2020: Enter the Rat! The First of the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs
January 20, 2020
The Chinese year 4718 begins on January 25, 2020. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Rat (鼠年 - “rat year”; pinyin: shǔnián). The Chinese calendar is lunisolar (not purely lunar). Months begin with the new moon (when it is darkest). New Year's Day usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The year 1 on the Chinese calendar corresponds to the first reign year of the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝; pinyin: Huángdì), who is said to have invented the calendar during the 61st year of his reign.
January 6, 2019
The Nature has always developed gradually. For those who are cultivating the Dao, the final goal is "doing without doing" (wuwei, 無為). However, to reach this level, you must begin with the easy and small. Only after you are able to take care of easy and small matters should you then gradually advance into more difficult and bigger matters.
The Hero and the Warrior
December 31, 2018
My favorite quote from the movie Skyfall occurs when secret agent James Bond meets his new quartermaster, Q, the designer of his spy tech and furrowed brow to many of his boyish antics: "I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field," quips Q. "Oh, so why do you need me?" Bond replies. "Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled," Q states. Bond smiles. "Or not pulled. It's hard to know which in your pajamas."
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.
Karate: Is There Equipment That Can Help Me?
July 23, 2018
Much of modern karate training can be done simply by refining one's technique through careful internal reflection. The only thing required is a karate uniform or do-gi. However, there can be great benefit to using equipment in training. The use of equipment can be vital for developing a method of direct feedback regarding the execution and delivery of power into a target. To this end, equipment can be used for two primary purposes: (1) understanding the internal feeling of the body as a technique impacts an object, and (2) developing focus and power delivery through correct alignment to a target outside the body.
Keri: Kicking Techniques - April 10, 2017
One difference between martial arts styles developed in Asia and many of the Western arts is the refinement of the legs and feet as striking weapons. In Shotokan karate in particular, kicking techniques, or keri are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum and are one of the six major classes of techniques (zuki, uke, uchi, nage, keri, and dachi).
Four Fundamental Requirements of Martial Arts - March 20, 2017
Karate-do, or any other martial art, is, at its core quite simple. However, it can be made far more complex than what it actually is. The multitude of techniques, combinations, kata, and partner drills—combined with nebulous concepts like "use your hips," "lower your stance," "do budo karate," "make more kime," and "use your ki"—can make martial arts seem overwhelming.
The Karate Science of Wrist Rotation - February 27, 2017
I was reading through one of my martial arts group news feeds the other day on Facebook, and I stumbled across a question posed by one of the members. The question was based on the fact that, as we all know, a block is not a block, but rather a receiving technique.
Celebrating Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey - February 8, 2016
For thousands of years, celebrating the New Year in China is always the biggest event of the whole year. During the lunar New Year celebration, every family makes the best food, wears their best clothes, and shoes, and keeps up their best spirit and mood. Family and friends get together to enjoy eating, laughing, chatting, and friendship. Another very important element of the celebration: fire crackers.
Protecting the Brain from Trauma: A Home Experiment to Show We Can Do Better - September 7, 2015
If you put on a football helmet right now and smacked yourself in the head with your hands, you might notice you can hit yourself pretty hard before you start to feel pain. You could even grab a stapler or a coffee mug and hit yourself with that. If you are like me, smacking yourself in the head is the first thing you do when you put a helmet on, just to test it out.
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.
Chinese New Year "The Year of the Wooden Horse" Interview with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming - January 27, 2014
Most non-Chinese people (Westerners) call the Spring Festival 'Chinese New Year.' The 2014 Chinese Spring Festival falls on January 31 continuing through February 6. According to the Chinese zodiac it is the Year of the Wooded Horse. In Chinese Five Element theory, Horse is in the Fire group, which is the strongest fire animal in twelve zodiacs.
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.
Understanding Learning Style Differences - 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.
In Search of The Real Mr. Miyagi - 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.
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.
The Traditional Way to Celebrate Spring Festival or Chinese New Year - February 4, 2013
Daoist monk Zhou, Xuan-Yun grew up in a small village, Liu Gang Zu, in Henan Province with about 100 residents. The following are his memories and comments about the Spring Festival.
Understand Strength versus Skill - 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.