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Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by thebrutalityofreality




Regarding the infinite battles in life there is the never-ending quest for happiness and contentment. Everything we do is centered around our innate need to feel fulfilled and grounded. People who do not have a direction in life often find themselves on the wrong path continually seeking a placebo to fill the void. Many times you can find people that seem extremely happy and content but if you dig deep you will readily say that it is a life you would not want. Let’s explore for a moment the general groups of people that we deem to be truly happy. Not all of you will agree with every assumption ,however I think there will be something here for everyone.

The iconic rich guy with all his big boy toys living the business life would seem to be very happy. After all he drives the best, where’s the best, usually has a good looking woman, and  wants  for virtually nothing. Now some would argue that money does not buy happiness, some would say that you have to be happy with yourself before you can be really happy about anything. However most of the people that say this don’t have very much. Just hold on to that point for a few minutes. Then you could say happiness is about the little things in life. Watching a perfect sunset or enjoying an ice cream on a hot day could be the epitome of happiness to some. We could go on and on about what happiness is to each person. Let’s focus on the common thread. Happiness is something that makes us feel content and worth something. When we are happy we feel as though we have something special. Whether it be an object that makes us happy, a person, an award, achievement, or just a complement, the thing that makes us happy is not always relevant to what we really want. There is the ongoing argument for the value of a positive attitude. It seems everyone thinks that a positive attitude and being content with what you have is the ultimate accomplishment in life. However, I would disagree strongly.

On one side, you could unhappy,  not being satisfied with being a brat. No matter how much you get, no matter how much you have, you are just never happy because you are a brat. Let’s think about that angle for a second. Someone who has things and keeps accumulating things, or keeps getting promoted and yet is still never happy is not what I’m speaking about. That person simply does not have value nor do they value what they have. On the flip side some people have nothing and appear to be very happy. So let’s discredit them also. They are happy with nothing because they have no ambition, they have no drive to do anything, and our general losers. So far we have explored  both extremes. The person who has everything and appears to be happy and the person who has nothing and still appears to be happy. Somewhere in the middle there is the person who has everything and is unhappy and the person who has nothing and is very unhappy about having nothing. A little off the center between unhappy and happy is a grounded person who does not reside in one place too long. I would say that an intelligent person bounces from a little off the left to a little off the right going from happy and content to unhappy and discontent flowing with life’s ups and downs.

I would say someone who is always happy is just as sick if not more mentally unstable than the person who exhibits severe depression. Life is not a constant anything, though it seems to be a constant pain in the ass when you have to deal with other people. I would say that a healthy person who is in touch with reality will be able to bounce from happy to unhappy daily perhaps, even hourly and still lead a very productive life. It is my position that someone who focuses on the good and positive too much has a weak mind. I’m sure that has sparked outrage among many weak minded people. Let me explain a little deeper. There are things that we should be happy or unhappy about and things that should make us feel content or lacking. A balanced mind can see the difference in these things and will not get too wrapped up in the positive or negative attributes of such emotions.

Let’s say that you grew up with everything that you ever wanted. A real spoiled brat. Chances are that in your adult life you will want the same thing. You want everything that you want and want  it when you want it. Now is that a bad thing? Most would say that is however, there is an upside to this. It could be used as a very positive thing if it is used to drive that person to find success. Most likely someone who was always given everything did little to receive it and in their adult life will be slackers and constantly complaining about what they do not have and never appreciating what they do have. On the reverse side there is a person who grew up with very little and in their adult life probably still has very little. This also could be a positive or negative thing. If the person who had nothing uses that poverty in a positive way, that person will strive for success and work very hard to have things that were not attainable in their youth. However, if these values were not taught to the child the adult will be quite the loser never expecting much and never accomplishing much either.

As is my style I like to jump around a lot to get the reader to explore their own thoughts. I have taken examples that seem self evident and turn them around in an attempt to make the reader open their mind and not be stuck on one analysis of a certain situation. The point that I think is relevant to happiness and contentment is this. Any feeling, any emotion, is always relevant to comparisons within our experience. A child who is hungry every day, who has no clothes, who lives in fear, would be very happy and content just to have a weeks worth of food, good shelter, and not to live in fear for that week. The happiness and contentment are directly related to the experience. However, someone who always has food, good shelter, and has never lived in fear would cringe at the thought of having only one week of comfort. When someone has pain and they say it is unbearable, it is only unbearable based on their experience of pain that they have endured previously. To some a hangnail is the end of the world and death would be a better alternative. To some who have suffered extreme endeavor’s that same hangnail would go unnoticed and not be counted as pain at all. The same with success. Someone who has little drive will count a menial thing as success whereas someone who is constantly striving for excellence would be very discontent with the same “success”.

When someone lacks drive and discipline they can find success in anything easily. More often than not they find contentment and happiness excusing their failure by convincing themselves and others that it was not important to succeed in that particular area. A good example is the gym. Right now my shoulders are severely injured and I can only work out with 275 on the bench. A year and a half ago, maybe two years I was benching in the 350s and using the 130s on incline dumbbell. I feel like a loser — I am ashamed that I can only bench 275. Two weeks ago I tried to get a spot on the incline bench with the 105 dumbbells and the spotter ended up hurting me. My left shoulder is severely ripped causing  constant pain. If I get a good spot I can put the 105 up for four or five reps and do five or six sets, but I am dependent upon a skilled spotter. On the flat bench I do not need a spotter nor anyone to tell me I can do it with all the yelling and screaming that goes along with muscle heads, I can put up 275 quite easily for two or three reps but my shoulder does hurt quite a bit. I am able to endure the pain and get to my usual 25 to 30 sets of flat bench. I sometimes move up to 295 for about 10 sets but very rarely try 315 anymore. I sure hope my shoulder heals quickly because I am ashamed that I am limited to this weight.

Let’s analyze my feeling for a moment. I am lisfing more than most in the gym yet I am ashamed that I cannot lift more than what I do. A neutral third party would say that I should be very happy with my benching as I am in the upper echelon of the gym. But because I have done so much more and now I am so far below what I used to do, I feel like a loser. I think this is a healthy thing and a Mark of a winner. If I was content and happy with this performance — if I excuse myself and use the injury as my ongoing shield, I would undoubtedly bench less and less,  always finding some excuse to say it was okay. It is only because I seek perfection and always want to do the best that I can that I feel this way. It is matter of pride and a source of strength. I know I am injured, my shoulder hurts to make the motion without any weight in my hand. But I still try to push the heavyweight because I feel the power in my chest and arms. 275 still feels very light to me, I feel the power but my shoulder shuts me down.

Now let’s look at what seems to be the other 99%. They work out with a mere 135 and feel that they are on top of the world. They exclaim with pride that it’s not about weight it’s about form. They tell me that I do not work out correctly because I lift so much. They tell me that I should hire a personal trainer to set me straight. I don’t understand how they could feel good about themselves when they look so horrible. Some are very obese, some are stringy and sickly looking with a big gut, some appear to be somewhat manly but they are just so weak. I do not understand how they cannot be ashamed of themselves. I would say that in their loser world they have little success and are happy with nothing. Even though some are business people, they are puppets within their company. And so the saga continues in their daily life and at the gym. They show up and go through a routine never trying to surpass their performance of the previous day or the previous year.

So how does this apply to martial arts? It seems the modern schools are full of these examples. The students feel that they are excelling and find happiness and contentment because they have nothing to compare themselves to that is greater than loser Ville. A few months ago I was talking to a black belt, a black belt that outranks me. I saw him doing his kata in the aerobics room and it looked horrible. I know if I offer advice no one will take it especially someone who outranks me but my curiosity drove me into a conversation. I asked what the meaning of the movements were or the “bunkai”. The black belt stated  that it was part of the form. It went back and forth for a while as he could not really give me an answer. My point here is that if you are doing a form you should know why you’re doing it, where it was developed, the purpose of it, and all the intricate details associated with it especially if you are teaching it within your school. As I repeatedly asked for knowledge the black belt repeatedly showed his ignorance. I make it a point to study  many systems, even though I am not a practitioner of them, I want to be intimately familiar with them in case they ever have to fight someone from that system. …  but I also want the knowledge and feel it is important that a teacher know more than just his own art. This black belt was of the tae kwon do system. Sadly this system has become one of the most bastardized and useless systems taught these days. I’m sure this will infuriate  some people who are of that system but I say this with facts on my side. In 1976 when I started my training – I  was a student of that system but it was much different back then. We did not have pads nor did we get coddled in a babysitter atmosphere. Training was hard and promotions were earned not given because mommy cut a check. I can’t remember ever seeing a black belt that wasn’t at least a teen. Nowadays there are five-year-old black belts that outrank many… But I’m pretty sure it I can still kick their  ass on a good day. :} As a conversation  with his high-ranking black belt started to get a bit testy,  I offered to help him with his forms. I stated to him with great confidence {because we had become personal at the gym } I would give him a gift that would ensure his kata would be better than anyone else’s. I told him that I would use the okinawan method and teach him power. He didn’t want to hear it and quickly interrupted me stating that judges and his teacher have always told him that he showed great power. I would say that based on his experience and the experience of these others who complement him, perhaps he does show great power but compared to the way I train he has no power. Without getting into a martial arts lesson the point of developing power is that each move is a simulated attack or defense. When you block, anyone looking at your block should know that it was a block and that you were strong enough to stop the attack. With these modern want to be warriors, their blocks or so weak because they never actually block a hard attack. I told him to do his opening movement which was an overhead block. I just barely put pressure on his arms and he caved knocking his glasses to the floor and bending them. He was quite upset with me questioning why I would “hit him” while he was doing his kata. The truth is I just about touched him but because he was not used for training with realism it felt like I had struck him. I fail to see the power of his technique as so many of his seniors have complimented him on. The point once again is happiness and contentment are subjective to your experience.

He is very happy with his rank and feels a great success. He does not strive to be better, many times he tells me that he takes six or seven weeks off from training but it’s okay because he can get right back into it. People at the gym take weeks and sometimes months off and don’t feel bad about it. They proudly state that they came back and could still do what they did when they left. What losers. If I took a month off I doubt I would be moving the heavy weight that I do right now. If I miss a day of training I feel like a catastrophe has befallen me. I feel weak that I was not able to complete my training. I know that I will suffer for taking the time off. In the world of martial arts everything has become so civilized and proper that everyone must succeed.

So here we are back to the original point of happiness and contentment. The black belt who can only compare himself to other losers is indeed a winner but if he were to step into a real class and fight a true martial artist or even trained with the true teacher, not merely an instructor who sees dollars to pay the rent, he would fail and fail hard. I would encourage you to look up a master by the name of Gushi. If you go to YouTube and just hit in uechi gushi you will find many videos of this great man. The first word is the style of karate and the second word is the master’s name. He just died in November of 2012 from lung cancer. Now there was a guy who lived the life and trained hard. You can see in his videos about conditioning he was the real deal. When you watch him do his forms you can see  every strand of the muscle tense. You know that’s a guy that can kill you. If any of these black belts were to train with him they would be destroyed. But they feel content and happy because in their world of loserville they feel content.

I feel very depressed and sad about my martial arts and where the journey has led me to but I also feel pride in what I have accomplished. I believe I have truly led a martial life and continue to do so. But I am not content with my life. I want so badly to have students like I did 10 years ago. They made me very happy because they succeeded and we all cared for each other deeply. Somehow, perhaps times have just changed, perhaps it is bad luck — whatever it is I no longer have those great students. Now I have  very tough students but they do not lead Martial lives as I do. Being stuck here in Florida I cannot get used to the southern lifestyle. When I meet someone from the Northeast they are quick to make a point and they keep their word. Sometimes I bump into someone and tell them “hey shoot me an e-mail so I can stay in touch with you”. They immediately pulled her phone out and asked for my address and send it. Dealing with these Floridians is not the same. Even within my own class I am constantly told to remind someone of something and they still forget. They tell me to call them on a certain day to remind them and when I keep my end of the bargain I cannot get a hold of them because they lost their phone, the battery is dead, their phone is broken, or any host of excuses that are just plain bull shit. But they are very happy, they are very happy the way they live. Back to my original point, they never seem to go anywhere. They do not progress within their martial arts, they always seem to have the same problems, and always  working on something and never completing it.

My loneliness is also a sign of my success. I am isolated because I strive to be better. I keep my word at all cost even when it would be better for me to break it. I do not have to be called and reminded of my obligations. As for martial arts I am very discontent with my technique and my skill level. Not because I have not progressed, quite the opposite. I feel that in the last few years I have made the jump to beginning their journey of a master. In my youth I would get excited about conquering the technique or so I thought. Now I see that I have so much more to learn. It saddens me to a knowledge I will never go as far as I could because I do not have the right people to train with. I offered training to several people tonight but they are busy with their wives and one is going bar hopping with his wife. I would have given anything to get a one-on-one class. When I trained under people that I really wanted to learn from I gave up everything. If I had a date and many times I was in a relationship I would put everything aside for training. So of course I feel they are not being good students but that is just subjective to my experience. In coming so far I have taken a burden upon myself which causes me to feel very discontent and very lonely. If I looked at my training in my life with complacent delusions like everyone else I would feel very good about all the things that I have. I would feel very happy about my big house and my beautiful vehicles. Instead I feel that I am wasting this night — I could’ve been training. I could’ve learned something but instead I am putting down my thoughts for my someday book which will probably never be. Today I pressure washed my house. It took over six hours and I still have my driveway to do and some areas outback. I used to have a pressure washing business — I know what I’m doing but there’s a lot of property to wash. My health is not good,  I’m always tired,  hard to breathe and other pains,  but I press on.  I’m not as productive as I was,  but I don’t stop.   While everyone else was watching sports or just sitting somewhere drinking I was taking care of my property. I wish I could’ve gotten more done. Everyone else is happier than I am because they don’t care what their house looks like. Happiness and contentment are subjective to discipline in your life.    My nights are going to the gym for the second time that day and hopefully a bit of martial training outside of class.   Tonight,  I lit a bag of charcoal and grilled my chicken for the week.   Just watching the fire with a glass of wine,   the quiet night with a full moon,   nothing like chicken right off the grill.   Sure I was lonely,   and sad thoughts of people I have lost come up.   But even that sadness is something to reflect upon.  Did I do the right thing?   Did I keep my word?   Too much tv and computers these days.   More people should take time to sit by a fire and just think about things.   Again,  it goes back to subjective experience.  I feel little contentment sitting by a fire by myself.   I feel lonely because I remember how good I felt when I had others to share that time.   If I were a drinker,  I could go to a bar,   but I hate that.   In my time alone with the fire,  I reflected on my day,  and thought,  I would be a real loser if I gave up and had to order a pizza..   I am cooking for the week,   good food, and trying to preserve my health,   even though I am sick,   I never feel good,  but I push to do things I must.   That gives me a content feeling.   I would be happy if I could have a gallon of ice cream,   but my bad health denies it.  :}          the bottom line with being alone for me is honorable.  I am not hiding in a bar,  I am not wasting time.   A while ago,   I was faced with a choice of staying on the honorable path and sealing a lonely future,  or breaking my word,  my loneliness is honorable for me.   I hope someone special reads this and understands the personal message.

There is a fine line between being over compulsive and being disciplined. There is another line between accepting failure and being a loser. There are many fine lines. Once you are happy with something you will stop trying. Once you get that promotion or achieve that goal, human nature will make you complacent. They key is not to be too happy or to content so that you will continue on your journey to perfection. I know that my techniques can be better and I know that as I get older I will have to rely on technique more than physical power. It is this realization that I can be better that makes me feel so discontent and unhappy. It is my commitment to a disciplined life that makes me so unhappy to be around others who have no discipline. But I do not let the unhappiness and discontentment rule me, I use it as a source of power to drive me further along my path. On a personal note,  the once in a lifetime love I once had is gone,   but I don’t go out looking for another, I know nothing can replace it,  I know I will never have it again.   I just focus on the good I believe I did for that person.   I hope they see some honor in that.

In closing I will just add this. With age comes wisdom and that wisdom is solely based upon the experiences we have as we age. I have led a full life and done more by the age of 30 than most will do in their lifetime. Now in my 40s I long for the days when I had better health and was able to do more things. I wish I felt better so that I could accomplish many things I don’t think I can now.  I have a life that was blessed with privilege. Not privilege as far as being spoiled with material things, privilege as far as professional things I was involved in. I miss being privy to information that only a select few would be trusted with. I miss the chaos and uncertainty of having a dangerous job. So many things that made me so happy and now I feel like an old horse that has been put out to pasture. In comparison to the life I once led I am not content. It would make me happy and content if I had the proper students who would take my teachings and create another generation and carry my school name on. But I don’t. So when I look around at all the happy people, I see that they are only happy because they are so neutral in life. The black belt who never attained a great deal of skill cannot be too unhappy with his pathetic performance with me at the gym. Anyone who does not push themselves physically cannot be too unhappy if they cannot perform some physical task or lift a major amount of weight. Anyone who lives a neutral mediocre life cannot be too unhappy about failure as indeed do lead a life of failure. People who won’t take the truth {an insult that is true} are not in touch with reality.  A fat ass who says they look good is a loser,  but they are happy because they don’t have standards.  They should atleast acknowledge they are fat.  Maybe they are very smart,  maybe there are other things for them to be proud of,  but that body just ain;t one of them.

But for those of us who have walked the path and endured the journey, happiness and contentment vanish from our lives as we get better for we become more isolated from society.

Even in my personal life I do not have the happiness and contentment that I use still. 10 years ago I had the greatest girlfriend who was full of energy and would do anything for me. The love of my life in the center of my universe. She was my first student and my top student. She came with me on bodyguard jobs, she was there many times when I almost died and saved my life on more than one occasion. But age change her also. Where I once spent every night with students training in some capacity and my days completing tasks, now as my health has been an issue I am falling behind in my chores and sit alone at night. I still train 2 to 3 hours a day in the gym though sometimes my health won’t allow it. I move slower and have to fight keep moving.  I still try to keep up my property and my vehicles but it is getting harder. The fiery relationship that I once had is now just a friendship. The very chaos that threatened us was the fire that kept us together. When my professional life started to come to an end and she was no longer constantly worried where I was and if she would see me again things started to change. Complacency set in. But even in that I have pride. There was a decision to be made and I chose the honorable way. I could have taken a path that would’ve been more valuable for me but I gave someone my word and I kept it even though keeping my word has produced this isolation. I hope somewhere out there this certain person reads this and understands what I tried to tell long ago. You only get what you want one time and you have to make the most of it. You can only ride the wave so long and when it crashes it crashes hard. We all have demons in our life and the best thing that we can do is try to deal with them and relieve those demons before it is too late. In dealing with the demons of your past or present you can find happiness and contentment. Sometimes the right choice leaves you alone and isolated, but if honor is enough, then you can find your contentment. Such is the case with my martial arts. I absolutely refuse to give into commercialism or to hand out belts for money. I take pride in how few students I have for that speaks volumes of my standards. Even though we do not have the students that I once did I still continue on my personal journey. But as I get older I find myself looking back to my 30s and 20s longing for those days. Life is boring now. So based upon my experiences the happiness I once had and contentment I once felt are gone. Then happiness and contentment came from an extreme lifestyle few will ever know. If I had led a mediocre dull life lacking excitement I would not feel this way now.

On a side note my body conditioning has never been better. Sure when I was younger I had more stamina and could endure a beating without too much discomfort the next day. I think used to fight a lot harder and probably hit with a lot more PSI. But my technique has come so far that I no longer have to fight that hard or hit with so much PSI. My bone density even impresses me. My wrist, fore arms, my shins- the bones are so thick now and dense that even a 30% strike delivers massive damage. When I teach a seminar or just fool around with someone they often complain that I’m hitting them too hard- really don’t believe that I am not hitting at all. It is just my perfection of movement and my bone density that makes it feel like I’m hitting so hard. My throws are clean and precise, my  chi or 6th sense have developed far beyond what I would have thought possible. I have a good understanding of a great many arts and can use a wide array of ancient weapons as well as modern. In spite of  all this talent I am isolated in the world of martial arts. Schools have become contaminated, made into politically correct producers of “black belts”.  Long ago they would have been cast aside as dishonorable losers but now they are the majority and cast me aside as being too fanatical. The irony of success is that too much of it can actually make you a loser in the eyes of society.

In closing I would offer this, screw what society says — you have to have some type of agenda in life, you have to have some type of driving force that gets you through the days and keeps your mind occupied so that you don’t see too many of the bad things. To those people that are full of positive attitudes and never see anything bad I would say you’re missing quite a bit. Be wary of anyone boasting too much happiness- saying they don’t let things bother them. For that is the sign of a true loser. They close their eyes to many things. Someone with honor would let a lot of things bother them — they don’t let it dominate their life but they don’t discard it or discount it either. A person with honor will be sure to punish themselves for a mistake so that they don’t make it again. Only a loser doesn’t pay attention to a mistake – destined to make that same mistake over and over — but it won’t bother them because they are losers……   with a positive attitude.

This whole thing got off my usual analytical point about martial arts and the world in general and took a very personal turn. My ultimate goal for this entire blog is a reference if I should ever find that one student to take over my system and continue my teachings. I feel that as much as the technical data is important to my successor my personal journey through life and my feelings as I grow older is important also for he will surely grow older and experienced much of the same that I am going through. As for you readers I hope you enjoyed it- I hope it gave you a great deal to think about. If after all this you feel that your life is happy and content then I have failed in my writing. If you feel that they’re a great many things missing in your life and you are suddenly infected with an overwhelming desire to accomplish things than I have succeeded in putting a good point across.

In closing I will leave you with this, getting old sucks — gray hairs pop out where you least expect them — I am turning into what I used to make fun of and I hate it. I;m getting veins where I had smooth skin, some are squiggly, some are bumpy.  For the first time I had to shave a couple hairs off my ear last week. I now have three gray hairs in my mustache and my beard is quickly getting taken over by those white bastards. The problem with trying to figure out life, women, or even just trying to perfect some talent is that by the time you figure it out you probably be ready to die — doesn’t that suck!!!!

Better get off your ass and start doing something or before you know it life will be over and you will have done nothing.    And take some time to think about the big screw ups in your life.  Maybe that time you did something and pushed the person who cared most away.   Maybe you think someone tried to hurt you,   but now you can see they did it for you and sacrificed themselves.    Think about some of your choices that made you great and others that made you a loser.    Can’t go back,  but maybe you can find contentment in knowing the truth.         Don’t be too happy,   life ain’t that smooth.   If it is,   you just aren’t trying.



Posted in special forces training, body guard, judo, tai chi, punching, kicking, blocking, stick fighting, knife fighting, kung fu, ninjutsu,, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2010 by thebrutalityofreality


A Koryu Primer
by Diane Skoss
[jump to the reading list]
What is koryu bujutsu?

Koryu literally means “old flow” and is used in Japanese to refer to old styles, schools, or traditions (not necessarily only in the martial arts). The simplest English translation of this term is “classical.” Bujutsu is one of several Japanese terms meaning martial arts or techniques (I won’t get into the whole jutsu/do issue here; there are differences between “do” arts and “jutsu” arts but they are not as large as many people imagine, in my opinion). So, putting the two together, you get “classical martial arts” (of Japan).

This leads to the next question: What precisely is a Japanese classical martial art? Unfortunately, it is impossible to provide a precise definition. Some folks use the date of 1876, when the act prohibiting the wearing of swords (Haitorei) was promulgated, as a dividing line between classical and modern martial arts. Others prefer to use the term “koryu bujutsu” only for those arts developed for actual use on the battlefield and thus reserve the term for sixteenth century and earlier traditions.

Classical traditions (however you date them) do have several defining characteristics. They were developed by and for the bushi, or warrior class, and they have some sort of lineage that runs back through each headmaster or menkyo kaiden (or equivalent) to the founder of the tradition. This is the “stream” of the tradition; although there may be branches (in some traditions each generation was expected to found their own “sub-tradition”), in general the structure is one of a single “flow” from one (usually) head instructor through students to the next generation. The student-teacher relationship is central to transmission of techniques, and these techniques were initially designed to ensure victory on the battlefield. Systems that don’t exhibit all these characteristics are quite likely not koryu.
Classical versus modern

In actual practice, both in Japan and in the West, koryu bujutsu (pronounced “core-you boo-jut-su”–never “core-roo” please!) is used to refer rather loosely to the older martial arts of the bushi or samurai. Usually the emphasis is on distinguishing between the classical systems and the gendai budo (modern martial arts), such as judo, kendo, and aikido. These modern arts all have some connection to the older fighting systems of the warrior class: judo, for example, derives primarily from Tenjin Shinyo-ryu and Kito-ryu jujutsu; kendo comes from a number of different old-style, or koryu, kenjutsu traditions. Modern arts were developed after the disbanding of the warrior class, can be taught to large groups, and are designed to educate and develop the human being as a whole.
Developed by warriors for warriors

The koryu (as we sometimes say for short), on the other hand, were primarily arts created by and for the warrior class of Japan’s feudal period. A few traditions still exist that were actually used on the battlefields of pre-Tokugawa Japan, and in these systems effectiveness of the killing technique is still paramount. Other traditions were developed during the peace of the Tokugawa shogunate to help warriors-turned-bureaucrats maintain some level of fighting skill; still others were meant from the start to be “disciplines,” with more emphasis on spiritual benefits than on technical skills useful in fighting. Thus, the koryu exist (both today and in the past) along a continuum of purposes, much like that of modern American martial arts. For the most part, however, the techniques of the koryu still retain an element of danger; protective gear is typically not used. Safety is less important than efficacy; though wooden weapons are usually used in place of live steel blades, these can still do considerable damage if an error is made, and one learns to function out at the edge.
Unique Japanese social structure

What distinguishes the koryu most clearly from the modern disciplines is the social structure of the ryu–which is a very particular and peculiar Japanese construct that cannot be faked (see the review of Geisha, for some more information). Though there are some made-in-the-USA ersatz koryu, who parade around in rigid hierarchies with elaborate Japanese trappings, anyone who has functioned within a genuine koryu can spot the fraud. In the true koryu traditions, culture and technique are part of a cohesive whole that includes the headmaster, traditional licenses, and a unique code of behavior. While there’s no question that it is possible to learn/teach just the techniques of a koryu in isolation from the rest (and there are those who are doing this–the open seminar format, so popular in the West is a good example), the result is, in my opinion, a mere parody of the rich wealth, both technical and spiritual, found in these ancient traditions.
Student-Teacher Relationship

What this means, for practical purposes, is that if you cannot go and spend a decade or more training in Japan, you MUST seek out someone who has. To participate fully in the koryu you must be in direct contact, through your teacher if needs be, with the headmaster (soke) or other fully licensed instructor (menkyo kaiden or equivalent). The relationship between student and teacher is the core of both the social structure and technical transmission. Without it, you might as well be learning tiddly-winks (no offense to serious tiddly-winkers intended)! Each student is taught individually, and not everyone learns the same things in the same sequence or at the same pace. Instead of the dan grades characteristic of the modern arts, the teacher issues a traditional license–and this process is not standardized or codified. When the teacher judges the student to be ready, the license is granted.
You can’t generalize the koryu bujutsu

This is merely the briefest of overviews. One important fact to keep in mind when studying the koryu is that it is impossible to make entirely accurate generalizations. Each ryu is a unique and individual entity with a distinctive identity. The name of the highest license in one art may be the lowest level of license in another; some use entirely unique terms for their licenses. Some traditions function under the control of a single headmaster; others are divided into several lines under the guidance of fully licensed instructors. Some traditions have no headmaster at all. The best source for information on any given ryu is a member in good standing, for many of the details of a particular ryu’s culture are never written down.
Reading List

For our own training group, we expect prospective students to do some background reading before they may begin training. If you are seriously interested in training in the koryu, I’d highly recommend that you read the following BEFORE you begin to look for an instructor.
Articles at (best if read in the order listed):

* General Introductions
* “Classical Martial Arts & Ways” by Meik Skoss
* “Sword & Spirit Intro: A Coconut Palm in Missouri” by Dave Lowry
* “Sighting the Grizzly” by Dave Lowry
* “Koryu Bujutsu Introduction” by Diane Skoss

* General History
* “A Bit of Background” by Meik Skoss

* The ryu
* “What is a Ryu?” by Wayne Muromoto
* “Introduction to Field Guide to the Classical Japanese Martial Arts” by Diane Skoss

* Authenticating the koryu
* “Classical Martial Arts in the West: Problems in Transmission” by Dave Lowry
* “Real or Fake?” by Wayne Muromoto
* “Transmission & Succession in the Classical Arts” by Meik Skoss
* “The Whole Legitimacy Thing” by Karl Friday

* Training in the koryu
* “You want koryu? Come to Japan” by Diane Skoss
* “Koryu Training in Japan” by Diane Skoss
* “The Meaning of the Martial Arts: Some Reflections From Along the Way” by Diane Skoss
* “Some Thoughts on Learning Koryu in the West” by Diane Skoss
* “The Meaning of Martial Arts Training: A Conversation with Sawada Hanae” by Meik Skoss


* Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith
* Martial Arts & Ways of Japan series (3 vols.) by Donn F. Draeger: Classical Bujutsu; Classical Budo; Modern Bujutsu and Budo
* Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan series (3 vols.) edited by Diane Skoss: Koryu Bujutsu; Sword & Spirit; Keiko Shokon
* Moving Toward Stillness by Dave Lowry
* Traditions by Dave Lowry
* Persimmon Wind by Dave Lowry
* Geisha by Liza Dalby
* Daughter of the Samurai by Etsu Sugimoto
* The Fighting Spirit of Japan by E.J. Harrison
* Old School: Essays on Japanese Martial Traditions by Ellis Amdur

Classical Japanese Martial Arts
Last modified on October 9, 2008
URL: /koryu.html
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Posted in special forces training, body guard, judo, tai chi, punching, kicking, blocking, stick fighting, knife fighting, kung fu, ninjutsu,, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by thebrutalityofreality

People are getting lazier and lazier every day. This whole country is plagued by an overwhelming acceptance of mediocrity. People walk around like a herd of livestock, no one takes notice of all the losers society has produced. What happened to the days of self-reliance and a sense of pride for taking care of your own problems? What happened to the ways of the last generation, or perhaps even two or three generations back, when people were too proud to accept a handout. I remember growing up seeing my father fixed everything around the house that was broken. He never called anybody for help. After working 10-12hrs, or sometimes 16 hours a day, he would come home and work on the house, fix the car, and through it all he found time to play with me. I remember standing there for hours handing him tools whether he was working on a car, changing out a lightswitch, or adding an addition to the house. I remember how much I hated it, it was so boring to stand there with a flashlight. In the summertime when the ground thawed  my mother would plant a garden and we had fresh vegetables all summer. Even though there was enough money to buy those vegetables, there was a great sense of pride in growing them herself. I remember every weekend my father would use the original somonize paste wax in the yellow can. I probably didn’t spell that right. That was the toughest shit to get off. But he made me shine his black Cadillac until it was perfect. and in those days the cars were about 2 1/2 times longer than now.  Now in my adult life I keep myvehicles in show room condition. I am not afraid to work around my house. I just put up a fence and it is time to paint the house again. I had to move a sprinkler line this past weekend. There are always projects to do. I don’t have to call someone.  They would only do a shitty half ass job anyway.  I am filled with pride.  I know it was done right and I did it myself.

       I am disgusted and ashamed of what our country has become when I talk to someone and tell them about my weekend. They always seem to have the same reply, “I just call someone — I like to spend my weekends just sitting watching the game and having a few beers — I like to sit on the beach and just relax”. What losers. It is plain to space to see why they have nothing. Their vehicles look like shit, their houses are little shacks that are falling apart. Of coarse they don’t want to be home — who would want to be in that dump.  They spend what little they have and rack up credit debt. 

     So just like today’s black belts that feels they are training in the very real art of ancient warfare, today’s society is made up of people who feel they are worth something and are productive citizens yet they are nothing more than the very reason for most of our problems — they are a drain on society. If you just open your eyes and look around you can see these lazy people everywhere. They all have particular habits that will tell you what kind of person they are. So how does this apply to martial arts and self-defense? Simple — you must know your enemy intimately before you engage them.

      One of the primary principles that I teach professionals is to always look at how a person carries themselves and pick up on their little habits. If you feel you may have a problem with someone, before you engage them you must watch them for a bit and discover what type of person they are. Even in hiring someone, you can tell what type of worker they will be more accurately through common interaction and giving them a specific battery of tasks then an interview will ever tell you. Think about this. In a job interview a person puts on their best face and is very deceptive. They want to project a specific persona. They want you to have a certain impression of them. They dress in a certain manner, carry themselves in a certain way, say certain things, and show you very specific documents or references that will make them look how they want to be seen by the prospective employer. Of course after they get the job, more often than not, the employer will soon discover that it was all a bunch of bull shit and a seemingly energetic person who conveyed a sense of integrity and honor will be caught wasting time and texting in the corner. So how do you now what lies under the surface of the theatrical performance? Simple. A person can only fake it so long. They can only hold out and play the charade as long as the subjects are rehearsed.

     So let’s talk about the tough guy — the guy who walks around with his chest out, arms flared, and appears to be unstoppable. He is much like the prospective employee. He wants to convey a certain persona — only he is not trying to get a job, he is trying to convey his dominance to everyone around him. So how do we expose the true person? The key is to watch them as they move through their very ordinary tasks. For instance, a prospective employee will sit there at attention, hands folded neatly in their lap, and speaks very eloquently. They appear to be very detail oriented, very personalized. Take note of their very common actions that they perform day-to-day. Offer them a beverage that requires stirring or adding something such as coffee. A very detailed person will not merely stir their beverage and lay the spoon down. Someone who is very detail oriented will observe the beverage as they stir it — they will want to be sure it has been stirred up appropriately. They will not just put in a random amount of sweetener or cream. If you give them those little creamers and they just start dumping them in, they are probably very sloppy in their day to day life. A very detail oriented person will carefully open the creamer and ensuring it does not spill. They will know how much cream they like in their coffee and will observe the color change as they put it in. A detail oriented person knows that some coffeed are strong and some is weak, so you cannot put the same amount of cream in every cup of coffee. Now let’s examine the tough guy. Though he may convey a persona of extreme durability and tactical ability surpassing everyone else, you must observe his little habits. For instance, if he is at a bar and has a drink, does he guard his drink by keeping his hand on it constantly, does he take it with him if he must leave or does he leave it behind exposed for anyone to contaminate? When he sits on the barstool does he adjust it and pull it out an adequate distance from the bar or does he leave it in its place regardless of where it is and squeeze himself into it and then try to adjust himself? One of the biggest signs of a person that is not very detail oriented is when they wash their hands — if they wash their hands at all. Next time you are in the bathroom publicly, observe how someone washes their hands. Most people don’t even use soap. They run the water just enough to get their fingertips wet and then grab some paper towel making a ruckus for all to see they are drying their hands. These people are deceptive. Whether it’s a prospective employee or the tough guy, a person who does this is showing you that they will always take the easy way out and will do just enough to get by — their goal is to appear to perform tasks at an acceptable level and to appear to be upstanding and credible. They cannot be trusted — they will always do the least they can and push blame on others. But one that is worse than that is the one who turns the water on but never even wets their hands. These people are even more deceptive and lazy. In the case of the tough guy, both examples are indicative of a bully who will be the first to make a problem and then back down as soon as they are confronted. These are the guys that tell their friends, “if he looks at me and… — if he does that one more time — now it’s a big problem”. Yet after repeated offenses their final conclusion is “he’s not worth my time”. After all that tough talk they are chicken shits. And now for the guy who will sneak up behind you and club you — or the worst type of employee. They don’t run the water they just grab some paper towel and wipe their hands. It is their whole agenda to appear responsible, to appear that they are doing the right thing, their whole life is a scam and a lie. The detail oriented person, the one who would be your great employee or a great friend — the guy who you really don’t want to start trouble with, is the one who goes over to the sink, observes everything — he looks in the mirror at himself and his surroundings. He make sure no one is standing too close behind him or at his side. He uses the mirror to survey the room behind him. Before he bends over and sacrifices his posture, he looks to both sides, pinpoints the soap, the paper towel, the trashcan, who is in the bathroom with him and what they are doing. After all this is accomplished he turns the water on,, wets his hands pumps the soap several times and begins to scrub. During the washing process he takes the time to thoroughly wash his hands like a surgeon, and continues washing slightly past the wrist. He rinses and if necessary repeats the washing process all the time very aware of his surroundings and who is in proximity to him. After washing he may leave the water running for a moment and grab some paper towel and use the paper towel to shut the faucet. While drying his hands he is not preoccupied with his appearance and does not zone in on himself in the mirror. He is diligent and watching everyone else, he is polite and removes himself from the path of traffic. He does not make loud boisterous noises to draw attention to himself. Upon leaving he will let others exit first and show courtesy by holding the door.

This is just one example of things that I notice about people. In every task I judge people as to their trustworthiness and their integrity. I watch people at the gym. Never do I see anyone clean the bench before they lay on. How disgusting that they would lay on a bench that has sweat which is still frothy and running. If they lay on this bench and absorb the sweat into their close, they will take it home with them. They will sit in their vehicle and most likely when they get home they will plop on the couch. I watch people open their car doors. Someone who is very detail oriented has no need to run their hands all over the door or leave the massive  hand prints and finger prints all over the trunk lid. Someone who was tactical will use the edge of there hand to close the door or trunk. When they open their car door, they will only use the handle. If you just look around at what people are doing every day, you will train yourself to be very aware of your surroundings and who could possibly be a threat. You will learn to see through the false personas everyone tries to project.

It is no different whether you are seeking a friend or about to engage in battle, the details will show you the truth. When I see a martial arts student going into their school with their bag half open, shit hanging out of it, their weapons held loosely without care — I think to myself what a rotten school that must be. They are only concerned with money. How could someone profess to be training students in the ancient art of war when they let them do this? Every school in the phonebook professes to teach discipline, integrity, and some sort of military value. How can they not be ashamed of their students? I sit outside other schools to see what they are producing and what their standards are. It is part of my protocols that my students observe other schools on a weekly basis. They are to report weekly what they have seen at other schools, however, they are not to be seen themselves. From time to time they will infiltrate other schools. They will profess to have no skill and no experience — they will play the part of a beginner. Part of their training is to be able to deceive the enemy. They always come back reporting lack of protocol, lack of respect, lack of intensity and training, basically lack of everything that martial arts is supposed to be. Sure there are many schools that appear to be very hard-core. To the novice a school who lets its students hit each other will appear to be very hard-core. A school that has trophies lining the walls will appear to be very good. A school that has an abundance of students in all the colors of the rainbow wrapped around their waists will appear to be very good. However, I see it as they are only good at marketing.

      Martial arts is in its purest intent “martial — military”. The warrior must take care to be very detail oriented in every aspect of living. His weapons must be valued and respected. A staff is not merely a piece of dowel that was purchased through Asian world or century. It is not a piece of wood that does not deserve to be cleaned and treated with oils. A uniform must be kept clean and free from stains. You don’t see Marines running around with wrinkled garments. You don’t see their white gloves stained because they were frolicking with their uniform on. You don’t see them wearing their medals on their civilian clothes while out at a bar. Then why would you see a student of “martial” arts at Wal-Mart with their belt on and their uniform dirty? How can a parent allow their child to wear their uniform for play at home? How can the student who is supposed to be a follower of an ancient training have so little pride that they forget where they place their weapons — sometimes they leave them in the dojo or leave them standing in the corner. They are more concerned with what they will do after class rather than what they are doing in class. My students report that they observe other schools allowing their participants in class with frayed cuffs and sleeves. Students walk in dirty feet. Their hair does not look clean. Their fingernails are long and soiled. Kids come to class with runny noses. Adults are not much better. They dig in their bags to try to find their belts. When they do the belt does not emerge neatly folded as to show it is honored and what it stands for is honored. Now, the belt is pulled from the sack like a useless piece of rope. It is twisted and and dragged along the ground. I have been a guest teacher at many schools. I have witnessed students who show up without a complete uniform, the most offensive of all is when they forget their belts. Someone, usually some loser who has his whole life in a giant duffel bag, keeps extra uniforms and his old belts on hand for these despicable idiots. How could someone let another person wear their belts? That belt should have been a symbol of suffering, dedication, sacrifice and pride. That belt should be cherished and looked upon with a melancholy respect and admiration for all that it took to earn. The reason these people are so free with their belts is that they have not suffered or earned it. They only showed up for a certain amount of time and paid a certain amount of money to get it. That is why the schools have such large numbers of students. I have only a few students. I turn away 99% of all who wish to train. They do not even make it to interview because I picked up on certain key phrases that tell me what type of person they are — phrases like “I want the real deal”  and “I want to train for war”. Though I do talk to them further after these ridiculous comments, the accuracy of judging them cannot be disputed. I will not tolerate a student that does not have respect for their uniform and especially their belt. I once had a student who came to class smelling of body odor. Unfortunately at the time I had a public class. I was not allowed to enforce rules as strictly as I am now. I Informed the student of his smell and suggested he never come to class again in that condition. The very next class he did so I threw him out. Once again all the signs were there with this person. The comments, the lack of attention to detail. My students value their belts and respect them because of the price they paid to get them. Some students trained  three years for a single promotion. On average a very talented student with experience, perhaps a black belt in another system, will attain their first rank in no less than six months but more likely in one year. When they finally get that belt is the most precious thing in the world. Never would they let it drag on the ground or play with it as a toy. When they try it around her waist you can see the pride fill them — you can feel their immense integrity and respect for the system, for the school, and for me. Many people today will tell you they have progressed past the need for this protocal.  They state it is fine for the beginner but since they have all thier experience they no longer need it.  Or they used to have protocal in thier school, but they been there done that.  What losers.  If they had been properly taught the essence of the protocals, they would not be saying this.  They feel like this due to the school and the self serving atmosphere they were in.  Schools these days say they have protocals for all the right reasons, however, it is self serving,  a show of power for those who would otherwise have no authority.  It is, after all, part of marketing.  Oh come to us and we shall show you the way thru discipline.  Same shit.  You have let a loser think they are succeeding or they will quit.  Back to weak people.  They don’t understand what they are asking for and if you give it to them, they can’t handle it.  I have , on several occassions, made the mistake of actually believing someone when they stated they would not quit.  They wanted the real training.  I explain all the compliments will stop and now all the forgiving will stop.  If they choose this path they will only hear how they will fail until it is right.  None of this bullshit of , try your best.  Most of the time your best is not good enough.  Especially if you are putting your life on it.  But that is for another post.

Never would they come to class with a soiled uniform or frayed edges. They do not feel that their monthly dues are in any way a payment for knowledge. It is simply an offering and a means to allow me to have time to teach them. These are the people that are detail oriented as discussed previously. These are the true warriors who do not wish to put on faces. When they come to class they all park their cars a certain way, they get out of their cars a certain way, they are ever diligent and aware of their surroundings, they never rush in or expose themselves to a threat. Their bags are clean, zippered, and orderly. Their weapons are held firmly in hand and in a traditional respectful manner. When they place their bags and their weapons down they do it in a very ritualized and respectful way. They do not touch each other’s property. If something has to be moved they asked permission from the owner and request that the owner move that bag or item themselves. When they take their belts out of their bags they are neatly folded. Everything is detail oriented, everything is ritualized.
Details must be adhered to in every aspect of life. Most people fail because they do not pay attention to details. When I watched my father repair things around the house. He was very detail oriented. He instilled that in the. It helps me every day of my life. At times when I feel something is done good enough, something goes off in me and tells me it is not done good enough. The key is that:” good enough” is not good enough –only done right and done completely is good enough. When I put my fence up I made sure that I buried the 4x4s four feet in the ground. Each one was exactly 4 feet in the ground. Before I placed the 4×4 in the whole I filled the hole to the top with cement. The entire 4×4 is now in case and cement as we have a termite problem in the region that I live. It is mounded around the base so the water will shed off and the nexus of wood and cement has been calked. Anyone would tell you that 3 feet or even 2 feet is enough to put a 4×4 into the ground, but why not do it right? Time and time again when I have completed the task and thought it was just “good enough”, at some point I had to repair it or do it over. I apply this way of living every day. It is hard, it’s demanding, it isn’t very fun — but it is rewarding. I know that my fence will still be standing long after I have left this earth. Look at the Colosseum and the pyramids. That was not a half ass job. It was all about attention to detail and it is still there. In today’s society everything is disposable and “good enough”. Such is the case with today’s martial arts schools. The students are just “good enough”. The tests are just “good enough”. Everything is only “good enough”. From martial arts to every aspect of our society everyone has the same attitude. Where has the pride gone?  As more and more people are praised for this failing, more and more feel that by being somewhat ok they are actually part of some elite group of winners.  The more we hold back critisism and compliment these losers, the lower the standards become.  how much lower can they?   I am amazed to see grown men who can’t change a tire, a washer in a faucet, they are helpless.  As far as martial arts, when I was a kid, we didn’t have pads.  If you cried, you were hit more and had a reason to cry.  If that training were going on today,  lawyers would be involved.
So for those of us who wish to live life to a higher standard, watche the details. Watch the little things that people do and you will see what kind of person they really are.  Notice how they keep their car. Notice the condition of their clothes.   You don’t need designer name brand clothes, you don’t need expensive custom.  But whatever you wear, it must be clean.
Just think what you are eating when you are out.   Those aren’t 5 star chefs in the kitchen.


So notice all these things about your enemy. Notice all the details and you will easily defeat any foe. Someone who cannot take care of their own life surely cannot take care of their own battles. Someone who has to call a handyman to fix anything that has been broken, or run to the mechanic to get the oil changed most likely will not engage in battle. They will try to bring someone else into it to fight their battles for them.  If you are about to engage in battle take a moment and study your enemy. You will quickly see how to defeat them.


Posted in special forces training, body guard, judo, tai chi, punching, kicking, blocking, stick fighting, knife fighting, kung fu, ninjutsu,, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2009 by thebrutalityofreality

please forgive the typos,  I use a dragon head set and it doesn’t always type the right word,  Please don’t think I am making mistakes out of ignorance,  just a computer glitch,   thanks