In Defense of the Dojo Kun

In thousands of halls across our great nation, an archaic manuscript hangs on the wall. Written many decades ago, in a time and place quite foreign to our own, this inscrutable document anchors us to a primitive culture that we would do well to forget. I submit to you that it holds no value to us today; as rational men and women, we should put our sentiments aside and discard this anachronism immediately. Our traditions must not be allowed to stand in the way of progress.

What makes this document so odious? Simply put, it is subjective. Instead of identifying specific behaviors for its reader to follow, it describes general principles and leaves each reader to interpret them as they see fit. These statements are so vague and meaningless that they could conceivably be used to justify anything.

Who decides what this document really means? Continue reading In Defense of the Dojo Kun

The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)

Two underappreciated facts about self-defense:

  1. The time for avoidance is before the fight starts. Once it has started, you should abandon any notions of yielding or appeasement, and focus on not losing the fight. To honor this distinction, you must be able to recognize the seeds of violence before they sprout.
  2. Statistically speaking, your probable attacker does not care about you. It’s nothing personal, really. If someone else had walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, they would have been assaulted instead.

No martial arts training should be required to appreciate these points, which can be derived from basic human empathy. The worst Karate move I ever learned, however, flagrantly disregards both of them. Before examining that inferior technique—and a superior alternative—let’s briefly consider the context in which it is taught. Continue reading The Worst Karate Move I Ever Learned (and How to Fix It)

COPS: Karate Assault

COPS

10:41 PM. Responding to an assault call, Officer Tim Hoffman takes statements from the two parties involved.

John’s story: “I just came down here to relax, man. So I was sitting at the bar, and I heard this man and woman arguing over there in the corner. I could see the situation was getting out of hand, so I walked over there, and calmly suggested they should lay off. The guy just blows up, gets in my face, starts swearing and threatening me. I knew I’d have to defend myself, right? I got into a defensive stance. Continue reading COPS: Karate Assault

Martial Art is a Perspective, Not an Activity

Rewriting History, Wiki Style

Martial arts are systems of codified practices and traditions of training for combat. While they maybe studied for various reasons, martial arts share a single objective: to defeat a person physically or to defend oneself from physical threat.
~ Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s simplistic definition begs the question: martial arts are martial arts. The statement itself is neither true nor untrue—it is a game rule—but it does reflect an ignorance of, or perhaps a malevolence towards historical facts. Taken at face value, it encourages a dismissive, one-dimensional analysis of the arts’ tremendous potential.

To avoid limiting our achievement in the martial arts, we should begin with an honest and dispassionate accounting of the past. What was the real original purpose of various “martial arts”?

The first clues may be found in our forefathers’ own speech and writings. Continue reading Martial Art is a Perspective, Not an Activity

Learn The Art of Kata Seduction

Steps

Masatoshi Nakayama
Masatoshi Nakayama
  • Earn your kata’s trust. Every suitor starts by claiming they are ready for commitment, that they will do whatever it takes to master the kata. Three months later, half of them have already moved on to the next martial arts style. After so much infidelity, who could blame your kata for being difficult?
  • Shut up and listen. Once your kata has grown comfortable with you, it will start dropping hints about its deepest and most intimate secrets. “That downward arm movement in Heian Shodan? I never said it was meant for blocking kicks,” your kata might whisper coyly. It is very important that you avoid arguing with your kata, or insisting that you know its true meaning.
  • Slow down, tiger. Don’t rush through the kata like your gi pants are on fire. Take the time to explore and appreciate every inch of it.

Continue reading Learn The Art of Kata Seduction

Bollywood Martial Arts Movies – Then and Now

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty
Black belt karateka and Bollywood star

Karate (1983)
Starring: Mithun Chakraborty and Yogita Bali
IMDB reviews say: “An abomination to Indian movies and martial arts…pure garbage…watch this movie only if you are considering killing yourself.”

Karate

Continue reading Bollywood Martial Arts Movies – Then and Now

Learn To Concentrate with Xzibit and Team Ryouko

zhu
zhu: concentrate; focus

What do you get when you combine Nichiren Buddhist chanting, Tae Kwon Do, four booty shakers in short cheongsam dresses, a muk yan jong and a pimped out Cadillac?

My New Year’s Eve plans? No, it’s an Xzibit music video. Continue reading Learn To Concentrate with Xzibit and Team Ryouko

Conceal Your Secret Karate Identity

Do not reveal your true nature
A genuine man does not reveal his true nature.

When the karateka receives his first belt promotion, he rushes out to tell everyone.
After he receives his shodan certificate, he exits discreetly through the back door.

This saying reflects the humility of a mature, well-trained Karate expert. More importantly, it contains practical advice for martial artists of all stripes: let your skills remain secret; revealing them indiscriminately can only bring trouble. Continue reading Conceal Your Secret Karate Identity

Karate Lessons Give Child Self-Confidence To Quit Karate

Karate Costume

ENGLEWOOD, CO—After months of being taught to develop courage, inner strength, and other values of the martial arts, Daniel Finkelstein finally achieved the self-confidence necessary to stand up to his parents and quit taking karate lessons, the area sixth-grader reported Monday. Continue reading Karate Lessons Give Child Self-Confidence To Quit Karate