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 […]
In the olden days the word “art” was applied to anything that required skill; like the art of farming, the art of architecture, the art of war. This is the use of “art” in “martial arts.” It doesn’t mean “for aesthetic purposes,” or artsy or intuitive. It is not distinct from “scientific.” Builders work with […]
The groundbreaking new book by Jeffrey Brooks. In a culture of commercialized, trivialized martial arts, The Good Fight is essential reading. “Eloquent and thought-provoking…” -Mark Tankosich, Hiroshima University of Economics, Dan Rank Sho-ha Shorin Ryu and Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei Jodo “Such deep thoughts about martial arts are very rare! I really enjoy the excellent content.” –Prof. Christof Paar, Kishaba Juku, […]
Reviews of “The Rhinoceros Tale“, by Jeff Brooks: “An unforgettable account, crackling with energy and full of heart… the kind of book that can change your life.” – Philip Zaleski, Editor, The Best Spiritual Writing series “…honest, entertaining and forthright…” – Dave Lowry, author of Autumn Lightning “The best book I have read in a long time …filled with […]
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 much do we need to modify techniques for safety, without sacrificing realism and maximum challenge? Full contact with no equipment? Kata only? Jyu kumite? Ippon kumite? Where do we draw the line. What’s real? What prepares us for real defense? What is a “natural” way to train?
The brilliant beam of a search light sweeps past where this guy is hiding, crouched behind a dumpster. The light slides down along the wall. For a second the darkness returns. Without a sound he sprints behind the building and disappears. He felt the lapse in his opponent’s perception and got away. When you face off […]
“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.
A critique of martial arts is that the benefits it claims to offer – for health, fighting competence, and spiritual training – are overstated. It is worth considering that, if you are seriously practicing, the opposite is true – the benefits of martial arts for health, combative skill and spiritual development – are wildly understated. But you have to know what you’re doing.
D.T. Suzuki, who introduced Zen to the west, blamed the devotion of Zen priests to militant Japanese imperialism in the years leading up to World War II, on the fact that the priests were uneducated. Zen priests, he said “…have no knowledge or learning and therefore are unable to think… independently…” (Cited by Brian Victoria, in Zen at War.) Many modern Zen practitioners…
To go beyond self-defense we need to master self-defense. We need to transform our bodies and minds in the heat and pressure of action – inside the dojo and perhaps outside as well. We need to deeply penetrate the meaning and purpose of our techniques, and be able to apply them spontaneously and effectively, under pressure. We need to develop the quality of character of a warrior – calm, clear, purposeful, strong, and totally committed.
Modern culture is poison. Martial arts is medicine. …As long as science and culture are used in a way that treats the world and its people as material, treats minds as brains, uses gain and
ambition as sufficient motives for action, and feels no compunction
about leaving loving kindness out when considering what to do…
As we move we quickly discover that our bodies are not symmetrical.One side is stronger than the other. This asymmetry is not a weakness. It is a key feature of our body structure. It is a survival advantage. This understanding was built in to our martial arts as they developed in China, Japan, Okinawa and […]
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 […]
One of the most influential incidents in Zen was invented in China about a thousand years ago. The story is set in India during the life of the historical Buddha, 2500 years ago. In this story the Buddha teaches “The Flower Sutra” – a teaching “without words.” The Buddha sits before the assembly of monks. […]
…Essential training for warriors and martial artists – for at least 3,000 years. “When the moment comes, and you face an opponent, things get real simple. You do what you need to do. What you bring to bear on that moment, its shock and chaos, is not so simple. All your experience, all your training, […]
Movie fights and drunken brawls seem to go on and on. For self-defense your preferred tactic will be ikken hissatsu. It’s simple. A devastating full-commitment strike that ends the threat. It echoes the famous advice of Carl von Clausewitz, the 19thcentury Prussian general, now studied in military academies throughout the world, who advised using massed force […]
… …”You want to blame the cartels, the companies, the poison factories which take advantage of people like that boy… they can’t make you buy their poison… or join them in the extraction of the wealth and freedom of a whole world. Not even if they put a gun to your head”… “The Good Fight” […]
To prevail in a combative encounter you need to take the initiative and dominate the opponent. It is not enough to select a good target, to do a good technique, to move from the center, to have power, speed, conditioned body weapons, or any of the other components of skillful combatives that we practice day […]
Serious practitioners use ideas – our own and from our traditions – to deepen our understanding and improve our practice. Some ideas work. Some get in the way. You want to know an idea that has confused people for generations? “Know yourself.” It is an important idea. Everyone talks about it. But by drawing on […]
A “ready stance” has an important place in practice. But in bunkai it can yield good results when it is understood as a pass-through point in ongoing movement. Not as a static position. People sometimes try to interpret the first move of their kata as if they were standing still in their “yoi” position when […]
The well-trained person keeps to the center in action; the poorly trained person moves away from the center in action. The center, for the well-trained person, is such that he is always exact in his timeliness; the departure from the center for the poorly trained person is such that he will notice nothing.” – […]
Many grappling arts are designed for subject control: the opponent’s ability to threaten you ceases when he is under your control. That means your objective in the encounter is to restrain his ability to move, and you do it by using a pin or lock. Wrestling, east Asian grappling arts, as well as defensive tactics’ […]
“The civil is the inner principal and the martial arts is the outer principle. Outer technique without inner principle is simply the brute courage of physical strength. However, when one is no longer in his prime, bullying an opponent will not work. Those who possess inner principle without outer technique, who think only of the […]
D.T. Suzuki, who introduced Zen to the west, blamed the devotion of Zen priests to militant Japanese imperialism in the years leading up to World War II, on the fact that the priests were uneducated. Zen priests, he said “…have no knowledge or learning and therefore are unable to think… independently…” (Cited by Brian Victoria, […]
Some people say that the technical range of karate is limited to kicks, punches and blocks. Seeing kumite matches in many styles – Japanese, Okinawan and Korean – would make that conclusion seem reasonable. As karate was modernized and popularized some styles did narrow the technical range and made it more suitable for matches and […]
We made chishi at the dojo today. Chishi are training tools. The name translates as ‘strength stone.’ They are used in Okinawan karate to develop our arms and shoulders. They pour concrete into a mold and make the handle from a dowel. We use them the same way and we make them the same way. […]
One skill we do not usually train in the dojo is self-defense decision-making: When does an encounter become a conflict, and when does a conflict become a fight? Discretion and Valor Under some circumstances we want to avoid threat situations. Tactical trainer John Farnam describes basic self-defense this way: “Don’t go stupid places. Don’t […]