Sunday, August 30, 2009

Physically unorganized people

Sometimes when tangling with my teachers and senior students I begin to forget the skill and soft power I have developed over the years. Then a new student comes to the school, and even if their reactions are a little unpredictable my technique cuts right through them.

Over at the kaze uta budi kai site, a police officer says most resistant arrests are as difficult randori with a green belt.

I found this next film. Besides being damn funny, it also shows how physically disorganized many people are. It takes a lot of practice to develop martial power. Looking at the following video is like going through my home movies over the years. Fortunately on this film I got some stunt men to stand in for me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Justice for Kung Fu guy - Bobby Joe Blythe films

(edit) updated Aug 29, 2009

There finally appears some news confirmation that the law enforcement has picked up the case.

KMPH news

I reported a story going viral on the budo circuit earlier this week, Bobby Joe Blythe's insidious fight club dojo. There is a current wave of people trying to help out and figure out all the facts in the case.

Bobby Joe Blythe also posted a series of other videos, including a deluded lecture to the group of his black belts. This the the dark side of martial arts.

A recap

Basically a dojo brings a man in. The senior student, Willie J. Dennis, surprise attacks him. After a battle the man is knocked out. The Willie J. Dennis continues to kick in the head of the victim. They drag him knocked out in obvious medical shock out of the dojo, blood trailing the whole way. Supposedly they throw the man in a dumpster behind the dojo.

No one in the dojo stops it. They film it. Many of the students of the dojo have law enforcement connections, so there is a good chance of a coverup. They post it on You Tube bragging about it. One guy found it and posted it on Bullshido is heading a big investigation and trying to get these guys thrown in prison.

Want to see how the investigation is going and get an overview of the story? Here is a good website giving an overview of the case and people involved.


Another good site

This is not the attack video. This video shows a lecture from Bobby Joe Blythe to his black belts. It is especially disgusting knowing the violence these guys are capable of.

This man (popularly known now as kung fu guy, KFG) was ambushed and possibly murdered in a dojo in (supposedly) 1984. The date was possibly changed on the video. Do you know him? There is a rumor he might have survived. Personally I doubt he survived due to the extensive damage he received.

In case you have missed it, here is the criminal attack video. I am posting this so people can get mad and send this on to people who can make a difference. I am warning you, it is sick and sad. You will be angry and unable to shake it. Don't watch it. Seriously, don't watch it.

Sick video of Bobby Joe Blythe

Have some spare time and are internet and investigation savy? Please read as much of their investigation as you can before you post on their investigation thread.

Bullshido investigation

Thursday, August 27, 2009

All warfare is based on deception

"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him."

- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

Besides being a martial artist, I am also a passionate magician. This quote makes me think of the mind bending power misdirection has, even in the martial arts. I can think of two examples using wrist turns, kote gaeshi

1. Your opponent is trying to put on a wrist turn technique (kote gaeshi) Usually all their energy and attention is focused on that one point, the lock. That one point becomes the misdirection. Let them have that battle. Flank them with your body attacking another point destabilizing them. This causes the wrist lock to become ineffective.

2. Your are attempting to do a kote gaeshi. Conditions are not perfect and the technique is not perfect. Your opponent feels the strain and battle and is trying to wiggle out and escape. All of his attention (ki) is in his wristand trying to escape. Continue to employ it, but use your other hand to begin establishing a connection somewhere else. Establish the battle line (wrist) use it as the deception. Flank the battle line and attack somewhere else while all his attention is on the wrist.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Redirecting Energy

I am very proud to announce we have a new contributing writer to the KyuRyu Aikibudo blog. Lately I have been trying to encourage the other guys at my dojo to start penning down some of their thoughts. Michael finally produced something, and it is very good. Someday soon I hope to spawn an entire dojo of writers, thinkers and philosophers on the path.

-Eric Pearson
KyuRyu AikiBudo

Redirecting Energy

Luckily real life is not an action adventure movie and we are able to walk though our daily life with few instances of ever needing to use our skill in Aikido. True Aikido practitioners perceive the world in a different light, noticing the subtle shifts in people bodies as they walk down a hall or change their balance to open a door or other seemingly mundane activities of day to day life. It is luckily rare that we ever have to draw upon our skills to actually intercede in a situation that may require us to make physical contact with somebody, allow them to break their own balance and have gravity take over. In the real world conflict is possibility never as clear cut as we see in the movies, two opposing army’s knowing that they are about to have a confrontation. Instead it is a subtle build up, then violence seems to explode out of it without any one exactly sure how it even escalated to such a point.

I was at work and was running back to my car to retrieve some paper work and right as I was about to exit the building a coworker grabbed me and asked me to make sure I walked out and witnessed what was seemingly about to happen. A nice older lady from work was being followed into the parking lot by another driver for at the time reason I didn’t know. Of course this was one of those little old ladies every offices has, and who couldn’t hurt a fly if she tried with all of her might. The man in the car had blocked her in a parking space and was honking his horn at her waving his fist and making every rude gesture you can think of. Knowing that something had to be done I calmly but deliberately walked straight towards the offending person’s car.

At points like this a thousand different thoughts roll through one’s mind. I need to help my friend especially one that cannot defend herself. Am I going to be in a physical conflict? Does this person have a gun; are they crazy, on drugs, just pissed off because of their morning commute or a fight they had with their wife? Just as important what are my actions going to be. Do I lose my temper and express my outrage to him, violently or verbally? As all of these thoughts washed over me in what seemed like a ten mile walk toward this person’s car. I thought back to my training and not just my training but the philosophy, concepts, and ideas that I have spent the last three years trying to cultivate and incorporate in my Aikido, and through it my daily life. My mind cleared and I suddenly found my calm just like as if I was in the dojo about to start randori or other practice. I made eye contact starting zanshin letting this guy know that I wasn’t going to tear him limb from limb but was also not going to allow him to pick on a much weaker friend and coworker.

As soon as the eye contact was made he realized immediately that his situation had changed. His aggression towards someone much weaker than him was unacceptable but it wasn’t that this was unacceptable it was also that he was wrong. Being able to change someone’s balance not just through touch but state of mind and informing them that their actions will not be tolerated is as powerful as any throw. If I had run out there at full speed and been the aggressor I believe in my heart that things would have escalated even further. As an Aikido artist there is the fine line between interceding in what could become a physical conflict and actually being the one that tips it into becoming a physical conflict. Tools such as zanshin (connectedness) and metsuke (gaze) allow us to control a situation without crossing the boundaries of physical contact.

Eye contact made, the driver got back in his car and drove off. Hopefully he reflects what it must be like to pick on a little old lady because they came to close to each other in a parking lot, something that was more than likely both their faults and not her fault or his. Hopefully he will take a couple of minutes and realize that it could have been a worst day for both of them and more importantly a better day for the both of them.

In today’s society where law officers become involved and coming to someone’s aid could get you arrested just as quickly or even be sued, using the mental principals of Aikido are just as important if not more useful. I have always believed that martial artist of all types have to be the ones with restraint, using their art as a last resort. It sometimes seems very contrary to even be practicing martial arts if you work to avoid a physical conflict. But alas, paradox is at the essence of budo.

-Michael Chihal
KyuRyu AikiBudo

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Instructor Bobby Joe Blythe films a student in felony

More recent version of the Bobby Joe Blythe story click HERE

Older information the above link because some of the below information may be now inaccurate.

I got a film passed to me the other day. I clicked on it at first thinking it was a humorous film. It wasn't. It was akin to a snuff film. It was a film of a martial artist beating a man criminally. I feel dirty and pissed that I even saw it.

In 1984

Basically a dojo brings a man in. The senior student surprise attacks him. After a battle the man is knocked out. The student continues to kick in the head of the victim. They drag him knocked out in obvious medical shock out of the dojo, blood trailing the whole way. They throw the man in a dumpster behind the dojo.

No one in the dojo stops it. They film it. They post it on You Tube 25 years later, bragging about it. One guy found it and posted it on Bullshido is heading a big investigation and trying to get these guys thrown in prison.

Now I just can't bring myself to post the link to the video here. It will ruin your week. Seriously.

(edit a day later)

I have been thinking about it. This blog is has no clout unless you have access to the video. People need to get upset about this so the information will get passed to the right people. If you are good at investigating, have law enforcement, legal or media powers check out and help them at Make sure you read their work before you post stuff.

I am warning you, it is sick and sad. You will be angry and unable to shake it. Don't watch it. Seriously, don't watch it.

Sick video of Bobby Joe Blythe

Here is the investigating site.

Bullshido investigation

Big props to the MMA guys at bullshido for not putting up with this.

Hussey Invasion

I had never heard of blogs, until Formosa Neija put one of my videos up. Then I started getting the Mokuren site every time I did a search for budo related information.

I decided to start blogging as a New Year's resolution. Another resolution I had was to be open to more teachers. I wrote Lowry Sensei on a whim after reading an interview. Lowery Sensei suggested Matl Sensei, and Matl Sensei pushed me to Hussey Sensei.

So Hussey Sensei is a great friend and artist. He came down yesterday from Round Rock martial arts, and corrupted our students with his ideas. He has never seen himself on film doing aikido, so I finally talked him into doing a few minutes of randori with me with the camera rolling. I am the attacker, but I am trying to counter and give him problems the whole time. I even grabbed his legs while falling, and I tried to pull him down with me every chance I got. I got him once! Needless to say, he pretty much effortlessly put me on the floor. I was overheating pretty bad, so you can watch me turn an amazing red by the end of the session.

Here he demonstrates quite a few positional corner drops, like I was trying to describe on yesterdays blog "waves crashing over rocks."

Round Rock Martial Arts

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Waves crashing on rocks

I am amazed at how common the symbol of the wave is in Aikido. The wave is an expression of energy. Usually I see myself as the wave, rising and falling. I try to feel like liquid energy.

This morning I was meditating on the KyuRyu wave symbol. I began to see the attacker as the wave. He is the energy. But how do waves break? He energy of a wave breaks on rocks.

I found this clip of Henry Kono Sensei. He is doing a oshi taioshi / ikkyo motion. The thing I found interesting was he manipulated the relationship in a way that when the technique was executed the energy is coming onto him, but he is in the perfect place. He is like a rock, an the wave's energy harmless disperses on him.

Henry Kono

At the moment of execution he is not pushing and struggling to execute. He simply is there, like a rock. The off balanced 'wave' attacker is spun in a collision course. The relationship has been set. In these circumstances, rock beats wave.

Seeing models like this can be a very personal way to break down what we are trying to achieve in the arts. Today I am having hard time describing using words. I hope you can see what I am trying to communicate in the film.

Attention bloggers!!!

I found a cool way to get you tube to start a video at a particular time, like in the Kono video. After the link url write #t=__m__s. The blanks are the times you write in. So the code on the Kono video if you want to go to 5 mins and 50 seconds into the video looks like this-

I have not figured out how to embed the video yet with this time feature.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Some days I like to critically analyze the arts. On other days I like to just appreciate the art and watch other people hit the mat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A sad story

I just saw a very tragic and sad story on a documentary. There is a lot of hurt in the world. I openly sobbed at the injustice.

I will spare you the story, but I have a request to all the martial artists of the world. Please use your art to improve yourself. Use your powers to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Be a beacon of law and peace, and let no one ever fear you except the predators of the world. Even better than them fearing you, teach them to be better. Never abuse the power that your training and status gives you.

Walk In Peace

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I am Budoka

I am a martial artist. In Japanese you might say, I am a budoka.

I am budoka. This makes me a scientist in the most difficult of sciences. To study the martial arts is to study physics, kinesology, biology, psychology, anthropology, chemistry and the myriad of science disciplines. The dojo is laboratory, class room and university were we study the science of the great masters that have come before us. Then as we grow in skill we become the professors, spending our late nights pondering the equations that will take our noble science in the next generation. The artist studies deep cause and effect relationships and continually searches for more sophisticated models to explain the intricate dance of conflict.

I am a budoka. To study the martial arts makes a philosopher. Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, law, justice, validity, mind, and language. The martial philosopher pontificates on ethics and force. The martial mind turns to justice and law. We meditate on honor and learn to live harmoniously with an art that grants us great powers. To practice the arts is to study the living embodiment of philosophy.

I am a budoka, the arts that are the forge of the mystic. For the deep student the arts become the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, or insight. The arts become a tool, a model, a regular practice, a prayer, and a constant challenge to our connection with our sense of mystery. We wear foreign monastic clothing, wield ancient weaponry, and build temples to our art. We deeply study spiritual phrases in foreign tongues to help us understand...whatever it is we seek.

I am a budoka. I study arts within arts. I study movement arts, speaking arts, the art of teaching. I have learned the interior design of dojos, and carpentry to build them. I have learned to write the Japanese symbols with a brush, a deep study line and balance. The Zen aesthetic infuses the budokas collective psyche and I have learned to have reverence of the infinite complexity in simplicity. Even this humble text I am writing here is an art form developed because of my passion for the grand art form that is budo.

I am a budoka. I seek to learn, to share, to challenge and to innovate. I wish to harness the sciences to build an ever deeping philosophy. This philosophy will be expressed in my art and relationships. I continue to study to gain a deeper understanding of the 'Do', or spiritual path that we walk. By walking a spiritual path I have gained the ability that is truly divine - to create art. Art is creation for creations sake, which is truly a divine act. I feel by drawing closer to the divine, we do what the great teachers intended us to do all along.

Walk In Peace,


Monday, August 17, 2009

Randori training with back injury

Back injuries are surprisingly common. We get them from all kinds of places such as work, training, age and accidents. Whet ever the reason as aiki artists we must either modify our practice to accomodate the injured, or we will lose valuable members.

I no longer like the kind of training were the injured get to throw and never do ukemi. This is not a fair energy exchange. Instead we have been focusing our injured back program on non stress release motions, weapons work and a special form of free play randori.

Scooter got into a car wreck a month ago and has been having lots of back issues. We found that we are having to modify his workout program. Here is one game we are playing.

Super important - this might not work for you. Listen to your body, don't work through pain. We are not doctors so don't take our exercise as gospel. It is what works for our injured at the moment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A criticism of attacks in training

Occasionally here at KyuRyu, I find a video that I feel is worth pointing out some training methodologies that I disagree with. I do not mean it as an attack on the artists or their art. I do feel is imperative we constantly look at our practices with the upmost of critical eyes. I give my sincerest thanks to the gentlemen in this video for sticking their necks out to let others learn from them. I offer up any of my videos for people to pull apart too, I have made some with some bad practice exposed. Such is the process of learning.

These gentlemen are going through the motions of their system's kata. They are relaxed, and practicing fitting in, so they are not taking falls. It is a little lazy, but I do that too.

I have two major criticisms of this video - constant distance testing, and an attack coming from a fully extended position from too far away.

(edit) It appears that they blocked having the video embedded.


In recent years I have seen some aikido organizations move to an ever increasing more contrived system of attack, or really uke delivering energy so technique can be made.

Let's look at the video. What do we see first as the two artists come together? They measure ma-ai, or their engagement distance. They both stick their arms out to make sure they are playing at the correct distance.

Measuring ma-ai is fine every once in a while if your distance calibration is off. I strongly disagree with doing it EVERY TIME during practice after an artist reaches gokyu level. This is beginner level stuff. Rather than having to measure distance an artist should have range so ingrained into their heads they naturally move to correct ma-ai every time. These gentlemen appear to be high level artists, so really they already know ma-ai, they are just going through a dance of needless motions. Checking ma-ai every time makes practice too easy and robs the student of the most important practice that aikido training should give - a natural and automatic use of space.

The next piece of technical criticism I would like to give this practice demonstration comes right after they check for ma-ai. The Uke, or attacker, leaves his arm out. The arm is already fully extended in an attack at the range of ma-ai. This is contrived and unrealistic. When someone wishes to strike something they do not first extend their arms - then move to break space. Really the way it happens is first an attacker must break space, then the strike is initiated. By practicing the way they are doing it, they are putting artificial, non-realistic parameters on their engagement. They are able to connect to a fully extended arm far earlier then they would actually be able to ever do with a real attacker.

When a real strike truly comes in, it will coming from a very different, and often unpredictable angle. The first motion the tori does in the film is a cross body balance break. It is very easy to perform this balance break with a static, unmoving arm traveling down one line from a great distance. Almost no attack a human being does to another will replicate these circumstances. I find these method of attack to be over simplified to the point of uselessness. When one of my Senseis first saw this, he called it a "dumb downed" attack. At my dojo we call it the zombie attack, denoting the rigid arms out motion of it.

In conclusion, we must train with safe, yet realistic attacks or we will start building system of false cause and effect relationships and body dynamics. Built into our system of attacks we must train our minds to process space quickly effectively and automatically. If we over simplify the training, we begin a process of robbing ourselves of the critical skills we most need to develop. Having automatic spacing and learning to intercept an arm appropriately are some of these critical skills.

Once again, a heart felt thank you to the fellows I am doing the technical criticism of. I am sure they are wonderful artists, and could probably kick my butt.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sci Fi martial arts training devices

So tinkering and work outs continue on my aiki wooden dummy. It has got me thinking about all the cool martial arts training aids that have been presented in film.

In this scene in Star Wars we find Luke getting his first lesson on the Force with a training drone. As a child this scene was probably the first time I found the spiritual/martial buzz that I have been chasing my entire life.

In the movie Dune, we see Paul Atreides training in the weirding martial arts. He has a neat training dummy that shoots out spikes and has bladed arms.

In the recent animated movie Kung Fu panda, the furious five have a pretty cool training room. Sadly i was unable to locate a picture of it, but here is a picture with the Panda training with an inflatable dummy.

Now the Xmen have the most advanced training room in the comic world. The famed danger room. This is really the tops of personal training devices. It employs interactive holographic technology. Careful though, turn it up too high and it gets deadly.

Danger Room

In Star Trek the next generation we see the holodeck. Effectively this is exactly like the x-men's danger room with holographic interaction.


Going low tech, yet fancy we see the Kung Fu classic 36th chamber of Shaolin. They have all kinds of fancy training rooms, each targeted to develop a particular skill or physically develop a body part. This film fried me in pure awesomeness when I was a youngin'.

Home Made Training Dummy Contest

Look at the above picture. That guy is so cool. What do those Chinese artists have that I don't have?

Cool uniforms? I got them. Plus I have magician clothes.

Styles based on the animals? my wife says I have perfected Drunken Ass.

I know, the cool wooden dummy.

Wooden dummies are just plain neat. I have wanted one since I was 14. I got to play around on one when I was a Wing Chun student, but really I have not had the time to trance out on one.

Last night it occurred to me that I was never going to shell out the money to buy one. The traditional dummies do not move in a way that would be helpful to my current martial training anyways. Then a spark of inspiration hit. I have so much crap in the garage. I bet there is a training dummy in here somewhere. 3 hours later I had a pretty good workable first version. Cost - free. I worked out on it for about an hour. I gotta say it was nice getting back to some sweaty garage training. This was the way I used to train 12 years ago - just losing myself, by myself. My current art form has the nice space, the students and all that, but there is something cool about having a little space at the house you can go trance out at.

So here is the contest. I know you want a training dummy. Especially all you Chinese artists...I know you do. So you have two weeks, get out there and make one! Money is not important. Use found objects, the world is full of stuff. Tweak the design to work with your martial art. Let's think outside the box people! Sign up for the contest below and email me a picture of your creation by August 23, or better yet a short video of you working it over.

I said it was a contest! That means prizes! Every person who enters the contest will come away with a brand new training dummy. How awesome is that?


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Japanese Dan/Kyu System in the arts.

The Dan/Kyu ranking system has permeated many of the Japanese arts. In my experience I found that Japanese culture tends to facilitate people becoming part of groups and the dynamic demands that ever person know their place in it. Even in something as subjective as art, dan grading systems arose to facilitate education, grading, political structure within the art community. Japanese people have a fascinating group dynamic and I think the dan system is a product of it.

Honinbo Dosaku

[1] The dan grading system started with Go, a strategy game. The Kyu / Dan system was first introduced in the 17th century by Honinbo Dosaku, a grandmaster of the Japanese 2 player logical board game “Go”. He introduced the system, as a method of handicapping the game. Honinbo itself, was the name of one of the four famous major schools of “Go” in Japan, the head of the school was given the schools title.

[2] In Go, rank indicates a player's skill in the game. Traditionally, ranks are measured using kyu and dan grades, a system which also has been adopted by many martial arts. More recently, mathematical rating systems similar to the Elo rating system have been introduced. Such rating systems often provide a mechanism for converting a rating to a kyu or dan grade. Kyu grades (abbreviated k) are considered student grades and decrease as playing level increases, meaning 1st kyu is the strongest available kyu grade. Dan grades (abbreviated d) are considered master grades, and increase from 1st dan to 7th dan. First dan equals a black belt in eastern martial arts using this system. Top players can attain a professional dan grade (abbreviated p), with the very best reaching 9th dan professional. The difference among each amateur rank is one handicap stone. For the professional ranks, the difference is roughly one handicap stone for every three ranks. For example, if a 5k plays a game with a 1k, the 5k would need a handicap of four stones to even the odds. Top-level amateur players sometimes defeat professionals in tournament play.[47]

The rank system comprises, from the lowest to highest ranks:

Rank Type Range Stage
Double-digit kyu 30–20k Beginner
Double-digit kyu 20–10k Casual Player
Single-digit kyu 9–1k Intermediate Player
Amateur dan 1–7d Expert Player
Professional dan 1–9p Professionals

Other competitive games using the Dan/Kyu system are Shogi (Japanese Chess), Renju (Connect Five)

[1]Later the Japanese public schools were using the Kyu / Dan system as a means to rank ability throughout the different athletic departments. These departments were using belts or ribbons to identify ranking ability, most notably within swimming, where advanced swimmers wore a black ribbon around their waist to separate them from beginners in swimming tournaments.

Many other areas of Japanese culture had also adopted this system, i.e. Sado (Tea Ceremony), Ikebana (Flower Arranging), abucus culculation and (shodo)Calligraphy. There are even dans awarded for skill in sake (rice wine) tasting.

Hatsumi 's calligraphy

1600s (late) kyu/dan grading system started with Go, a game.
1883 - Judo instututes dan system - first shodan
1885 - kendo, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department uses kyu system
1907 - Judo institutes black belt system
1908 - kendo, the Tokyo Higher Normal School first used dan
1917 - Kyu/Dan system stanardized in Kendo
1924 - Karate's first black belts
1931 - Aikido adopts dan system
1935 - colored belts in judo

1- Judo Forum Doc
2- Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Japanese Kyu / Dan Rank system

Let's start at the beginning of the modern system. (there is a older system)

From Wikipedia

The dan ranking system was invented by Honinbo Dosaku, professional go player in the Edo period.[2] Prior to the invention, top-to-bottom ranking was evaluated by each handicaps and tended to be vague. He valued then highest title holder, Meijin at 9 Dan.

Honinbo Dosaku

Dan ranks were applied to martial arts by Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo. Kano started the modern rank system when he awarded shodan (the lowest dan rank) to two of his senior students (Shiro Saigo and Tsunejiro Tomita) in 1883. Even then, there was no external differentiation between yūdansha (black belt ranks) and mudansha (those who had not yet attained a grade). Kano began the custom of having his yūdansha wear black obi (belts) in 1886. These obi were not the belts karateka and jūdōka wear today—Kano had not invented the jūdōgi (judo uniform) yet, and his students were still practicing in kimono. They wore the wide obi still worn with formal kimono. In 1907, Kano introduced the modern jūdōgi and its modern obi, with white and black belt ranks.

Mikonosuke Kawaishi

Mikonosuke Kawaishi is generally regarded as the first to introduce various colored belts in Europe in 1935 when he started to teach Judo in Paris. He felt that western students would show greater progress if they had a visible system of many colored belts recognizing achievement and providing regular incentives. This system included white, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple belts before the traditional brown and black belts.

The modern ranking system

English Japanese

6th grade rokyu
5th grade gokyu
4th grade yonkyu
3rd grade sankyu
2nd grade nikyu
1st grade ikkyu

1st degree shodan
2nd degree nidan
3rd degree sandan
4th degree yodan
5th degree godan
6th degree rokudan
7th degree shichidan
8th degree hachidan
9th degree kudan
10th degree judan

Theoretically the Judo rank system is not limited to 10 degrees of black belt. The original english language copy (1955) of Illustrated Kodokan Judo, by Jigoro Kano, says: "There is no limit...on the grade one can receive. Therefore if one does reach a stage above 10th dan... there is no reason why he should not be promoted to 11th dan." However, since there has never been any promotion to a rank above 10th dan, the Kodokan Judo promotion system effectively has only 10 dans. There have only been 15 10th dans awarded by the Kodokan in the history of Judo.

The Judo practice uniform and belt system eventually spread to many of the other modern martial arts, such as aikido and karate.

1600s (late) kyu/dan grading system started with Go, a game.
1883 - Judo instututes dan system - first shodan
1885 - kendo, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department uses kyu system
1907 - Judo institutes black belt system
1908 - kendo, the Tokyo Higher Normal School first used dan
1917 - Kyu/Dan system stanardized in Kendo
1924 - Karate's first black belts
1931 - Aikido adopts dan system
1935 - colored belts in judo

excellent aikido rank site

Much of this blog was taken from...

From JudoInfo

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mantis Kung Fu

Today I will again be casting my eye to the arts of China. Whether it swims, crawls or flies the Chinese have made a fighting style mimicking the motions of it. I am brushing up on my mantis kung fu today, inspired by the above picture I found on the web.

more stunning mantis photos


Mantis is from the Greek word mantis, meaning "prophet, seer." The Greeks, who made the connection between the upraised front legs of a mantis waiting for its prey and the hands of a prophet in prayer, used the name mantis to mean "the praying mantis." This word and sense were picked up in Modern Latin and from there came into English, being first recorded in 1658. Once we know the origin of the term mantis, we realize that the species names praying mantis and Mantis religiosa are a bit redundant.

I think it is very interesting that the Chinese have used the natural world in so much of their inspiration and thinking in the martial arts. I will admit I am not thrilled about a lot of kung fu training. Two styles really stick out to me though, Wing Chun and Mantis.

In the first video we see some of the very direct, Wing Chun like striking strategies. While I personally don't do strike training anymore, if I did I hope it would look like this.

The second video shows more of the techniques, throws and take downs of the system. There is some neat stuff in there!

mantis kung fu history

Grandmaster Eric say! "Bug always wrong in arguement with chicken!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Embarrassed by Aikido

In Karl Geis shihan's "the book of twelve winds" he describes aikido as a physical culture. I think this is an excellent evaluation on what it is that we do. We have a shared set of expectations of ethics, training philosophy, and effective motion. Because of the 'shared culture' that we have in the dojo, sometimes our training gets a little off from reality. In my dojo we recognize this and just use this as part of specific drill to get get a specific response. Recognition of this aspect of our training is critical!

I experienced another side of this when 10 years ago I trained with a Ki Society dojo. They were excellent people, kind warm and generous. That being said, their training culture lead them to a place where they were creating their own set of cause and effect relationships that exists outside the real world. One day the teacher waved her hand in front of my face. She looked annoyed and said "you are supposed to fall." I smiled and fell at the appropriate time, but never did I return. To each his own, I just wish Aikido people did not train like that...why can't it be just the 'no touch knockout' George Dillman guys?

I heard at a party a few years ago a few Aikidoka from another dojo here in town talk about aikido as a 'meta martial art' Something about the connotation of that I have to disagree with. Yes we are shooting for a higher level of the game, technically, ethically and spiritually - but we are still a martial art.

Charles Clark sensei made his stance clearly in a seminar many years ago. Sensei said "Some people say aikido is a spiritual art and the fighting element should be de-emphasized. Well I love to shoot. I find shooting to be be a very spiritual art form. But even though it is spiritual...I use real fucking bullets"

I chose to keep the swear word as a part of the statement, because I think it really drives that point home. Sure, be in a martial movement culture. Sure, have it be a spiritual art form. But at the end of the day, train in a martially valid way.

Which brings me to the inspiration of my rant. Honestly I am disappointed by this next display. But rather than leaving a lengthy comment (which I wrote twice and erased) I will let my readers decide for themselves.

Yoshinobu Takeda sensei teaches at Shonan Aikido Renmai in Yokohama, Japan and currently holds a 8th dan through Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

I often saw this kind of aikido in Japan, and I am nervous about saying I even practice this art.

I am an opened minded fellow. If someone wants to knock me over from across the room with ki powers - please come on down...I am begging you. I will erect a giant bronze statue of you and shave my head and follow your teachings. While I am open, I am sure not holding my breath.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First Release Motion - Hanasu No Kata

In the Tomiki system of Aikido there is a short 2 man kata. I learned it as the Musubi Renshu (entanglement exercise) in the Jiyushinkai. I believe it is more popularly known as the hanasu no kata (release kata)

When I learned this kata in a very rigid and formal structure. People tend to train using the same setup, same mai, same set of circumstances. This is all fine, I like solving problems using the movement principles the kata suggests. However I like to constantly throw problems into the system. Circumstances should never be comfortable.

Tonight Michael and I had a workout that demonstrates the KyuRyu method of decoding kata. In my mind, each technique is a kata unto itself. It becomes a launching point for creativity. Tonight we did an hour and a half of the release kata and we never got past the first motion. The first motion is called the Hon Soto Hanasu. (basic outside release)


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dojo Rat's Sequence

Dojo Rat posted a film on his blog of an aiki sequence he was working on. The aiki blog community jumped in and gave some analysis.

conversation at Dojo Rat

I volunteered the KyuRyu crew to shoot a version.

I have to say I find this blog community fascinating. Such a hybrid of social networking, martial academia, technology and peer review technical writing. Awesome I tell you...awesome. A Tai Chi guy can have his technique evaluated by guys from around the world. Neat

I am still waiting for those Kaze Uta Budo Kai guys to get their act together on the multi media front.

*pokes Nick with sharp stick*