Empty Hand vs. Drugs

Empty Hand vs. Drugs

What we do is the opposite of addiction.  We move forward, like a river. We continue, following our course, with purpose. We change. We meet obstacles, we adapt, we move on. Sometimes our course is smooth and clear, and then maybe with no warning, narrows, cascades, cataract, whitewater. We deal with it. We continue. Our […]

Making History

Making History

They say the modern world is in an advanced stage of decline. We don’t need to decline with it.  We are not helplessly riding an arc of history. History is not a thing. History is what people do.  We can think in accord with accepted norms or contrary to them. Or neither: we can make […]

Why They Did It

Why They Did It

…the essential inner stream of east Asian martial arts culture… When you make something, you change the material you are working with. And you change too.  Anyone can fight. Kids hit. It takes no training, no brains and no skill. Impulsive ones lash out. The other ones learn what to do about it. People cannot […]

As Dangers Multiply

We carry our training with us everywhere we go. Our skills include our mental attitude. We make our minds strong.  Here is one way: we acknowledge shortcomings and we fix them. Here is another: we acknowledge our strengths and build on them. We do both every day. It is how training works.  Self-criticism can be […]

Summit Assault

Summit Assault

At first we memorize the embusen, the steps, postures and technique sequence of kata. Then we refine the main movements with increasingly subtle modifications. We point out how to use the waist, or use the arms and legs, or maintain a central axis in motion, under stress. We point out how to incorporate the training […]

Do Not Fall

Do Not Fall

Shoshin Nagamine founder of the predecessor style of Yamabayshi Ryu, was a long-time public official and one time Chief of Police. He was a San dan, third-degree black belt, in judo. Judo by his time had replaced jiu jitsu as the subject control and arrest technique system taught throughout Japan to all police cadets and […]

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 Outdated.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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]