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 […]

念Advanced Training Page

Our 念Advanced Training page has info relevant to members and practitioners with ten years of training or more, but everyone is invited to take a look and use it.  Yambayashi training is built on a foundation of self-defense skill: strength, speed, flexibility, endurance, experience and precision tactics. The pressure and risk required to develop these is as […]

The Benevolence of the Butcher

The Benevolence of the Butcher

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”    -Adam Smith, 1776, An Inquiry into the Nature and Sources of the Wealth of Nations Adam Smith was describing how free markets work. No one knows everything. […]

Naihanchi’s Strange Omission

Naihanchi’s Strange Omission

In “te”, the indigenous Okinawa fighting art which evolved into karate, for the first three years some students practiced only naihanchi kata. Why?  We may also observe that there are no high blocks or head strikes in naihanchi. Why? The answers are closely related. Naihanchi does not present a full spectrum fighting system. It is […]

Karate and Nuclear War

Karate and Nuclear War

Shoshin Nagamine, founder of Matsubayashi Ryu Karate, was a Police Chief and an Okinawan political official for much of his life. In 1996 he was also recognized for his spiritual achievements. In his address “Karate and World Peace” he reflected on the spiritual heritage of Okinawan culture, as embodied in karate, and its role in […]

No Menkyo Kaiden for You!

No Menkyo Kaiden for You!

Fixed and bounded systems can be fully known. In martial arts this is a convenient and reassuring structure. But it is a fiction. To be sure there needs to be a clear, well-defined and structured knowledge base. It needs to be scrupulously acquired and mastered. But this should be understood as the platform for exploration, development and innovation, […]

2022 Fifth Annual Summer Seminar

2022 Fifth Annual Summer Seminar

Mountain Karate’s Fifth Annual Summer Seminar will be held from June 1 to 5, 2022 in Saluda, NC. Registration is open to all Yamabayashi Shorin Ryu Karate practitioners of all ranks and ages. At multiple dojo and mountain training locations. Seminar Training Topics: Techniques Body Mechanics and Energy Transmission Kobudo Tactics Applications Endurance and Conditioning […]

The Lost Art of the Frozen Hunter

The Lost Art of the Frozen Hunter

By exploring our kata we discover tactics and develop skills we can use inside and outside the dojo. These insights are not evident when looking at the movement of the kata from the outside. They appear when you are inside the kata, doing it, with opponents, while investigating the movement with your intention and visualization.  […]

Do as Jitsu

Do as Jitsu

Do 道 arises on the basis of jitsu 術. Do and jitsu are not separate or alternative paths. They are one. Without doing the hard work needed for technical mastery talk about spiritual aspiration remains talk. Disciplining the mind, strengthening the will, overcoming obstructions to the skillful use of the body, are all required for […]

True Karate Do

True Karate Do

Written by Jeffrey Brooks Translated into Japanese by Sakiyama Sogen, Roshi, Shuri, Okinawa, a Goju Ryu karate practitioner, as well as the Zen teacher of Shoshin Nagamine, founder of Matsubayshi Ryu. In the translation Sakiyama Roshi named this essay True Karate Do. Many people feel they are missing their lives, that real life is going on […]

Threats and Miracles II

Most of our training time is spent getting the skills we need to deal with a possible assault. We get stronger, faster, more agile and more skillful in the use of our body and mind. We train in threat awareness to alert us to the presence of a threat, before an assault can begin. We […]

Stable Equilibrium 

Stable Equilibrium 

As we train, without quite realizing it, our lives take on the character of a stable equilibrium. That does not happen automatically. But if you practice well it will happen.  It is essential for every able person.  A stable equilibrium system tends to return to stability when it is disturbed. Imagine a ball at the […]

Contemplation of the Body for martial artists

Contemplation of the Body for martial artists

An intruder in your home. Chaos on the street. An escalating confrontation on the road. An assault, a raid, a kumite match, or a quiet conversation that could determine the path of your life all demand intense focus. In the course of daily life, under seige by threats and promises, cons and seduction, we need […]

Look Out

It is easy to hurt people. It is difficult to protect them It is easy to burn. It is hard to build. It is easy to trick people, bother people, seduce people, frighten people.  It is easy to weaken and humiliate people. Intoxication is easy.  Slander is easy.  It is easy to fall. It is […]

A Different Ken Zen 拳禅

A Different Ken Zen 拳禅

The expression Ken Zen Ichi Nyo – 拳禅一如 – Fist and Zen as One – was derived from Ken Zen Ichi Nyo – Sword and Zen as One 剣禅一如. The Fist version was adopted by Shoshin Nagamine (1907-1997) as his motto. The Sword version was famously used by Zen priest Takuan Soho (1573-1645) while teaching Zen or swordsmanship […]

正念  Mindfulness in Kata

正念  Mindfulness in Kata

We practice mindfulness of the body from the day we begin karate training. Our physical skills, sharp awareness and practical self-defense ability are built on the interpenetration and fusion of the body and mind.  The Greatest Warrior They say that the greatest warrior masters himself. This mastery might refer to impulse control – i.e., achieving […]

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 […]