Bassai-Dai Bunkai

Last night 2 new students, Redza & Saiful, who are training to be cross-graded in Shotokan practiced their Bassai-dai. I emphasised on the bunkai of the opening movement. That practice took a better of of the hour. The Bassai-Dai they have been practicing was reather ‘unique’ and had to be tweaked to meet the requirements.

Book Review : Okinawa Bo-Jutsu

Okinawan Bo-Jutsu

A new book by Jamal Measara, 7th Dan Kyoshi Seibukan & 6th Dan Kobudo has published a new book : Okinawan Bo-Jutsu. The book is in English and German, like his previous book, Okinawa Dento Karate-Do (Okinawan Traditional Karate-Do) and is filled with over 400 instructional photos within 240 pages.

Among the contents of the book are :

Bo Hojo Undo Dai 1, 2 and 3;Yakusoku-Kumibo; Fukyukata and Shiu Shi No Kon; Atatameru and Tachi Kata.

The book can be ordered through Azlimmi Sensei at RM95.00 (including shipping and handling).

Interview With Jeff Nagata Kyoshi

Jeffrey A. Nagata is a senior Seibukan instructor (7th Dan Black Belt Kyoshi) currently residing and instructing in Portland, Oregon, USA. Married with 4 children, Nagata Kyoshi, along with Jamal Measara Kyoshi and Warren Berto Renshi, is one of the members of the Senior Board of Directors of IOSSKA (Director for International Relations). Recently, Nagata Kyoshi agreed to answer some question from Seibukan Melaka instructor, Azlimmi Himzal for the upcoming OSS!! newsletter. The newletter should be ready in mid April. Here are excerps from the interview to whet your appetite….

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Question : Was karate your first martial arts?

Answer : My first encounter with the martial arts was with Judo. Being of Japanese heritage, I was obliged and mandated to take Judo at a very young age. I ended my Judo career at the age of 15 years, then pursued Seibukan Karate-do at the age of 16 years. I now have a total of 37 years in Seibukan.

Question : Why Seibukan all these years?

Answer : In the beginning, Seibukan karate offered something that was very different than other martial arts in the area of the country I grew up in. It offered full contact fighting using kendo type of bogu protection. This was very inviting to me during my early years in karate training. But, as I started to learn more about the ways of Seibukan karate-do, and to finally meet and train under the great master, Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro, I knew that I found a life long martial arts to train and teach in. Through the diligent practice of Kata, and applying the principals of bunkai, centering and concentration of oneself during the execution of kata and karate techniques, I discovered what Seibukan is as a martial art.

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(L-R) Jeff Nagata Kyoshi, Zenpo Shimabukuro Hanshi & Warren Berto Renshi

Question : What do you feel sets Seibukan apart from other karate styles?

Answer : Seibukan, in my mind, is set apart from other karate styles by several reasons. First is its purity in lineage. There is very little deviation in the lineage tree of Seibukan. Direct from Grandmaster Chotoku Kyan to Master Zenryo Shimabukuro to his son, Hanshi Zenpo Shimabukuro. We are very fortunate that we have such a pure lineage line in our style of karate.

Secondly, is the consistency in our training methods and philosophy of how Seibukan students must train. From Kihon Renshu to Zenshin Kotai, to Ippon Kumite, we are all practicing the same basics with the same intensity in our training efforts. Some karate systems develop unique training standards among different dojos. When you come to a Seibukan seminar or dojo, no matter what country you go to, we all practice the same techniques and basics. Our techniques are not designed to be used solely in tournament combat, or to apply our training to only self defense fighting. We practice to build character, bring mind and body together in unison, to exercise what we learn in our real lives, and become an honorable person, trustworthy, compassionate, a person of strong character.

Lastly is all the students and sensei that are involved in Seibukan. We are all like brothers and sisters. Many of us have known each other for many years, some for a very short amount of time, but we all are in the Seibukan family. It is rare indeed to find such a close group of friends in karate-do in such a large world we live in.

Eight Poems Of The Fist

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The human mind is one with heaven and earth.
Our blood circulation parallels the solar and lunar cycles of each day.
Inhaling represents softness while exhaling characterizes hardness.
Adapt to changing conditions.
Response must result without conscious thought.
Distancing and posture dictates the outcome of the meeting.
See what is unseeable.
Expect what is unexpected.

Tactical Training : Part 3

Attention To Detail (Or How To Not Embarrass And/Or Hurt Yourself While Kicking Ass)

Since starting this article I’ve got a good deal of feedback about covering the basics of targeting your opponent. Today I’ll continue to cover my general principles on this subject and invite your questions. Also feel free to suggest some topics you’d like me to cover or expand upon for your combat training. The focus of this column is not a particular art or style but general training concepts that everyone can apply. I emphasis the real life and death application of combat training rather than the sport application because I believe there are many places to find technical information about your particular art or style. There is very little information on good overall principles to use in your everyday self defense applications.

So with that in mind here is a list of do’s and don’t for various grabs, holds, punches, and kicks:

  1. Grasping: When grasping, allow your hand to come to rest on the bodypart you wish to hold. Don’t try to hit and hold simultaneously or your hand will bounce off your target.
  2. Grasping: When grabbing clothes push the clothes up first, then grab the wrinkled area thumb down turning the thumb up as you pull in or push out. This enables you to really get a good hold on the clothing and control the attacker.
  3. Punching: Here’s a basic but VERY overlooked principle; When punching to the soft parts of the body use the hard parts of the hand. When punching the hard parts of the body use the soft part of the hand.
  4. Punching: When striking the kidney keep your palm down as it provides a far better force vector for that punch.
  5. Punching: When striking to the ribs you may extend the center knuckle, keep your thumb up. That knuckle strike is the difference between bruising ribs and breaking them.
  6. Punching: When using a roundhouse/hook strike to the jaw line use your middle knuckles as the striking surface.
  7. Elbows: When punching with elbows make sure to keep a tight fist and strike with the elbow tip. Hold the forearm in a vertical position.
  8. Hand/Wrist Leverages: Start the hold with your thumb down and turn your thumb up with his thumb away from his body. Use your other hand to reinforce the hold as soon as possible.
  9. Kicking: If you kick above your attacker’s waist he will bend backward taking about a step and one half back. If you kick below the waist he’ll bend forward and go back about a half a step (steps are based on the natural stride of the attacker).
  10. Kicking: When you kick move into the kick, not away. You want to transfer all your force into the attacker.
  11. Kicking: Don’t kick above your chin level if at all possible. High kicks take longer to land and stay in view of your attacker, giving him time to counter. If you want to kick your attacker in the temple, kick out his kneecap first, then the temple is very easy to strike.
Some of these tips may be familiar to you, but do you actually USE the information? This week apply one or two of them during your training sessions and notice what a little attention to detail does to your performance. Feel free to email me at seikenkarate@gmail.com with your feedback or questions.

Tactical Training : Part 2

Ten Tips To Make You A Better Fighter


Thanks for all the positive response to the my first article on tactical training. Per your requests I’m following up with some practical, straightforward fighting tips you can implement in your free fight training .

When I train with my students in close combat fighting system I consistently observe some common mistakes that really hinder your ability to quickly dominate a situation. Some of the mistakes are psychological, others technical. Either can get you knocked out, maimed, or killed in a life and death fight. Being conscience of what you actually do in training allows you to correct any mistakes in a forgiving environment rather than on the street.

If you make it a regular practice to train for the life and death scenarios then handling the drunk at the nightclub becomes very easy to deal with, often avoidable. So with that in mind here are 10 tips to make you a far more lethal fighter, they are in no particular order:

  1. Never get in a “fighting position” to intimidate before you strike in an attack. This is probably the biggest waste of time and the surest way to get hit. You may have just one move to take out your opponent and you just spent it getting into position. Better to see your target and just strike.
  2. If you grab someone by the hair make sure you comb the hair with your fingers then grab. This avoids the often comical scene where you attempt to reach out and grab the hair and end up with a fist full of air.
  3. Striking with a straight spine delivers far more power than with a bent back. Make sure you’re not bending your back in training by occasionally pausing after a strike and simply look down at your feet. If your head is past your knees then you are bending your back.
  4. When an attacker has a weapon never look at the weapon. Instead focus on the body part that initiates the weapons movement. Example: If the knife is in the hand, then start by looking at the elbow, then his shoulder. If you really want advanced warning then look at the opposite shoulder, it must move to move the striking hand. It is subtle but you can see it with a little practice.
  5. If you are getting kicked and you seem to be late all the time, try dropping down into a deep balance position. This places your eye at the optimum point so it can see the kick coming long before it becomes a threat. With practice your head will be level the attacker’s diaphragm or belt level.
  6. If the attacker punches or kicks first don’t block, strike! The movements may look similar but a strike renders the attacker off balance, creates a chaotic state, or knocks out the attacker. If one of the 3 don’t occur you did not strike.
  7. One of the biggest problem you’ll face with a real fight is that you will get out of breath that causes fatigue and fatigue gets you hurt. Many fighters actually hold their breath during a free fight that can rapidly fatigue you. Check that you are breathing during free fight give and take and make sure you incorporate regular muscle endurance conditioning cycles.
  8. Here’s great way to insure you are delivering the most power into your strikes: When striking should replace that of the attacker’s every time a strike is made.
  9. When fighting or training do not head-butt. Never use your own central nervous system as a striking platform. Head-butting takes eyes in and out of focus which is definitely what you don’t want in a conflict.
  10. Remember to stay relaxed when someone grabs you. Do not provide a grappling friendly structure for the attacker. If you stay relaxed it’s next to impossible for someone to hold and manipulate you.

Well there they are, try to incorporate one or all of these tips in the next month and let me know how it works for you. You can email me at seikenkarate@gmail.com

Tactical Training : Part 1

How To Make Your Practical Fighting Training Really Count

Today I want to delve into the practical application of training in your chosen martial art. What I mean by practical application is the portion in your training where you simulate real attacks. This is sometimes called one step sparring (kihon/ippon kumite), free fighting (jiyu-kumite/randori), self defense drills, etc…

The purpose of this session is for your training partner to simulate an attack and for you to destroy the attacker. Often this is where I cringe as an instructor because most practitioners tend to go through the motions rather than taking advantage of training time that arguably could very well save your life. So here are three questions to ask yourself next time you have one of these extremely valuable training sessions.

1. Are You A One-Armed Fighter?

After training a while you may discover you favor certain techniques during your free fight period. Most times this tends to show itself by using only your dominant/strong side. Other times you may find yourself using the same technique or strike over and over again. If you find this is the case with you, apply these variations to your training:

Strong-Side Take Away – This involves taking away your strong side arm. If you are right handed you put your right hand in your pocket or waistband and free fight with the rest of your body weapons. Doing this every 5th free fight period will force you to work your weak side in order to balance off your body.

Legs Only – Try a couple of freefight periods fighting using your legs only. This builds tremendous versatility in your training and forces you to utilize targets using your legs in a variety of strikes.

Elbows and Knees -During your freefight period confine your body weapons to your elbows and knees. This builds 2 fighting skills : 1) Ability to close distance, in a fight closing distance offers you a distinct advantage, using only your elbows and knees you are forced to close distance to strike targets; 2) Teaches you to generate kinetic force in your strikes. In order to properly use elbows and knees you need to use your hips to strike with any power. This drill forces you to develop both of these necessary skills.

2. Are You Sure You Hit Your Target?

No, I’m not being a smartass. After watching the attendees at training seminars during their free fight periods it is very apparent that the majority of people don’t look at the target they are striking. Even worse they do not make contact with their body weapon and the target. If you are doing a one knuckle punch to the temple then your knuckle must touch the temple of your training partner and you must be looking at the temple as you strike it. If you do not do this you will not code your brain correctly for those targets and you will not be accurate in your striking in a real fight. You and your training partner must go slow at first to code your striking using this method it is critical to your fighting success.

Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing speed for accuracy. At first you may have to go extremely slow while you adjust your body weapon and eye coordination to code this striking info correctly. You also have to give your partner time to give the proper autonomic nervous system reaction (e.g. a kick to the groin results in a reaction of the body moving back approximately 1.5 steps, the torso bends down and the head and chin juts up).

This manner of training allows you to correctly target vital areas on the human body without inflicting serious injury on your training partner. As you progress with your training you will be able to increase your speed. You also will be able to increase your contact with your training partner as you both learn proper autonomic nervous system reactions. This increases to the point where most fighters can train at what is considered full contact speed but with real accuracy. Take the time and develop these skills.

Remember you fight like you train. Make sure you train to accurately hit your targets.

3. Did Your First Strike Create At Least One of These Results?

Your first contact with your attacker is critical and when you put your hands on him for the first time one of 3 results must occur:

1. Take His Balance
2. Create “Chaos”
3. Knock Him Out

If you have put your hands on an attacker and this has not occurred you are WRONG! The rest of your strikes won’t matter if your first strike is wasted with an ineffective blow. Let’s examine each of the three options:

Balance – Most people have horrible balance. It is very easy to get them off balance with proper strikes. Make sure you complete the arc of your strikes in order to take his balance. With your opponent off balance you can deliver another strike to him before he can recover his balance.

Chaos – You create chaos in your attacker when you strike multiple targets in the body simultaneously. The attacker can’t process what is happening to him and he goes into chaos which shuts him down during the fight giving you an opportunity to strike another target and finish him off.

Knock Out – When you strike a target which knocks out the body’s central nervous system either temporarily or permanently (lethal) you have defeated the threat. Make sure and evaluate your training sessions and honestly answer whether or not you accomplished one of the above three conditions on your first strike. If not correct this immediately. You may only get that one chance to take out your attacker.

Kuro Obi

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Whether you had him tagged as the former or the latter, either way his latest film will come completely out of left field. Black Belt, as its title suggests, is a martial arts movie. The term inevitably conjures up notions of eardrum-piercing yelps, flying tackles and crushing bones, and of towheaded musclemen of the Jean-Claude Van Damme variety trying to execute such moves with some semblance of grace, but there are plenty of examples in cinema history of martial arts films that were actually films, first and foremost. Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull and Akira Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata are two that come to mind and that can rightly be considered classics, because their makers realised that the subject of any martial arts movie is human beings, their devotion to achieving their goals and what effect that devotion can have on their relationships with other human beings.

It’s no accident that the word ‘art’ is part of the term ‘martial arts’, and a crucial part at that. Most martial arts movies, however, tend to overlook this in favour of the physical spectacle, or a fetishistic preoccupation with male virility and violence. Bruce Lee tried his damndest to harmonise the genre’s desire for showmanship with a pure expression of the philosophies at the heart of the martial arts, but he regrettably shed his mortal coil before he could attain his goal, leaving a small body of work that ironically thrives almost entirely on spectacle. Since then, attempts at portraying “true” martial arts on screen have tended to rely on displays of physical prowess (Thai skullcrusher Ong Bak comes to mind), while any philosophising is usually a thinly veiled excuse for some good old dime store exoticism, cf. the stereotypical image of the retirement-age Asian mentor spouting riddles while tending to his bonsai collection in films like The Karate Kid.

Japanese cinema has no shortage of martial arts films that deal with the philosophical challenges of learning how to kill and maim, mostly because it had the perfect peg to hang it onto in the shape of the giri-ninjo conflict. Since their inception, chanbara films have dealt with the way swordsmen have tried to find a balance between their deadly skills on the one hand and how and when to use them on the other, while at the same time delving into the social and political implications of giving men the right to bear and use arms. Few better examples exist than Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai trilogy and its central figure of Musashi Miyamoto, whose entire life was a quest for a wisdom that could replace the use of violence. The socio-political angle was also exhaustively explored in the genre entries of the 1960s, by directors including Hideo Gosha, Kihachi Okamoto and Masahiro Shinoda, which film historians have often mistakenly labeled nihilists but which were in fact deeply life-affirming.

Black Belt follows firmly in this tradition, since it tries to give expression to the mindset behind the martial arts and explore the social ramifications of following that line of thought through. Set in 1932, amid the rise of militarism after the establishment of the Manchukuo colony in Northeast China, the story centers on a trio of karateka. Studying under their aging master in a small dojo in the woods of central Kyushu, Choei, Taikan and Giryu (Yagi, Tsujinaka and Suzuki, all real-life black-belt karateka) have completed their physical education, but have yet to fully grasp the spirit of their art. The opportunity to learn comes soon enough, when a company of kempeitai military police comes to requisition their dojo for use as a military barracks. Taikan and Giryu resist, and when elder member Choei is wounded in an attempt to keep the peace, they challenge the commander (Hakuryu) to a match. Even with his sword drawn, the officer is no match for Giryu, who trashes him within an inch of his life. But the fighter refuses to answer the commander’s plea to finish him off lest he live with the shame of having been defeated in front of his own men. In the eyes of the military fanatics, this is a crucial mistake. When the sensei dies and a new batallion appears with rifles loaded, the three karateka have no choice but to follow orders, pack up and go to work for the army as instructors. Along the way, however, the disgraced commander’s son and daughter come to avenge their father, who committed seppuku in shame. Giryu, understanding that the only way to avoid a cycle of violence is to allow them to defeat him, lets himself be pierced by the young woman’s lance. His body rolls down the hillside and is left for dead.

What marks Black Belt out for interest is not only the fact that from this moment onward Giryu and Taikan’s divergent paths eventually lead them to finding their own forms of enlightenment. It is also the decision of scriptwriter Joji Iida to set the story in the early 1930s amid the rise of militarism. The opening narration (by frequent Nagasaki lead Takashi Naito) over a montage of newspaper headlines and archival photographs sets the scene, recounting the founding of Manchukuo and the assassination of the initially pro-militarist Prime Minister Inukai at the hands of a band of young naval officers. Manchukuo was the outcome of a military campaign that had been initiated by what is known as the “Manchurian Incident”, in which leaders of the Japanese occupational forces in Northeast China staged an attack on one of their own supply routes and successfully blamed it on the Chinese. This was part of a carefully laid plan to give the army an excuse to penetrate deeper into Manchuria. Despite the military action being entirely insubordinate, an indecisive Emperor Hirohito neglected to punish rebel officers, thus giving the military increasing power and leeway and weakening the influence of the government.

Such factual political backgrounding is becoming increasingly rare in today’s political climate, in which prominent government figures are expressing right-wing revisionist ideas with alarming frequency and openness. Former PM Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, school textbook revisions that hush up sensitive issues related to war crimes such as the comfort women, and the implementation of kimigayo or the required reciting of the national anthem in class are just a few examples of these ideas being turned into policy and shaping the daily lives of the Japanese – particularly the as-yet ignorant young – with the intent of distorting historical fact in favour of ideology.

Where there is ideology, there is propaganda, meaning that the movies have not been spared from such meddling. Bolstered by the box office successes of Yamato (Otokotachi no Yamato, 2005), about the final days of the Imperial Navy’s doomed mega-battleship, and Japan Sinks (Nihon Chinbotsu, 2006), which respectively revisited and referred to WWII through a decidedly rose-tinted haze of heroism and the glory of self-sacrifice, Tokyo governor and former novelist Shintaro Ishihara mounted For Those We Love (Ore wa Kimi no Tame ni Koso Shini ni Iku, 2007), a blatantly revisionist pamphlet disguised as an ode to kamikaze pilots. Scripted by Ishihara and directed by Taku Shinjo, the film attempts to rewrite history by placing apologist concepts created after the war in the mouths of those who actually fought it. An early scene sees a high-ranking Navy officer played by Masato Ibu voicing one of the revisionists’ favourite pieces of rhetoric, that Japan entered the Pacific War to “free its Asian brothers from white imperialism.”

None of these ideas or attempts to spread them are new. In the 1990s films like Pride (Pride: Unmei no Toki, 1997, directed by Female Convict Scorpion helmer Shunya Ito) and Merdeka (Murdeka, 2000) vented exactly the same discourse. The difference is that now these productions are no longer isolated attempts by a handful of fanatics, but blockbusters that employ large budgets, established stars (Tatsuya Nakadai, Takashi Sorimachi and Kyoka Suzuki in Yamato; Keiko Kishi and Yosuke Kubozuka in For Those We Love) and the distribution channels of major studios. Against such vulgar displays of power, the few initiatives that try (or should we say dare) to go against the grain hardly add up to a counterbalance, seeing how most of them are of the low budget indie variety. However, imbued with the message it wishes to impart, Black Belt puts up a very gallant fight against the odds. Much like Masato Harada’s Kamikaze Taxi a decade earlier, it holds up something that is part of Japan’s soul and tradition, and contrasts its virtues with the lowly conniving of those who claim to hold the monopoly on defining what constitutes Japaneseness. As Giryu’s willingness to be defeated at the hands of the commander’s daughter attests, martial arts and violence are two very different things. Violence is self-perpetuating and leaves no room for mercy, restraint or humility.

Taikan and Giryu represent the opposites of darkness and light. Taikan relishes the opportunity to fight stronger opponents, seduced as he is by the “dark side” represented by kempeitai, who use his strength to their own ends in commandeering other dojos in the region and thus nip any form of danger and organised dissent in the bud. But where Taikan’s abuse of his powers veers toward gratuitous brutality, Giryu’s views of his art as one to be used purely for defensive purposes make him passive and fatalistic. When loansharks come to take away the daughter of the family that nursed him back to health, as compensation for the father’s gambling debts, he doesn’t interfere. Her little brother calls him a coward, and the boy is right. Taikan and Giryu form the yin and the yang, who have yet to realize that they need to accept a part of the other within themselves to find balance and harmony, and thus learn the ultimate lesson they search for. When they leave the dojo, they may be highly trained, but they are still essentially children: raised in the protective bubble of the karate dojo, they have been taught but they have never truly experienced.

This narrative deals with some very fundamental moral dilemmas inherent in the martial arts (and in Buddhism in general), and does so with great clarity. No need to have spent years in a Kyoto monastery to grasp what is being said. Iida, director of such unremarkable fantasy fare as Battle Heater (1989), The Spiral (Rasen, 1998) and Dragonhead (2003), reveals hitherto untapped talents as a scriptwriter, giving the story the shape of a classic morality tale that borrows from the European tradition of the parable, the all-human equivalent of the fable, in which the main characters represent modes of behaviour and their actions ultimately lead to a moral lesson for the audience that is spelled out in the final moments. The story can also be interpreted as an allegory of the Manchurian campaign, with the military police conquering one dojo (or town) after another, using vainglorious local boy Taikan as their all too willing puppet.

When the lesson is finally learned, us world-wise contemporary viewers may scoff and find it obvious, but we would be wrong to do so. The lesson is not obvious, it just seems that way, because it is so clearly and understandably communicated. Director Nagasaki’s approach is entirely in keeping with the central point. His sober style reflects the concept of self-restraint, portraying the martial arts scenes without spectacle but with full intensity, bringing out the best in his two non-professional leads both as actors and as martial artists. His direction calls to mind several films by one of Japan’s great directors of great martial arts films, Kenji Misumi, most notably the 1964 Yukio Mishima adaptation Ken, about two students with opposing world views vying for control of a university kendo school, and the late director’s final film Last Samurai (Okami yo Rakujitsu o Kire, 1975), set in the turbulent closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate and focusing on a character who has to choose between violence and restraint. Black Belt’s finale, shot in low-contrast grey tones for reasons that will become apparent to the viewer, forms a magnificent summation to a film that fights not only a gallant fight, but a very necessary one. And although the odds are unfair, it is not a lost cause yet.

(Review by Tom Mes on http://www.midnighteyes.com)

Seibukan Kata Video

Last Saturday after training with Azri, we got to making some video clips of selected Seibukan katas, namely Fukyugata Ichi, Fukyugata Ni, Seisan, Wansu and Passai. I demonstrated the kata while Azri acted as the cameraman. Thanks a million Azri. The quality of the video recording is excellent, but sadly I cannot say the say for my performance of the katas. There are still a lot of flaws which I seek to improve over the next few months. So please don’t judge me too harshly :-) . The videos are mainly done as a reference for my students who wants to train at home… or wherever they have internet access.
Fukyugata Ichi
Fukyugata Ni
Seisan
Wansu
Passai

A Stream Of Consciousness For Consideration By A Concerned Karate-Ka : Part 1

The purpose of today’s post to to re-examine the need and function of a ‘governing body’ and if so why. The reader is welcome to accept or discard any or all of it.
It is my contention that we do need a single governing body for the various reasons :
  1. Karate is widely misunderstood (and sadly, often misrepresented) and there should be one point of reference that interested parties and members of the public can approach for information, advice and assistance.
  2. Karate practice encompasses a plethora of ethical and technical ideals. Disparate umbrella groups and self-styled governing bodies mislead and allow confusion.
  3. A central single body can set, and monitor standards (technical, ethical, financial, etc.)
There are some who advocates the idea of two bodies, one to manage sport karate and one to cater to the so-called “traditional” karate. I believe this inappropriate as many practitioners embrace both side of the discipline, and a great many respected karate-ka who consider themselves ‘traditional’ also support sport, and vice versa. By splitting the two, we risk potentially dividing the overall karate community. Even the sport of karate as endorsed by the major bodies (WKF , WUKO) embraces budo values.
It is important to consider the role of the National Sports Council in these plans. In my opinion it can be very simple : Unify, or no funds. At the moment there are too many karate associations left out of the loop due to many reasons. There is of course the possibility of forging ahead with independent commercial funding. This has to be considered withing the wider context of sport/education/social policy generally. Whilst it is perfectly feasible to imagine a financially self-supported body, the implications of running independently of the Government Agency responsible for what might be loosely termed ‘physical education‘ are not, IMHO, viable.
A governing body needs to :
  • Establish and maintain standards
  • inform and educate (members and outside parties)
  • Lobby outside bodies for support
  • Represent it’s members’ disparate needs
  • Deliver services for its members
  • Act as a disciplining/controlling force to control non-aligned or non-compliant bodies

All the above must be fulfilled in an environment of transparency and propriety. Due proses means that there will be accountability and scrutiny. There is no point in trying to run even a benign dictatorship or patriarchal democracy. One definition of democracy is that the leaders can be rid of. Thomas Paine, two centuries ago, warned that a democratic government must ensure that the will of the people is represented. That means constant reference back to the electorate (overall karate community). This has not been the case with MAKAF. I propose a trimmed down governing body with a lean, effective management that will include ALL the karate-ka in Malaysia in one body.

Read PART 2

Masuk Bakul Angkat Sendiri!!

French philosopher, Jules de Gaultier once wrote : IMAGINATION IS THE ONE WEAPON IN THE WAR AGAINST REALITY. Why would anyone want to change reality… is it because it is too dreary… too unrealistic at times? Reality is after all, simply a state of being when a group of people agree upon their perception of what is real. Simply in other words, if say… Putin, Bush and a third of the world’s leaders meet up in Geneva or wherever they hang out to spend tons of the taxpayers’ money, and agree that Never Never Land is to be found two miles south of the coast of Florida, then it must be real???!!!!!

The same state of reality exists in the martial arts community. Take one example, a black belt I know has recently ‘migrated’ to another style or ‘ryu’ due to ‘conflict of interest’. He is hell bent on finding ‘THE TRUE PATH’. On his journey to find this path, he tramples on some people, spits on others and generally belittles everyone else who does not see things his way, for he is after all, the guardian of the ‘TRUE PATH’. For is he not right in his quest for the ultimate truth. As he is a student of a japanese martial arts system, so he goes forth boldly to the ‘homeland’ to further his knowledge in his art. After a month of intensive training he comes home with a certificate. But alas, it is not the coveted black belt certificate that he brings home but an Ikkyu (1st Kyu, brown belt). Being a master orator and spin-master, he continues to advertise himself as a black belt, albeit from a previous organization that he nows spits on. Not once did in his master oration does he mention that the masters that be in the land of the rising sun, view him, despite his many long years of training and teaching experience, only worthy of a brown belt. There is nothing unhonourable in that. It is just that he conveniently forgets to mention that fact in his current martial art style. Was he lying??? Of course he wasn’t, he wasn’t claiming anything that he wasn’t. He justs never tells the truth. So…. what level of reality does he, or any other martial artists operate on then? Or is he simple in denial?

We all hype up a bit in advertising. But it is a sad thing to see someone buy into their own hype. It is one thing to have others praise you, but to continually do it yourself????  Oh well… there is a Malaysia saying “Masuk bakul angkat sendiri” which literally means to sing one’s own praise.