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Monday, December 16, 2013

Closure of the Nagamine Honbu Dojo

Today, 15 December 2013, is a sad day. Not because it's my birthday but because today was the last joint karate practice in the Nagamine Honbu Dojo in Okinawa.

Matsubayashi-Ryu has fought for its existence since the death of Osensei in November 1997. So the Honbu Dojo has survived a mere 16 years after his death.

After the death of Osensei the focus of the WMKA, perhaps motivated by poorly informed advisers, shifted from martial arts to money (as has occurred with many schools and styles over the years). This was quickly followed by an exodus/expulsion of many talented senior yudansha, renshis, and dojos who remained loyal to Matsubayashi-Ryu and the vision of Osensei preferring to forego the temptation of milking the Matsubayashi-Ryu cash cow. The loss of these superb, senior practitioners and their dojos had a vampiric effect and drained the very life blood from Matsubayashi-ryu.

If you have ever visited the Nagamine Honbu Dojo you know it's importance to the Matsubayashi-Ryu community. (I did when I was stationed at Kadena/Torii Station in 1976-77)

Taira Yoshitaka Hanshi, and his senior staff have a tremendous challenge in (hopefully) extending an olive branch to the many practitioners disenchanted with the old WMKA and then pursuing reunification of the Mataubayashi-Ryu community. A difficult task but one wherein the Nagamine Honbu Dojo remains a symbolic touchstone.

It is unrealistic to expect Osensei's grandson, Nagamine Bunshiro Sensei, as a Ni-Dan to suddenly take over a world renowned dojo and deal with the constant visitation of international senior yudansha and their students many, if not most, out rank him by several dans. Likewise there is only so much President Yoshitaka Taira of the WMKA can do on his own and in a vacuum. They need our support and they need to know how important the Nagamine Honbu Dojo is to us all.

Once the Nagamine Honbu Dojo closes its doors it may well be the first domino in a long chain of dominoes falling which threatens to leave Matsubayashi-Ryu unrecognizable to future generations. We don't want to wind up like Tae-Kwon-Do do we?

I encourage you to express your support and volunteering your help by writing (on your dojo letterhead) to Taira Yoshitaka Hanshi and Nagamine Bunshiro Sensei in Okinawa at:

Nagamine Bunshiro Sensei
Nagamine Honbu Dojo
Postal NO. 900-0015
3-14-1 Kumoji
Naha City, Okinawa, Japan
tel: 011 81 98 867 3413


Taira Yoshitaka Hanshi
Kodokan Taira Karate Dojo
Postal NO. 901-2122
2-19-19 Jitchaku
Urasoe City, Okinawa, Japan

Once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Cox Hakase

Friday, November 8, 2013

Okinawa is NOT Part of Japan!!

Time/Life Photo of American Troops Trying (unsuccessfully) to Convince Okinawans NOT to Commit Suicide.

When I was first stationed in Okinawa I made the mistake of referring to the Okinawans as “Japanese”. The wife of one of my supervisors, an Okinawan by birth, quickly and some what annoyed, pointed out “I am Okinawan, I am NOT Japanese.”

When I asked what the difference was she recited a litany of how the Okinawan people had been abused, used, belittled, and treated like third class citizens by Japan.

Okinawans and Okinawa itself have a proud history of self-determination, political, diplomatic and national accomplishment far before Japan began to cast an envious eye on their island paradise. Japan and the Japanese like Okinawa (and it’s exports) but only after the Japanese “fix” whatever it is they import.

For an example look at Funakoshi, Ginchin. Clearly an Okinawan master but not accepted in Japan until he reformatted Okinawan karate to better meet the needs of the 1930's pre-WWII Japanese military society. While Shotokan is a fine style of karate, it is not Okinawan and, really, it is not Japanese much like Tae-Kwon-Do is a further modification of Shotokan. Yes, Korean Tae-Kwon-Do does have a direct lineage from Okinawan karate, regardless of what anyone says (don’t believe it? or don’t want to believe it? do the research yourself, its not a big secret.)

Back to the Okinawans. The Okinawans were used as bullet fodder in both the war in China and later the battle for Okinawa. You may remember Nagamine Shoshin actually fought in China, while not our proudest moment, he had little choice when compelled by his Japanese overlords.

You may or may not know but as the battle for Okinawa came to an end and after the sacrifice of many, many lives on all three sides, Japanese troops tried to force Okinawans to use themselves as IEDs by giving them hand grenades coupled with horror stories of how American troops would treat them and their families if captured. The Okinawans were told to sacrifice themselves for the Emperor (not theirs) and for the home island (again not theirs) (many sources hold significantly more Okinawans were killed than Japanese).

"At the hands of Japanese soldiers, civilians were massacred, forced to kill themselves and each other,"… Soldiers seeking refuge from the naval shelling forced civilians out of limestone caves and, during the fighting, out of the island's turtle-back shaped tombs, according to captions. About two weeks into the battle, the Japanese military commander sought to suppress spying by banning the speaking of Okinawan dialect, a version of Japanese often unintelligible to nonresidents. Armed with this order, Japanese soldiers killed about 1,000 Okinawans, according to local historians. Two mainstream Japanese history textbooks from the 1990's that talk of Japanese soldiers "coercing" civilians to kill themselves are on display. Now, Okinawans fear that this history will be dropped from the national consciousness. "In many cases, hand grenades, which were in extreme shortage, were distributed to residents," Masahide Ota, an Okinawan who fought here in a unit called the Blood and Iron Student Corps, said in an interview on Friday. "I heard people say they were told by the military to commit suicide using the grenades rather than becoming captives." - Masahide Ota in the New York Times

Many Okinawans fell for the propaganda and either sacrificed themselves trying to kill Americans or jumped to their deaths (many with their children) to avoid the horrors they envisioned they would experience under the American occupation. Horrors which never materialized by those who survived.

"At one place, we sat together and hit the grenade on the ground, but it did not explode," she recalled of her flight with friends after Japanese soldiers told them to kill themselves rather than be taken captive. "We tried to kill ourselves many times, trying to explode the grenade we were given from Japanese Army." - Sumie Oshiro in the New York Times.

To this date the Okinawan “Suicide Cliffs” remain a somber tourist attraction serving to remind everyone of the horrors of war. Unfortunately Japanese and American alike either do not wish to acknowledge these war crimes or choose to ignore them for other reasons. A few years ago one dojo owner asked me to remove the "Anti-Japanese" sentiment from the web site so as not to offend potential mainland Japanese students. That's a sad state of affairs on many, many levels.

This is not an Anti-Japanese posting, it is a pro-Okinawan posting. I study Okinawan karate not Japanese karate! The atorcities in Okinawan committed by the Japanese militray

"We understand that there are various views and debates over the mass suicides in Okinawa,'' the Cabinet statement said. ``The screenings of the textbooks are not based on the government's view of history." - Hideko Takayama on

Maybe the words of an Okinawan who lived through the first Japanese occupation makes the points its clearest:

"The Rev. Shigeaki Kinjo, 78 years old and in failing health, no longer wanted to talk about that fateful day 62 years ago toward the end of World War II when he beat to death his mother, younger brother and sister.

Brainwashed by Japanese Imperial Army soldiers into believing that victorious U.S. troops would rape all the local women and run over the men with their tanks, Kinjo and others in his village here in Okinawa thought that death was their only choice. A week before U.S. troops landed and initiated the Battle of Okinawa in March 1945, Japanese soldiers stationed in his village gave the men two hand grenades each, with instructions to hurl one at the Americans and then to kill themselves with the other. Most of the grenades failed to explode. After watching a former district chief break off a tree branch and use it to kill his wife and children, Kinjo and his older brother followed suit.

"My older brother and I struck to death the mother who had given birth to us," Kinjo said in an interview at the Naha Central Church, where he is the senior minister. "I was wailing, of course. We also struck to death our younger brother and sister." Kinjo agreed to tell his story again because the Japanese government is now denying, in new high school textbooks, that Okinawans had been coerced by imperial troops into committing mass suicide." - Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times

The Okinawan People are NOT Japanese!

Okinawa is NOT an extension of Japan!

Karate is NOT a Japanese art!

Matsubayashi-Ryu is Okinawan!

Preserve Okinawan culture by preserving Okinawan Karate-Do!!!!

Cox Hakase


Japan's Textbook Case Of Revisionist History, The New York Times,

Japan Says Some Okinawans Died Under Army Orders During Wartime,,

Okinawans Protest Japan’s Plan to Revise Bitter Chapter of World War II, The New York Times,

Okinawa Suicides and Japan's Army: Burying the Truth?, The New York Times,

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Training Martial Arts Monkeys

Okay, you train 3-4 days a week. You kumite every couple of weeks, you know all your style's katas, you're a virtual martial arts historian. You may have even won a trophy of two in competition. You can pound a makiwara, your Naihanchi stomps put fear into the mudansha, and everyone in 3 dojos acclaim you as the next Bruce Lee.

Yet you have failed as a martial artist as you missed the most important part of martial arts training.

I don't have studies to support this but I would imagine at least 8 out of 10 dojos talk about spirituality (not religion) in one form or another. They talk about it's importance to training, the need to cultivate "mizo no kokoro", the need to develop awareness in training, "focus", and the like. However lip service is where it stops. They do not actually train you - that’s because they don't know how? (Ask your Sensei; "Sensei, train me in mindfulness." Then watch for the deer in the headlight glazed-over look.) Don't feel bad, there are many, many, high ranking Blackbelts who cannot meditate, and would even know where to try to start.

Without mind training, without a true and active focus/training in mindfulness, awareness, meditation; any student's training is incomplete.

Go back and watch the first "Karate Kid" movie. (Yeah I know - sorry). But look at the core difference between the quiet Japanese-American instructor and the ex-special forces, "kill 'em all and let God sort them out" loud mouth instructor. Which are you? Or do you (more commonly) talk like Miagi but act like the "killer". If so, you lose.

There's a great line in "Enter the Dragon" where O-Hara breaks a board in mid-air without support (a difficult feat). Bruce Lee looks at him and calmly says "Boards don't hit back". You know, you saw the movie, and you too misunderstood what he was saying.

Breaking the board or hitting the opponent is fairly easy. When you overpower them, when you've become a karate machine, they present little danger to you. You ARE the master! Even if they beat you to a pulp your focus is still on THEM, how you're gonna get even, better, faster, smarter, etc. Your focus is still outside yourself either way - you lose either way.

What scares you?

What frightens you the most?

It's not the outside threat, it's the inner threat; looking inside, seeing, acknowledging oneself. Confronting that part of yourself you both hate and loathe. That secret shadow self you would NEVER tell another person about, you already know how their opinion of you would change forever if they knew you _______________ (fill in your own blank).

That shadow self CANNOT be defeated; it won't hit back. Yet it controls your life. The more you try to suppress it, defeat it, control it, the more control you actually give your shadow over your physical self. You LOSE!

The journey toward mastery of karate is a road you CANNOT complete without the mastery of self. Meditation, mindfulness training, forgiveness of self and, ultimately acceptance of self is the ONLY way the shadow self can be dealt with, compromised with, not defeated. Embracing the shadow reunites self with self, ying with yang, and this reunification is the only way you can quiet the battle of the inner turmoil. Again Bruce Lee's "The art of fighting without fighting…"

I'm not referencing religious training. Having a strong religious orientation may help fortify you for the inward journey but, in and of itself, will not get you there. Religious armor for battle won't work. In this battle you an only survive by NOT armoring yourself.

You ever see the monkey on Youtube with the Gi on? Looks like he knows karate? We laugh at him but it's a nervous laugh; inside we identify way too much with the monkey. Physical training without spiritual training only creates trained monkeys. Sure, some monkeys learn faster than others and are better than others, but their still monkeys.

Monkey see, monkey do, but monkey not understand.


Cox Hakase

Shobu ha, Issho Ichido

     The last entry on Kumite generated a number of private responses; some think I'm brilliant (thank you again) while others believe I should "increase your medication[sic]". The majority of the comments lie somewhere in the center of the continuum.

     Fortunately it's my blog, my thoughts. If you are offended by my ideas, here's an idea; don't read them. Tibetan Buddhism teaches words only offend us when we fear there is truth in what is being said. Hmmmm . . . . . . .

     I blame my current teacher, Sanchez Renshi, for your discomfort. He strongly encourages students there is the traditional way, the right way, the hard way, the wrong way, and the easy way. You (i.e. "I") have to decide what the truth is for me. It WOULD be a lot easier if he just told students what to do and believe but then he would simply be making little copies of himself. Instead he teaches the basics, keeps an ear open to innovation and discourages cronyism. Unfortunately he encourages my academic, pseudo intellectual prattle - what you're reading.

     Anyway kumite really IS an important topic for every karateka, and something we all must learn conceptualize in order to continue training. If we simply repeat what we were taught "cause that's the way we've always done it" we are nothing more than robots. We can become very good robots but remain fearful of original ideas.

     First we must decide WHAT we believe.

     Example. Remember when you decided what your spiritual orientation was? Weather you believed in a deity or not? Of course not, you were indoctrinated by your parents, caregivers, and other significant adults. If you developed your own sense of self you one day did ask the question "What do I believe in and why?" You may or may not have changed your ideation but at least now it's YOUR belief and not an inter-generational transmission of un-reviewed belief.

     Kumite is the same. You reach the yudansha ranks, finally you're a recognized student, and hopefully start to ask yourself questions about what you believe and do not believe.

     Fortunately, for me, I have a strong background in anatomy and physiology. Even as a mudansha I soon learned many of the sacred cows of karate were delusions; e.g. "you rotate your fist on a punch so that the twisting motion tears the flesh on contact." I started thinking; out of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of patients I have seen struck with a fist how many had tear marks where the assailant's knuckles made contact.

     Answer ……

     Wait for it …..

     N - O - N - E! (except when brass knuckles were used)

     Now, back to Kumite.

     I conceptualize there being five different types of Kumite with numerous sub-divisions:

          (1) No or minimal contact (occasional light contact slips in).

          (2) Moderate contact (although the word medium is seldom defined and tends to try to hide the words "testosterone driven").

          (3) "Yudansha Rules" (testosterone driven)

           (4) Full contact (another nebulous term - usually followed by the words "except to the _____".)

          ((5) No Kumite practiced.

     Many times instructors (not true Sensei's but instructors) will tell students you have to get hit so you will not be afraid in a real fight or won't get hit and simply stop fighting because it hurts.

     Much like Communism this sounds like practical advice but is not based in reality. In a real fight (yes, been there) hormones are dumped into your system. What Cannon, in 1923, identified in his book "Traumatic Stress", and later became known as the "Fight or Flight Syndrome". We all have heard of this syndrome and may even talk about it in training carelessly not allowing our ignorance of the subject prevents us from talking about it.

     During the Fight or flight syndrome there is a dumping of catecholamines (biologically active chemicals) into the body. These include, but are not limited to; epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and many others. This chemical dumping can produces all or some of the following somatic functions:

     Tachycardia, Tachypnea, Slowing of digestion, Peripheral blood vessel constriction, Muscular blood vessel dilatation, Gluconeogenesis, Decreased tearing and saliva, production, Pupil dilatation, Focused hearing, and Focused visual acuity. All of these functions are each designed to enable you to fight your assailant or run swiftly away.

     In addition, this chemical dumping can also produce more deleterious effects known as the cortical inhibition syndrome; an acute dulling of higher intellectual functioning. Symptoms of the cortical inhibition syndrome include all or part of the following:

     Agnosia, agraphia, alexia, akathisia, amnesia, anomia, aphasia, apraxia, delirium, dysarthria and/or dyscalculia.

     So, to clarify, in a "real fight" the limbic system (our primitive "lizard" brain") prepares by increasing our oxygen intake, redirecting blood flow to large muscle masses, increasing our visual acuity in low light situations, producing energy by converting fat to glucose and pumping the highly oxygenated nutrient rich blood throughout our body.

     At the same time our brain is betraying us by limiting our ability to think, cognate, and remember the fancy 473 different bunkai applications associated with Pinan Sho-dan.

     Really? Yep, look it up.

     Now if you were to fight for your life once a month you COULD eventually develop a limited control over some of these functions. Remember even the "big gun" MMA stars know their opponent will not kill them.

     But wait, it gets worse; Neither the Flight or Fight Syndrome nor the Cortical Inhibition Syndrome can be reproduced in Kumite, unless you will occasionally kill a student and the student knows and believes this.

     So what then is the purpose of Kumite? -- That's the question you have to answer for yourself grasshopper.

     Uechi-Ryu Shinjo Seiyu Sensei used to have a saying on the wall of his dojo: "Shobu ha, Issho Ichido" (A fight occurs only once in a lifetime). He wasn't talking about a smack down, or a drunk throwing a punch he was talking about Thunderdome; "Two men enter, one man leaves". Think about it.

     So, summary: Kumite teaches you how to spar in the dojo, it fails to prepare you for "real fights" and can actually increase the odds of you being seriously injured in such a fight. On the practical side (we all have to make a living) kumite decreases your dojo enrollments by intimidating students who have the potential to become excellent martial artists IF they were taught, mentored and grown with care and attention.

     Okay now that I've annoyed you, the oblivious question is "If kumite doesn't work why even study karate?"

     To quote Monty Python "A fair question and one that's be much on my mind of late. . . "

     (     ((1) At it's core I maintain karate is NOT about fighting another person but about YOU coming to terms with who YOU are. Kumite does not help in this introspective process. To do this karate MUST have a spiritual component integrated into it. While I, and many others, prefer Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc. all can work.

          (2) You WILL learn to defend yourself, physically and mentally, but not overnight and not in a year or two. If you an "win" a blackbelt in less than 5 years of hard work you dojo is probably not a dojo but rather it's a business. (Go ahead send me the letters - I won't answer them)

          (3) It is a martial tradition that teaches mindfulness. Remember "Mizo no kokoro"?

     OK now for the million dollar question; if I don't practice kumite how will I ever learn to defend myself?

     Best answer; if your primary reason for learning karate is to learn to defend yourself, buy a gun and take lessons. It's cheaper, easier, and you'll feel safer within a couple of weeks.

     Go back to the Cortical Inhibition Syndrome above. In a crisis situation we (all of us) respond automatically, without thinking (mizo no kokoro). Our bodies respond reflexively, automatically based on the concept of "muscle memory".

     You block a sucker punch with a jodan-uke because you've practice delivering jodan-uke's literally thousand's of times by the time you tie the blackbelt on. Your body remember and reacts, the motion has become part of you, automatic. How do you learn to defend yourself: KATA!!!!!!

     Again I go to Uechi-Ryu Shinjo Seiyu Sensei (and many other Okinawan masters who did not teach or practice Kumite). Seiyu Sensei stated ". . . by correctly practicing kata, fighting is not needed." Kata is taught full force with emphasis on proper delivery. Exercises develop the body's ability to deliver power strikes and protect oneself from injury. Zazen is practiced to settle the mind. Most importantly, in every kata, every strike is also a block just as every block is also a strike. And of course, Makiwara (again).

     Here's a thought. If you brought in a Golden Gloves amateur boxer to your dojo's Kumite night and everyone went full contact, how many of your best Kumite artists would survive? (I'm betting on the boxer) Don't believe me - I DARE YOU TO TRY IT! I DARE YOU!

     Show me a karateka who practices kata precisely, accurately and with power and you'll be looking at someone who will survive a street encounter.

     Who would you rather fight "for real"; the karateka whose kata is powerful and almost perfect or the guy who does a sloppy weak kata under the guise of "I include my personal bunkai"? P-U-U-U-U-L-E-E-E-Z-E!

     Again. You don't have to agree with me, in fact I hope you don't because you're taking my word and not developing your own thoughts. If you are upset with what I write; EXCELLENT! Now I dare you to explore your own mind and discover why. If you like what I write, great, dig in and start doing your own exploration.


Cox Hakase


Cannon, W. (1939), The Wisdom of the Body (2nd Edition), W.W. Norton & Company: St. Louis, MO.

Everly, G. (1994), Psychotraumatology, Springer Publishing: New York, New York

Grossman, D. (1996). On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

Grossman, D. (2000). Teaching Kids to Kill, A Case Study: Paducah, Kentucky. Paper presented at the American Psychiatric Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL. (Full text available on-line at ).

Miyagi, M. (2011). Interview with Miyagi Minoru Sensei, available at

MacDonald, E. (1992), Shoot the Women First, Random House Publishing, New York, New York.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bruce Lee in the Dojo - Victim in the Street!

Another entry sure to annoy many . . .

A couple of months ago I received a cracked rib when a lady in a chemically induced psychosis kicked the crap out of me with her boot. I had already been think a lot about Kumite training and that incident, coupled with an article I read on-line entitled "5 Reasons Karate is Useless" gave rise to the following diatribe.

Every school applies a different significance to sparring as the Hanshi of the style sees fit. At the same time EVERY type of sparring has it's own benefits and it's own failures.

First there's the concept of sparring, i.e. Kumite, in itself. "Kumite" does NOT mean sparring but rather "Grappling hands".

There are four types of Kumite:

1) Yakusoku Kumite which translated, means "Promise Kumite" Some styles call this Gohon Kumite. This is the most basic form of Kumite. I attack, you know I'm attacking, and how to defend. No surprises

Purpose; For the neophyte to begin working with other students, focus on and develop timing, accuracy and attacking/defending while moving with a partner.

Yakusoku Kumite is further divided into three sub-divisions:

     (a) Ippon kumite - one step sparring, frequently used in basic technique drills

     (b) Sanbon kumite - three step sparring, typically used to develop speed, strength, and technique.

     (c) Kiso kumite - structured sparring based specifically on the movement from one of more kata

Disadvantages: None, IF, used properly in a systematic training curriculum.

2) Jiyu Kumite translated means "Free sparring". Working with a partner but you do not know what technique will be utilized and what technique you will use to defends/attack

Purpose; Develops "Mizo no kokuro" (mind like water) . If you think about what technique you will use, you'll get hit. Liberating the mind and instinctively responding with a block or strike is the epitome of success in Jiyu Kumite. Because of this most schools do not allow mudansha below the rank of go-kyu to participate.

Disadvantages: Many. Mostly the limitations of the approach; e.g. there are usually no-contact zones, limited contact zones. But the biggest advantage is the more we try to make Jiyu Kumite "authentic" or "Street worthy" the more we fail.

Example: Many schools may advertise "full-contact karate" but not to the head. The great kicker will love this approach but it sets that individual up for failure and even injury in real life. If I'm 6 foot 4 and can kick the crap out of you before you can get close enough to kick me I have an advantage. However since I do not have to worry about a Monkey fist to the temple I soon fail to protect my head.

In the street I'll take a kick most any day in order to get close enough to deliver a shuto to your temple. You may hurt me but I'll K.O. you. Who wins? The lawyers.

3) Shigoki (savage training) - While "Shigoki" is not true Kumite, Kumite engaged in during shigoki is similar to a "beat down initiation" into a gang. No respectable karate school engages in such training although there is the occasional exception usually including a perp parade on the nightly news.

Purpose: No valid purpose. Seeing how much of a beating does not make you a man - it simply means you're stupid enough to be a human punching bag - Think of it as martial arts bullying.

4) "Authentic" Kumite. This fourth type of Kumite does not have an actual name (if you know differently please contact me).

In Okinawa it was not unheard of for a karate student to venture into town or over to the "bad part of the village" (i.e. "B.C.Street") and get into a fight purposefully to perfect their techniques in a "real" fight.

While in our politically correct society this sounds abhorrent, it WAS extremely effective. NOTHING in a dojo can prepare you for the adrenalin rush, the concentration narrowing of a true fight. There is no break, no time out, no pulling of punches and no forbidden techniques. Authentic Kumite is the real-deal from another age and another time

So, the best BAD reasons to engage in Kumite training:

1. This is Florida, everyone carries a gun. Karateka's who develop defenses against guns are known as "the dearly departed".

2. You fight the way you train. So unless you allow all full-contact attacks and blocks (including eye gouges, traumatic testicular rupture, tracheal strikes, do not wear any protective equipment [jock, gloves, mouth guards, etc.] AND you wear combat boots when sparring) Then you are delusional and what's more you're endangering your students and your home (which is what the lawyers will sell to pay your court judgment.)

3. You scare off students by engaging them in Kumite before they have developed the basics needed to support their training.

4. Talented students are misled to believe they will be capable of successfully defending themselves in the street.

5. A karate student training to fight another karate student, so you can learn to protect yourself against a street thug, is sort of like practicing Spanish with another student studying Spanish so you will be ready to speak Portuguese on your vacation.

6. If you feel more "manly" by thumping and getting thumped in Kumite classes you have deeper seated issues which should be addressed at a psychological level before you continue your martial arts training.

Okay, enough bitching. What role does/should Kumite have in karate training? Consider the diagram below (specific to my conceptualization of Matsubayashi-Ryu)

So now you're thinking, sounds boring. What is the "secret" of being ready and capable of defending yourself in the street.

Makiwara training.

Makiwara training teaches you how to deliver devastating attacks AND blocks. Who cares how fancy or special your "spinning round house flying reverse monkey stomp kick" is if you have trained yourself to make EVERY block an attack, every straight punch a pile driver, every shuto a katana and every kick a jack hammer?

In your first "real" fight you will remember nothing; but your body will automatically respond (muscle memory) with what you have practiced the most, i.e. (1) Chudan-uke, (2) Chudan-zuki, and (3) Mae-geri.

If you have enough control, presence of mind, to deliver fancy advanced attacks, you're clearly fighting an unprepared opponent. That's not karate.

Anyway that's my approach. Like it, modify it or blow it off. - - T.F.Y.Q.A.

For my brothers and sisters in budo,

Cox Hakase

Oh. A request; if you read this blog and like or hate it please consider clicking on the "Join This Site" button above. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to an empty room. - THANKS!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Can You Use Your Kata With Kumite?

      Student: "Is that Tai Chi or something?"
      Sensei: "It's karate."
      Student: "What's the name of the kata?"
      Sensei: "It's Pinan Shodan."
      Student: "?????? What style is that?"
      Sensei: "Matsubayashi-Ryu. Direct from O'Sensei Nagamine."
      Student: "Huhh! I train in Maysubayashi-Ryu, why is your kata so different?"
      Sensei: "You're just doing gymnastics."
      Student: "Why?"
      Sensei: "Can you use your kata with Kumite?"
      Student: "No, I can't."
      Sensei: "So, . . you're just doing gymnastics."
      Student: "Sensei, can you use your kata for Kumite?"
      Sensei: "Let's see. Come at me."
      Student: "Are you sure? You're pretty old? Ok . . . Pow, ouch!!"
      Sensei: "Senpai, you'll be okay. Just lie there and take deep breaths, just breath."

            (Adapted from Higaki Gennosuke)

   A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a seminar focusing on bunkai. The seminar was sponsored by Liberty Karate Club in Orlando and was conducted by Shihan Joche Zapata, 6th dan Matsubayashi-Ryu, 7th dan Matsumura Seito, and 7th Dan Hakutsuru (White Crane).

   I'm not one to be impressed by high dan rankings. Too many self promoted "masters" out there and even some who allow their students to actually promote them to high ranks (hachi-dan, ku-dan, etc.). However Shihan Zapata is a student of Hanshi George Alexander whose credentials are well known throughout the martial arts world.

   This was a two day seminar. By the second day the pieces started to fit together. I began to see kata movements in a different light: blocks became throws or even chokes. Metaphorically, I had been visualizing the whole dojo just fine (thank you very much) but no one had told me the dojo had another entire room I had never explored!

   This was not the limited, traditional bunkai; beginner bunkai, I had been drilled in time and again. It was Matsubayashi-Ryu being taught as CQC (Close Quarter Combat) very different than what I had been practicing up to the seminar.

   I began researching to see how valid the concept of CQC was to Matsubayashi-Ryu. I found a reprint of Motubu Choki's book "Ryu-Kyu Kenpo." He talks about always blocking to the upper arm not the forearm. Try it; that’s close quarter combat.

   I’m pretty articulate. For me to grasp a concept it has to have a name, a proper name. Calling the applications I was learning “Bunkai” was like calling karate: martial arts. Technically correct but not really accurate.

   So if this is not traditional bunkai, what was it? What to call it…

   Bunkai is inaccurate. Looking at the word in Japanese it breaks down like this: “Bunkai” depending on the source you read, means “analysis” or "application” most commonly standard bunkai refers to traditional interpretations of what the practical applications to moves in kata are supposed to be. This type of bunkai is rather standardized; i.e. a block is always a block and a punch is always a punch.

   A higher degree of bunkai can be referred to as "Oyo Bunkai" which refers to the application of moves in kata in other than the traditional bunkai. More commonly this is used interchangeably with the term “personal” bunkai, or how "I" interpret the applications.

   When you break down Oyo Bunkai it translates like this:

      分 解 す る Bunkai (verb) to break down; to disect; to take apart.
      応 用 す る Oyo (verb) to apply; to put to practical use.

   Or even more accurately:

      Ou(ô): 応: answer, reply, respond
      you(yô): 用: 1.Work, function, errand, engagement
                        2. Use, adopt, apply.

      Bun-kai: Bun 分: Divide, part, break, to make shares of.
                    Kai 解: Solve, untie, undo, understand.

   It's been suggested perhaps; "Okuden Waza". But Okuden Waza refers to “hidden teachings” applied to “fighting techniques.” None of these techniques are hidden, they're right there you just have to open your eyes and look. Don't just repeat what you were told but go beyond that.

   McCarthy (2005) explained it quite nicely when he quoted the renowned Japanese poet Matsuo Basho 松 尾 芭 蕉 [1644-1694] who wrote, “Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the men of old but rather continue to seek out what they sought.”

   So evolve, don't simply repeat what your Sensei taught you 20 years ago.

   Another way of looking at it is described by Jean Janses (1920) who wrote; “Tradition doesn’t mean preserving someone’s ashes in a box but rather keeping its flame alight.”

   When I trained in bunkai I found myself feeling like I was missing something. I had instructors who simply repeated what they had been taught; mindlessly. "This is a block, so create a way you can use it as a block." When I was in the seminar with Shihan Zapate I was struck by what McCarty calls a "BFO" which stands for the "blinding flash of the obvious." This really is a very appropriate phrase.

   Continuing I found "Hidden Karate" by Higaki Gennosuke. While he focuses on Shotokan katas, e.g. Heian's, the bunkai is anything but traditional. He combines non-traditional bunkai moves with a focus on close quarters combat. Good text but he still answers the question for you; so his answer not yours (mine).

   Shihan Zapata answers the question "his" way but encourages you to find "your" way. He says "My approach works for me, you need to find what approach, what applications work for you." In teaching non-traditional bunkai he does not solely teach the moves but tries to get you to start looking at the katas differently and develop the applications you "feel" in the kata. He takes "sport karate" and returns it to true combat karate roots.

   As a Counselor Educator I can understand the process. In counseling you frequently have to return to the past to see where you deviated from your path and get back on the road you were on in order to move ahead. In karate we need to go back in time to advance into the future of the art. The future of karate lies in the past.

   So back to original question; what to call it? Probably Oyo Bunkai is the best choice of phraseology, but that's just me: as always T.F.Y.Q.A.!

Cox Hakase


Higaki Gennosuke. (2007). Hidden Karate: The True Bunkai for the Heian Katas and Naihanchi, Champ Company. Ltd.: Tokyo

(NOTE: This book sells used on Amazon for $220.00 HOWEVER you can order it directly from the publisher for $39.00 Go to )

Patrick McCarthy. (2005). Sometimes you don’t know how to fit in until you break out, (retrieved from: (Discussion on "Bunkai")

Kane, L. A., Wilder, K. (2005). The Way of Kata: A Comprehensive Guide for Deciphering Martial Applications, YMAA Publications: Boston.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Don’t Bite the Hook!

     There's an old Buddhist story about a fisherman who one night decided to take advantage of the beautiful early fall weather and took his boat out onto the river to float around and simply enjoy the serenity.

     He anchored his boat and lay back in it and relaxed simply staring at the thousands of stars in the sky above.

     As he enjoyed the evening, out of the corner of his eyes, he noticed another boat up the river in the distance. “Ahh” he thought “another boater out enjoying the night”.

     A half hour later he noticed the boat was moving closer. Wondering who might be in the boat he pondered it for a moment or two and then drifted off, lost in his thoughts.

     Fifteen minutes later he became aware the second boat was now much closer and seemed to be on a course aimed directly at him.

     In the dusk, he stood up and waved at the oncoming boater but there was no response.

     The oncoming boat was now only yards away. He began to shout at the oncoming boat, “Hey! . . . look out! . . . You’re going to hit me! . . . Stop your boat! . . . You idiot! . . . Stop your boat!, . . Put it in reverse!”

     His shouts were drowned out by the crashing of timbers as the oncoming boat slammed into his, throwing him into the water.

     Pulling himself out of the water and back into his damaged boat, he angrily climbed over the side of the traumatically merged vessels to take out his anger on the inconsiderate captain of the other boat.

     Once on the other boat, to his amazement, their were neither a captain or a crew.

     As the absurdity of his actions sunk in, the fisherman began to chuckle. His giggle quickly morphed into a full body belly laugh. Tears of relief and embarrassment filled his eyes. He had been screaming at an empty boat!

     The story serves as a metaphor for anger and frustration in our lives. When we scream and yell at the idiot who cuts us off on the Interstate or the corner store, we are yelling at an empty boat. The driver we are so angry at most often is oblivious of our presence. They do not hear our rants, or screams. An hour later they remain unaware of our very existence and yet an hour later our anger continues to haunt us. We're still pissed, we wish we had done this or that, or took a picture, or got up close to their bumper and taught them a lesson. Any one of which would have served only to reinforce our own anger.

     The other person is an "empty boat" not because they're stupid or a bad driver or insensitive but because yelling at them, getting angry at them serves no purpose fro use other than we make ourselves mad and suffer the consequences of "our actions". Our screaming does nothing to the "empty boat".

     In Karate we have a responsibility to improve ourselves; physically, spiritually and emotionally. Many times that "emotional improvement" refers to the difficult job of recognizing our emotional responses and being willing to accept our own responsibility in managing our feelings. It's hard to subscribe to "Karate ne sente nashi" when we are unable or unwilling to manage our own feelings. That's what growing up, maturing and achieving wisdom is all about.

     When we get angry are out; spouse, children, pets, boss, etc., we are again yelling at an empty boats. In every case we serve only to anger ourselves. We make ourselves angry and most of the time the empty boats go on their way oblivious of our anger.

      So the challenge is clear: Can YOU stop yelling at empty boats?

Cox Hakase

Buddhist folk tale adapted from the book
“Don’t Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger”
by Pema Chodron

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Karate Student vs. Martial Artist?

Pre-Test for Martial Artists:
(Answers at the bottom - Don't peek!)

1. There are ____ bones in the hand.

2. _________ connect muscles to bone.

3. The most effective way to stop bleeding is ___________ _____________.

4. If a martial artist is struck in the head and loses consciousness they have developed a ___________.

5. A single punch to the chest can stop a person's heart and kill them. True or False?

6. It takes ____ pounds per square inch of pressure to break a human bone.

   If you are a yudansha you should have gotten the majority of these questions correct. If you are a Sensei you should have gotten them all correct.

   That being said, if you did not get them correct its probably not your fault. Your curriculum is incomplete as is 99% of the martial arts curriculums in the United States. Back to basics: Studying karate-do does not make you a martial artist. Studying martial arts with a focus on karate-do helps you become a martial artist.

   Lets use the analogy of academic training. Obtaining the rank of Sho-dan is like graduating from high school. San-dan compares to a Master's degree and Go-dan is on the same level as a Doctorate degree. When you go to college (undergraduate) to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education you don't just study Volleyball and weight lifting. You also take language, general psychology, literature, mathematics, etc.

   In martial arts, specifically karate-do, we should have a rudimentary understanding of human anatomy and physiology as well as basic communication skills, general health and first aid, general psychology, abnormal psychology, etc. They all apply to our art.

   How often do you hear a "karate-ka" demonstrating a technique spouting off about "when you hit your muscles turn your arm like this and it causes the person you hit so much pain they cannot fight any longer." (or something to that effect). Its not always because they are simply ignorant, more commonly it's because that’s what they were taught because that's what their sensei was taught , etc., etc., etc.

   Given enough time almost anyone can learn a punching or kicking technique. After a few thousand repetitions most anyone can even learn a kata proficiently but that does not mean they are a martial artist.    Look at the old masters, many of whom would spend years perfecting a single kata. In their life time they might master 3 or 4 katas total, and yet who would say they were NOT martial artists? True they only worked a couple of katas but they also knew Hogan, Chinese, and Japanese. They knew rudimentary (and sometime advanced) folk medicine, weapons, farming, practiced Ikebana (the art of flower arrangement), Chado (Japanese tea ceremony) and/or Shodo (Japanese calligraphy). They developed humility based on a very class oriented society. They cultivated service to others as Social Security WAS your neighbors. They learned interpersonal communication by learning to listen, an art frequently forgotten in our society.

   Okay Hakase; why should this matter to me?

   Every night in every state of the union there is a karate class being led by a mudansha or inexperienced yudansha who leads the class through this exercise or that. Sometime calisthenics, sometimes "techniques" - many based in ignorance of ergonomics, anatomy, physiology and general common sense. Difficulty of execution, pain and complexity combine with ignorance and ego to produce dangerous movements.

   The results vary. Sometimes, if they're lucky, they merely produce soreness. Other times they injure the participants or drive off new students who labour under the misapprehension such ego driven Tom Foolery are actual martial arts techniques.

   How to stop it?

It's a simple concept but difficult in execution:

   1. Concomitant training: e.g. kyu-progression combined with general First Aid training.

   2. Promotion requirements that incorporate mindfulness training, language training (not just how to say "zuki" or "chudan soto shuto uke" although therein we do have a good start.

   3. Many students are already in school (e.g. community college, undergraduate even graduate programs) why not have them bring their studies into the dojo?

   4. Community service, helping others, not just giving money but helping those down on their luck; You cannot teach humility by talking about it. (Likewise not all community service requires sentencing by a judge!) What if promotion to Sho-dan required 20 hours of documented community service? (No, washing sensei's car is NOT community service).

   5. Encourage the development of "critical thinking" and "critical problem solving techniques". Example: The next time a student is completing "teaching time" with a new calisthenic to strengthen this or that or a new technique to develop speed or power, challenge them. Have them explain how "A" develops "B"; and don't accept a nebulous B.S. answer

   6. Bottom line many students do NOT want to be artists, they want to learn karate, for whatever reason. Students who want to be martial artists remain martial artist they entire life and go on to be the Sensei's of tomorrow.

   The big question is: Which type of student are you?


Cox Hakase
Martial Artist


Pre-Test Answers:

1. There are 27 bones in a human hand. (28 after attempting to break concrete the first time)

2. Tendons connect muscles to bone.
Trivia: A Tendon rupture can take longer to heal than a fracture bone.

3. The most effective way to stop bleeding is direct pressure.
NOTE: ALWAYS wear latex or nitrile gloves when applying pressure to any surface where blood is present!

4. If a martial artist is struck in the head and loses consciousness they have developed a concussion.
NOTE: Any period of loss of consciousness requires medical evaluation. The individual should NEVER be allowed to drive themselves.

5. A single punch to the chest can stop a person's heart and kill them. TRUE
NOTE: The condition is called Commotio cordis. It has been documented with karate, baseball, and other blunt force trauma. It is more common in karate than boxing as boxing gloves deliver the force to a wider surface area whereas a properly delivered chudan-zuki makes contact with the knuckles delivering the force abruptly to a more concentrated area.

6. 75 pounds per square inch of targeted precise pressure will break almost any human bone.
NOTE: That means 75 PSI actually delivered to the bone itself. If you punch someone with 75 PSI you will rarely break a bone because much of your force is absorbed by soft tissue (i.e. skin, muscle, tendons, viscera). Because of these physics, where you hit is almost as important as how hard you strike. A kick to the thigh delivering 150 PSI is highly unlikely to fracture the femur (thighbone) as the thick thigh muscles will absorb most of the force. However, the same 150 PSI kick delivered to the temple (either side) where the skin and muscle may be less than an inch in thickness can easily fracture the skull and cause immediate loss of consciousness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Makiwara Myths

  A Matsubayashi-Ryu practitioner from the U.K. wrote me: “...why spend all that money, time and effort for a makiwara. Just wrap some rope around a tree and punch and kick away. Problem Solved!”

  Well, actually, no. Problem not solved but Emergency Room visit created.

  Physics 101: Moving Fist + Immobile Tree + Abrupt Deceleration = Damage to the weakest of the two (i.e. you fist - or foot) When one object collides (at speed) into an immobile object one or both of the objects must absorb the force of the impact. The least solid or more poorly constructed object deforms to absorb the force of impact. If you strike a tree makiwara (not a sapling) the tree will not deform but your fist/foot will.

  You ever wonder why they don’t build cars out of iron? They would withstand substantial impacts without even a scratch. However if they did not deform then the object inside the care (you) would. Better a bumper than my face. Its different but still the same basic physics involved in the fist vs. tree.

  Think about it; I, and most yudansha, can easily break multiple concrete slabs, roofing tile, multiple wooden slabs, etc. It’s not magic, again it’s physics and “mizo no kokoro”. But you know something, I never lay them on the floor and try to break them because I’m not stupid. I place them on a support that allows the energy of my strike to be absorbed into the object (e.g. concrete) causing it to deform and shatter. With multiple layers I simply have to maintain the energy of my strike and the first block will help break the second, etc. While it’s the law of diminishing returns, it still works.

  For those of us old enough to remember the massive “ice block breaks” from the 70’s, it would appear I’m inaccurate in my statements. Two words: piano wire. Yes I’m sure.

  Well what about when practitioners get hit with the 2x2 while holding a stance in demos? Repeat after me: Not magic - physics. I don’t have to have assume the “secret iron horse stance of Kusanku”, I just have to be pretty stable and trust my kohai. They must strike me with the 2x2 with the grain and choke up on the beam so that more of the beam extends past me than between the kohai and the target (me). I do not break the beam, I merely stop it, then physics kicks in: an object in motion tends to stay in motion. The momentum of the 2x2 causes it to break itself.

  Back to the makiwara. A satisfactory makiwara must have play and flexibility in it. (See graphic above) A 4x4 tapered to a 1x4 allows that flexion. I’ve also seen wood squares cut with open spaces to allow flexion when struck. While that’s not idea, it is far better than placing a rag on a concrete wall and punching it.

  When one achieves yudansha status it is not an end rather the very beginning of learning. The best learning starts with a question and a refusal to believe in magic or secret techniques. Again karate is not about secret techniques . . . well maybe it is, to some of us common sense can seem fairly elusive at times.


Cox Hakase

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Hidden Bunkai of Words

  As Westerners we can be quite the idiots. We have this belief system "Orientals" are inscrutable, mystical and in contact with the mysteries of the universe which elude us. So in karate we look for the "hidden secrets". When the Okinawan masters say "there are no secrets" we don't accept it, we think "Ahhh. . . they're hiding something!?" If its hidden, its hiding in plain sight.

  If the Okinawan Masters doesn't admit there are secrets we set out to discover them for ourselves. Worse case scenario, the Okinawans acquiesce and reveal the "secrets" i.e. make them up. Then we walk around, obi tied tight, secure in the knowledge we have received transmission of the "secrets" of Okinawan karate-do. Heck even my old (1973) promotion certificates states "This is to certify that the above named person has learned Karate-Do secrets of karate training…"

  Somehow this belief in undiscovered secrets has worked it's way into our dojo training. Not only that but it has colored that training and not in a very helpful way.

  Take the Naihanchi katas. Most American Masters still teach the Naihanchis have no actual bunkai applications. Yet martial arts history researchers now know the Naihanchis are taken from the Chinese Niafunchin forms which do have bunkai as it was originally a Chinese grappling kata.

  So, are the Okinawan's hiding secrets from us in the Naihanchi katas? Or is it simply political prejudice? There is history to support the latter; when Funakoshi took the katas to Japan the Japanese felt the katas were too "Chinese" coupled with Japans complete disdain of the Okinawans as lower class citizens (the remnants of which remains today). The katas simply were not hard-core enough so, Funakoshi changed them, making the katas more acceptable to the Militaristic pre-WWII Japanese society.

  But still we look for, and see things that are not there.

  Ananku. So the kata depicts battling multiple assailants simultaneously. Bunkai everywhere and then suddenly, in the middle of the kata, we stand in a Pinan yoi stance before returning to combat. Seriously, does anyone really believe in the midst of a fight the defender would stop, stand up and wait for an attacker to regroup? I mean REALLY?

  Okay lets look at the name of the kata; Ananku. Developed by Kyan Chotoku, translated it can mean "Light from the South" or "Peace from the South" and probably refers to a visit he made to the island of Formosa (now Taiwan). "Peace from the South", hmmm, the Pinans mean peace. The ready position in the middle of the Ananku is the Pinan yoi position. If you were practicing Ananku on the beach of Okinawa facing inland (to ensure no one was watching your practice) you would start Ananku facing the East which would mean when you were in the kata, in this position you would be in the "Peace" stance facing South. Formosa is to the south of Okinawa. Hmmmm . . . . Homage to teachers in Formosa or maybe it was the Chinese Dim-Mak [delayed death touch] technique learned by Kyan in his travels?! Which makes more sense to you?.

  Let me provide a more easily to understand example.

  The other night I was re-visiting the Yakouski kumites. I've always disliked practicing them because they made little sense to me.

  We got into a discussion about the execution of techniques in the kumities. Specifically yakasuki kumitee #4. You've turned your back on an standing attacker and walk away. 3 steps later the attacker grabs your shoulder. Your turn, high block to defect the incoming head punch then simultaneously block a left low punch and deliver a right chest punch.

  The discussion led to, does the attacker walk directly to the side of the defender, or does the attacker adjust their steps to place themselves directly behind the defender (the traditional position).

  The discussion led to a decision that if the attacker lines up directly behind the defender then when the defender turns they are off-set from the attacker and in a better tactical position. This is an excellent rational.

  However there are a couple of problems with this logic:

    1) At the beginning of YK4 you are walking away from an assailant who just attacked you; turning your back on them while the assailant is still well within attack range. Does that make any sense? No.

    2) Knowing the attacker is behind you, when they place their hand on your shoulder, why wouldn't you do step forward and away rather than simply turning blindly to your left without looking? Does that make any sense? No.

    3) When you turn, you stand there, like a log, and block. Does that make any sense? No.

  So given the above, why would it then make sense to change one move (i.e. the steps) because it made tactical sense when the form is rife with tactical ineptitude???

  Each one of the other 6 YKs can be also, and equally, dismantled to discover the tactical ineptitude inherent in the forms.

  If, in the middle of a kata, an Okinawan scratches their nose, some Westerner will be certain they have spotted a "secret" signal and ascribe a bunkai application to the move.

  Okay I told you at the beginning I did not like the Yakusoku Kumites. Now I know why: my obtuseness. Let's look of the hidden bunkai of the Yakusoku Kumites in the name "Yakusoku Kumite" itself.

  Many practitioners will teach you that "Yakusoku Kumite" means "pre-arranged sparring". This is not accurate. While the Yakusoku Kumites ARE pre-arranged sparring that is not how they are translated.

  Yakusoku Kumite, translated, means "Promise Kumite". "Promise"? What's the promise? As a two man prearranged sparring technique, the promise is "I promise not to hurt you" as you promise me as well. Okay, now we're onto something.

  Who in the dojo promises not to hurt another member of the dojo? Certainly not the yudansha. As yudansha we are expected to have the degree of control necessary NOT to hurt another person in sparring unless we are engaged in Iri Kumi (knockdown kumite).

  Well that leaves the mudansha (we're getting closer). With a Mudansha practicing the YKs it would make perfect sense to promise not to harm each other with the technique.

  Now lets look at history. Osensei ALWAYS admonished great care when engaged in Jiyu Kumite (free sparring). At one point he prohibited Jiyu Kumite in his dojos as a way of avoid injury for a period. So the history is established.

  Now lets look at how we learn to free spar and when we start Jiyu Kumite. In most American schools once you achieve green belt you suddenly can start Jiyu Kumite. That makes no sense. How does a student learn how to control a technique? Kata does not teach it - kata only has one person. Jiyu Kumite can teach it through trial and error and blood and bruises, but not the best choice and may even account for student attrition rates.

  So, I believe, Osensei developed the Yakusoku Kumites specifically to fill the training gap between kata and sparring. The Yakusoku Kumites are not combat techniques, they have no bunkai applications. They are simply techniques linked together teaching the mudansha technique, control, stability and timing. That and nothing more.

  You take a mudansha, train them in basic kihon, mudansha katas and all 7 Yakusoku Kumites then, and only then, are they ready to ease into free sparring. NOW the Yakusoku Kumites make sense!

  Once the mudansha can complete the Yakusoku Kumites effectively, the ground is set for progression to Jiyu Kumite and later Iri Kumi.

  Yes, you can take the YKs and change them to reflect proper tactical timing, positioning and technique but you should do that with the entire Kumite not just one move and then sit back and believe you have accomplished something, you haven't, you've missed the point.

  So it's not about seeing bunkai where none exists but in stopping and thinking about technique AND training AND history AND what really makes sense (not what appears to make sense).

  As I have said before, you do not have to agree with me, heck most of you never read this far in the posting anyway (thanks for sticking it out). You may not agree with my logic but "Promise" me you'll think about it?


Cox Hakase

P.S. My profound thanks to my fellow karate-ka for forcing me to think about what I thought I knew.


Higaki, Gennosuke, Hidden Karate: The True Bunkai for the Heian Katas and Naihanchi, Champ Pub.

Nathan Johnson, Barefoot Zen: The Shaolin Roots of Kung-Fu and Karate, Samuel Weiser Pub.

Motobu, Choki, Okinawan Kempo (1926/1995), Masters Publications

Nathan Johnson, Zen Shaolin Karate, Charles Tuttle Co.

Nagamine, Shoshin, The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do, Charles Tuttle Co.

Sam Palmer, Personal Communication, 1973, Satellite Beach, FL

Sakihara, Mitsugu, Okinawan-English Wordbook, University of Hawaii Press

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Hard Part of Martial Arts

"Fighting is not scary, looking inward at oneself is scary. The journey to mastery in the martial arts cannot be achieved without a simultaneous inward journey. The scariest opponent one faces in karate is your own ego. Success in the martial arts correlates with knowledge and acceptance of one's self."

Cox Hakase