Origin of the Blood Oath
September 18, 2023
And there it was. It’s not only my injuries that wake me in the night. In the vulnerability of the dark, I wonder if the point of Yamashita’s art is not about skill or technique but simply about pursuing an unshakeable willingness to surrender the self in the pursuit of something higher.
August 14, 2023
The following is an excerpt from John Donohue's upcoming martial arts thriller, Keppan: The Blood Oath, coming to YMAA Publication Center in September 2023. This is the sixth installment of Donohue's gripping martial arts thriller series about martial artist Connor Burke. Fusing the way of the pen and the way of the sword, Donohue has trained in the martial disciplines of aikido, iaido, judo, karatedo, kendo, and taiji. He has dan (black belt) ranks in both karatedo and kendo. A nationally known expert on the culture and practice of the martial arts, Donohue infuses his thrillers with genuine cultural and martial aspects that every reader will enjoy.
Excerpt from Chojun—A Novel
January 10, 2022
Set in Okinawa during World War II, it’s a story of reverence, the coming of age, love, tragedy, war, and honor. A retired Okinawa karate instructor, Ota Kenichi Ota, writes memoirs of training with world-famous master, Chojun Miyagi.
Chinese Early Sword Development
March 22, 2021
The Chinese word for weapon, Bingqi originated as the word for a group of weapons including the lance, spear, halberd, pronged spear, sword, and saber. Chinese people certainly used more primitive weapons than these before the advent of the language to describe them. The prehistoric Chinese, like other societies, probably utilized the sticks and stones that lay about.
A Brief History of Stick Fighting and Why Learn It
March 9, 2020
There are many practical reasons to learn how to fight with sticks. Stick fighting is a healthy, competitive activity that has real world applications. Stick fighting skills are very practical for self-defense, while stick fighting also serves as a sport, offering both entertainment and fitness. It appeals to all types of people, of all ages and ability levels.
Essential Stick Fighting: Crossing the Gap - February 24, 2020
The human mind can be very predictable. Our brains have a natural tendency to look for patterns, and you can use this knowledge to trick your opponent into doing what you want him to do. This is called programming. Programming is an exceptional method of setting up your techniques, maximizing the probability of eluding your opponent’s defenses in order to land a decisive, disabling strike.
Fighting Physics: The Mechanics of the Staff - February 13, 2017
Physics is one broad brushstroke of a topic! If we got technical, we could talk about how the atoms of the staff and the arrangement of the wood fibers along its length give the staff its unique characteristics, capabilities and combat effectiveness.
Easy Training Equipment for Staff Fun - December 5, 2016
Here is your opportunity to become the "Lord of the Rings" (sorry, I just couldn't help myself!). Training rings allow you to develop accurate, penetrating thrusts as well as circular techniques used in manipulation of an opponent's weapon. They are useful for training both staff and spear.
Combat with the Staff: The Moment of Truth - November 25, 2016
It is not unusual for sparring with the staff to feel awkward at first. There is a big difference between doing drills with a partner, and the chaos of combat against a non-compliant opponent who is trying his best to hit you. Stick with it.
What is Staff Fighting? - October 17, 2016
The staff has been a common weapon among the many cultures of Earth since ancient times. Over the ages, humans have used this basic weapon for self-defense and for contest.
The Art and Science of Staff Fighting - September 19, 2016
The staff, or bo, is one of the most common weapons in the martial arts. Many karate schools include bo forms in their curriculum. I am here with Master Joe Varady, martial artist and weapons specialist, to talk about the staff.
Sai Design and Fighting Theory - January 27, 2016
The correct length and weight of the sai varies from individual to individual. Of course, as with any weapon, the longer and heavier it can be without compromising the handling, the better it is in a combat situation. As the proverb goes, "One inch longer, one inch stronger" (一寸長, 一寸強, Yī cùn cháng, yī cùn qiáng).
Dukkha Hungry Ghosts - December 28, 2015
As Mai and the crowd watch in frozen horror, the Lexus slowly rolls again until it's on its top; the front-end still nose down into the water. After a moment, only the rear back tires are still above the surface. Then they too slip beneath the bay.
Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts - A Sam Reeves Martial Arts Thriller - November 16, 2015
The following is an excerpt from Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts. Sam Reeves and his girlfriend Mai are enjoying a morning at Saturday Market, a sprawling weekend bazaar along Portland's waterfront. From the top of a bridge at the market, a crazed man, "Tonto," announces that he will be the crowds designated shooter.
Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts - A Sam Reeves Martial Arts Thriller - October 26, 2015
Prologue from the book: His legless torso swings back and forth between his arms, as he hand-walks along the dim but ornately lit cobblestone path that meanders about the lavish yard through tall bamboo, past large stone Asian lanterns, around half a dozen towering palm trees, and encircles a large pond. Twelve-foot high brick walls border the large yard on three sides.
The Sword Structure - July 20, 2015
The sword consists of two parts: the blade and the hilt or handle. Both edges of the narrow-blade sword are sharp; the handle and sword body are always straight. The hand guard is always flat and perpendicular to the blade, rather than circular or oval.
Enzan The Far Mountain - A Connor Burke Martial Arts Thriller - August 11, 2014
The following is an excerpt from John Donohue's latest martial arts thriller, Enzan The Far Mountain. Chie Miyazaki is a wild, spoiled, pampered child of a cadet line of the Imperial House of Japan. When she disappears in the United States accompanied by a slick Korean boyfriend who may be taking orders from Pyongyang, it sets alarms off in Japan's security apparatus as well in the U.S. intelligence.
About the Sword - July 14, 2014
Many martial artists, even those who have studied Chinese martial arts for many years, still have a number of questions about the structure, use, history, and geographical background of the Chinese straight sword (jian).
Dukkha Unloaded-A Sam Reeves Martial Arts Thriller - June 26, 2014
A rush of wind sent debris skittering along the empty sidewalks, filthy gutters, and streets long in need of repair. Though few vehicles passed through the darkened skid row intersection of Northwest Third and Couch at three a.m., its lone traffic signal, swaying in the wind, continued to cycle its colors, casting hues off the sides of old buildings and the cracked windshield of a decaying station wagon propped up on four rusted wheels.
A Few Fighting Techniques Found in the Dukkha Series - June 16, 2014
Many kind reviewers for Dukkha: The Suffering, Dukkha: Reverb, and Dukkha: Unloaded have commented on the realistic violence, in particular the fight scenes. This is always nice to hear because I work hard to infuse the scenes with authenticity and truth. After spending 30 years around man's inhumanity to man, first as a Military Policeman in Vietnam and then as a street cop for 25 years in Portland, Oregon, I find many authors' and movie directors' depiction of violence to be sadly lacking or simply off base.
Weapons and Words - April 14, 2014
A man sees the world through the eyes he has been given. A priest and his daughter in the land called China liberate the wounded Celtic prisoner of war (Vincent) ripped from his homeland. This chapter is about the beginnings of the priest, Mah Lin, who is Vincent's owner.
On Writing Dukkha Reverb - October 28, 2013
Dukkha Reverb is the second book in the Dukkha thriller series, published by YMAA Publications. The first is Dukkha: The Suffering.
Chojun Miyagi, The Typhoon Man - October 7, 2013
(The following is an excerpt from Chojun A Novel by Goran Powell. Chojun Miyagi, born in Higashimachi, Naha, Okinawa, April 25, 1888. He began studying Karate at age nine. He first learned martial arts from Ryuko Aragaki who then introduced him at age 14 to Kanryo Higashionna (Higaonna Kanryo.) He continued studying and teaching until his death from heart disease in Okinawa October 8, 1953.)
Dukkha Reverb - September 9, 2013
The following is an excerpt from Dukkha Reverb, a Sam Reeves martial arts thriller. After six weeks of being intensely investigated for the accidental killing of a young boy, Portland police detective and martial arts instructor, Sam Reeves, travels to Saigon, Vietnam to visit his newly found family.
Fundamental Sword Training and Practice - September 2, 2013
Jian is the king of the short weapons. Skill in the use of the Jian is built on a foundation of skill with the saber, which is called the root of the short weapons. Any martial artist who wants to master the Jian should first master the saber; otherwise it will be extremely difficult to understand the applications of the techniques and the source of the power in sword practice.