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Kuo on “What is Martial Art” : RTD 018

Posted in Day's Lesson, Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Philosophy with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by mindbodykungfu

Kuo1

“Art” is one of those hard-to-define words which means different things to different people. Most people tend to think of the fine arts (painting, sculpture, dance, theater, etc) when “art” is brought up in conversation. In my opinion, art encompasses any endeavor which requires skill and is an expression of the artist. Both the fine arts and the martial arts require refined skills and are a creative expression of the artists.

Human nature has violent and physical aspects, so it only natural that there are art forms set in the context of fighting. What separates the martial “art” from mindless brawling is the systematization of the fighting such that the movements and principles of fighting can be trained without violence necessarily being the end goal. When such a systematization is present, the martial artists can train the craft of fighting and express the principles of a martial arts style in their movements. Watching martial artists who have mastered their craft is similar to watching the skillful movements of a dancer or an athlete competing at peak performance. By blending with an opponent’s attacks and weaving offense and defense, the martial artist is demonstrating a beautiful display of body movement and force interplay.

The practice of martial arts is a physical expression of the practitioner’s self. You can perceive actors performing with feeling, athletes competing with heart, and painters creating with vision. You can also tell the difference between martial practitioners moving with rote, reflexive patterns and the skillful artists moving with intent and dynamically adapting to their opponents. With skilled martial artists, the hours of deliberate practice shine through with efficient movements, powerful attacks, solid defense, clear perception of an opponent’s attacks, and an exquisite sense of timing and distance. The martial artist elevates fighting to a skilled craft.

Coming from a primarily Chinese martial arts background, I also believe another defining characteristic of martial arts is that they are a path to self-improvement. At the most basic level, martial arts training develops focus, discipline, physical conditioning, and camaraderie. However, the self-improvement to which I am referring is the (perhaps cliched) life-altering, fundamental truth-realizing types of change. To pursue a martial art to a high level–or any serious endeavor for that matter–one has to devote a lot of time and effort. That in and of itself cuts off a lot of other life possibilities since time and energy and unfortunately limited resources. While on the path to mastery, martial artists must ask themselves if the art is something they truly wish to pursue and what sacrifices they are willing to make to achieve their goal. They must determine who they are, who they want to be, and what they want out of life before they can commit to pursuing mastery of an art.

To reach high levels of proficiency with a martial art, the practitioner’s mental acuity must be elevated. Even in high level athletics, physical training is rarely the limiting factor; rather it is the mental game that defines the elite. The martial artist’s mind must be trained to maintain focus, develop a keen kinesthetic feel, and perceive the conditions in a fight. Martial artists must develop mental fortitude to deal with the inevitable roadblocks and setbacks on the path to mastery. To reach their full potential, martial artists need to delve into their own psyches to conquer the mental blocks that hold them back and remove the mental clutter that cloud the understanding of fundamental principles. It is in this process of looking inward that the martial artists realize themselves and grow as people.

A martial art is just like any other art form in that a martial art is a skilled pursuit which expresses aspects of life and humanity. The art can form bonds of friendship, help a person grow, and express beauty through skill. It just happens that the “art” is expressed in the context of fighting instead of the more traditional fine arts media.

Johnny Kuo

Mind Body Kungfu

MORE ON ‘ WHAT IS MARTIAL ART ‘ TO COME!

Lee on “What is Martial Art” : RTD 018

Posted in Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Combative Corner

Freddie Lee FMKRTD 018: Martial Art is the balanced integration of the body, mind, & spirit & its expression of it. Martial Art is the integration of Yin/Yang. Martial is Yang, Art is Yin. The balance is Martial Art. The imbalance is not Martial Art but rather a corrupted version of it. A balance is like walking on tight rope, it is easy to become unbalanced in which to fall. Those who are balanced correctly are representing harmony between the two forces of Yin/Yang. Yin/Yang goes by the philosophy of Tao. Martial Arts is the Tao. True Martial Arts must integrate the Physical, Mental, and Spiritual. Any lack of, is not Martial Art. Any and all combat sport is not Martial Art, it lacks the spiritual. Football, basketball, golf, tennis, etc. are not Martial Arts, it lacks the scientific development of combat, it lacks the spiritual understanding, and it lacks the complete physical development that is relevant to self-defense, sports is not Martial Arts.

Dancing is not Martial Arts, but it retains the creative/artistic qualities of Martial Arts. Michael Jackson was not a Martial Artist, but he clearly was an Artist. Mike Tyson was a Boxer, not a Martial Artist, he would more closely resemble a street fighter than a Martial Artist. Although Mohammed Ali was a professional Boxer, his inner spirit, his expression of compassion, his inner character in standing up against the Vietnam War, his gracefulness in the ring, made him resemble more of a Martial Artist rather than a street fighter. A Martial Artist does not fight for money, a Martial Artist will not hurt others for profit, a Martial Artist will find another way to make a living. A Martial Artist will not train others to become bullies, a Martial Artist will train others to become good, loving, and compassionate people within.

Martial Arts is not purely just self-defense. A soldier is not a Martial Artist, a Police Officer is not a Martial Artist. They are both in lack of the spiritual development, and they are clearly in lack of the artistic and creative aspects of what makes an Artist. They may possess or have knowledge on the most efficient way to kill, but they are not Martial Artists. In Martial Art, there is an aspect of creativity and self-expression that cannot be found in self-defense tactics alone. Self-Defense tactics is more scientific, it is not artistic. There is clearly a difference between self-defense and Martial Arts.

Martial Art requires an understanding of the Eastern way of living and being. Martial Art derives from the East, not from the West. In order for a Westerner to truly understand Martial Art, he must surrender his Ego and learn the ways of the East in which to create a balance between East and West. The Westerner is representing Yang, the East is representing Yin, the westerner who refuses to learn the ways of the East, cannot be a Martial Artist. He can be a soldier, he can be a fighter, he can be capable of defending himself in combat, but he is not a Martial Artist. The West teaches violence and effective ways of killing, the East teaches peace, love, and compassion, learning both ways creates the balance, creates the harmony.

Belt JiuJitsu Jiu-Jitsu GJJ White JTBBThe proud wearing of traditional uniforms that represent the culture of the East is important in Martial Arts. This shows the appreciation of the history, culture, and ways of the East. Uniforms play a significant role in society. We know who a Police Officer is when we see his uniform. The mailman has his uniform, the UPS driver has his uniform. The sales clerk has his uniform. The uniforms that you choose to wear will represent your understanding and appreciation of the Martial Arts. If you choose to wear no uniform, the Martial spirit is still within you but the public will not be able to identify you as a Martial Artist unless they already know what it means to be a Martial Artist. Combat Sport Fighters, Street Fighters, and thugs have their own uniforms that represent their ways. Martial Artist’s have uniforms that set themselves apart.

If it is not the uniform, it is also the way you move and the way you physically express yourself as a Martial Artist. A Martial Artist knows how to move like a dancer, most Fighters do not. A Martial Artist is graceful with his movements, most Fighters are not. A Martial Artist is peaceful with his expression, fighters are not, they are destructive. A Martial Artist will demonstrate his talents and abilities without having to hurt others, a Fighter will hurt another for a price. A Martial Artist has a good heart within and will not abuse his powers. A fighter is an immature child who is irresponsible with the powers that he possesses.

Martial Artist’s are found in all walks of life doing good for society. You will find Martial Artist’s that make a living as actors, fire fighters, Police Officers, soldiers, teachers, personal trainers, fitness instructors, nutritionalists, professors, doctors, dentists, service clerks, security guards, etc. You will find Martial Artists who take on professions that are contributing something positive to society. You will not find Martial Artists in Combat Sports, you will find fighters, boxers, wrestlers, bullies, and athletes, but not Martial Artists. It is not easy for talented Martial Artists to reach fame, as there are less and less professions available in the entertainment businesses that require the unique skills and talents of Martial Artists.

The invention of computer graphics and the use of stunt doubles has nearly eliminated the need for movie producers to hire Martial Artists for action roles. Martial Artist’s are left with occupations that are typically low-paying and do not provide the opportunities to reach worldwide fame. A Martial Artist in the real world is like the very talented and inspiring teacher that is known locally but not worldwide. Fighters are known worldwide and get paid much money because they are willing to hurt and destroy others for profit, similar to how a drug dealer can make much more money compared to a Police Officer or how a “porn star” or stripper can make significantly more money than a school teacher.

Martial Artists are becoming more extinct in the real world, just as many of these beautiful wildlife animals are becoming extinct because the human population has taken over the world and have used up all available resources. The humans move in, the wildlife disappears. Fighters are moving in & Martial Artists are disappearing, that is the reality of the situation. No more is the public idolizing Martial Artists like Bruce Lee & Jet Li. The public is now idolizing Fighters. Those who see and observe what is occurring can make a change for the better in which to represent the Martial Arts the way it is meant to be represented.

Sifu Freddie Lee

Founder & Owner
Tao of Freddie’s Modern Kung Fu

MORE OF OUR ‘ ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS

Six Principles of Training | Kondo Katsuyuki

Posted in Aikido, Philosophy, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2012 by Combative Corner

(translated by Derek Steel)

Daito-ryu is built upon a foundation of six basic elements. These are extremely deep and complex and mastery of even any one of them requires a great deal of time and effort. One’s ability to perform Daito-ryu techniques correctly and fully will only develop through constant and strenuous efforts to take all six into account at all times.

Rei: Correct Formal Personal Conduct

The term rei has been translated variously with words such as etiquette, manners, courtesy, decorum, respect, or propriety. However, rei may be generally understood to mean the rules of correct formal personal conduct. Historically in Japan such rules have served in lubricating social and interpersonal relationships and preventing strife among people. Daito-ryu preserves historical forms of correct personal conduct, not because they have any particular relevance to the performance of techniques per se, but because they contain and continue the spiritual mindset of the traditional warrior that pervades and informs the Daito-ryu tradition even today.

Metsuke: Eye Contact

Metsuke refers to the use of the eyes. Essentially there are two types of metsuke training in Daito-ryu, one called mokushin(lit. “the eye of the mind”), the other called ganriki(lit. “eye power”). Mokushin involves seeing with the “eye of the mind,” often to enclose and envelop an opponent. Ganriki, on the other hand, is a sharp, penetrating gaze that sees an opponent’s intentions and can be used to dominate and control him.

Maai: Distancing

Maai refers to the physical distance or interval between things. Maai is often the single most important factor in determining the outcome of a combative encounter. It sometimes happens, for instance, that a combatant thinks he has established a favorable maai only to have it suddenly turn out to be to his opponent’s advantage. Primarily a form of unarmed combat, Daito-ryu focuses on the diligent study of the closer maai characteristic of striking and grappling techniques, although other maai also come into play in some situations.

Kokyu: Breathing

Kokyu refers to breath or breathing. We generate physical power and movement more easily when exhaling or in some cases when stopping our breath, both of which are states of yang. The opposite is true of inhaling, a yin state. Thus, techniques are usually performed while exhaling, often with one breath from start to finish. Similarly, it is considered ideal to time any attack to an instant when your opponent has just exhaled and has just started to inhale again. We take advantage of the openings in an opponent’s defenses offered by yin states, with many counterattacks and defenses timed to coincide with the instant your opponent enters–or is made to enter–a yin state.

Kuzushi: Unbalancing

From ancient times the admonishment to attack where the opponent has been unbalanced has been a fundamental axiom of Japanese combative theory. In the name Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu we see that the term aiki has been placed before the word jujutsu, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that this aiki refers mainly (though not exclusively) to the principle of kuzushi, or unbalancing, the opponent. Indeed a great many of Daito-ryu’s oral transmissions and inner teachings pertain to the various subtle aspects of kuzushi.

Zanshin: Remaining Mind & Full Effort

The characters for zanshin have the general meanings of “remain” (zan-) and “mind” (-shin). The term is usually interpreted as referring to a mental state in which you continue to focus your attention on your opponent and the surrounding environment. I have another interpretation, however, which is that the characters for zanshin can also refer to the phrase “Kokoro wo nokosazu” (lit. “Leave nothing of the spirit behind”). This means giving of yourself so completely that nothing remains to be given and so that nothing is held back. When practicing Daito-ryu this means giving your absolute all to the performance to each and every technique.

Copyright ©2000 Aiki News. All rights reserved.
Shared via Koryu.Com April 19, 2009
Reposted with permission on CombativeCorner.Com July 10, 2012

This article first appeared in Daito-ryu: Hiden Mokuroku Ikkajo, published by Aiki News. For more info, check Daito-ryu: Hiden Mokuroku Ikkajo.
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Kondo Katsuyuki was born in Tokyo in 1945. He began his training in Daito-ryu aikijujutsu as a teenager under Hosono Tsunejiro and later Yoshida Kotaro. In 1961, he began to make periodic trips to Hokkaido to practice under Tokimune Takeda. He continued his training under the Daito-ryu headmaster for 32 years. In 1970 he opened his Shimbukan Dojo, which serves as headquarter for his Daito-ryu activities.

Sifu Lee on East vs West

Posted in Day's Lesson, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by Sifu Freddie Lee

In the West, people love striving towards goals. The West is very extroverted. An entrepreneur can become rich simply by setting up goals for others to achieve. In the West people love to feel that inner pride for what they do. The organizer for the Chicago Marathon may not even be able to run the marathon himself, but he set up the event with the goal, he provides the medals & the money rewards. Now thousands want to join to try to reach the goal he has established. The organizer of a certain ring fight may not know how to fight himself, but he has arranged an event & established goals to achieve. Now thousands want to achieve this goal & even more are paying to watch. People will pay another person money so that, that other person will create a goal for him to achieve. That is what tournaments are all about.

Now in the East, we set our own goals to achieve, we do not look towards another to set a goal for us. When you come from the East to the West, you can then become the leader that sets the goals for those in the West to achieve. There is a lot of yang energy in the west, all they really need is to be guided in the proper direction. People simply have a strong wish to be recognized for doing things that they are good at. The West is not the way of the Tao, but the emphasis on Tao reminds the man with the Western mind to not forget, when you do not forget, it is much easier to come closer to a balance. It is interesting when you come from the east & you start to understand the Western mind. It is a mind with constant activity, constant movement. It does not want to sit still. Rather than forcing it to stay still, many times it is best to simply guide it towards a healthier direction & set it free.

Sifu Freddie Lee

[via FMK’s Facebook]

Roundtable Discussion 016: Favorite Videos

Posted in Discussion Question, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Combative Corner

For our 16th Roundtable Discussion I asked our Combative Crew,

“If you had to choose, what’s your favorite online video?”

Brandon Vaughn  |  Sanshinkai Karate

(Part 2) & (Part 3)

Johnny Kuo  | I Liq Chuan

Michael Joyce  |  GTS  / ChenCenter

Robert Lara  |  Four Winds Aikido

Freddie Lee  |  Freddie’s Modern Kungfu

T.J. Kennedy  |  Hybrid Fighting Method

-The Combative Crew

The West, Still Not Ready | Sifu Lee

Posted in Day's Lesson, Miscellaneous, Philosophy with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2012 by Sifu Freddie Lee

When Bruce was alive, he knew that the West was not ready for real Martial Arts, he was disappointed with the progress of his kwoons, so he decided to close his kwoons to go into acting. Over 40 years later, right now, the West is still not ready for real Martial Arts. I love teaching Martial Arts, but it is almost impossible making a living doing so if you teach it the way that it is truly meant to be taught, I’ve decided to go into field of personal training to make a living. The masses of people just want to lose weight, gain muscle, feel & look good – few of them truly wish to learn real art. Out of 100 people, you will be lucky to find one that has the Martial Spirit within.

People can be taught but they must be ready to listen.  Many are not ready to listen. I love to give, but if I give too much, I will go out of business. Martial Art is not meant for business.  I am truly experiencing the struggles of how to get a Martial Art school to stay completely pure & uncorrupted. You work so hard to find people who have the Martial spirit within them, but then they have no money to pay. Then you find those who have much money but then they are far from being ready to enter into the realm of Martial Arts.

You have to reach out to the right people, but the right people are often times thousands of miles away. I will try to last as long as I can, but eventually I may have to once again become more hidden, working a job to make ends meet, while keeping the spirit of the Martial Arts within me, hidden from the mass of society. The mass of society is not ready for what I have to teach, & during the course of my lifetime, I may never see a time when they are ready. The truth is meant to be hidden; it cannot be exploited & mass produced.

Martial Arts requires thousands of hours of study & training.  How can anyone progress rapidly if they must pay for every hour? It is like a child who must pay you by the hour in order to raise him until the age of 18, he will have to repay you for the rest of his life, or at least take care of you for 18 years in which to break even. It takes time to develop into a Martial Artist, but who has the time to wait? Bruce could not wait. By waiting you are slowing your own development, but forging ahead you are leaving loved ones behind, finding the balance is a difficult thing. I know if I forge ahead there is nowhere to go – Bruce already taught me this. By waiting I can be of great assistance. But I will only wait for those who show appreciation; I will not wait for those who do not appreciate. Some people are ready, some people are not, those who are not, I will not force. When they are ready, they will show me, they will not just tell me.

The pressure is on to make me perform. Without the pressure, I will find no need to perform. Why try hard if you are already living comfortable? When your living conditions are rough, that forces you to work hard, when you work hard you grow. This kwoon can only grow through hard work. Nothing comes easy in this commercialized world. The masses are constantly being bombarded by negative advertisements that it makes it very difficult to see the positive.

Sifu Freddie Lee

[via FMK’s Facebook]

O’Sensei and The Principle of The Circle

Posted in Aikido, Teaching Topic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by Combative Corner

Aikido technique is structured on circular movement, for harmony is brought about and all conflict resolved through the spirit of the circle. The response of the body, mind and spirit to the principle of the circle is vital to the creation of technique.

ο

ο

A circle…

encloses space, and it is from the perfect freedom of this emptiness that ki is born. From the center of this birthplace, the creative processes of life are joined with the infinite, immeasurable universe by the spirit. The spirit is the Creator, the eternal parent giving birth to all things.

º

The Budo of Aikido springs from the mastery of the spirit of the circle. The essence if this Budo is to embrace the complementary action of cause and effect and to draw into yourself all things as if they were held within the palm of your hand. You have a spirit, therefore you must realize that each person has a spirit. When the life processes are connected with the spirit and the fundamental principle of the circle is given birth in Aiki, all things are led to completion through the circle. All things are freely created by the circle. The secret of the circle is to create technique by piercing the very center of Space.

Morihei Ueshiba – Founder of Aikido

Robert Lara Sensei

Four Winds Aikido

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