Monday, November 14, 2016

The Power of Mindset.

Mindset has a direct effect on performance, some people believe that things like I.Q. are genetically inherited, ingrained, other people believe that, with a little bit of effort, anyone can achieve anything they set their mind to.
I am of the latter view although it is hard to resist the trap of fixed mindsets. A great source of information on this is the following video;

At the present stage of my journey through life all the things I once thought were fixed have come to unravel, all the foundations have crumbled, all the rugs have been pulled and safety nets burned.
I no longer know exactly who I am or what I am doing and it is a very frightening thing to face; it would absolutely devastate someone who does not believe in a Growth or Fluid mindset in which anyone is capable of accomplishing whatever they desire simply by believing they can and following through.

What does this have to do with Martial Arts? First off, if we allow the process to take place, training can highlight points of our fixed mindsets and provide some insight into them.
We can see them for what they are and use them, turn them to the development of the mind and free ourselves from them.
There is no limit to the things a person can accomplish if they simply have the courage to step outside of that box, to allow those foundations to crumble, to entertain the thought that they know nothing, least of all themselves... There is always something to discover, always.

Who am I? What am I capable of doing? What am I actually interested in? How can I use my previous experience to push myself farther?
Lots of people talk a lot about fighting when it comes to Martial Arts, but they seldom have anything to say about the mind or spirit, those that do either dismiss it or what they have to say is complete Bullshit and puts people off of the subject entirely.

You have to delve deep into yourself in order to improve upon yourself, even if you are a practically minded Martial Artist, you have to delve deep into those recesses that most do not have the courage to explore... It can be very dangerous, yes, but also very fulfilling... You WILL lose yourself more than once, but in the end you find out who you really are and what you are capable of.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Kata - The Science of Proper Mechanics.

Trying something a little different. It seemed a more direct way of expressing what it is I am trying to say in this particular post and was much faster than just writing it out.
This is an unscripted video of thoughts off the cuff after training the concepts I talk about, just some thoughts on some more in-depth aspects that make even the most basic of things within Karate-Do that much more interesting and there is carryover, no matter what style or system a person studies they might, I hope, find something useful here.

The main points, Shin, Gi, Tai... Kata and Karate are about more than just fighting and, if done correctly and trained thoroughly, have health benefits stretching beyond violent confrontations in the street.
The fighting aspects are basic, the deeper stuff begins when one starts to look at even the slightest use of one single motion and, linking it all together, finds the truth in each portion followed by an understanding of the overall whole.

Most times, if you look at some of the videos online, they are often lacking in depth of motion, they never seem to touch upon these things.
There ARE exceptions... Bunkai is not just about how to apply something in a fight, but proper motion, proper focus, proper intent.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Spirit of Okinawan Karate.

I once met an individual of Korean decent who was a Firefighter in his spare time,  but had taken a part time job with our Organization for the summer travel season.

At the time I was the Shift Lead for an Organization which sent Students abroad on International Education Oriented Trips all over the World and I was tasked with training this gentleman in our procedures and Case Management,  so we spent a lot of time chatting.

At some point this individual noticed our display for Japan, complete with the image of the Red Rising Sun, at which point he began talking about Korean sentiments towards the Japanese,  remnants from the occupation in World War 2.
Many Koreans,  evidently,  view that symbol in much the same way as most view the Swastika, a symbol of racist ideology, racial superiority,  and oppression.

Today we think of Japan in a very different light,  but it is true that, not long ago, Japanese Nationalism was aligned with Hitler because they shared similar ideals and identical aims.

Today we see Dojo that practice Okinawan Karate using Japanese customs, terms and phrases,  philosophy,  and practices; right down to the Gi and belts that are worn.

Many Dojo have displays of Samurai Katana, walls lined with Bokken on Weapon Racks, Shomen in similar fashion to Shinto Shrines, ect.
Little to nothing in this,  aside from the actual Art, seems to actually be Okinawan and this is not surprising considering the great lengths to which Japan went in order to suppress Okinawan language,  culture,  and Religion in order to make Okinawa more Japanese.

Most forget what happened to many Okinawans at the end of the war and it is a wonder the Okinawans would welcome assimilation at all, considering their treatment as second class citizens in their own country,  but many did promote assimilation, including many Karate Men of the time.
One could speculate on their motives, but who is to say?

The Japanese utilized their Education System in order to indoctrinate many of their colonial territories and it seemed to work,  even now there are not many Sensei who are knowledgeable in the Okinawan aspects of the art they practice and teach.

This is no fault of their own,  nor their Teachers,  many of whom grew up in an Okinawa that spoke Japanese and had adopted many of their customs.

Okinawa has somehow remained unique from the Japanese mainland and retained much of their identity, along with their close family/ancestral ties and Shamanistic Matriarchal Religious Practices and Customs.

The Okinawans have a concept called Mabui which is similar to Western concepts of Soul,  Spirit,  and Mana; it is the essence of a person and, according to their beliefs, it can be lost through various forms of trauma.
It is, they say, the reason for depression and anxiety,  among other things.

To regain one's Mabui can be as simple as sleeping in one's own bed or as complex as to require the services of a Noro Priestess in a Ritual depending on the severity of the loss.

It would seem that the Mabui of true Karate has taken a very serious hit along with the rest of the Okinawan spirit that is only now beginning to mend after many generations.
Maybe this is not even true as many seek out Karate in Okinawa only to find, what I term, tourist Karate as many great Karate Men have either died or left,  and then died in an adopted land.
Furthermore,  it begs to question,  is the Karate we now have the true Martial Way of Okinawa?
It would seem much has been fabricated and, fabricated in such a way,  as to make it more Japanese than Okinawan.
It makes sense when looking back on their culture as these are a spirited and,  traditionally,  long lived people who defeated the Mongols and were willing to fight to the last man against the Satsuma Samurai until their King begged them to remember that life was a jewel.

Would they not,  after all they have endured, guard closely the Mabui of ALL their cultural ways?
Their economy had suffered greatly, but many forsaw commercial opportunities that could support their families by teaching Karate, which capitalized more on the Japanese notion of Bushido and Bujitsu than it did on Okinawan culture,  for that is something sacred to them.
Even to this day outsiders are not allowed to even view Okinawan spiritual rituals,  this includes Japanese living in Okinawa.

There are many mysteries I do not think we will ever be fully privy to.
Do I feel that the form of Karate we have received is authentic? Sure,  but it's spirit has been swapped out and guarded against further transgression.

Below is a link to an interesting read,  one among many.
I hope you find it informative.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Price and The Way.

I was bored and began browsing some books in my Kindle while at work; mainly looking for study guides for an upcoming exam,  but soon decided to search "Karate" to see what came up.
That lead to this article, which may not be pretty and may very well offend a lot of people out there.

I love Karate and have tremendous respect for my Teachers,  even after all these years, as jaded as I have been with certain aspects of the whole thing,  I still love it.
That being said I would like to talk about the side of things that often gets overlooked in all the romanticization and infatuation.

I have been fortunate in my Practice to have learned from the people I have,  however long or brief a period with each,  especially my Teachers,  Michael Dascenzo Sensei and Charles Sensei.
I trained hard,  learned much,  and trained more,  but not for the sole purpose of "getting somewhere" or "gaining something" and Dascenzo Sensei would often lament the Politics and Business of Budo.
Todd Sensei was never about talking,  Politics,  or Business, lamenting or otherwise, he just loved to train and the rest never entered the equation.

These things have caused rifts between Teachers and Students for a very long time and will continue to do so for a long time to come,  save for those few, like Todd Sensei, who could care less because they love what they do so much that the training is all that matters.
One day that may not be the case,  but who knows?
I have a sinking suspicion that the reason my Teacher retired from Teaching at such a young age has,  at least in part, to do with the Politics, views,  and Prejudices of some within the Organization that had some influence on the way of things,  but that is only part of it and is his business.

I write this because I took notice of the overall price range of books on Martial Arts, Zen, and assorted related topics,  taken with the prices of Dojo Tuition,  Testing Fees,  the cost of professionally crafted equipment, and Organizational dues.
Martial Arts is Big Business, nothing wrong with that considering how the world works,  but some are more costly than others and people are always aiming to be the top dog,  whether they deserve it or not,  so they try to get in with the person at the top and prevent others outside their clique from doing the same.
Some promotions have very little to do with skill and some Seniors in the hierarchy have spent more money, with very little blood and sweat in the mix, to get where they are and they are more interested in position and influence than training.
Unfortunately these types tend to be the majority in most groups,  although not always,  and some Sensei have been able to strike a balance with little sacrifice to their integrity.

This is not only true of Martial Organizations,  but every Institutionalized Group on the planet; ever notice the cost for a Spiritual Retreat? Whether it be Buddhist or otherwise,  they tend to target a certain demographic for monetary gain and even within these one will find the same sort of hierarchical structure with the same type of people seeking to boost their own egos.

Often people break away for whatever reason and some of these breakaway groups turn toward an almost cult-like worship of their founder,  even and especially within the Martial Arts.
Self promotion and self aggrandizement are often the norm.

The bottom line is never missed,  with many living like Kings and Queens from their gains.
There is nothing wrong with this so long as one is honest about it and practices true to their teaching,  with respect to their Teachers.
There is often too much bickering back and forth,  like barking dogs through a fence,  and it calls into question the actual value of what is being taught as it is supposed to produce better individuals.
Maybe not the Teaching,  but the Teacher. If they cannot practice what they preach,  should they be preaching? If they could not get where they are by following their own principles then why are they asking it of others?

It is a fact of life,  I suppose,  and one can take heart in the fact that there are sincere people out there from whom you can learn, their training and attitude speak for themselves.
Having written all this I must say that I mean no disrespect to anyone and I understand that this is the world we live in,  at present anyway.

I am a member of an Organization,  because I respect my roots and they are my family,  but I train to train,  it has nothing to do with which patch I wear.
I am friends with,  and train with some very sincere people here as well,  they just happen to be members of a different Organization,  but Karate is Karate.

My Sensei has been like a Father figure to me,  his lessons constantly guide me,  every day.
Todd Sensei is like an older Brother,  and I take his example to heart.
Roseberry Shihan is like a Grandfather, who always provides deep insight without speaking a word,  even in his sneaky attempts to get doughnuts when he knows he can't have them.

Kris Wilder is like an Uncle, Gene Villa and his crew are like cousins,  all very good people... Politics and Business can never destroy that.

Good day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Truth in the Center.

In the center one must find all aspects of the self and merge them before they can proceed.
To sink into the body with mind and spirit, an opening and offering of oneself to that which is greater still,  yet deep within all things...  All else drops away.

This zero point is the beginning and end of all Budo which cannot be ignored or brushed aside.
This IS Kata, this IS Karate, anything less is watered down,  spiritless,  empty.

Those who go on and on about hating Kata or that Kata are useless or boring have missed the point of Kata and their many layers.
It makes sense now when people like Kayo OMG and Roy Kamen speak of Bunkai being only the tip of the iceberg as Karate is much deeper than that.

I once witnessed a Haka Dance performed by,  of all people, a Mormon Missionary and it seemed to me to be nothing more than a jumble of shouting, moving,  and stomping around... Nothing to write home about,  right?
True,  until you witness it performed by someone who throws everything into it,  then it becomes frightening...  At that point I realized what was missing from the first performance.
That was not a Haka Dance,  it was missing the spirit and,  thus,  was missing the desired effect resulting from a proper Haka Dance.

It does not matter how mean you make your face look,  how rigid or built your body,  or how loud you Kiai... Without the spirit,  found in the center before all else,  and forged through fire properly,  all you have is a jumbled mess of moving,  stomping,  and shouting..

Good Day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Moment to Moment.

It has been some time since my last posting on here as things had become a bit hectic with family issues, still are, but feel things have calmed down enough to start posting again. 

I had wanted to post some things on Youtube for my Children to follow due to the distance that now lay between us so as to remain ever more active in their lives and ensure something is passed to them, but it would seem that is not allowed in the present mode of thinking in the Organization through which I have membership.
That is okay, there are a number of different alternatives that can be explored in that regard to ensure they are able to access what I have to offer them, from Karate to Artwork to Practical Living, whatever the case may be, the Internet is a VERY big place and, what is more, the world is even bigger, so notes and drawings could also serve as a medium. 

In the old days the catch phrase used to be, 'focus on the now,' which is a great catch phrase for its' practicality because you cannot practice Martial Arts of any kind and be successful unless past, future, and all manner of other distractions falls away and you bring your mind to one point in the present moment. 
People often use various Japanese, Chinese, or other Asian Language words to describe various aspects of this as though they were some mystical type of experience... Perhaps they are, but they do not really need to be. 
For me, it is enough to realize full awareness within the moment and to be able to direct intent... Qi/Ki is nothing more than an experience of directed intent and full awareness, not some mystical energy that can knock someone out from across the room... It is synonymous with Pneuma and Rhuak, both of which refer to Breath in a Divine sense. 
This is lost on most people and they may still put it off as some sort of Mystical Mumbo Jumbo, but does not matter because everyone has their own insights into the experience and that is fine, it adds richness to the phenomena as a whole. 

Getting back to the present moment thing... While it is necessary, it is also necessary to be mindful of each step and to be mindful of the future while being aware of lessons learned in the past, all of which come into play within the present moment as well.
This is not just a Martial Arts perspective, this is a perspective to maintain in all aspects of life... Do you know what you REALLY want to do? Do you know the REAL reason behind your training??

What about posterity?? What if you were to die tomorrow? What would you be leaving behind that could serve to better future generations?
The present moment is a tool to ensure all of this is taken into account to the highest degree and completely accomplished... The key?? Live each moment as if it were your last... It sounds like a cliche, but it is very true.
Working each individual aspect of technique helps to focus and hone the mind, body, and spirit so that it can be effectively employed in this manner, as one unit, in all aspects of life... 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Changing Tides.

Each day I pass old empty buildings where Karate Schools once operated, empty, vacant, with signs in them that read 'Nai Black - For Lease.'
There is even an old Jujitsu school that once taught Brazillian Jujitsu up on Francis that is closed, the paint still in the window, chipped and worn, but not faded.

Maybe it is a sign of the time, but this is supposed to be a time of economic growth, or maybe that is just a symptom of commercialism, who can say?
It just seems as though the community is becoming smaller and smaller, while some schools are adapting, moving into smaller spaces or into places off the beaten path, away from main roads, some even closing their doors due to the death of famous Teachers and no one taking up the torch within the area that an entire Organization once called home.

This leaves only some of the most hard core people left standing and, with time working the way it works and age setting in, it makes one wonder where these places will be after their respective Teachers pass on or retire, whether a Senior of theirs will pick things up or whether their Students will scatter to the wind?
Some of the best training is not found in fancy Dojo or commercial settings, some of the best training might be found in s School Cafeteria or a Rec area set up in a Church practically in the middle of nowhere and they do not really advertise other than word of mouth and do not make profit from what they do.
These people are sometimes the first people hit when things go south, but, more often than not, they are usually the ones able to keep going because they can adapt, they do not have to worry about what others worry about, but these types of Programs and Schools are very rare and often hard to find if you do not know people who know people.

One such School is actually facing the fact that they are no longer going to have a place to train come May, but they are pushing on through the summer months by training in parks, as I do, although they face a hardship of possibly losing Students over the Winter Months if they do not find an indoor place to train.
They host a wide variety of Programs from Tae Kwon Do, Krav Maga, to European Broad Sword, and their Chief Instructor is also a Student of Jujitsu at Newborn Cascao Jujitsu up on Monroe under James Weed.
They cater to youth, primarily, and host a program for Home School Children and this is one of the Classes that faces shut down as they transition.

I remember when the Dojo on Callow shut down, it was a sad day even though many of the Students continued, for a time, at a local Fire Department under Jeff Iller Sensei, but the Program did not last long and Iller Sensei went on to other things.
The Dojo had been my childhood, my home, for a very long time, even when I was away, it was still my home and, even though it is now a Tattoo Parlor, that building still holds a special meaning for me as an adult.
I know that buildings are buildings and things change, all things end, but it if there is something good offered by something and a Child, or anyone for that matter, gains something from it then it should continue for as long as possible.

Check out Mount Spokane Martial Arts on Facebook and if you know of a place in the Spokane area that they might be able to call home let them know, it would be a shame for these people to have to call it quits, especially with the dedication their Chief Instructor has shown, not only in Teaching, but in continued learning... A true example of Sho Shin, or Beginner's Mind.

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Foot Work.

Lately I have been thinking about Footwork versus Stances after going over some basic Aikido footwork in the eight directional diagram.
There is a basic 'Guard' called Hanmi one takes up and moves through at various points, but really no stances, just Footwork.

This is where Karate is confused, I feel, because there was the imposition of standardization from outside which inhibited the natural way of doing things, thus, things became more rigid and we ended up with various names for things in order to accommodate standardized syllabus.
The Japanese love their Standards and the Okinawan Karateka were very keen to be seen as fully assimilated to Japanese Culture rather than be shunned, some of them even receiving payment for their loyalty and efforts to promote assimilation into Japanese Culture and Customs.

This is not meant to be an Anti-Japanese rant, that is there to light the way back in order that we may understand just what it is we are doing as, obviously, the way of Aikido is a Japanese way based on Japanese Standards and is NOT as rigid as Karate had become, thus leading one to feel that the Okinawans were a bit over zealous in their efforts.

What happens when we remove the word 'Dachi' and replace it with something like 'Ashi' similar to the way Aikido utilizes terms like 'Ayumi Ashi' to describe a principle of motion, like stepping, or Tenkan for turning, or Irimi for stepping inside, or Irimi-Tenkan for stepping inside with immediate turn??
What happens when Sanchin Dachi is no longer seem as a 'thing' but a 'process??' Does this take away from Karate or add a deeper level of understanding?? Most would cry foul because it is 'not a traditional way of looking at it,' to which I argue it is a deeper level of understanding a VERY traditional concept.

What happens when Zenkutsu Dachi becomes just a long forward shift and you look at it more in terms of, say, Irimi??
Saifa, for example, has an example of where it is utilitzed as Irimi with partial Tenkan into what we, presently, call Musubi Dachi before dropping into Shiko Dachi.
Drop the 'Dachi' and find another way to describe these movements as less static and rigid, more dynamic and alive, more to do with the movement of the Center, or Hara, and not so much as 'fixed positions.'

Sensei once said someone about the 'formless form' and had pointed me towards a book called 'Kodo: Ancient Ways' written by Reverend Kensho Furuya, a Zen Priest and Aikido Sensei.
This was my first introduction to the idea of Shu, Ha, and Ri... One learns to emulate, one learns to variate/deviate, then one breaks free and is no longer bound by outward forms, but internal Principles that have become their own.
In this way ALL ways become one way and there is no differentiation because they all apply to one another to varying degrees based upon the manner in which they are applied by each individual.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Looking closely at the coiling/uncoiling principle within Kata, namely Gekesai Dai Ichi and Seipai, after going through some Aikido Footwork both Irimi and Tenkan aspects and feeling that 'coil/uncoil' there as well. 
The coiling aspect, for me, comes from Sanchin and is meant to work with Posture for Power Transfer (Atifa) and proper mechanical application, ie Tension, at the very end for just a split second (Chinkuchi) drawn from the ground up through the hips and the core first (Gamaku).

Having gone through this slow a few times just to feel the timing and the nature of each within these two very different Kata it is like a bow-string pulled taut then released and snapping back (taut again for just a split second on the opposite end).
The stances in Karate are too emphasized and should really be de-emphasized in favor of looking more at the actual movements themselves rather than some cool looking position that really has no meaning at the 'end' other than where you should end up. 

Gekesai Kata was meant to be a training Kata, very basic, but also very brutal if understood correctly, the name gives you exactly what principles and characteristics the Kata focuses on... To Attack and Smash or Destroy. 
As Such the Kata is full of various attacks that are straight forward Punches with tension applied for proper effect, with smashing attacks like Elbow Strikes (which also double as entering head guards), upward smashing attacks (Jodan Uke) and downward dislocations/breaks (Gedan Barai), Mid-level manipulations (Chudan Uke) in set up for a nicely placed Heel-kick to the knee (or there-abouts) of the lead (or rear) leg of the opponent BEFORE delivering the Elbow. 
At the beginning is that coil/uncoil, the delivery is very different depending on the blow. Punches are meant to act upon the water aspect of the body, causing Hydrostatic Shock and recoil in the opponent, thus the slight and quick tension on the end, Elbow Strikes are meant to Smash... I am sure you get the idea. 

Seipai is a very different Kata in its' characteristics, its' Nature is not quite so direct and aggressive, although no less effective. 
It plays more on the coil/uncoil element throughout with A LOT of circular movements and linear movements that play off the circular (similar to Gekesai in that respect, but quite different at the same time).
The beginning coils up and drops down with a caption and strike/lock on the arm/neck area following through with a Shihonage-like/Aikido-like techniqe that leads into a break (when I say Shihonage-like I mean to say it can be applied as such, but can also be applied to the head and would make a lot more sense considering it ends with a drop into Shiko-position).
Lots of coil/uncoil in that movement, then it leads into an interesting sweep-attack with the foot into a weird back-leaning position, one arm up, the other sweeping down, both open-handed. 
It can be a redundancy follow-through from the previous movement as almost an Ashi-Barai where the foot does not leave the ground, one hand pulls back as an anchor while the other sweeps through to take down. 

In all this, the main point I always come back to is the Hara.... My Sensei used to say to pretend I had no arms and that all movements are connected directy to the Hara.
These things are far less effective without a thorough understand of how the Hara is applied in each, how it moves, raises, sinks, spins around the axis, ect. 
I once watched a video of a Karteka against an Aikidoka and they used some sort of computer program to trace the movements of their center through Shihonage. 
The Karateka tended to rely more on his strength and his Hara stayed on a straight line, almost unused, while the Aikidoka did not have brute strength to rely on and utilized a linear movement combined with a well-timed drop of his Hara to apply the technique. 
There was a HUGE difference in the movement and it says a lot about the state of Karate today... Many need to go back to the floor and REALLY look at what they are doing with their Hara, take some lessons from Aikido and Judo. 

In the end there are really only a couple of things to master... A few techniques and how to move from your Center... 
You do not need style to do this, you do not really need anything but a few movements and you can go from there. 
Seipai and Gekesai are just fancy ways to go about it... Really my goal is to simplify and shorten so that the focus is only on a couple of things. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Listening to Seipai.

This morning was spent on some basics... Jodan, Chudan, and Gedan Uke with an emphasis on exploding from the core with proper alignment, coordination, and mechanics.
The point is not in the technique utilized, but what underlies the technique that cannot necessarily be seen or easily explained.
Technique, for me, refers to these underlying principles as stated in previous posts, what looks to be a Chudan Uke is only meant to draw attention to something happening at the mid level, some kind of reception of energy and the proper muscle groups/alignment principles to train for that specific kind of reception of energy.
Take the above and change the word to Jodan, or even Gedan, or change it entirely and apply Uchi or Tsuki, which often seems to confuse and limit the possibilities and potentials actually inherent in those specific flows.

My basics work tends to be drawn directly from Kata so there is more going on than just standing in place counting in Japanese with endless reps of Jodan, Chudan, or Gedan, nor am I simply marching up and down a floor doing Oi Tsuki or Gyaku Tsuki... Granted I do practice these things, but not as often.
The rest of the time was spent breaking down Seipai and really looking at the whole body... Breaking down, starting with the feet I directed my attention to the motion rather than static stances and postures, moving from the center and checking out the principles of timing in shifting of the weight and utilization of hands, ect.
Moving from the center first with emphasis on this, especially, as the primary aspect of each movement with proper application of Gamaku, or core muscles (rather than just Koshi/Hara) with culmination in Chinkuchi, or suddenly/brief tension, before moving to the next flow.

Not really sure how to word any of this that interests the reader or gives a proper mental illustration of the principles in action, for myself, and it will likely be different for everyone due to small nuances in each Karateka, but it is always good to have a starting point.
My Sensei used to point out the angles of the Kata as important, and we would train these a lot, but it was not until later than I began to think that maybe it was not the angle itself he was drawing my attention to, but training proper weight shifting technique and really keeping mind in the center for good 'weight under side' in the movement, or what the Okinawans called Muchimi.
He did not really over explain a lot and left quite a bit for me to figure out on my own, but I do believe that was the point...

Working on portion of Kata got me thinking more about the foot sliding in as an attack, a throw or takedown similar to what people might call a 'Russian Leg Sweep,' which gives an idea on what portions of the body are playing a role there-in.
The Leg Sweep idea is not as important as the mechanics to which it points, it could be a Leg Sweep, it could be something else entirely, depending on the imagination and inclination of the Karateka, which is how it should be.
Yes, I do believe there are proper applications, but these are only to be found in the mechanics, which allude to the proper application by way of Physics, you can only do so many things along certain lines... So naturally the applications ARE finite and are NOT only limited by the imagination, but there are possibilities.

It was a very good workout that yielded a lot of insight. Next Sunday Katasse Sensei and I are supposed to start training Aikido on a regular basis again, so this should add even more insight to everything else.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Knowing the Difference.

Years ago Competition used to be the main point of training and we went to quite a few beginning in early Spring, running through June, all over the Region, and Nationals, first time in Chicago, second time in South Carolina.
My first competition I was ten years old and had barely even been training for two months. My right foot was taped up because I had cut it in a piece of metal in the bleachers, and I had nothing but my Gi, no Sparring Gear at all.
There was a spare head piece that was way too big, kept slipping down every time I would step in, getting sweat in my eyes to boot.

My first and only match in that tournament, the Yakima Open, was against a kid from the UKO, a Shito-Ryu stylist under Minakami Sensei's old Organization.
It was brutal, he saw my foot and used it by stepping on it, which only pissed me off, but since I could barely see it was hard to do anything about it, but I ended up leaving the match with two points to his three.
While I lost I certainly felt good about it.

My ribs were nearly cracked during my second go at Nationals as a thirteen year old Green Belt, and boy was I full of myself!
The kid that beat me was a Japanese kid from Hawaii with some very fast kicks. I walked away from that competition with a Silver Medal.
After that I focused on the deeper mechanics of what I was doing as I felt there was something more to it... While most people think of Karate as synonymous with competition, like a sport, nothing could be farther from the truth.

My Sensei would have me go through repetitions of Kata over and over, pointing out minute aspects of each movement while also detailing some deeper aspects of focus, to forget before and not worry about what came next, to be fully present in each and every aspect of the Kata.
This was to further carry over to life in mindfulness of cooking, cleaning, studying, thinking, speaking, everything!
Yes, there is a combative aspect of it, and this came out when Sensei had me fight one Student, bare knuckles, during this guy's test as a means of getting him out of his shell... Everything was automatic, and since I had been working Saifa, every automatic movement was based on that and I understood why Karate's combative aspects could not be watered down for sport in that moment.

There are people out there who teach Tournament Karate as though it is the same thing as Self Defense, but winning a Trophy is not the same as winning your next breath.
There are many out there that also believe so-called 'Street Fighting' is the same thing as Self Defense, but this so-called 'Street Fighting' is often just people facing off in mutual combat, while there may be injuries, there are usually no deaths and it does mirror what we see on Television in the form of Cage Fighting... Nothing wrong with it, but it is still more akin to Sport than Self Defense.

Training methodologies are often determined by the goal... If a person is training for Sport then their methods will reflect their aim and will not be the same as those training for Health.
If a person is training for the Cage Fighting aspect of Sport then they will include those methods of training that will stand them a better chance of actually winning, but if the aim is Self Defense it is something else entirely.
In the first aspect, basic Tournament Training, you are training to gain points in Sparring and Kata; Sparring, or Kumite, is a game of tag, even if it does allow for contact and knockouts, there are still rules to follow for safety and you are still going for points in rounds of elimination where there are judges and a referee.
In the Cage Fighting aspect you are training for one on one combat against someone who trains in a similar fashion, no weapons, and still rules for safety, but you are not training for points, you are training to knock the other person out or make them submit, and this is based on whichever your main focus might be.
People who train for Health might only focus on Kata and a little bit of the Combative aspect, but really only do that stuff for a good workout... Their goal is to stay healthy and training in a Martial Art is a unique way for them to do so, which may also give them something to talk about at social gatherings... Nothing wrong with that either.

Knowing the difference in aims and methodologies is as vital as knowing what actually qualifies as Self Defense, legally, because someone cannot get into a shouting match and meet someone in the parking lot for a 'good go' and have that qualify as Self Defense... No, that is a fight.
Self Defense situations happen unexpectedly and are hard to actually prepare for because training can never fully encompass things that might be experienced in a real situation, which is why people need to be aware of the limitations of their training and hold no false pretenses that what they do in the Dojo is complete unto itself.
In the Dojo we are always pulling punches, even just slightly, in order to avoid permanently injuring and maiming our partners... A good way around this is to include the follow-through in our minds, because visualization is a great aspect of training, which has also helped Olympian Athletes achieve pique performance.
In a Self Defense situation there may be two on one, three on one, with weapons, heck, I have even seen assailants themselves carrying pepper spray and make-shift weapons!

Down at the Plaza a guy was fighting with some other guy, so the second guy's buddy pulled out some pepper spray and sprayed the first directly in the face while he was distracted, then the second guy pulled out a huge knife.
This is NOT an isolated incident and some of these types of people even carry tasers... You can actually make cheap tasers with disposable cameras and no one would be the wiser.
People also do not think about things like training for defense against swords to have any carryover in the modern world, but people use Baseball Bats, Pipes, and Machetes!
There was an incident on the corner of Regal and Everett here in Spokane, just across the street from a place called Agnes Kehoe, where twelve people attacked our Apartment Building, armed with pipes, bats, and machetes.... There were four of us, including myself, defending the building, which had women and children inside.
Many people in the area can verify this, and if anyone questions the incident I can certainly provide the names of those others who were involved and at least one witness... I've already named the area... The attackers had the wrong address, they were looking for a guy that lived across the street.

The point is that there is a huge difference between one type of training and another, and a larger difference between training, competition of whatever kind, and actual Street Assault.
Street Assaults are ridiculous and if something sounds far-fetched you cannot count it out because it probably happened.
There is even a difference between Street Assault, Domestic Violence, and Warfare... They are different aspects of Violence that do not really have a lot of carryover... Warfare is not often fought in close quarters, it has not been for a very long time, thus very little time is focused on actual hand to hand combat, while the majority of training is focused on weapons and technical skills of each individual MOS, after boot camp, which is about building a warrior... Huge difference.

Going back to the deeper aspects I found after competitions had run their course, I could see how competitions were becoming the sole focus of most Karateka, mainly the Kumite aspects, which is actually a fairly new aspect of Karate.
The spirit is fine, but when this becomes the sole focus it tends to kill the actual art and it makes people belligerent, especially if they do not know the difference between Tournament Fighting, Cage Fighting, and Self Defense.
Karate Ni Sente Nashi means 'there is no first attack in Karate,' which means it is meant, specifically, for Self Defense... Can it be trained for the other aspects? Sure, but the main and original aspect was Self Defense.
If a person trains for Tournament play they should be aware that what they are training for, primarily, is not the same as Self Defense in the street and, thus, they cannot judge others by the same standards because they are two different things.

Good sources on this for further study are Rory Milly and Marc MacYoung... I suggest not only reading their work, but seeking them out for training.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Slow Lane.

Sometimes it is best to slow down and really look at the nuances of every single centimeter of movement in order to truly have an understanding.
Most people say stronger, harder, and faster, but that only works best when things are done correctly, after all, if you do a technique five hundred times incorrectly you are only practicing five hundred incorrect techniques.

Each and every person is convinced of the correctness of their own path, and they should be, because it is their own.
Each person has a unique way of doing things, whether they realize it or not, and these are the unique things that one must come to understand when they are slowing things down in order to really look at what is there... Maybe a better term would be to listen to what their body is trying to tell them.

Some people are naturally bigger than others, some people are naturally smaller, some people are good in short bursts of speed, some people can go for the long haul (depending, also, on how they train... At least in respect to this).
All of this also must take Physics into account... There is no one uniform approach, only uniform restrictions and regulations under which individual principles can be applied.
Apply harmoniously with the laws of Physics and things work out great, but try to do something outside those laws and things go terribly wrong on so many different levels.

My Sensei introduced us to doing Shisochin as Tai Chi on a beach during a Regional Sho Rei Shobu Kan camp out many years ago.
I thought this was cool at the time, it really showed how to move in a way that did not break alignment, to move free, but within the bounds of the movements' mechanics.
Kris Wilder further drove this home with his 'Go slow to learn fast' teaching as we went through Sanchin in the old basement Dojo I had at my old house in Suncrest.
The idea was to really slow down, to take your time moving so that the ENTIRE movement could be felt through ALL of its' moving parts and, in this way, one could feel how each aspect linked and supported the next in almost instantaneous succession (once sped up and done at full force after grasping and ingraining what was gained through the slow aspect).

Anyone can learn a thousand different things in a thousand different ways, but a person really only needs to know two or three things extremely well in order to succeed.
This is true in life as well as Karate, attention to detail and, as Shihan Roseberry is fond of saying, 'Do a little, but do it often.'

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kime and Kata

The past is gone, the future has yet to arrive, settling here, with feet planted firmly...Still missing the old days, but those old days are always present and never cease.

Some get down on me for being 'The Kata Guy' because they feel Kata are impractical and non-applicable.
There are certainly many different ways to approach things as well as many different perspectives each individual brings to the party... Some bring more perspective than others.
In any case I am reminded that the only Zen you find on the Mountain is the Zen you bring with you... What is the Mountain actually saying that we cannot hear over our own voices (mine especially included for me)?

Gary Gabelhouse says that Kata actually means vessel... Is that referring to the external pattern, or to ourselves?
My Sensei pointed out an individuals lossof Kime in a video and I took this as alesson for myself.
Kime has peaks and troughs, but should never cease.

Combatives are really only a surface aspect of Kata, a gateway inwards to break ourselves down (Bunkai) as we go.
Learning correct movement, how to use it effectively, this is Kihon.

My Sensei also stated that an element missing from Karate is understanding anatomy.
This is true on so many levels and explains a lot of bogus Applications and the reason many are put off by Kata... More on that some other time as there is plenty to go over here.

Thank you Sensei.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sanchin, Taisho, and Kihon.

Continuing from the last post...

There was a topic that came up a while back with some guys in the Chi-I-Do Goju Ryu Organization under Kayo Ong.
The topic of Hojo Undo was being discussed and Kayo gave his two cents on the matter stating, basically, that he felt Sanchin and Daruma Taisho were enough for conditioning and that, Hojo Undo as a method of conditioning, was really more suited as 'Training Wheels' of sorts.
This means that a person doing Hojo Undo should only do it for a short time in order to build the muscles to a certain point and then move solely to Taisho and Sanchin, leaving behind the equipment of Hojo Undo.

This jives with what Kris Wilder Sensei says about weight training, that it is generally not good, over all, for a Karateka to do too much weight training, even with the over-emphasized Chi'Ishi, Ishi Sashi, and Nigiri Game.
There is a balance point and even scientific studies have shown that muscle built from lifting heavy weights, with increasing weight as one progresses, produces more bulk, but the quality of the muscle that is built is lower compared to methods like Body Weight training, Cardio, ect.

My own daily routine consists of Sanchin, Tensho, Kihon, Kata, and Daruma Taisho with a little help from the park playground across the street for some variety of body weight training and I do not do static stretching but focus more on dynamic stretching as part of Daruma Taisho.
If I take a day off then I start the next rotation with an hour of weights, ten pounds each, weighted gloves and ankle weights, and I go through Kihon repetitions and also go running.
This is a daily thing with one, sometimes two, days off in between, but it is something I have dedicated myself to doing, regardless of how I feel each day, and putting my all into each and every moment.
I do this at a pretty intense pace on almost all of the exercises, including a daily number of about 150 Push-ups, Sit-ups, Squats, and daily running, even on my two days off from the rest.

I do not have a Dojo... I train at a park with a playground... Even if I did have a Dojo a prospective Student would not find an over abundance of Hojo Undo equipment, maybe a couple Chi'Ishi, a Makiwara for sure, small Nigiri Game for beginning work on grips, but that is it.
I often feel the over-emphasis on these things is more for the mystique of Okinawan Culture, but the main point of Okinawan Culture that we get is to find a balance, never to do anything to the extreme as this becomes unhealthy, and always use what is at hand.

People become overly focused on the outward appearance without really thinking about what it is they are doing and the reason they train a certain way.
Most Karate comes from posture and a strong group of core muscles working in unison and harmony, there is no need for bulky, in fact, this is counter productive to both Technique AND health.

Gamaku is an Okinawan concept similar to, but not synonymous with, Koshi/Hara in Japanese terms and works with Atifa, which refers to something that includes Structure/Posture, and Chinkuchi, which is the proper delivery of power (sort of, similar to Fa Jin).
A person needs all of these things in order to perform Karate effectively/correctly... People often forget that Karate is not a Japanese Art and become confused when Japanese concepts are applied in place of Okinawan concepts which more accurately describe what it is you should be doing and how it is you should model your approach to training (ie, how you train).
They have all this Okinawan equipment, all these Okinawan Kata and training methods, but approach them with the mindset of a Samurai rather than the mindset required... Again, mystique (packaging).

By Their Fruits Shall They Be Known.

It is said 'never judge a book by its' cover' and sometimes that is true, but more often than not, in my experience, I find the first impression is usually the correct impression.
There is a book on this written by Malcolm Gladwell called 'Blink' that explores this topic in depth and this is not the main point of this article.

The main point is in appearance, yes, appearance, which is the doorway of our perceptions, before any other faculties come into play to add to the impression we first experience the world through sight (at least the majority of us do, for the Blind it is usually sound and touch, and this actually gives them even more of an edge in first impressions).
The reason I bring this up is because most times I meet people that are supposedly 'Masters' who are often out of shape, which tells me they spend very little time actually training or working on themselves.

Does this mean they have no skills? Of course not, and some people are actually naturally bigger than others, so this is not necessarily a great indicator of the kind of shape a person is in, although in most cases this is true.
Sometimes another indicator is in watching these people give demonstrations, one can pick things up, either overt things or covert things, like Students trying to be polite and make their so-called 'Masters' look good or the 'Master' themselves performing a Kata that leaves something to be desired (to put it mildly).
Sometimes they perform superbly, but again, in most cases they are winded afterwards.

Sometimes we find these 'Masters' were once in superb shape, performing at pique levels, but then something happened, long strings of injuries that may or may not be related to their training.
This would indicate something is amiss with their training or the way they are training, perhaps with the way they were taught, which carries over to their Students and this is where the cycle of damage perpetuates itself.
Maybe their Teacher died of complicated health issues that may or may not have had to do with their training or lifestyle choices, and maybe, just maybe, that person did not actually care enough to pass on anything correctly, and maybe they did not know themselves, but were only interested in making a profit and/or making a name for themselves.

Sound familiar? This story is rampant throughout the Martial Arts world, and something everyone should be aware of.
There are many great Teachers, some of whom will not fit any preconceived notion of what a good Teacher should be or look like, others will fit in perfectly with the above and those should definitely be avoided.

If they do not have time to work on themselves and their Teaching has not promoted any significant increase in health or physical conditioning in their Students then it is best to turn around, walk out the door, and find something else... Regardless of what type of style it is (or is not).
The fruits of a person's abilities and their Teachings will be readily apparent at first 'blink' and may, or may not, be backed up by some official looking piece of paper, with or without some Traditional looking Kanji to make it pretty.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sanchin and Tensho - Go and Ju.

Sanchin Kata is, often, described as the 'Go' of Goju Ryu Karate while Tensho Kata is often described as the 'Ju' aspect. 
With these descriptions what we often see is pretty much the same thing in both, from Teacher and Student alike, which is the vein-popping super tense sweating dynamic tension that seems to have become characteristic of what people think is Goju Ryu Karate. 

My Teacher and many of his ilk would have, and still do, call this sort of display Go Go Ryu because it lacks any sort of balance or depth and often does lead to some serious health issues because of said lack of balance. 
This sort of practice DOES lead to Gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, not to mention pulled muscles, hernias, uptight aggressive behavior, not to mention it also compartmentalizes the body rather than allowing it to align, which promotes bad mechanics in technique. 

When it comes to Tensho we should find a totally different approach because this is supposed t be the 'Ju' of Goju Ryu, but what we find instead is the exact same thing that we find in Sanchin, super hard dynamic tension which promotes the exact same issues.
My Teacher, Dascenzo Sensei, once told me that Tensho was like a Nuclear Reactor smashing atoms in the Tanden, but in a very soft and directed way... It is the SOFT path to the HARD aspect while Sanchin would be the HARD path to the SOFT aspect. 
There really should be no great tension in EITHER Kata and the breathing, according to the likes  Yoshio Kuba Sensei, Kayo Ong, and others, was originally just a TEACHING TOOL and is NOT how either Kata is meant to be performed. 

When going through Sanchin the focus should not be on extreme muscle tension and extreme Ibuki Breathing. 
The body should be allowed to align of itself in a natural way that promotes good structural integrity, good mechanics of motion which promote, in turn, UNIFIED Shin, Gi, Tai. 
Tension is only for a split second as techniques are completed, and this is only in certain parts of the body that are in harmony with each movement. 

Tensho is different yet the same, and one can see this in the fact that it is often performed WITHOUT the punches for emphasis on its' flowing and turning. 
The Kata itself is similar to Wing Chun's Sil Lum Dao, almost move for move, which should be a clue as to what it represents. 
One cannot hone the Principles of Sil Lum Dao with extreme tension, one has to be relaxed at certain points and taut like a bow-string at others, one leading to the next in succession, again, this was never meant to be extreme and the breathing methods that were once taught (and seem to have been lost on most), while an important aspect, are only audible as a teaching aid. 
This Kata is absolutely NOT meant to be performed in the same way as Sanchin, just as Sanchin was absolutely not meant to be performed with extreme dynamic tension. 

I did 100 reps of Sanchin Kata for the 100 Kata Challenge on the day that has been dedicated to Miyagi Chojun, but I would not have been able to do this if I were performing Sanchin in the way that most perform it. 
It was still EXTREMELY challenging, but not in the muscle-bound sort of way, though it did drain me and leave me nearly crawling. 
The feeling is different, almost like doing unbendable arm with the whole body, but you direct sinking, rising, rooting, ect., aspects which also seem to be missing from the modern rendition of the Kata in many schools... Including some schools within my own lineage.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Internal/External - Hard/Soft.

When I began Karate training I was uncertain of things, but I was also a child, yet when I took up Zenkutsu Dachi to hold the punching bag for my Dojo mates I was known to have the most solid stance among the juniors of that class.
Funny thing about it was I just kindof let it settle without even thinking about it and the force went through me into the floor... I was doing then, without thinking, what Wilder Sensei encourages Karateka to do now through Sanchin Principles outlined in his book 'The Way of Sanchin Kata.'

As a Karateka moves up through the ranks we tend to assimilate to those around us, to our Sensei and our Sempai, and things become less natural, more forced until one day the pendulum starts to swing the other way, if it is allowed to do so.
There is a reason for the way things are done in a Dojo, most times it is easier to teach everyone in a uniform manner, and this is often the best way to approach basics, if one knows what they are doing, but often no one ever moves beyond this point.

Going through some Kihon tonight, after going through some Kata, I was looking deeply at the mechanics behind what it was I was doing and was reminded of those days back in the junior children's class at the Olympic Martial Arts Center when I would just settle into the ground.
Instead of 'step then punch' I began to move in a way where the body moved just a couple seconds before the arms and the lead foot and the punches landed at the same time, sinking into the ground before drawing up from the ground again to move.

Keeping Weight Under Side involves more than tension, in fact, tension itself is counter productive to the principle and tends to take away power from technique as the mechanics become jumbled.
These also relate back to allowing things to flow through and sink - with tension things tend to become stuck, the body becomes broken, the focus, incomplete.
All is Sanchin, as the old saying goes, but more to the point, all is in timing and direction of intent, for lack of a better way of putting it.

The broken way of moving is an instructional tool to lead the way and must be left behind once a student starts to get the hang of things within the first few months.
Just as the Kata point beyond themselves to something more unified, universal, and personal, so, too, the Kihon point beyond themselves to the same thing, it all comes to a head when one point is achieved... Expressing back through the avenue of Kata makes the experience entirely different from this end of the spectrum.

Re-Establishing Roots.

In June I may be leaving Spokane for the eastern side of the Country with Charles Todd Sensei as we attend the Sho Rei Shobu Kan's 2016 National Convention at the invitation of our Teacher's Teacher, Shihan John Roseberry.
Shihan Roseberry has been a Student of Karate-Do longer than most people today have drawn breath and, before Karate-Do, he was a Champion Judoka and Boxer... He also plays a mean guitar.

My training lately had been focused on prepping for the upcoming Spartan Race in May, which is a pretty intense race if anyone has not heard of it, and this would be my first go at it.
Now my training has become refocused on attending this shin-dig as I have also been invited to test for rank, the first time in nearly twenty years, which will be no less intense considering my last one was about four hours of complete hell.

The Spartan Race, at this point, has become a back-up plan just in case I cannot get that time off from work, imagine that, a VERY intense race is now the back-up plan!
I had already been working my Kihon and everything at a pretty intense level, but now it all needs to step up a notch, or perhaps down a depth.
Either way I have something to learn, whether I am able to go or not, I am dead set to do something.

Going through some reps tonight I focused more on the internal side of things and brought myself more within the moment of each motion, rather than focusing on what something means it is best just to focus... To have intent... Then things can reveal themselves for what they are.
The last time I trained with Shihan Roseberry he lectured about deep breathing, about drawing it all the way down into the Tanden and exploding from there with full focus, full intent and, thus, full power.

It is not a matter of simply throwing out a punch, making sure everything is lined up, and flexing in just the right places at just the right moment.
Depth is the key, even within something that is terribly executed, if there is depth that a person can feel from across a room that is something they would be hard pressed to defend against... Now imagine that with good technique.
This is the depth a person should be displaying after many years of training... I may or may not be ready for a test, personally, I don't care much about testing, I just want to be able to go 'home' to my roots and bring this depth with me to show that I have not been slacking... Do I even have depth to bring? Maybe... Maybe not.... Always a work in progress.

I actually spent my time on Hookiyu Dai Ichi tonight, but the real focus was on what I have come to call 'the frame' and 'the flow' that transcends the Kata and gets to the flesh, bones, and spirit of Goju Ryu itself.
Roy Kamen Sensei, whom I have never met in person (miracle of the Internet Age) but have come to respect never the less for his insight, is fond of pointing out the Spiritual aspects of Karate, especially Kata... Kata is a living Mandala of the body... It begins and ends with prayer and requires a fully present mind in order to be truly performed as it should, truly applied as a method of spiritual cleansing (not just self defense).
His Teacher, Kayo Ong, is also a Student of Seikichi Toguchi... Go figure, a lot of similarities because we are lineage cousins.

My own Teacher, Dascenzo Sensei, made me recite a poem off the top of my head at my test for Shodan many years ago, after four hours of hell, and all that rolled off my tongue was something like 'Leopard in the leaves,' though I don't remember exactly what I said.
After that training session it was easy to bust out even a twelve hour session of training at the home of Sandifer Deer Sensei under the watchful eye of Dascenzo Sensei who was always fond of saying that one should throw oneself into training as though it were your last breath and that you never knew when that last breath would be.

Intense? Yeah... This is why the Spartan Race takes a back seat and becomes the back up plan, because you cannot get more intense than that.

Kihon Ido

Strive for nothing less than your best in everything you do and view everything as training, no excuses.
Some of the best Budo I learned was in my Sensei's kitchen at his old home in Lacey Washington, learning new recipes on the spot right before and right after Budo Shugyo Training.

Last night I was working on Kihon in my living room with weighted gloves and ankle weights, and the added weight of my youngest daughter clinging to my legs.
Even exhausted it is important to look at mechanics/form and strive for excellencein each repetition as though it were your first... and last.

This is not excluding adaptation to surroundings, and circumstance, which is an important piece of mechanics unto itself.
In this instance, space and my daughter were considerations.

One also has to take into account why they are training, their purpose.

Just some FYI.

The rest of my training was spent playing with my daughter.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Broadening Perspective - Balance in Budo.

It has been some time since my last post as I have been extremely busy with training, work, family, and I have been looking a lot into some Bush crafting and Foraging, something I plan on practicing over the Spring and Summer as I hit the woods for some good hiking, climbing, and camping.
It is always good to have multiple interests outside of Martial Arts training in order to apply it as a driving force behind every endeavor rather than letting it become a domineering presence that rules your life in every single moment.

I would like to discuss this in this Article as I have known many people within the world of Budo/Karate that have become consumed by their love of the Arts to the point that their very lives seem to become roller coasters of chaos and they all they seem to focus on is their training.
It is important to train as often as possible, but it must NEVER become a dominating force in life, there must be a balance as Budo is meant to be a driving force that sees a person apply themselves wholeheartedly to everything they do, including training, but NEVER solely to training in only one aspect.

I love Budo, but I also love writing, drawing, learning new things, and I love spending time with my family.
If my only interest were Budo then, first off, that would make for some very boring conversation and I may end up with no friends and no life whatsoever, secondly, I become a very two dimensional person with very little knowledge outside of whatever training I happen to participate in.
As it stands I have many interests, including outdoor survival, which was brought on one day when I realized I knew absolutely nothing about my surroundings while out hiking, a HUGE revelation, especially for someone whom is supposed to know how to defend himself in physical confrontations and handle himself in emergencies.
I know First Aid, I know CPR, but I knew absolutely nothing about which plants were edible, which were poisonous, which had medicinal properties, best ways to build a fire, how to build a camp utilizing what is around me, ect. (Good videos on this can be found on Youtube - I recommend Dave Canterberry of the Pathfinder School at
Maybe not important to some people, but I like to hike, and I feel I should know these things, plus it makes hiking much more interesting and MUCH MORE than a simple hobby.

As a Budoka it is simple, I take the focus I have dedicated to my training and apply it in a way that enriches life - rather than narrowing the focus I expand it and make EVERYTHING part of my Budo training and practice.
This means I focus on everything with equal intensity, which means my entire life should be spent in deep mindful focus at all times, leaving no opening for surprises... This takes real skill and intense training and is a way of being that was suggested by Swordsman Munenori Sensei, author of the Heiho-Kadensho/Life-Giving Sword, a book I have read over a dozen times and have been putting to practice for more than a few years.

My own Sensei, Michael Dascenzo, viewed everything as Kata, which is very much a Japanese way of looking at things as the Japanese have a keen sense of 'Kata,' or proper form, within every situation.
It begins in 'Shu,' where a person simply emulates, moves to 'Ha,' where they explore the deeper aspects and variations on the path to 'Ri,' true self expression of the formless within the form... In other words, to path to real freedom and fluidity of self expression within any given situation, without effort, it becomes second nature.
This is achieved by following the path of Shin-Gi-Tai, or Heart/Spirit-Technique-Body. Applying all three to profound levels in order to develop intense spirit.

If training is ONLY for fighting then a person really misses out on what their training can really bring to their lives.
Most people spend time focusing on one thing, becoming consumed by it, and these people are easily broken as they have no ability to adapt to change.

My Sensei taught me this lesson in his retirement... He no longer trains Karate and now focuses on his Massage Therapy Practice and his work as an Artist, including his recent development of skill in creating some very amazing Stained Glass pieces.
Do I wish he would continue his Karate? Yes. However... He is... In a way. The lessons are more important than the form in which they are presented.