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Socio-Cultural Reasons for “Takeover” Attempts to Integrate Okinawan Karate into Mainland Japan’s Budo Philosophy
November 29, 2021
“Japan’s militaristic and nationalistic attitudes before WWII and its strategies to establish an Olympic sport after WWII explain why the mainland took over Okinawa’s unique fighting art.” Hermann Bayer, Ph.D.
Seven Aspects of Kihon
November 1, 2021
There are, however, a few key qualitative generalizations to be made about virtually all techniques. As you enjoy class training in kihon (technical fundamentals), you’ll want to continually check the following seven preliminary items to ensure they are driven deeply into your muscle memory.
The “Japanization” of Okinawan Karate in Mainland Japan
October 18, 2021
Japanization” changed many techniques of genuine Okinawan karate radically, and the essence of the original, Itosu-based style, which is self-protection, was lost in its transition from Okinawa to mainland Japan.
Encouragement
October 6, 2021
As you bow onto the dojo floor, wake up to all that is around you. Strive to maintain that consciousness until the time you bow off the floor for the night. Your awareness should be at its utmost when you are practicing your techniques.
Karate is For the Rest of Us
September 20, 2021
There is a public perception of adults who practice karate, borne no doubt of the movies our local multiplex presents us. America's favorite entertainment medium is the province of young athletic people who, in their quest to make right through might, produce skilled strikes that land accurately, rendering perfect unconsciousness in every opponent, and enable our hero to emerge uninjured after battling many wrongdoers. We in the practice know better.
Did Genuine Karate Originate in Okinawa or in China? A Contribution to Historic Reasoning in Martial Arts History - September 6, 2021
Applying a comparable argument, an existing Okinawan martial art with its clear intention and purpose of self-protection integrated foreign (here: “Chinese”) knowledge and skills as a useful improvement into its existing system, into its existing idea, its existing concept and intellectual framework.”
What is Karate? - August 30, 2021
"...since karate training has stressed humility and overcoming oneself as fundamental principles from ancient times, even though one may not be aware of the development, it contributes substantially to the polishing of character."—Master Gichin Funakoshi from Rentan Goshin Karate Jutsu, 1925
Olympic Karate: A New Martial Art Enters the Ring - August 2, 2021
Martial arts history happens when karate is introduced at the Tokyo Olympics. Among the 33 overall different sports this year, karate is part of a special group of martial-based Olympic sports. This includes archery, boxing, fencing, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, taekwondo, and wrestling (some also include the track and field event of javelin, and the winter sport of biathlon.) Despite their global impact, most Olympic games are of Western origin. The outstanding Non-Western games are the martial arts: judo, taekwondo, and now karate. The Olympic karate events will begin on August 4th and run until August 8th, 2021.
Three Ancient Chinese Teachings: Fo, Ru, Dao - May 10, 2021
Buddhism is an ancient religion based on the Buddha's teachings - the title given to the Indian spiritual seeker Siddhartha Gautama after he attained enlightenment more than 2,600 years ago. The Buddha's best-known teachings are the four noble truths and the eightfold path, which describe the nature of human suffering and a way to liberate oneself from the existential pains of life and reach nirvana.
Needle Through Brick: A Postcard of Traditional Kung Fu from Borneo - February 11, 2021
Needle Through Brick is a documentary that poses these questions by taking an intimate look at some surviving traditional Kung Fu and Tai Chi masters of Malaysian Borneo, particularly Sarawak and Sibu. There’s a large Chinese population here, a diaspora of masters who fled the Japanese occupation and the communists. Needle Through Brick presents insightful interviews of Borneo’s unique elder masters as the precious disciplines that they have dedicated their lives to face extinction.
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.
YMAA Tai Chi and Internal Arts Curriculum - April 22, 2019
At YMAA, students learn qigong (energy cultivation) as part of their taiji or kung fu classes. In ancient times, Shaolin monks trained the cultivation of qi (energy), and realized muscular power could be enhanced to a tremendous level, making martial techniques more powerful and effective. This was the beginning of internal cultivation in Chinese martial arts, starting around 550 AD /CE. In internal styles, YMAA focuses mainly on traditional Yang-style taijiquan which originated from Yang, Ban-Hou (楊班候).
Think of Beginning—Advance Gradually Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary - 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.
Kung Fu Body Conditioning - Upper Body - February 26, 2018
Body conditioning. It is painful and time consuming, yet it is essential for reaching high levels in martial arts. The upper extremities are used for striking, blocking, sensing, grabbing, breaking, lifting, etc.
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.
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.