Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Perceive What Cannot Be Seen

Perception can mean a lot of things. For instance, the most common mode of perception for any person is the senses. Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste are common tools for perception. Intuition is another, but is a less common mode of perception. In kenpo karate, and other martial arts, perception is a little different.

Perception is knowing without consciousness. Hard to understand? Yes it is; it is even harder to put into words. True perception comes with experience and training. The more experience an artist has, the higher his/her perception is... Though that is not always true.

You may be an experienced martial artist, but you may have yet to rely on true perception as a tool. However, the more I think about it, it becomes impossible for me to believe that a martial artist who practices the Way and has a high awareness of himself and the world around him, could ever not have true perception. The experienced martial artist would have to be extremely lacking in true experience to not have developed this to even the slightest level.

Perception is essentially intuition, but goes beyond it to action without thought. So without really conceiving an intuitive thought, perception comes and the body of a martial artist takes control and strikes before an opponent can dispatch him.

It is a hard topic to talk about. Perception, in my experience, comes to those who are practicing and watching. It is something that should come to any martial artist who is in the Way.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Developing Intuitive Judgement

Developing intuition can be a bad thing, and when I say that, I'm not implying that intuition its self is bad but the person who is developing it may not completely understand what intuition is.

As I understand intuition, it is feeling in your gut that something isn't right or that something is going to happen. Often it is hard to know the "what" but sometimes intuition tells you exactly why you are having the "gut" feeling.

The reason why intuition can be a bad thing is because many have strong ideological backgrounds, and they perceive the world as they wish it were instead of how it is. There is nothing wrong with having ideals, it's when you allow them to cloud your "reality" thinking that can screw up your intuitive judgement.

Developing intuitive judgement takes all the skills we talked about before, especially understanding people and the various ways that exist in the world. Thinking honestly is also key when it comes to intuitive development, because if you are always thinking of how it should be, you will have a hard time perceiving how it is.

So the best thing to remember when developing intuition is to test it (like everything else). You'll get a feeling, that is fact, but where the feeling comes from is debatable. Wait to see if the conclusion you came to is fact or fiction. If the conclusion is, by any means, something that could harm someone else, take action right away. Better safe than sorry. But many of your intuitive thoughts will be about things that are less than life-changing. The last intuitive thought I received was simply about my choice of parking. Ignoring it, I found that I was right and that I had to move my car.

They can be anything and sometimes they can be nothing. Test your intuitions and continue to study because study and training are the only ways to develop your intuition.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Distinguish Between Gain and Loss

In every action, remember there is gain and loss. In some situations, you will be met with a loss and in others you will be met with gain, each will happen and it is best not to dwell on either. Forget the loss and remember the gain--to the best of your ability--but never dwell on either. To dwell will make you sloppy.

In every decision, there is a gain or a loss. It is why we must make decisions. Whether the gain be large or small, or likewise the loss, there will be one every time. In strategy it is wise to remember this and also to observe these potential outcomes in order to make the best decision.

In kenpo karate, many of our techniques are rapid and flowing and involve a series of strikes and grabs. If you are caught by a strong kenpo karate fighter, you may have to choose where to block--which part of your body is best to protect.

Hopefully you would know and understand the technique, and if that's the case you may have a counter. If you have not devised counters for techniques, you may want to start. It is good to understand the potential outcomes of any attack with a clever counter. This may throw off your opponent, but remember he/she may be cleverer.

Know when to retreat and know when to advance. If your opponent is strong, weigh the options.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Know the Ways of all Professions

For this one, I'm going to provide a link to another blog that I have read recently. It just seemed like a better article than the one that I had in mind. So click here for Steven Barnes article Musashi #4.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Become Acquainted with Every Art

In order to grow, a student must become familiar with different arts. This is not limited to martial arts or to differing styles of kenpo. It is best to learn all arts.

Schools in the US have had a little bit of a problem with this action. It is common to view art classes as a waste of time because the student isn't solving some sort of elaborate equation or coming up with a cure for cancer. But it is through art that one learns to deviate and think outside the box, which often comes to answers and cures.

Art is a way for the mind to relax and stress, depending on the task. It is not more or less important than any other subject matter.

That being said, a martial artist should strive to perceive how art can influence their own style. The animal styles were influenced by the observation of animals and then the rigid training of the masters. Caligraphy can help a swordsman with his swordsplay. Miyamoto encourages writing and painted many beautiful paintings in his lifetime.

Art is important to release our own inner potential and can help us achieve more when we take the time to discover it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Way is in Training

Second in the principles of Miyamoto and kenpo karate is "the way is in training." As I stated in a previous article, there are many ways. Depending on the direction you are going, you can find a path that leads anywhere. But the Way here is talking about the way of a martial artist.

The Way is not something that is taught, it is learned. The cliche is tired, I know, but it is the truth. One only learns the Way. And the way that one learns the Way is through the instruction of a teacher who knows the Way. How do you know that they know the Way? You don't, because you do not know what the Way is until you get there.

The first principle "do not think dishonestly" goes in hand with this one. Your teacher must not think dishonestly; that is one way to know for sure. And the only way to know that your teacher is not thinking dishonestly is to question what he/she says, research and discover. In doing that, you may be able to uncover whether or not they know the Way.

The Way comes with training. You may learn all the techniques quickly and even have a knack at sparring, kata and all other focuses in the martial arts, but only through years of training will you find the Way itself. It comes and goes as you train and you will be able to perceive it only while you are on it.

It is not something you can find on a map, it is something instinctual. The same way that birds learn to fly and fish learn to swim. It is inside them already; it is not something to focus upon nor is it something easily grasped or put into words. But it is something that comes to those who put their passion into the martial arts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kenpo Karate: Do Not Think Dishonestly

Do not think dishonestly is one of the 9 principles written by Musashi Miyamoto and adopted by the kenpo karate community. It is not so much concerned with lying (though lying is not a very good action either) but rather a Christian practice of not relying on one's own understanding.

For instance kenpo is a martial art that originates from China but grew up in Japan. Some may say that kenpo is a form of kung fu based on this logic, however by today's standards kenpo doesn't resemble any known kung fu. So though it may have come from China, kenpo was brought up in Japan and was influenced by Japanese customs and martial arts.

There kenpo is not kung fu. But because some may believe that it is, that is a form of thinking dishonestly. Those who believe that kenpo is kung fu are relying on their own understanding. Just because the ground that you are standing on is supposedly flat, does not mean the world itself is flat.

Miyamoto prescribed study and perception in order for students of strategy to learn. It was through these actions that martial artists can see the differences. If there is something that I can add to this thought, it is to never take any information given to you at face value. Always research and test those who are your teachers before accepting their truths.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kenpo Karate and the Arts of War

Martial arts were created as a way to defend one's self. Kenpo itself was created by Shaolin monks after a visit from an Indian wanderer. He taught them the art which was not called kenpo at the time so that they could defend their temple from marauders. The Yoshidas brought "kenpo" to Japan after they created their own temple. And kenpo karate was born as it intermingled with the culture and other martial art forms in the area.

All martial arts have similar tales; there is not one that is better than the rest. Miyamoto encouraged his students of strategy to seek all arts of war and learn from them. They all have flaws; they all have strengths. They each teach a way to discipline the body and mind and give students a closer link to the third element of all human beings: the soul.

So when a teacher says that his way is the best, remember that it is not the way, it is the student. The student is the one who takes the art and makes it what it is.

Bruce Lee took his art and turned it into Jeet Kune Do by adding various art forms. He recognized what his style lacked and created his own style to make up for the flaws... however even his style is not flawless. That would imply a state of perfection which is impossible for human beings (insert Chuck Norris joke here).

I write this post because I read an article written by a teacher who thought his style was best. He chastised another style for the way that its students practiced. In his pride he challeged any martial artist to fight him in the ring so he could show them how a real martial artist spars.

It is foolish for him to do this. Though his confidence may not be misplaced and he may be the best of his time, to chastise an art based solely on one day's experience is pure foolishness.

Each art has it's place. As one way focuses on techniques more than others, still another art makes up for it by focusing on what the first lacks. Learn all that you can about all ways and create your own style; in this Bruce Lee is a true artist to develop his art: a true contribution to the arts of war.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Belt System... I'm griping!

This may sound heretical, but I'm not sure I really like the belt system. In my master's school, we the students would often listen to lectures on what being a black belt meant. For instance, a black belt is a leader, a well rounded student who displays courtesy and knowledge in order to help those lesser in rank; I'm not debating that, but often schools have black belts and students who wear black belts.

I want to be clear that I'm not saying that they did not "deserve" their promotion. They performed what ever requirements that were required in order to pass. But when a teacher looks around, they can tell who the real black belts are. 

As I said black belts are leaders. They lead the lower ranks in class and drills. But black belts are also students in the fire and wind mindsets. They are passionate and creative, finding answers to their questions through study and rigorous training. They try to best themselves as they train and push themselves farther. 

If you are a teacher, and you have black belts that are not like this, should they be wearing black belts?

Now this opens up another avenue of discussion. Not every black belt is going to open up their own school, or go to the olympics, or star in action films, or even become a major part of their MA like Ed Parker. Many martial artists have other lives and MA is just a hobby. That's great! MA is a great way to get in shape and also get in touch with your deeper self, but should they be awarded black belts?

I think they should be given black belts, especially if they are hard workers and are, in fact, black belts in class and represent their school well. There are not that many students out there that are ready to give their whole life to MA, but they are still great teachers and leaders in their schools or should be...

Some schools are black belt factories and just promote without giving their students much of a test at all. they don't challenge their students and allow them to pay a monthly fee so they can "train" and "test" every two months. Some students just want the black belt to tie around their wastes. They don't want the knowledge and responsibility that comes with it.

It's easy to get a black belt; go online and buy one from a MA magazine. It will save you all the months paying a teacher to promote you. And you can wear it to school, brag about it and get served by the guy who is easily irritated by showoffs... And so this is my gripe about the belt system. I don't really know what should be done about it.

It is a practice that has gone on since the late 1800s. It is a part of MA now and will be forever... probably. So what do you think? Should there be a different way of promoting? Or maybe we should just tear down the bogus MA schools? Your call!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Art of Control Part 2

In this second part, I would like to write about controlling one's own mind. It is one thing to be passionate about something and totally lose yourself in it. That is what being in the fire mindset is all about. However, if you let your emotions get the better of you, you may lose the fight quicker.

Whoever owns the mind wins the fight; whoever has control wins the fight. Some people are very emotionally charged. The slightest thing may get them to lose their cool and perform sloppy. Their opponents easily own them because they control that person's mind.

This can be a very useful strategy, but it takes knowing your enemy on a much more personal level than you would see at any school. However, those who let their emotions get the better of them all the time are very easy to figure out. Once you have that knowledge, it is easy to exploit and use. The trick is to understand how the person will reacts to whatever stimuli you use.

If your opponent gets angry, he may be easier to defeat but it also may make him more dangerous. If you can make your opponent feel self-conscious, you have a better shot of winning with less injury to self.

Now onto how to battle against someone who may be baiting you into losing your cool. The first step is to realize it is happening. When the stimuli is introduced that sets us off and makes us react in a certain way, it gains control of the mind because we let it. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, we become wrapped up in the trivial thing that just happened.

For instance, if you hate "your mama" jokes to the point that you take offense, your opponent may use that against you. It may make you so angry that you make simple mistakes that could have been avoided if you kept your cool. Realizing what is happening takes practice. We become preoccupied with the offense and we forget what is really important. By realizing that the opponent is using this stimuli to set us off-balance, we can stay focused on the task at hand and not the stimuli that set us off (or would have set us off).

Second step, continue to focus on your opponent like it was any other fight. Watch his movements and techniques and remember your training. What counter works best here or there. Keep your mind on these things and not the offensive stimuli.

Third step, if you are able, shrug off the offensive stimuli with some sort of retort. Smile and agree with him; what else can he say if you are fully "aware" of the things he is already saying. If you are lucky, this can make him slip up and then you have control of his mind.

Fourth step... This isn't really a step but possibly a brilliant strategy it one can pull it off: acting. You may be able to convince your opponent that he indeed has gotten into your head. If you can do this, he has a false sense of security and will more than likely not be fighting with full force. Why should he? If he has control, there is no reason to exert himself. This way you can take him by surprise and throw him off more and win.

Thank your for reading. Please add whatever you think to the comments below and we can have a discussion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kenpo Karate: The Art of Control Part 1

In kenpo karate and any other martial art, there are two things you must have control of while fighting. The first is your opponent and the second is yourself. Or vice versa, depending on which one you have the most difficulty with.

As Miyamoto wrote in the Book of Five Rings, a master of strategy has control over his opponent. This doesn't mean mental control like in those comic books, this means controling the fight.

There is no one answer on controlling the fight. Each fight is different because each opponent is different. This is where the water mindset plays a key role. You must be willing to understand your opponent in order to beat him or to control him. As Miyamoto described in the Book of Five Rings, there are three ways to engage an opponent that each martial artist uses without knowing.
  1. Attacking
  2. Waiting
  3. Or Simultaneous Attacking
The one who attacks first has control of the fight. The fighter who is on the offensive controls where the opponent dodges by which techniques he uses and by surveying the environment. However, just because the attacker initially has control does not mean that he can maintain it.

There is something to be said about the opponent who waits. They can be called strategists as long as they maintain the water mindset. By waiting and dodging and perceiving, the Waiter can fully understand their opponent and utilize the right combinations to incapcitate him. Kenpo karate and most martial arts schools teach the arts to defend, not to attack. However sometimes it may be unavoidable, especially if you need to take control of the fight.

Simultaneously attacking is dangerous. Unless you have a high tolerance for pain, it is suggested you be an Attacker or a Waiter, however as you become more experienced maybe at the fire mindset or the wind mindset, simultaneous attacking works. It can be a way to fake out your opponent or even stop them from continuing his attack. Attacking at the same time can also become a defensive offense. While your opponent chickens out on the attack (if you haven't chickened out), you can continue your attack and take control of the fight. But very often it results in banged up shins and forearms, so get to know your body first before attempting a simultaneous attack.

I believe that I will save the second part of this blog for tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Leaping Crane Technique

Hi everyone! Got another video from Expert Village called the Leaping Crane. Really good technique to defend against a punch. I'm having a little bit of writer's block so I was wondering if any of you had any ideas or posts you would like to see posted here? I'm all ears and more than willing to write what you want on this blog, as long as it is Kenpo Karate or MA related.


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Book of Void

In the Book of Void, Miyamoto discusses nothingness. It is definitely the shortest book in the Book of Five Rings, spanning to (really) a full page of text. The book is so short, that I will just quote it here for you.

In this Void Book, I will record the Ichi Way of Strategy.
The Void is where there is nothing or any form. Man cannot have knowledge of this because it is nothing. Since we have knowledge of what is, we therefore know what is not. That is the Void.
People sometimes think that which they do not understand is the Void. This is not true. This is confusion.
Military strategists and those who study war sometimes think that whatever they do not understand is the Void. But this is not the true Void.
In order to master the Way of Strategy, you must study the other martial arts, and you must not abandon the Way of the warrior at all. You must set your mind upon practicing every single day, hour by hour. You must develop the double spirit of the heart and the mind. And you must appreciate the two-fold use of perception and eyesight. When your mind is clear, and there are no clouds of confusion, this is the True Void.
Before you understand the True Void, you may think you have gained understanding either through Buddhism or through everyday thought. When you realize the true Way, you will understand that each of us sees the various ways through different eyes. Seeing these other ways is to reject the true Way.
Make sure you base your practice on a wide foundation, and learn a large number of martial arts. This way, you will understand the Void as the Way, and you will see the Way as the Void.
The Void is good, and contains no evil.
I believe that Miyamoto is saying that in order to understand the Void and also to understand the Way, we must concern ourselves with the study of all things. In that way we understand what is and what is not. The Way is, of course, the way of the warrior, which narrows down the broader sense of the Void a little, as we concern ourselves with the Way of Strategy and the Art of War which can only be learned through experience and study of Miyamoto further.

In understanding all things we are less judgmental and also are able to understand people and our surroundings. I think that is primarily what Miyamoto is getting at; with understanding comes a sort of knowing, allowing students to further their advantage in winning in all things whether it be battle or in whatever way they choose to live their lives...

Follow the links below to buy your book today. Though I have summarized the chapters here on my blog, I know that this book is invaluable to any serious martial artist. It goes over strategies read here as well as more that didn't make it into my posts.

For instance:
  • posture
  • holding your sword
  • as well as numerous other techniques when in battle... or just having a friendly sparring match.

This version of Miyamoto's book is a modernized version. Some of the original text is a little hard to understand, so if you want an easier read, I recommend this one. It has everthing the original has but in more modern terms. Follow the links to find out more. Thanks again for reading!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Book of Wind

In the Book of Wind, Miyamoto breaks down why his way is the best way. He writes about other schools and their teachings and how they take pride in what they teach, however he points out all of their key flaws and writes on true strategy on their behalf.
I have demonstrated clearly in the body of this book that none of these is the true Way. I have shown all of what is good and right and all of what is bad and wrong, based on the true principles. My Ichi School idea is fundamentally different. The other schools consider this a performance, or a means of making a living. They grow their flowers, or paint decorations for sale. This is not the Way of Strategy.
In the following sections, Miyamoto points out the problems in each school. For instance, one school that teaches the very long sword prefers it over its distance. Its length supposedly keeps enemy swords out of reach of the wielder's body. However, Miyamoto points out that in snug quarters, the very long sword is not as adaptable as the long sword. 

There is also a school that prefers the short sword: Kodachi. They would rely on surprise attacks and springing feet (which Miyamoto has much to say about footwork in this chapter as well). Miyamoto points out that the short sword may have its uses, but it is not the perfect weapon. It makes the user more defensive, which Miyamoto despises.

The right way to win is to chase your opponent with a strong and erect body.
Users of the short sword must flee the long sword because of its length; in order to win they can not rely solely on surprise tactics, especially when fighting an army. However, I would like to mention that a skilled short-swordsman, if he knows his terrain and can trick his opponents easily, may stand a chance (projecting... sorry).

The Book of Wind is really a great book in the full text of the Book of Five Rings. There are more examples in this book, but I believe that you would be better off just reading it yourself instead of relying on this blog. I personally like to keep my pieces short-ish, so listing all of the wisdom of Miyamoto would be hard to do that unless I was to break the book further.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Book of Fire

I've been contemplating this ever since yesterday. I feel that Miyamoto's Book of Five Rings is a text that really can't be explained in 5 posts. I guess from what I have heard about the book, I figured that it would be simple to share the wisdom of Miyamoto in a summary. That is certainly not the case.

So I'm going to share a little about each book from now on. It's just that each book is not easily summarized. Miyamoto has added so much to the text. He has many of his own techniques inside, named, with long explanations for each one... Imagine a blog post for each chapter now.

So what I've decided is to stick with a short summary with every intention to come back to this series with a more detailed post for each technique.

For now though, let's get back to the Book of Fire. Simply put, Miyamoto says that fire refers to fighting. Fire is ferocity or passion like I described in my theory on the fire mindset.

In terms of fighting, Miyamoto says there are three ways to engage an enemy:
The first method is to attack. This is called Ken No Sen, or to set him up. The second method is to hold him off as he attacks. This is called Tai No Sen, or waiting for him to take the initiative. The third method is to attack at the same time as the enemy. This is called Tai Tai No Sen, or to both accompany and forestall him at once.
 For this post, I would like to go over these in more detail.

Ken No Sen:

Miyamoto writes that Ken No Sen is about initiative. He gives readers three strategies in regards to initiative.
  1. You want to remain calm but move quickly and take your opponent by surprise. Be wise about how much effort you put into your attacks, you do not know at this point how your opponent will react (fear is a common reaction), keep some energy in reserve in case you need to forestall.
  2. This second strategy is about overwhelming your opponent with speed. Keep your resolve and move quickly. Confuse and overwhelm with fast powerful attacks.
  3. Last one, attack with a calm mind and spirit (control the fire mindset) and create in your mind the feeling of victory. Intend to win and unleash your knowledge calmly and methodically.
Tai No Sen:

Miyamoto writes that when waiting for your opponent to attack, maintain a serene disposition. He also suggests to act weak. As your opponent approaches, watch. When he relaxes, it means that your ploy worked. At the moment he believes you are not a threat, overtake him with a strong attack. Become ferocious fire in an instant!

Tai Tai No Sen:

This type of engagement is a little awkward, but if you have ever sparred before you've seen it. As soon as your opponent moves in for an attack, attack! It takes a watchful eye and experience to do this correctly. You must be able to predict the attack and dodge and counter appropriately in your attack. Sounds a bit strange, but when you think about it, how else would you attack your attacker?

The Book of Fire is just as long as the Book of Water and filled with strategy techniques. Many are no-brainers while some are those that give you that epiphany feeling. Still a very good book. Check it out or get your own copy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Book of Water

Much like my theory on the water mindset, the book of water is about learning. Best and most cliche way to look at it is that the book of water is full of tips and tricks on how best to hold your sword and also ways to utilize it properly with differing strategies--much like a jug of water. Your mind should be empty in order to take in the knowledge with the book.

Miyamoto says this about the mind and body:
"Do not allow your mind to become slack however, or your body to relax. Your body should not relax in correspondence with your mind, and your mind must remain resolute when the body is calm. Keep control of your mind and do not allow your spirit to weaken."
I find this to be one of the strongest points made in the chapter. The mind wanders very easily (mine's doing it right now); the one who is able to control his mind is the one who has full discipline and is able to achieve anything he sets his mind to.

Also the Book of Water mentions the art of understanding. From understanding techniques to understanding one's opponents. Miyamoto speaks of height differentials in warriors:
"Men of small stature must thoroughly know and understand the body and spirit of men of larger stature.  Likewise, large men must understand the spirit of men who are smaller. No matter what your physical size, always keep your mind in check and know the difference between good and bad actions. Do not allow yourself to be deceived."
As I said, Miyamoto's Book of Water is a jug of what to do and what not to do. I won't go into too much detail (because if you want to know, you should just get a copy), but he talks about posture, gaze, holding a sword and footwork, which is very useful in helping warriors move quickly or stand firm against an opponent.

Honestly this book is very large, and for me to go through everything strategy in it in one blog is a bit much. For now I will leave you with this, the book of water is about study and practice. Study your opponent and study the art of strategy. Practice the strategies and win.

Monday, January 9, 2012

American Kenpo Karate: Broken Gift

Once again another youtube post... I'm on the next chapter of The Five Rings so tomorrow should be a better post and I should also get myself more into the game and make better post this week. Instead, enjoy this technique from AmericanKenpoist: Broken Gift.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Book of Earth

As far as I can tell my theories on the the mindsets really don't correspond with the Five Rings, though, from a mental aspect, I still believe that what I wrote is valid in it's own way.

Miyamoto begins the Book of Earth by describing what the way is. There isn't one way, there are several. Today, we could observe the way of the blogger, the way of the scientist, the way of the inventor, the way of the businessman... Every person has a way and they aren't restricted to their profession.

However, if one wants to be successful in the path they choose, he must learn everything there is to know about "their" way. This is in essence strategy, which is to learn and always be learning so that you are ahead of your competition.

So in a way, every person adopts the way of strategy whether they know it or not. But knowing this does not make you a strategist. That would be high a compliment for any novice to claim and surely Miyamoto would be laughing in his grave.

Strategy, which is what Miyamoto is writing about, is the art of a warrior. That may seem extreme after what I said about ways, but if you break down the idea of war, it is one side vs another and one side usually ends the victor--like a competition.

In essence we are all warriors of our own ways. We all seek to expand our knowledge of our way. Which is the Book of Earth: knowing.

Miyamoto used an example of a carpenter-overseer in The Book of Five Rings.
"The carpenter-overseer must know the theory of architecture which governs the towers and temples, and the plans of castles, and he must employ people in order that they will build the houses"
Building a house takes a great deal of knowledge; the carpenter-overseer must must be familiar with the tools at his disposal as well as his materials and how to utilize them wisely. Just like a general of an army, the carpenter must know where to cut, where to sand, where to place, where to hammer... And also the carpenter must know his employees in order to employ them correctly.

Which ones are good at constructing sliding doors? Which ones are good at constructing doorjambs? The carpenter is familiar with his workers so that they together can produce great work.

Miyamoto also goes into great detail of weapons and which to use and when to use and also goes further to say that none is better than all, though the long sword is useful in nearly any situation. He also describes timing, which is fundamental in kenpo karate when attacked.

Knowing when to attack and when to counter are pinnacle skills to learn as a martial artist. Knowing this improves your strategy just as knowing how to counter a on coming punch.

So the Book of Earth focuses mainly on knowing your way and also knowing when to make your move.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Five Swords Technique as well as things to come.

These videos from Expert Village are pretty good. Sorry about posting two videos instead of a real post; I'm reading a book I just bought (The Book of Five Rings) which I think will help me better understand my theories of the different mindsets that I posted earlier. I guess I should have mentioned that in the posts; if I didn't, I'm sorry. The five elements and the emotional and mental implications they had inspired me to write those first posts but I would like to read Miyamoto's actual text before I delve any further into the subject.

Thank you very much for reading and please take a look at the Five Swords Technique

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Circling Wing Technique

Hey check out this technique. I figured I'd just give you the video because watching it is a little better than reading it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Blocking Faster

When I was growing up in my school, I was known as an impenetrable force. My hands were quick; I was able to block 90% of my opponents attacks (now counter attacking, that was another story). My hands were my pride and joy, and I took my "ultimate" defense as a special niche that only I had mastered.

Getting there is rather simple. Most of us who have been martial artists for a while have already learned the basics, which are your blocks.

Now there are of course your upward blocks, inward blocks and outward blocks and it is very (extremely) useful to know and use these correctly. But if you want to be faster, your best bet is to just use your hands and arms.

Well duh! Right? What I mean is get used to rotating your arms. Rotate your arms like windmills. This is a good way to stretch them and get them used to the movements. Another favorite of mine is from Karate Kid: wax on, wax off.

With that technique, you want to perform with both hands going the same direction, forwards and backwards as well as countering one another. Caution, you will look ridiculous doing this.

Paint the fence, another good one from Karate Kid, simple pretend you arm brushing a fence in an up and down movement or side to side.

Honestly the best way for me to describe how to get faster blocks is by using your arm's full motion. That is including your hands. Swivel and bend to practice but also be practical. Your hands are very important and they can be damaged easily if you goof off too much during sparing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Void Mindset: A Higher Consciousness

The final state that a martial artist may reach is the void mindset. Void is representative of pure creative energy and also alludes to a connection to a higher being. Essentially the kenpo karate student in this mindset is able to act on instinct, he or she is more attuned with their surroundings and will react without thinking or using their conventional senses.

The best way for me to describe this mindset further is to relay my own experience. That is not to say that I am constantly in this state; the fact is I’ve only been in this state twice.

The first time I was in this state, I was getting off the bus when I was in high school. There was a beam (knee high) that my dad placed in between our property and our neighbors because we had a lot of people driving through our yard… long story. Anyway I would always jump over it when I got off the bus, however one day I tripped over it and I don’t personally recall the incident, but my sister, who got off after me, saw me turn that trip into a forward roll and ultimately landing on my feet.

I won’t get into the second time, but the idea is that this state typically hits you when you least expect and usually you will not really remember the incident at all.

I would also like to mention that none of these signs are forever. I know it may have sounded in my previous post that once you go to the next stage you remain in that stage, but I want to be perfectly clear that it doesn’t work like that.

The void state is one that happens, but with years of experience it happens more often. The earth state can sometimes come back like a season in one’s life; it just needs to me re-conquered. The others are just as fleeting and also just as easy to recapture. Just like all martial arts techniques, these states take focus and experience to achieve.