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Articles: Karate

Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957):  The Gentle Teacher of Shuri Te

Michael Clarke, December 1, 2014

Perhaps it was always Funakoshi's destiny to shed light on a part of Okinawan culture that had for centuries remained hidden from the gaze of the general population. He shone like a bright star in a dark sky and pointed the way forward for the many millions around the world who would take up the challenge of learning. More >>

Fond Memories About Okinawan Cuisine

Michael Clarke, November 3, 2014

I once asked a Japanese friend of mine, who had flown down from the mainland to Okinawa to meet me, if she was enjoying her visit to this part of Japan. Her reply surprised me at the time, as she confessed it was like visiting a different country. The food in particular was very different from the type of dishes she ate on a daily basis with her family in Osaka. More >>

Bunbu ryo do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar

Bunbu Ryo Do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar

Michael Clarke, March 10, 2014

In the early part of the twentieth century, when Okinawan karate teachers were first asked to provide names for their karate by the Butokukai in Japan, they struggled to come up with a name that did justice to the martial art they practiced. Many of those from the royal capital, Shuri, settled on poetic sounding names that conjured up the spirit of their homeland; Choshin Chibana (1886–1969) chose the name Kobayashi ryu, the small forest school. More >>

Nagamine Sensei and Michael Clarke

Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 2

Michael Clarke, November 11, 2013

Personal research requires you to look inward towards your own nature, and to take responsibility for your karate; to step out of your comfort zone. You can do this by attending events like open courses if you like, but in truth, such challenges do little to aid your progress. More >>

Michael Clarke

Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 1

Michael Clarke, November 4, 2013

“Karate training is easy!” Now there’s a statement to get your head around. But is there any truth to it; is training in karate easy? Well, children, the unfit, the lazy, and folks of dubious character…all seem to have no problem being awarded a black belt in karate these days, so the training must be easy…right? More >>

 Unraveling Knots in The Thread of Life

Unraveling Knots in The Thread of Life

Michael Clarke, October 14, 2013

Over a period of about eight years, beginning in the early 1990s, I began taking a closer look around the world at the various religious and philosophical beliefs people held, and saw in many of them much to be admired. I also noticed there was quite a lot of common ground. I was initially astonished to discover, for example, how the sacred text of Judaism, the Torah, tells the same story as the first five books of the Bible, known to Christians as the books of the Old Testament. More >>

Understanding Learning Style Differences

Understanding Learning Style Differences

Lawrence A. Kane, June 24, 2013

I realized fairly early in life that different people learn and process information in different ways. When teaching and learning styles misalign, students progress slowly, if at all. As a child, I had the opportunity to take judo instruction from a former national champion who was the highest-ranking black belt in the United States at that time. More >>

In Search of The Real Mr. Miyagi

In Search of The Real Mr. Miyagi

Goran Powell, June 3, 2013

It’s ironic that the world’s best-known karate master never existed. The much-loved Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies is the product of a Hollywood scriptwriter, and just one more example of how the public’s view of martial arts has more to do with fantasy than reality. More >>

From Whence We Came: Some Okinawa Cultural Icons

From Whence We Came: Some Okinawa Cultural Icons

Michael Clarke, April 8, 2013

At a little over 26 degrees north of the equator, Okinawa enjoys a subtropical climate, and for much of the year its inhabitants live under clear blue skies. However, during the early summer months, typhoons sweep in off the Pacific Ocean bringing with them strong winds and huge seas often resulting in damage to property, and sometimes loss of life. More >>

Karate-A Unique Balanced Approach to Healthy Living

Karate-A Unique Balanced Approach to Healthy Living

Michael Clarke, February 26, 2013

Those who enter a dojo for the purpose of maintaining good health engage in a training routine that may look similar to those engaged in budo karate, but this similarity exists only on the surface. More >>

Understand Strength versus Skill

Understand Strength versus Skill

Lawrence A. Kane, Kris Wilder, November 12, 2012

Understanding your place in life is always a good thing. However, in the world of martial arts some times it can be hard to know. In the real world, the employer and employee are clearly defined; parent, child is another example. However, the martial arts are based on skills. A young person with more time on the floor can outrank and older person, in some cases even their own parent. More >>

Who is Going to Teach Me: Your Teacher's Qualifications

Who is Going to Teach Me: Your Teacher's Qualifications

Michael Clarke, October 29, 2012

"My sensei is a 5th dan," said one young man. "Oh yeh, my sensei is 6th," said the other. "My sensei has black belts in four different martial arts." "Well, my sensei is a master of weapons!" More >>

A Map: Knowing Where You Stand in The Dojo

A Map: Knowing Where You Stand in The Dojo

Michael Clarke, September 17, 2012

The size of an Okinawan karate dojo is likely to be smaller than its counterpart in America or Europe. It is also more likely to be attached to or form a part of the sensei’s home. Space on the island is at a premium and few families can afford the luxury of leaving large sections of their home vacant and unused for most of the day. More >>

Karate Choices for Lifetime Achievements

Karate Choices for Lifetime Achievements

Michael Clarke, June 13, 2012

In karate, when your sporting days are over, you might, like many others, make the false assumption that you can simply move across to budo karate: if you do, you’re making a big mistake! More >>

Be Wary of Concussions

Be Wary of Concussions

Lawrence A. Kane, March 26, 2012

There were only two combatants involved, but it took eight of us to break up the fight without hurting anyone, four officers, three security guards, and myself. Once we got the participants separated we began sorting out what happened. More >>

Michael Clarke under the watchful eye of Miyazato sensei

Sport, Health, and Martial Art: Kyogi, Kenko, and Budo

Michael Clarke, March 19, 2012

For many people training in karate these days, there seems to be only one way to train … their way! Like other martial arts, karate has not escaped the glare of commercialism, and with that, the packaging and branding of each school, style, or association. More >>

Four Chokes and Cranks for Street Use

Lawrence A. Kane, Kris Wilder, February 27, 2012

The type of chokes and cranks discussed here are designed for the street. Several of them have been banned from judo competition because they are too dangerous for sport. More >>

Use Neck Cranks or Chokes to Fight an Adversary

Use Neck Cranks or Chokes to Fight an Adversary

Lawrence Kane & Kris Wilder, January 9, 2012

In single combat, we can confuse the enemy by attacking with varied techniques when the chance arises. Feint a thrust or cut, or make the enemy think you are going to close with him, and when he is confused you can easily win. This is the essence of fighting, and you must research it deeply.-Miyamoto Musashi More >>

Ten Precepts of Karate

Ten Precepts of Karate

Michael Clarke, October 3, 2011

Truths abound. They are all around us like radio waves carrying music through the air; the trick is to discover how to tune into them. For over three and a half decades, I have been guilty of stumbling over more than a few truths. More >>

Michael Clarke in Maezato-no-Tekko kataPArt

Shin Gi Tai – Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit

Michael Clarke, September 26, 2011

The dojo is a special place, where guts are fostered and superior human natures are bred through the ecstasy of sweating in hard work. The dojo is a sacred place, where the human spirit is polished. -Shoshin Nagamine sensei, Founder of the Matsubayashi ryu karatedo More >>

Shu-ha-ri—The Phases of Mastery in a Dojo and with a Pen

Shu-ha-ri - The Phases of Mastery in a Dojo and with a Pen

John Donohue, Ph.D., September 19, 2011

It’s not unusual for martial artists to talk solemnly about “the Way” and how the life lessons that have been created through training spill over into the rest of our lives. More >>

Channeling Sekishusai

Channeling Sekishusai

John Donohue, Ph.D., July 18, 2011

One of the most important aspects of martial arts training (and the thing that first attracted me to the activity) is the linkage between things of the body and things of the spirit. There’s a lot to be said for the physical aspects of training—and if most people are anything like me, it’s almost addictive. More >>

Sanchin, Shime, and Hard Impact

Kris Wilder, July 4, 2011

At the conclusion of the examination, we gathered around the new Godan, and the finger imprints from the teachers slapping his shoulders resonated red and were buried deep in his sweat-covered skin. Just being newly minted black belts, we worked our way around his torso, calling out, “look at this one,” as we discovered with reverence more marks left on his body from the test. More >>

Positive Attitude Required for Black Belt

Positive Attitude Required for Black Belt

Lawrence Kane & Kris Wilder, May 30, 2011

Learning martial arts can be very challenging. It is a lifelong process that encompasses not only internalizing an abundance of fighting techniques, but also learning proper body alignment, breathing, and movement. It is both a physical and mental process. More >>

Clarke with Seikichi Kinjo sensei in Okinawa recently

The Meaning of 'Tradition’ in Traditional Karate

Michael Clarke, April 6, 2011

Much is written these days about traditional karate, but when it comes right down to it, what exactly is the “tradition”? It takes more than the wearing of a plain, white, karate gi (uniform) to make you a “traditional” karateka. A few bow’s here and there and the use of a few Japanese words during training, won’t do it either. More >>

Comments on Hojo Undo from Okinawan Karate Masters

Michael Clarke, December 27, 2010

Since I began traveling to Okinawa in 1984, I have been privileged to meet many great karate teachers over the years. Some have had a worldwide following, while others have not, but the majority of them have had something in common—their sincere love for the fighting arts of their homeland and their willingness to share what they know. More >>

Kris Wilder and Lawrence Kane

Practice Any Time, Anywhere

Lawrence A. Kane, Kris Wilder, November 1, 2010

Consistent daily training makes all the difference in achieving your rank. Because there is so much to learn and everything builds from kihon, it is important to make a commitment to try to learn something new about your martial art, no matter how small, every day. More >>

About Junbi Undo—Part 2

Michael Clarke, August 23, 2010

"Lift things properly, hit things with care", this maxim should be at the forefront of your mind when embarking upon the study of traditional Okinawan hojo undo. Find your limit with each tool and exercise, and then carefully and methodically push that limit further and further. In doing so you will learn much about yourself and who you really are. More >>

About Junbi Undo—Part 1

Michael Clarke, August 16, 2010

In an Okinawan karate dojo, warming-up exercises are known as junbi undo, preparation exercises. Within many Western schools of karate today, the warm-up exercises often have little in common with the mental activity that follows, neither do they always relate particularly well to the physical demands placed upon the specific muscle. More >>

Sanchin Kata - Ancient Wisdom

Kris Wilder, March 8, 2010

The true history of sanchin kata is lost to time. Many will claim they know the true and correct history of sanchin kata, but factors such as where one chooses to begin and end can create one of many versions of the same history. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of sanchin kata through the mechanics, history, and applications of the kata. More >>

Sanchin Kata, the Three Battles Sequence

Kris Wilder, February 15, 2010

The basic kata sanchin has existed a long time, and has developed into variations called saifa, seiyunchin, shisochin, sanseiryu, seipai, kururunfa, and suparunpen, which are still practiced. More >>

¿Golpeas al objetivo?

Michael Clarke, December 14, 2009

Nunca dudé, al ponerme frente a Kanazawa sensei, que iba a "enchufarme". Pero tenía la absoluta certeza de que no iba a hacerme daño. More >>

Are you hitting the target in Karate?

Michael Clarke, November 30, 2009

There was never a doubt in my head when I lined up to face Kanazawa sensei, I knew he was going to 'plug' me. More >>

Chojun Miyagi, sensei (April 1888-October 1953)

Remembering Chojun Miyagi

Michael Clarke, November 11, 2009

Among the huge number of so-called karate styles in the world these days, all can be traced back to the island of Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu archipelago that stretches from the southern coast of Japan to the northern tip of Taiwan. More >>

Chojun Miyagi and students, Okinawa, 1942

Hojo Undo: Traditional Karate’s Forgotten Training Methods

Michael Clarke, September 9, 2009

In an age where karate training is often viewed as a family pastime for some or a career path for others, many of the older and more traditional forms of training have slipped from use, replaced in many cases by a quest for physical entertainment More >>

Entrance to the author's Shinseidokan dojo

Big Rocks: The Hidden Values of Traditional Karate

Michael Clarke, August 13, 2009

A philosopher and teacher of the ‘Way’ began addressing his students. He produced, from behind a screen, a large glass container and a box of fist-sized rocks. After a few moments of carefully placing the rocks into the glass container, he came to a point where no more would fit. He then turned to his students and asked: “Is it full?” More >>

Videos and Podcasts...


Episode 1

Episode 1.
Chinese Martial Arts Definitions

Episode 2

Episode 2.
Retreat Center Interview PART 1

Episode 3

Episode 3.
Retreat Center Interview PART 2

Episode 4

Episode 4.
Northern and Southern Chinese Styles


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