Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Goal of Mastery

Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” Bruce Lee 

As I see it, mastery is a paradox. As an aspiring artist, we are encouraged and instructed to follow the examples of the masters that came before us. This is true if you are a wood worker, artist, musician, brick layer, or stonemason. Yet, we also have to evolve past the rather mundane techniques of our chosen discipline to reach a level where other masters are willing to accept us into the martial art guild. Normally, that consists of the circle and association that you belong to. It is a bit more rare to be accepted by those outside of your association unless your repetition proceeds you. However, you know you are on the right path when people that are known internationally recognize your mastery right away. This is rightly so in my point of view. 

Although, I believe mastery is evident in effectiveness even if it it limited to a very specific area, range, or style. It is not every school of thought that wants to practice and train in weapons, striking, kicking, grappling, and mediation arts. Some schools like to preserve the history of a certain time period while other schools place the ability to adapt the art to modern times and situations. Even among these schools there can be further separations along this line when considering if weaponry should be included in the curriculum.

While Mushashi said, "The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them." He also said,“from one thing, know ten thousand things.” It seems to me that in the west we have often mislabeled or mismanaged the term master and the concept of mastery. Although many will say the same about stanch traditionalist; using that term for someone that adheres to a particular manner and time frame interpretation of a given art. 

Many schools will train with any ancient weapon. Other schools might only allow classical hand-to-hand weapons that were used by the founders of the style or system. Yet many schools abstain from any and all projectile weapons ancient or otherwise. However, others look at a more pragmatic approach and train with only adaptive weapons of opportunity. Many people train with combinations, including guns and ancient ways together. I sometimes fall into each grouping. But I also can find value in arts with mixed histories of dubious origins and overlapping teaching. That is as long as there is a practical application behind them that can be reproduced effectively. It is not that these styles are purposely fraudulent often the members are just passing along what they were told. 

There are some masters that intentionally hide their secrets to keep those that would misuse them at a disadvantage. While I feel this is dishonest to paying students, but I understand  the need for instructors to pay their bills. Still if you don't trust someone don't teach them or at least teach them in steps so that you can see their true colors. But in another way this is sort of what they are doing, in/yo aka yin and yang.

"The transition from student to teacher forced me to realize that what I had once viewed as a secret and protective withholding of information by a teacher was really an attempt on his part to increase and maintain constant improvement in students by forcing them to develop an adequate basis for further development. Students want to know everything and they want to know it now. The question is, just how much can they really know without the proper background development?" Jesse Glover

PS: On a side note I am preparing a new website and book launch. I will do an update on all my books at this time. Book 8 of the series will have a special surprise, this book (from my Dream Walker series), will incorporate a character based on an internationally known man of mystery, realtor and JKD aficionado Derek Chin! As usual even my fictional books will have real life lessons and martial art encounters based on a melange of events from encounters of my fiends, associates, students and myself. Although you have to remember this series is a sci-fi/fantasy so don't expect to be able to figure out the actual chain of events, as timelines, people and places are all fictional.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Top Secrets to Learning the Martial Arts

Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge

 “It takes 1,000 days to forge the spirit and 10,000 days to polish it.”  Miyamoto Musashi

This blog goes beyond just practice, although that still is the foundation to learning the martial arts. Today marks a new step and achievement in our journey together. Every step forward is a move in the right directions especially if that step is taken willfully and with consciousness. I have found, over the years, that slow motion movement works well with our development, especially when it comes to working on the consciousness level. What we aim to achieve is extrinsic learning. Extrinsic learning involves an understanding of the technique that we are practicing but at a deeper level. Basically, intrinsic learning is the experiential knowledge gained through our somatosensory system. To break this down further, we have seven subsets of learning. Most people are geared to learn better in the right combinations of these subsets.

Visual: If you prefer watching to understand, then you are a spatial learner.

Aural: If you prefer listening, then you are an auditory learner.

Verbal: If you prefer talking and writing about your study, then you are a linguistic learner.

Physical: If you prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch, then you are a kinesthetic learner.

Logical: If you prefer using systematic systems, then you learn best by reasoning things out.

Social: If you prefer to learn with other people, then modeling the behaviors of others helps you learn.

Solitary: If you prefer to work alone and use self-study, then you are an intrapersonal learner.

Everyone seems to have a bit of each learning type but in general, yet we often show a preference to different aspects in various environments. Still, it requires a certain amount of concentration and repetition to ingrain these skills so that they can be engaged as automatic responses. The repetition of a physical motion increases the thickness of the myelin sheath. This myelin sheath helps insulate the nerve fibers that you get after 30,000 to 50,000 repetitions and some say after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. So, it is the quality of your practice that signals our reflexes to work more efficiently. Quality in the martial arts is defined as what works efficiently under stress. In the martial arts and combat situations the ability to respond without thought is not only Zen like, it is critical. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Two Hundredth Blog

Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge

"Martial arts are a practice, and what you practice, you will become, who will you become?" Adam Chan

Happy April first, as this is the two hundredth blog it seems that we should look at something important, but don't worry it will not be an April Fool's Day joke. In our lives of as warriors we tend to seek the ever elusive perfection. So, this means we either learn to deal with failure, or we become delusional. Delusional in the belief that our stuff is better than any other stuff without ever testing it, or in other words pretending that the world is only as we see it. In reality, we all do a bit of both, as it is nearly impossible to cope with the injustices of life without retreating into our own personal delusions. We as individuals are called on to save the earth, the poor, the sick, the down trodden and we all do what we can. Although it is hard not to become jaded, when we give and only the middle man seems to profit from our sacrifice.

Martial arts is a haven to me as it is easy to see that we need to find a balance in its study that translates into everyday life. Working toward the goal of being as good as our seniors without tearing ourselves up in the process is a good example. We cannot expect to achieve even these simple goals overnight. Just as we cannot expect to change the world if we cannot change ourselves.
Often we understand that because of our limitations we are unable to mimic certain techniques in the same manner that people we admire utilized them. Still with time and practice, we can at least learn how to adapt them to our circumstances and situations. 

Miyamoto Musashi once mentioned, “It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way.” I am working toward this goal and my training has focused more on simplification. I am working at getting a YouTube channel going where I want to cover things that I find inspiring. Martial arts adventure and writing are what makes me happiest with what I do. It keeps my mind off of my personal failures and the things in life that I have tried to change through sacrifice as well as pain. The five gates of blood, bone, wind, nerve and mind and the guiding three principles of movement keep my martial arts practice true. While my writing (even in the fantasy and sci-fi category), gives me a bit of outreach to help those that are interested. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guns, Swords, Meditation and Breathing

Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge

Weapons like guns and swords intensify your martial art practice. Meditation helps give control to these elements, and it can be done both while moving or motionless. It doesn't matter if you are standing, sitting, or lying down each position can be used for meditation. Breathing is the key to good meditation no matter the position, I like using 100 deep breaths a day as a bench mark. In the past students have asked me what’s so important about doing one hundred deep breaths a day. Generally, as a follow-up question they also inquire about what does breathing have to do with meditation?

The answer to these two questions are very important to martial artists seeking to expand their training beyond mere self-defense. Tyson was up from Texas recently, and I included a few things here I wanted to emphasis on this subject. We tried to cover as much material as possible, but the three days flew past. I found that I never touched on half of the things I wanted too, but here are a few things that I might have glossed over. 

The act of purposeful breathing is beneficial to vitality and health as well as consciousness and emotional control training. I am reminded of the quote by Lao Tzu that in my mind fits perfectly here, “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.” So what does this have to do with the first two questions postulated by my students? The answer is very simple and can be answered on multiple levels, first of all it is a simple task to perform. Well theoretically it is, but most people dismiss its importance out of hand and never get it achieved because of its simplicity. I would compare it to the drill instructor insisting on the new recruits satisfactorily making their rack, bunk, bed every morning. It is a small feat, but no matter how the rest of your day goes at least you will have achieved one goal. 

Next on the list, is that the deep breathing can be done all at once, or broken down to two, three, or four sets. Listen to your body and use what you like either twenty-five, thirty-three, or fifty repetitions followed by a cleansing breath. Of course, many of us feel that in our busy lifestyles we can't take the time. Still, this is when we should take the time, and I like to use it in three sets prior to consuming breakfast, lunch, and dinner, whenever I feel pressed for time. I do thirty inhalations followed by the thirty-first exhalation breath hold, then the thirty-second breath hold is on an inhalation and the thirty-third breath is generally just a cleansing breath, or two if I'm feeling generous. Now as for what it has to do with meditation, breathing focuses our mind on one point. Achieving one point is the first step to achieving mushin, (no mind no thought). Of course, the period that you can sustain mushin is best developed through practice. Together these elements enhance your empty-hand martial art training and your weapon training. This has very easily seen results in shooting skills and even tameshigiri.

Rand Law Books

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Situational Awareness

Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge

Finally the day has arrived where I finally begin my once a month blog spots under the new banner. The new banner is only new in the sense that it is replacing the old title of Friday Knight News. I will still cover martial arts and training in my spots but I will also use this blog as an announcement board for events and adventures that I am seeking or doing.

To start off, Mushin University™ Self-Knowledge the Ultimate Knowledge first appeared in my book, "Enlightenment Kicking and Screaming (The Paradox of Martial Art Training)". I was very happy to receive three great forwards for this book from Kay Frances Brewer, Adam Chan, and Steve Smith. All great people who are well known for their character, skills, and obvious kindness. I do greatly appreciate their encouraging words. Today, I am going to outline what it is that I would like to accomplish with this new turn of events on this blog. I am planning on doing some YouTube post and also video post to my Rand Law Patreon page. The topics will vary from mental and physical aspects of the art. Most of which will focus on self-training practices and a diverse assortment of requests that students and other martial artist have requested for me to do.

Of course, I want to address the importance of incorporating the martial arts into your daily life both in and outside of the dojo, dojang, kwoon, or gym. My most recent little adventure was an eye opener for me. It didn't require any self-defense skills per say other than what is gained from paying attention. I had dropped off my mother-in-law at the chiropractor's office and a distraught individual came in begging for help in the way of getting a ride. No one was willing to oblige but I volunteered to do so after my mother-in-law's appointment was finished. After hearing the plea, my mother-in-law told me it was alright for me to go now and that I could pick her up when I was finished. I think she and the other people wanted the individual out of the office.

When I returned, several people asked about how things went and some had expressed concern for my safety. This was a big shock to me as I had gone in the course of a few short years from being called by my son's high school and college aged acquaintances as the "scary dude", to an old guy. An old guy that people were worried about my welfare for helping out a stranger. Alright, I will admit the individual was less than half my age and was dressed in a rough just out of prison sort of way. But what got me was no one noticed that the desperate person was a little gal just dressed in men's clothing. It made me realize that people who couldn't spot this were not likely to spot if a person was armed or not. Even if they had taken martial art classes, or a gun self-defense course their lack of situational awareness would void their training.

Rand Law Books

Do you want a chance to see what my students learn? If so please become a Patron and help support the productions of this knight errant.

Monday, October 3, 2016


"Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures." Jessamyn West

I have been on a sabbatical to focus on a new direction with the blog, and the end of the Dream Walker series. The final novel will included a guest appearance of Derek Chin, who will display some of his well known charm and wit as well as his JKD skills.

I hope you like the new design of the blog page as well as the new end of the month installments. The focus on a once a month newsletter type of approach should allow for more time to fulfill my obligations with less stress. The direction of the blog as well as the direction for my next books (at least for the foreseeable future), will be on the ever evolving discovery of self through little adventures. Life is best approached as an adventure, and this is the direction I wish to take in my blog and books. My Dream Walker series was a part of this adventure but it was retrospective of my life from three separate points of view. Each of the main characters in the series of eight books were part of an examination of what could have happened in this fictional world. I still based all of the stories on my life and experiences as well as some of my friends and students but with alterations in the time line, organizations, and the blending of multiple personalities together.

My next books and blogs will address adventures that I am undertaking or am planning. These will included various elements of my life's passions. Warriors arts will continue to be a central theme as well as internal and external travels.  

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” Albert Einstein

Rand Law Books

Friday, September 30, 2016

Adapting to the Art

Friday Knight News

“If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”  Bruce Lee 

Some styles seem to be geared toward adaptability for the individual. While other systems are not so inclined and they instead require for the student to adapt to the style. On the other hand that could be merely the ridged thinking of some instructors? Yet, there has always been a struggle in many systems with getting the student to adapt their body to the art. This happens no matter if the art is calling for harder conditioning or more flexible  conditioning, or combinations of the two. Still, it is hard to believe that someone could be a black belt in the Tenth Planet jujutsu system if they could not achieve the rubber-guard. Likewise it is hard to acknowledge someone from a head kicking art that isn't in splits, or are able to jump high enough to compensate for it. Also, it is difficult to accept that someone who is so out of shape that they cannot walk from the parking lot to the dojo without getting winded is an instructor of any martial art. I'm not talking about injury or illness but merely slothful lack of exercise and/or training.

Since I mentioned it earlier, there is also the injury factor to consider. I have had students and have trained with other students that were amputees, or had other injuries or difficulties to train around. It is hard to teach a kicking style to single amputees, it is impossible to teach to double amputees. This type of thing also stands to reason to be true for hand or arm injuries in punching styles. Also spinal injuries sideline many people from learning a martial art. So, if the style requires that you perform certain techniques to advance, then it is impossible to achieve ranking if your injuries prevent you from being able to participate.

The Dream Walker Series 

Then again, from time to time, we run across people that have the art adapt to them and their needs. This happens more often in styles that operate on principle as they tend to have more leeway. In my book principle based warrior arts I discuss the principles my instructor taught, which I organized after my he requested that I put together a syllabus. No matter what style you practice you should be able to adapt these following principles to your training.

Universal Tactics and Strategy
Sen no sen: (Defensively) attack first
Sen: Simultaneous attack
Go no sen: Counter attack
Preparation Lessons
Preparation First: Hands, Elbows, Knee and Feet in Safety Zone
Position of Advantage
Closes the Gap
Focus on the Smallest Point
Hands Move/Feet Move
Avoid Direct Assaults
Lead the Mind
Rotational Movement Lessons
Extend your Circle
Tighten the Circle
Control the attacker central axis
Control Tactical Lessons
Take the Balance
Ground the Attacker
Limit Motion
Control with Sensitivity
Power Lead Foot (Right or Left)
Body Isolation / Kneel, Step Compression
Fulcrum, Lever, Base
Double Lock

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means.”  Miyamoto Musashi

Rand Law Books

The above link will take you to my author's page. Let me know if you like it and feel free to drop me an email if you like or you can use the comment check boxes below. I try to incorporate as much of my experience and observations as I can into my sci fi adventures. I come from a background that taught that should only write about what you know. As I know nothing else other than my perspective, I was left with limited options. The Dream Walker book series are tales about martial arts adventurers with an essence of the para-normal from dream mediation. Each book in the series reveals their struggles as they work to make a life for themselves and elude those that seek to use and control them.