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.
The Lowest Level of Force
December 7, 2020
The Records area at Rusafa Prison Complex in Baghdad is enclosed by a chain-link fence and was almost always crowded. It’s a stressful place, with inmates being processed in and out, Iraqi military, police, corrections, advocates, politicos, and sometimes families of the convicts are present and a small handful of American advisors.
Physical Reaction to Information
December 14, 2015
Our right to physically defend ourselves is widely accepted in the contemporary world. Most countries have laws protecting the individual from prosecution when he or she is under direct threat and must defend against bodily harm or even death. What is less clear, though, is the degree to which we are allowed to protect ourselves in that narrow window when an aggressor has decided to attack but has not yet attacked.
Nonphysical Reaction to Information
November 2, 2015
We all have the ability to use our instincts. The problem is that we often bury that inherent skill under a lot of what we need to learn to get along in contemporary society. So sometimes we may get a warning message about a potential threat, but then we choose to ignore it, perhaps out of doubt in ourselves, and our feelings, or perhaps because we just don't want to believe we may be in danger. The first task, then, is to hone our instincts through improving our ability to experience anxiety and to proficiently process the information coming in from our environment.
Motivation of the Warrior - October 12, 2015
The motivation of the individual or group plays an integral role in determining the final outcome when facing a combative or self-defense situation. Intention that is positively grounded increases focus, strength, speed, and endurance. Think of a mother lion defending her cubs. She experiences anxiety but is fearless in protecting them. People are the same. Through my years of experience, I am convinced that when we are motivated by what is good, we will eventually prevail over those who are not. We all choose to live by either service, which we might even call love, or power.
Power Issues Relating to Women - September 28, 2015
According to the World Health Organization, one in three women worldwide will be the victim of violence, including sexual violence. Over twenty-two million women in the United States have been sexually assaulted. The FBI estimates only 46 percent of these assaults are reported. These statistics tell us it is vital for every woman and girl to take courses in combatives, both armed and unarmed. This may seem drastic, but facts are facts, and the danger is real.
Psychology at Work: Developing the "Third Ear" and the Mob Boss - August 31, 2015
In his book Listening with the Third Ear, the psychologist Theodor Reik applies the third ear principle to the process of practicing psychotherapy. He says the proficient psychotherapist must be attuned to the instincts, the third ear, in order to truly understand clients and be sensitive to their needs. In exercising this faculty, we hear what is being said, but another "listening" is taking place as all of the information is coming in through the senses, prompting unconscious responses in the form of associations and spontaneous thoughts and feelings on the part of the therapist.
The Players in Self-Defense - February 2, 2015
No matter what levels of force you need, the players stay the same. It is critical to be able to read the players. The threat dictates the situation. You must understand the problem before you can choose a solution. A charm predator is one thing. A drunk wanting to show off for a girl is an entirely different problem. You must learn to read threats and threat dynamics.
Avoiding Workplace Violence - January 26, 2015
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 18,000 people a week are victimized by some sort of workplace violence in the United States. In fact, although industrial accidents abound, homicide is actually the leading cause of death among female workers and the second leading cause of death for men.
I.M.O.P. Principle—Intent, Means, Opportunity and Preclusion - October 6, 2014
How do you know when it is legal to get physical with an adversary? Learn the I.M.O.P. (Intent, Means, Opportunity, and Preclusion) principle. All four of these criteria must be met before you have a good case for taking action. If one or more of these conditions are absent, you are on shaky legal ground.
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.
Account for Adrenaline - September 1, 2014
When I took a defensive handgun course several years ago, I was taught to train for handling the survival-stress reaction commonly associated with actual combat. To simulate the reaction, we had to do as many pushups as we could as fast as we could for one minute.
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.
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.
The Victim Interview - February 17, 2014
I was parked alongside a major street in downtown Seattle. My hands were full of boxes and the mid-afternoon sun was glaring in my face, making it hard to see despite my polarized glasses, so it took a couple tries to get my key into the lock. I awkwardly dragged the door open, nearly dropping some of my packages, and began shoving my purchases in to the car.
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.
Karate - A Fighting Art: Use Technology - February 18, 2013
I began training in the martial arts in the summer of 1965. Months earlier, I had broken my lower back in a weightlifting contest and the doctor told me to stop lifting weights and to try something less violent on the body. Therefore, I began karate training.
Lethal Force: Firearms - Part 2 - February 1, 2013
Don’t over-romanticize guns. A handgun is a nifty machine that throws a hunk of metal in a straight line. No more, no less. A .45 caliber bullet, unless it hits bone and sends fragments spinning, does just as much damage as driving a blunt 45/100 of an inch-diameter stick into the body.
Lethal Force: Firearms - Part 1 - January 28, 2013
While handguns, shotguns, rifles, and carbines can all be used in self-defense, it can be very challenging to justify anything other than a handgun in court, save for in your home (or some places of business) where castle laws might apply.
Level 6-Lethal Force - November 19, 2012
Gary Fadden was a salesman for firearms manufacturer Heckler & Koch. On February 24, 1984, he and his fiancé were driving their Ford pickup along Route 50 in Virginia. This was before cell phones became ubiquitous and he had no communication device inside his vehicle.
Interlude-On Killing - October 22, 2012
I don’t shoot targets. I shoot men. Honestly, I figure I owe them that much. I know that when I kill someone I am doing to their family-their mothers and sisters and brothers—what the assh*le who murdered my sister did to mine. My mother will never recover all her sanity from that. She won’t ever stop grieving.
Introduction to Violence: Scale of Force Options - October 8, 2012
Even if you have never completed a woodworking project, you probably know that you could pound nails with a drill. You also know that it’s not a horribly effective method of doing it. And it is really tough on the drill.
Interacting with Law Enforcement Personnel - May 21, 2012
The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a attorney and to have that attorney present during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him.