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.
The Art in Martial Arts - July 28, 2014
For many practitioners, the phrase “martial arts” doesn’t do a particularly good job of encompassing the complexity of the systems we study. There is also a certain oxymoronic tension between things martial and things arty and serious trainees often prefer to emphasize the physical efficacy of these systems.
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.
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.
Karate-A Unique Balanced Approach to Healthy Living - 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.
Who is Going to Teach Me: Your Teacher's Qualifications - 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!"
A Map: Knowing Where You Stand in The Dojo - 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.
Karate Choices for Lifetime Achievements - 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!
Sport, Health, and Martial Art: Kyogi, Kenko, and Budo - 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.
Developing Fortitude and Fighting Strategies - November 22, 2011
Polishing the spirit (sen ren shin) is the term used to point the student of traditional karate toward the idea of developing fortitude. This is achieved through diligent training conducted frequently over a protracted period of time.
Ten Precepts of Karate - 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.
Shin Gi Tai – Karate Training for Body, Mind, and Spirit - 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.
Shu-ha-ri - The Phases of Mastery in a Dojo and with a Pen - 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.
Channeling Sekishusai - 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.
The Meaning of 'Tradition’ in Traditional Karate - 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.
Comments on Hojo Undo from Okinawan Karate Masters - 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.
About Junbi Undo—Part 2 - August 22, 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.