Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dragon Calligraphy oracle bone script

Full article on Wikipedia

From Wikipedia: Oracle bone script (Chinese: 甲骨文; pinyin: jiǎgǔwén; literally "shell bone writing") refers to incised (or, rarely, brush-written[1]) ancient Chinese characters found on oracle bones, which are animal bones or turtle shells used in divination in Bronze Age China. The vast majority[2] record the pyromantic divinations of the royal house of the late Shang dynasty at the capital of Yin (modern Anyang, Henan Province); dating of the Anyang examples of oracle bone script varies from ca. 14th -11th centuries BCE[3][4] to ca. 1200 to ca. 1050 BC.[5][6][7][8] Very few oracle bone writings date to the beginning of the subsequent Zhou Dynasty, because pyromancy fell from favor and divining with milfoil became more common.[9] The late Shang oracle bone writings, along with a few contemporary characters in a different style cast in bronzes, constitute the earliest[10] significant corpus of Chinese writing, which is essential for the study of Chinese etymology, as Shang writing is directly ancestral to the modern Chinese script. It is also the oldest member and ancestor of the Chinese family of scripts.

Here is another large version of the bone oracle script dragon that I did on 3 foot by foot canvas.

Merry Tomiki Day

As of December 25, it will have been 33 years since the passing of Kenji Tomiki in 1979. Every year here at my blog it has become a tradition to post this as a holiday oriented memory of the man that has touched so many of our lives through his work in education and budo. It intrigues me and makes me wonder the nature of budo to how in such a short time the art he taught and spread and morphed.

according to an aricle by Yoji Kondo

"Tomiki Shihan was planning an Aikido tour of the U. S. in 1978 when he was suddenly hospitalized for an operation. It was kept confidential but he had an intestinal cancer. On Christmas Eve of that year, a choir from a nearby church came to the hospital yard to sing carols for the bed -ridden patients. Master Tomiki appeared to be feeling better as he listened to the choir. Thanks to the dedicated and loving care of Mrs. Tomiki, it looked as though he would see the New Year of 1980. However, he did not live to see the sunrise of December 25; he passed away early that morning."

In memory of Kenji Tomiki on December 25 I would like everyone the take the day off work. Sit around with your family. Exchange a present to represent the present of Aikido and Judo he helped spread. You can put up a tree up in your house because the ki part of TomiKI is the Chinese character for tree 木. Maybe if you are a good little boy or girl Sensei Claus will come down your chimney and throw you like crazy.

Merry Tomiki Day everybody!!! Remember our great teacher. We stand on the shoulders of a giant.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dragon Calligraphy pt2

This one is a flowing style. The brush I used was made from Mongolian horse hair. The wild spirit of the Mongol horse helps to capture the movement in this piece. My wife likes this one, but I prefer styles with more structure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I love teaching

I love teaching.

I was really blown away in class tonight.

I had an old tough karate guy, an 8th dan judoka, and 4th dan judoka, a 2nd dan Bujinkan student, and a ex-army scout/sniper-now corporate security training in my class tonight. The caliber of work was extremely high level and creative. I am honored beyond belief to have a group of such awesome individuals to play with and foolishly they let me shape the game.

All of these martial artists are skillful beyond me in their specialties. Despite my shortcomings, my ability to run a group shined tonight. I turned on all these varied artists on to novel problems and methods of solving them. I am not so vain to think I can or need to teach these artists technique. But using the Socratic Method the right questions lead the group to their own conclusions.

Tonight's class made me realize that I am now teaching beyond style. The background of all the artists was completely irrelevant. They all could bring all their skills to the table. I am not trying to make anyone practice my style. I am helping all of them refine THEIR style into whatever they want it to be.

I love the martial arts. But now maybe - even deeper than that, I love the art of teaching.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Concept Of Love In Aikido


In seeking the Truth, both master and disciple must be modest in their Heart and also must love the Truth.

The Way starts from the original precepts set down by the founder and reaches the final goal through the achievement of the successors.

To treat those achievements of the founder as the base and go beyond it:

this is Creation.

To improve upon the achievements of the master and take them to a higher level by disciple's successive works though master's works sometimes being succeeded or denied:

this is Advancement.

Mutual Respect and Love exist here. To respect master and love disciple is no doubt to respect Love and Truth.


(Translated by Mr Itsuo Haba)

dang I forgot to post the source to this. When I find it again, I will post it here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Feints In Strategy

兵者,詭道也 All warfare is based on deception.

-Sun Tzu

Arts that deliver attack (the subject of the post) must develop a methodology to connect the vehicle of energy (body part or weapon)to the opponent. Due to self preservation the opponents do not want to let that happen. Often in order to score a blow against a skilled opponent kuzushi, off balancing, must be performed. The human system of balance operates largely on three functions of the nervous systems; the proprioceptive, the vestibular and the visual systems. You can influence the operation of balance by working against these systems, together or individually.

Feinting is to deceive your opponent by reacting to motion. The reaction is designed to make the opponent shift his defenses, creating momentary opening. It is one of the aspects of disrupting your opponent and causing kuzushi largely through the visual response.

As an aiki artist one can look to the work of the old masters and see the extensive use of atemi as a feint. Ueshiba Sensei used feints as a method to create enough postural disturbance to convince his attackers to fall.

"Feints are not imperative versus an unskilled fighter as against a skilled one. Between two evenly matched fighters the one who is the master of the feint will be the winner."

-Bruce Lee

"Confusing the enemy is achieved by constantly forcing him to redirect his efforts. With proper feints you can get the enemy focused on where the attack will be coming from. Causing confusion in the enemy means making him unable to concentrate on his attack, permitting you to come in with a well executed killing strike."

-Miyamoto Musashi

"Tossing out a brick to get a jade gem" (拋磚引玉/抛砖引玉, Pāo zhuān yǐn yù)

"Disturb the water and catch a fish" (渾水摸魚/浑水摸鱼, Hún shuǐ mō yú)

-from the Thirty-Six Stratagems

Sun Tzu certainly valued deception, surprise, feints and illusion.

"In conflict, straightforward actions generally lead to engagement, surprising actions generally lead to victory."

-Sun Tzu

Feints are "the most important art in boxing"

-Jack Johnson (considered by many to be equally great a Mohammed Ali)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Problems in Aiki - The Attack

Daito Ryu AikiJujitsu and Aikido have been at the core of my passion for martial arts for a good long time now. After having had trained in these systems for extended periods of time and continually cross trained in other arts, I have found some aspects of traditional training ultimately lacking for my needs as it is typically practiced.

The first and foremost problem I find in the way aiki arts are practiced is that we have ‘dumb’ attackers. Largely as an art form we program our partners to attack in predictable and illogical stylized fashion. On top of that we program them to react in over dramatic and unrealistic responses. Why? So we can make easy and pretty techniques on the attacker. I think many artists just want people to fall down, and not have to do the work of figuring out how to make them fall over.

To have simplified and stylized attacks has educational uses, but it must be seen as a tool to use and discard when the situation is appropriate. Rather than doing endless repetitions with a dumb attacker, it is far more valuable to exercise with an intelligent attacker who has permission to do smart reactions. We want to train the attacker to be doing aiki.

First and foremost as we advance we must make our partners better at attacking. It matters not if they are attacking with strikes, or entering in with throws. The attacks must be realistic and put into combinations. Why is it so rare to see an aiki artist’s deal with combinations of punches from a boxer? Why does the tanto attacker simply stick his knife into the air then cleanly take a fall?

In juggling there is a saying, “if you are not dropping the ball, you are not learning.” I think aiki is the same way, if you find you are being successful at a high ratio, it doesn’t mean to have found Ueshiba’s enlightenment. It might mean it is time to turn your attacker’s difficulty level up from stupid to moderate.

Do you know the craziest thing happens when you turn the attacks up to realistic and you take the time to solve the problems you encounter? You get better.

What are some things do to make our attackers better and more dangerous?

• Learn striking/attack combinations and entries.
• Add feints into the attackers skill sets
• Make sure the attacker is genuinely trying to get his prey.
• Develop the spirit of attack as a legitimate form of aiki practice.
• Give them a training weapon and give them permission to get to work. Most people will be able to bring even a skilled martial artist to a failure point. Then dial it back once you learn the edge educational and failure speed.
• Let them strike even when you are busy clumsily working on a wrist lock.
• As skills develop let the attacker take advantage of errors and create technique himself.
• Let your attacker continue to be dangerous when he is on the ground.
• Practice from less than ideal situations. You are not going to always be at the correct distance or even standing up.
• Learn to do aiki with other parts of your body. It isn’t confined to your hands while you are standing.
• Finally, stop being so damn stylized! Question what you have been taught and shown. Grow and develop. Don’t replace critical thinking and exploration with the idea repetitions of mindless kata will magically make you grow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Knife Work

Hussey Sensei, Scooter and I did some knife randori today. I am enjoying the knife work more and more. It amplifies the problems.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Kids On the Block

There is a new Tomiki based blog on the blog-o-sphere. I have been chatting with them and I like them. They have all the attributes I like in an online group. They have a dojo, a blog, film themselves and are open for discussion about their work.

Stop by and say hi.


The Problems Of Aikido pt.1

As a member of any particular community I feel it serves best to be more critical of one's own group than anyone else's. For example I feel it is far more important, constructive and patriotic to point out problems with my own country, than to mindlessly wave a flag and tow the line.

Over the past few years my practice of aikido has grown tremendously by critically questioning the practices we adopt as aiki artists. I have found over time many of the practices have a limited use, but eventually need to be discarded after the lesson to be learned in digested and generalized.

So here I will start a critical series about the art I love and what I think the problems are of the aikido approach to training as it is generally practiced. I am hoping my readers will participate in this series by weighing in with their opinion.

What problems do you see in the practice?