The First Rule of Self-Defense
April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
Your Tai Chi Pelvis
February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
Anatomy of a Warrior Spirit
December 23, 2018
Martial artists are, by definition, warriors. True warriors have warrior spirit. In martial arts, as in life, there are some people who are successful, and some people who are not. The most successful people are imbued with a warrior spirit, known in the Chinese tradition as Yi. Warrior spirit has nothing to do with fighting or aggression, even though skilled fighters often have a well-developed warrior spirit. On the contrary, warrior spirit is about having the wherewithal to resolve conflict or avoid it altogether, and most of all to muster the internal fortitude requisite to the process of mastering yourself.
The Value of Differentiated Movement
November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Tai Chi and Economics
July 2, 2018
Ordinarily the word "economics" conjures up thoughts of money, governments, budgets and expenditures – pretty boring stuff if you're not an economist. However, the word "economy" simply refers to the effects, as measured by the relative advantages or disadvantages, of any causal behavior within any system. The most important and immediate economy in your life has to do not with what's in your wallet, but in how you choose to organize and live in your own body.
Perspectives on Tai Chi, Somatics, & Life - April 16, 2018
Live In the Moment, Not For the Moment. One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, and especially internal arts such as tai chi, is the underlying theme of being present to oneself –of being in the moment.
A Melding of Philosophies—One for One, & One for All - January 3, 2018
This article will share thoughts on both spectrums – approaches for personalized individual direction, and for social strategies, i.e. codes of conduct if you will. Hopefully, you may find something here worthy of your review and consideration.
Fun with Words, Tai Chi Style—"TRUST" - July 3, 2017
"Trust" is a fascinating concept. Its presence, its absence, or its antithesis have shaped human history on its grandest scales as well as at every increment of human interaction.
Balance and Tai Chi - May 1, 2017
Balance, by which I mean physical balance when upright, is a concern often expressed by potential students prior to taking up their studies at Tai Chi. They want to know: can Tai Chi help them improve their balance? While I'm generally hopeful and upbeat about how Tai Chi can serve students in this regard, there are multiple factors and considerations that come into play where balance is concerned. I feel it is prudent to have a basic understanding of these different factors in order to fashion a reasonable and realistic approach to helping students improve their balance through Tai Chi.
Radiant Lotus Qigong for Women - March 6, 2017
Throughout China, Japan, India, Egypt and other Eastern countries, the beautiful lotus flower is famed for its ability to grow in muddy, stagnant waters, absorbing what is useful and releasing what no longer supports its optimum health. Amidst challenging conditions, it breaks through the darkness to bring light, beauty, strength and grace to our world.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does)—Part 2 - July 1, 2016
With an estimated 50 million karateka in the world there are no figures that I am aware of to demonstrate what percentage have been training for more than a few years. Certainly, given the direction of karate's growth over the past fifty-years, it wouldn't be too outrageous to suggest that a greater value has been placed on quantity over quality. So what happened?
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does) - June 15, 2016
Getting hit doesn't hurt...that's not only the name of this article: it's a fact! It was also a discovery I made many years ago when, as a young man caught in a downward spiral of violent behaviour, my life was heading to the bottom faster than a rock in water. Unable to take control of the rage that burst to the surface with increased regularity, my teenage years bore witness to a boy broken by his inability to alter course. Appreciating that it was my fear of being hit, and not the actual pain I might feel when a blow landed, was a massive turning point in my sprint to the bottom. It was a fear that lay at the heart of my hesitation to start a fight; but once that fear was removed, my downward trajectory grew quickly steeper.
Redemption: A Street Fighter's Path to Peace - May 16, 2016
Being born the fifth child into a working-class family of six children guaranteed I had a fight on my hands from the very beginning. That my siblings and I grew to be productive members of society suggests that my childhood, although often chaotic, served me well. Dublin, Ireland, was not the attractive city in 1955 that it is today, so my birth on the fourteenth of May that year, in the upstairs front bedroom at 88 Kylemore Drive, rekindled thoughts in my father's head of returning to England. And in 1958, when I was three years old, the family moved to Manchester in the heart of England's industrial northwest.
Interpreting The Kanji - June 2, 2015
Studying an Asian martial art can be a daunting task for a non-Asian student. Not only do you have to learn the physical postures and how to move from one to the other, you also strive to master the seemingly endless number of techniques. As well, the cultural milieu in which the martial art developed is often confusing. Many times the task you undertake is compared to climbing a mountain, and for good reason.
Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957): The Gentle Teacher of Shuri Te - 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.
Fond Memories About Okinawan Cuisine - 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.
Never Hit A Girl…Unless She's Armed - September 29, 2014
Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi made no distinctions regarding gender. To them all adversaries were defined as combatants. In today's world, distinctions of gender are made by friends, family, police, and the courts. The role of combatant is, oftentimes, secondary. While experienced bouncers, bodyguards, law enforcement officers, soldiers, jail guards, and martial artists know that women can be just as dangerous, or possibly even more so than men, (such as instinctively going for the eyes during an attack) the courts don't often see it that way.
Modern Trends: Reality-based Martial Arts - September 15, 2014
The rise in recent years of so-called ‘reality’ based martial arts reminds me of other great scams committed against the general public, like bottled water, and who can forget the panic that gripped the world in the 1990s over the Y2K dilemma that was supposedly going to see aeroplanes fall from the sky and shut down every computer on the entire planet.
Bunbu Ryo Do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar - 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.
Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 2 - 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.
Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 1 - 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?
Unraveling Knots in The Thread of Life - 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.
Sport versus Combat - May 27, 2013
It was the first time I’d ever made it to the finals. Win and I’d take home the first place trophy; lose and it’d still be a pretty cool piece of hardware. I’d come in third a couple of times, but the little statues weren’t nearly as prestigious as the big ones. And I really, really wanted to earn one of the big ones.
The Ground. The Dirty, Filthy, Dangerous Ground - April 29, 2013
The Raiders fan had biceps that could put Hulk Hogan to shame and a physique that was nothing short of awesome. He stood out in a bar full of average guys, not only because he was ripped, but also because he was the only person cheering for the other team, the only one doing it vociferously anyway.
From Whence We Came: Some Okinawa Cultural Icons - 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.