Monday, May 14, 2012


- difference between assault, fighting and self-protection
- germany invasion of france
- war of aggression = assault
- one way offensive dynamic
- one side has operational objective, the other is just protecting themselves

- wars of the balance of power system in Europe and Cold War
- checks, balances and alliances

- battles between france and germany, U.S. and Soviet Union: both equally committed to the engagement
- rules to the engagement
- war declaration, terms offered afterwards, a business arrangement
- creates a game system
- war contests = fight

- 1940: imagine if france repelled germany
- goal is to stop assault, not reverse it
- this is the context for karate training - offense in response to assault that reestablishes the original condition
- if france pushed to berlin and burned berlin to the ground, they wouldn't be the protectors, they'd be the aggressors (reverse of the original dynamic)

- "karate stops at the border" between germany and france - offense stops when both parties are safe from the other

- in war of aggression, 2 considerations secure victory, surprise and blitzkrieg, not signalling the action and being overwhelmingly offensive
- in war contests, again two considerations dominate, intelligence and strategy, knowledge of the enemy and exploitation of that knowledge
- in war of protection (self-protection), only one quality matters, retaking the offensive from the aggressor
- retaking the offensive can be done straight away through tactics or after a delay using strategy (fabian: delay tactical action until you have secured tactical advantage)

- in karate too this idea of the offensive initiative is the most important consideration in combative self-protection, called sen.
- where sen starts lies at the heart of what karate is and what it isn't
- in assault/self-protection: sen first lies with the aggressor and the defender must retake sen
- in fight/contest: sen is for the taking, can be exchanged multiple times between the contestants and whoever does more damage while they have it wins
- if neither side in either type of conflict can consistently secure sen, the result is a stalemate = war of attrition

- karate is neither war of attrition, nor contest.  it is a commitment to sen for the moral and philosophical purpose of ending violence quickly

The Challenge: 23.50-25.50

Woke up at 5:15.  Felt good.  It's uncanny: If I wake up earlier and practice it feels like my day was already a success.  Same thing with making my bed - it makes you feel alive, like what you do matters.

Practised posture mainly along with lateral sabaki.  Important to note, most of these sabaki are expecting strikes to the solar plexus and lower. Strikes to the head require strong handiwork combined with sabaki to control the striking weapons.

The lateral sabaki have stances, blocks, strikes and deflections that work naturally with them.  The lateral shuffle works best with seisan, neko and kokutsu dachi paired with soto uke, shuto uke, gyaku zuki and mae ashi geri.

The Pivot step moves naturally to musubi dachi.  Tsukami, teisho and uchi uke work well with uraken and nage.

The outside drop step falls naturally into okutsu dachi.  It works well with gedan barai and soto uke as well as shuto uchi to the temple and neck.

The pivot drop step falls naturally to seisan dachi and pairs well with teisho and uchi uke with uraken as follow up.

The cross step behind is a kosa dachi, a shorter version of the 90 degree turn in seiken no migi/hidari.  It works well with haishu and shuto uke that can transition to a nukite to the eyes or neck.

The cross step in front is a kosa dachi that works well with shuto uke and shuto to the neck.  When spinning it can be joined with reverse elbows and yoko geri.

Finally the spin to musubi dachi has no block associated with its sabaki but is well suited to jodan uke, haishu uke and shuto or tetsui uchi when turning to the opponent.

When practising it is important to get a sense of moving effortlessly off embusen, as small a distance as possible and accurately visualizing the vector along which the attack must be intercepted.  From there you must move swiftly, smoothly and always balanced, returning to kamae again and again.  See different attacks approaching, and move through the different patterns of footwork.  Consider the strikes, pulls, pushes and throws which follow naturally from the uke and sabaki.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Challenge: 21.50-23.50

Woke up naturally at 4. Got out of bed, did a light warm up, and worked on posture and stances, interspersed with daily body weight reps.  Notes-

Tai Sabaki: 7 lateral shifts
a. Lateral slide (soto)
b. Reverse drop step (uchi uke)
c. Lateral lunge/drop step (okutsu)
d. Cross step in front (kosa)
e. Cross step behind (kosa)
f. Right to left and pivot (musubi)
g. Right to left in front and spin (musubi)

Uke-makiwara: practice blocks from musubi and soto.  Soto to neko - Sabaki lateral then forward = soto uke. Musubi to neko - Sabaki back diagonal = Shuto uke.

Continue to practice sabaki moving from embusen as little as possible as quickly as possible.

Knee over toe helps to evenly distribute weight over your feet. Toes should not bear weight, it should be exclusively limited by the heel and the ball. Lifting the ball should cause you to fall.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Challenge: 21.00-21.50

I'm reporting half an hour this morning when I really should report more due to all the time I haven't reported in the past month.  Taking another month off karate :-( And I made a shocking revelation...

I've been reading this book - The Power of Habit by Charles Duhig.  A lot of the book is stuff I knew intuitively and through school - the vast majority of the surface activities that people do are habits of one form or another. We generally give a lot of praise and blame to people for actions and decisions that weren't the product of conscious, deliberative thought.  Most of what we do is conditioning based on certain stimuli and with an intended outcome.

If I can be said to have a habit, my one habit is to consciously intellectualize the world around me.  When someone yells at me, I don't get defensive.  The first thing through my head is: why are they really yelling?  What is the context, the subtext?  Someone else's habit might be to retaliate, or get defensive.  Mine is to think, even when the most prudent thing would be to act.

Because my one habit is to over-analyse, I have a very difficult time maintaining actual habits.  Whereas someone else might be met with a stimulus - a commercial break during a television show - and condition themselves to do something - do 10 pushups - my inexorable mind is always questioning my responses.  Shouldn't I do different pushups?  How many would be best?  Maybe I should do some situps?  After a while of this endless self-questioning, the fledgling habit usual falls by the wayside.

My work ethic has always been one about results rather than routine.  Throughout school, I've always had an ability to get to the destination, but never with a consistent method of getting there.  If I studied at one library on a certain day for test A, I could never repeat the pattern for test B.  My restless mind would wander about looking for some structure to my efforts before settling on one and making the most of it before the deadline.

Real life however, has no deadlines.  There is no set date by which you should be financially secure, act responsibly, be a good person, a good father.  Without deadlines, my restless meandering has devolved into full-blown aimless wandering.

In the book, Duhigg discusses this notion of a 'keystone habit'.  I prefer 'rosetta stone' so that's what I'll be using.  The idea is that certain habits have such a profound effect on a person or entity that any committment to the habit would necessitate committed execution of other satellite habits.  Without doing these satellite habits the rosetta stone habit could not be done.  And I think I've found mine.

I think my Rosetta stone habit is reporting.  If I could actually come to expect the act of chronicling what I do, and eventually come to like the act of writing down what I do, it would become more urgent for me to do what I know that I should.  The consistent need to do one act - logging my actions - would lead to a persistent need to do the things that need logging.

I have to start building the writing habit, both for myself and for publication.  I have to feel strange not writing something down.  And then, when writing, I'll feel strange not having done something worth writing.  And that strange feeling, the longing, the expectation of something absent - is what I need the most.


Notes from Seisan:  There is a tension generated from the rear leg front kick that can be used to power the Gyaku-zuki from the hiki-ashi.  The feeling is one of a rooted Superman punch.  In the superman punch, you punch as the same side leg kicks back.  Shifting your pelvis forward during a rear leg mae geri creates a left right tension in the body, a coiled feeling.  You simply release the coil by pulling back the leg and driving the punch as the heel plant.  It also feels a little like Ouchi-gari.

Training notes: practice uke against a post.  It allows you to develop the blocks in association with sabaki and stances.  It is important to feel resistance against the forearm on the target zones, to feel where the lines intersect, where tangents are made between lines and curves of force.  Stay close to the post, stay as close as possible.  Push-up/fall-down against the post when doing age-uke, toboku ho, fall against the weight.  When doing jodan-age uke, you should feel yourself pushing up against an arm as you fall into your opponent - falling and rising at the same time.

Toboku-ho: a side kick to the back of the leg should be a strike in training.  In reality, it should be an unstable movement, falling into the joint.