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.
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.
Working Together: Teaching Online - March 26, 2021
Online teaching has been trending throughout the pandemic. YMAA instructors Jonathan Chang and Michelle Lin share their experiences providing virtual teaching pre-pandemic until now, as well as hosting a global Martial Arts Virtual Camp. I sat down with them recently (virtually of course) to discuss all this and what they are planning for the future.
Bam Commandments: Spiritual Principles - February 15, 2021
It’s the first of the month in the tough ghetto neighborhood. It’s payday for the poor. The welfare check has arrived, and the drug dealers can’t wait. It’s also their payday, and they can easily estimate $20,000-$50,000 in income. This might seem exaggerated, but it’s not. This dealing goes on every day, and with this business comes violence, guns, and murder for those in top positions of power.
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.
Know the Land, Know the Martial Arts History of Vietnam - September 28, 2020
Vietnam has a land mass close to 332,000 square kilometers, it borders China to the north, mainland Southeast Asia to the west and has hundreds of kilometers of coastline. As a result, the region has long been seen as a strategically and economically valuable resource. The modern incarnation of Vietnam was first amalgamated by military expansion southwards throughout the seventeenth century, giving the country its distinct "S" shape. Meanwhile, the northern borders have had very little modification since the withdrawal of the Song Dynasty in 1070.
Vietnamese Martial Arts and Their Role in the Modern World - July 24, 2020
The land we now know as Vietnam has been defined by centuries of conflict. Within the modern-day borders of the country, countless battles for dominance, resources and survival have taken place, thus ensuring the development of many unique fighting styles. Although there has been a long and intertwined history between China and Vietnam (the name Vietnam even stems from the Chinese "Nan Yue" which means "Southern Dwellers",) various geographical, cultural and physical differences have all coalesced to create combat systems that are distinctly different from their northern counterparts.
The Way of Wushudo - December 2, 2019
The highest level of martial arts training is to be able to perform beyond all boundaries, systems, styles, and techniques with total freedom of self-expression. You can achieve this only after you have developed a strong foundation in a particular style or system.
Sambo-Not for the Faint of Heart - November 25, 2019
The young newspaper reporter was looking for an angle on his story about the national sambo tournament I was hosting sometime back around 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. I had given him the necessary background information on the sport; the rules, history, who was competing that day and the other bits of information that would give the reporter more than enough information to provide an interesting story to his readers.
Steps to Winning - November 11, 2019
Many people study martial arts because they want to develop their fighting skills, then have a chance to go one-on-one with other martial artists. It seems more refined and socially acceptable to them than going outside and picking a fight with someone on the street. Of course you don't get the same possible dire consequences, because there is always a measure of controlled fighting in the ring.
Structured Training in the Martial Arts - October 14, 2019
Structured training is not only necessary, it is essential and central to success in any field of endeavor, and especially so in the fighting sports that comprise the martial arts. A person has to train hard, but just as important, that martial arts athlete has to train smart. In most martial arts, there is a rational approach to skill development.
How to be a Complete Martial Artist and Discover the Champion Within - October 7, 2019
It took a 6-foot-wide and 8-foot-high jail cell for me to realize that I had the qualities of a complete martial artist. I struggled with the thought of the inside being like a tunnel and losing my breath from being claustrophobic.
Encountering a Bully - September 23, 2019
When you come across a bully, it is important to understand that there are several defensive tools you can use to escape a fight. To avoid these situations altogether, it helps to know what types of bullies there are and what weapons they will use to try to put you down.
The Pursuit of Do - August 12, 2019
There is a formula in Western civilization that many people follow, hoping for inner peace and happiness—a good education, plus a good job, plus lots of money and material possessions, plus family and friends equal inner peace and happiness.
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).
Judo Isn't Gentle - February 18, 2019
Is judo really the "gentle way?" In the popular meaning of the word, judo certainly isn't anything close to being gentle. To paraphrase the great martial arts writer Donn Draeger; "Judo isn't gentle." And while judo isn't gentle in the more common use of the word, it's certainly efficient; and because it's efficient, it's effective
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).