a little cabin, miles from town. Deep in the night the clouds parted. Moonlight came in and made its way softly across the floor. From time to time the sound of voices far away, talking, maybe singing, were carried in on the breeze.  Someone strange jumped in […]

Self-defense vs. Protection Rackets 

Self-defense vs. Protection Rackets 

Kids need love and protection. They may wander off. They may get frightened or hurt. They want someone who can do protect them.  Families do that. Part of growing up is the transition from wanting protection to providing it. As a teenager you learn to look out for yourself. You take care of your body, your dignity, […]

Balance in Space, Time and Mind

Balance in Space, Time and Mind

Balance in Space During training you may notice that you are over extended toward your target. Arm outstretched in a punch, you notice too much weight on your front foot, your spine axis projecting over your front foot, too close to the balance point. You notice the vulnerability in this and correct it, bringing the […]

Defense Against Violence and Decadence

Defense Against Violence and Decadence

At Mountain Karate our martial art is the proven, powerful approach to self-defense.  Protection from physical violence and fear is necessary. You might never get mugged or confronted. But nowadays our bodies and minds are under continual threat. Family life and personal relationships are under attack. Health and vitality are under attack. Work and property […]

Independence Day Outdoor Workout

Independence Day Outdoor Workout

We practiced on rock with nothing between us and the earth or the sky.   We have a nice dojo. Wood floor, lots of light. But we don’t need it to train. We have a wonderful group. Dedicated and strong. So valuable. But our training does not depend on a group. Nor does it depend on […]

Karate Koan from 把握不能心

Karate Koan from 把握不能心

We practice karate, 空手, empty hands. Hands empty of what? “A weapon,” people say. A hand can take many forms. It can punch or grab. It can release or withdraw. It can tear flesh from bone, build a house, play the piano, caress a loved one. A hand has no fixed form. We can learn to use […]

手 Hands

手 Hands

Karate is an anti-grappling art. Of course we learn to strike – with hands and feet, elbows and knees and other parts of the body – as our go-to way to stop a threat. But at the initial contact point much of what we are learning to do is to stop a grappling attack. People […]

Fifth Annual Yamabayashi Seminar in Saluda

Fifth Annual Yamabayashi Seminar in Saluda

Mountain Karate hosted the Fifth Annual Yamabayashi Seminar in Saluda this week. Intensive training, black belt testing, special tactics and techniques, new bunkai applications and insights deepened and challenged the skills of all the visitors and members. It was great.

Training at Sunset

Training at Sunset

As civilization sheds its skin, or drops its mask, our karate training is a treasure that we need to protect. Unlock the door. Open the windows. People enter and bow. We create a zone of order and beauty. My teacher began the day by lighting a stick of incense in the alcove at the front […]

Three Instructor Stages

Three Instructor Stages

There are three levels of instructor in our style. There are many different styles of martial arts. Within them are many different approaches. Our approach is what we use. The first stage instructor demonstrates technical competence and the interest and ability to share what they know with others. The second stage instructor combines that with […]