A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death, they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and the strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome

On Sunday I posted an explanation about the Martial Arts Style of Japanese Ketsugen Karate. The people who were meant to see that response did indeed see it, but I was thinking this morning that it would be a good idea to post it here too. <img src=">

Ketsugen is not just a Style, but a way of life. MY way of life. I honor and respect what I've been taught by my Master Teacher and founder, MT, and for what I continue to learn from him when those teachings are applied.
To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.

In order to achieve victory you must place yourself in your opponent's skin. If you don't understand yourself, you will lose one hundred percent of the time. If you understand yourself, you will win fifty percent of the time. If you understand yourself and your opponent, you will win one hundred percent of the time.

*gives Full Courtesy to the memory of Chief Grand Master Teacher* OUSSSS :bow

I stand to say this has been tried and true, and I speak from first-hand experience!

Ketsugen is 85% mental and merely 15% physical. 10% of my physical is spent divided between flexibility training, stamina/endurance training and training in strength and speed. That leaves only 5% for my physical self-defense training. In my entire adult life, I've only ONCE had to physically floor a man in self-defense, and THAT experience occurred after only my 3rd lesson in Ketsugen. I am a Champion Warrior; trophies and medals collected from competing in tournaments decorate my room.

I thought to describe to the Community the Ketsugen way. You who stand by the truths of your way, please post it if you like. Be it the Native American way, or another way; we are all diverse; but we can share our ways with each other so that we can better be able to understand "where he/she" is coming from maybe.

The following is also embodied in the 85% Mental of Ketsugen: spiritual, emotional, Zen and Yin-Yang. Yesterday 2Crow Woman shared some information about the concept of Yin-Yang:

It is the belief that the universe is controlled by the EQUAL powers Yin and Yang. Everything created is at it's best when in the perfect balance of Yin~Yang. This isn't Good vs Evil.

Yang is sun, fire, light, masculine, day, hot, active, right, north.
Yin is moon, water, shadow, feminine, night, cold, passive, left, south.
In describing the 15% Physical of Ketsugen, I will also include the Mental application.

When a student begins to train physically, they start by learning how to punch and kick properly. Right-handed people typically punch and kick with more strength and speed than with their left side. Vice-versa for left-handed people. In Ketsugen, we train BOTH sides to work equally, working to develop the weaker side to match what the stronger side is capable of. Did you know that Bruce Lee had a handicap? One of his legs was shorter than the other. In learning Martial Arts, Bruce Lee was able to turn his weakness into a strength, by learning how to judge distance and other factors, working his shorter "weaker" leg with his "stronger" leg put him at a MUCH greateradvantage over his opponents. On a mental plane, we know that the right-side of the brain rules the left side of the mind, and vice-versa, and that people do not use their entire brain to it's fullest capability. When we are able to make both sides work together, more can be accomplished. When your mental control is so that you can work with what "should" be the weaker side along with what you know as your stronger sides, I've heard it said that you then would be able to tap into what is called Superconscious (unconscious/subconscious and conscious being activated simultaneously).

We have students, we have Senseis and we have Master Teachers. Senseis are those who qualified and certified to teach Ketsugen. Master Teachers are those who master the art of teaching Ketsugen.

We have a Rank System, and it is interesting to note that a 12 year old Black Belt pulls rank over a 20 year old Yellow Belt; we respect each other, but I say it's interesting because in the Dojo, the 20 year old Yellow Belt must pay heed and do what the 12 year old Black Belt instructs. Yes, here, the children teach adults also. It is part of their learning process in leadership and authority for use now and later in life. When I began training in Martial Arts, I never wanted to wear a Belt (signifying Rank). The reason why is because of something I learned about Bruce Lee; he did not believe in the Rank System. Based on what I learned about him at the time, neither did I. My Master Teacher, in my early years, really wanted me to go up the Rank System because he wanted me to compete in competitions; at the time, I just wanted to learn self-defense in private lessons, not in a class. It was not until after 6 years of training in Ketsugen that I finally conceded and began to go up the Rank System, beginning with White Belt. Here is the order of the Belt Ranks....

White Belt: White signifies birth or beginning of a seed. A White Belt student is a beginner, searching for knowledge of the Art.

Yellow Belt: Gold signifies the first beam of sunlight which shines upon the seed giving it new strength with the beginning of new life. A Yellow Belt student is given his/her first ray of knowledge from an instructor, opening his/her mind.

Green Belt: Green signifies the growth of the seed as it sprouts from the earth, reaching toward the sun as it begins to grow into a plant. A Green Belt student learns to further develop and refine his/her techniques. At Green Belt, you must be a Warrior. YOu *must* be able to defend before you can go further.

Purple Belt: Purple signifies ultra-violet rays of the sun as the plant continues to grow toward it. A Purple Belt student moves up higher in rank just as the plant grows taller. The light feeds the plant so it can continue to grow. The student is fed additional knowledge of the Art in order for his/her body and mind continue to grow and develop.

Brown Belt: Brown signifies the burning heat of the sun as the plant continues growing toward it. A Brown Belt student is higher in rank, he/she acquires more detailed knowledge and, just as the plant grows slowly toward the sun, so the Brown Belt student learns to be more cautious as his/her knowledge and physical abilities increase.

Black Belt: Black signifies the darkness beyond the sun. A Black Belt seeks new knowledge of the Art. As he/she begins to teach others, he/she begins planting new seeds, his/her students, many of which will take root deep into the Art, blossom and grow through the ranks in a never-ending process of self-growth, knowledge, and enlightenment.

After attaining the Black Belt, there are Nine Degrees of Black Belt growth.

The highest Rank in the Martial Arts system of Japanese Ketsugen Karate is Red Belt, worn by my Chief Grand Master Teacher for many years before he passed on. The Red Belt is equivalent to a 10th Degree Black Belt ~ the highest you can go. In our system, the Red Belt can only be worn by ONE person, and when that person passes on, so does that Red Belt ~ to ONE person.

Beginning as early as age 5, new students are infused with confidence and are given the basic tools of a Ketsugen Warrior, receiving flexibility training, motor skill development, coordination and balance, while learning respect for law and order, courtesy and communication skills.

Older students are taught to take responsibility for their actions. We emphasize self-discipline, self-control, self confidence and a better attention span. We train our students how to relieve stress, to become more flexible, to have sharper reflexes, and we challenge them physically with coordination drills and self-defense training. We emphasize attention to detail and seek to strike a balance between Martial Arts, home behavior and school performance. Since our Dojo's curriculum fits the needs of our students, they are not only succeding on the mat, but also in life!

At Dragon's Lair Dojo, Ketsugen Warriors train first and foremost for real-life self-defense. What would you do if you or your child were attacked one day and you do not know how to defend yourself or are too afraid to? Knowing how to fend off attackers and protect ourselves could very well be the difference between life and death.

Our Warriors also train in Karate for the competitive and sport level of the Martial Arts arena. Students ranging between age 5 to adult win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place positions in a variety of championship tournaments.

Because it is our Dojo's mission to promote, celebrate and honor the Martial Arts industry and personal development for the entire family, we also air a Martial Arts/Self Defense program on Cablevision each Saturday from 9:30am to 10:00am.

Here are some aspects of how my 15% Physical in Ketsugen is exercised. I've also included the mental application.

Flexibility training is important to me; has always been. Being a retired gymnast, I came into Ketsugen very, very flexible already. Being flexible allows me the ability to reach a target high above what an average person with little or no flexibility can. It was flexiblity that enabled me to kick an attacker right in his face, knocking his glasses across the street. On a mental level, flexibility grants me the ability stretch my mental muscles without hurting myself. Mental flexibility helps me be able to bend and move with more grace and less awkwardness and rigidity. There's more, but that's just a start.

Stamina/endurance training includes performing exercises that get the heart-rate up and keep it up for extended periods of time. We train in stamina/endurance because you never know how long a fight might last, and we must endure to the end.

Let me tell you about Intensified Training. Intensified Training is based around stamina/endurance. Intensified Training is infrequent, and always sprung as a surprise on the class. We'd be stretching and cubbing before line-up, then once we are bowed in, when Master Teacher announces "INTENSIFIED TRAINING!" there are many moans and groans. During Intensified Training, a high level of discipline is exercised. You are not allowed to scratch, to wipe the sweat running down your face, or even to squinch or flinch your face to prevent sweat from dripping into your eyes and ears. You can't tilt your head, you can't fix your Belt if it's falling off, you can't straighten your Gi. All you can do is follow the drills. During most of the drills, we might be in a horse-stance, or some stance for what seems like HOURS ~ we may be made to hold out a focus punch for several minutes until your arm feels like it's a ton of bricks in front of you. We throw kicks on command; everything is done by command, repetitively, repetitively, repetitively, and there IS no complaining. During Intensified Training, MT would, along with the physical drills, give us verbal drills to which we responded with the appropriate one-word answer.

"What must a Ketsugen Warrior do?" PRACTICE!
Practice is important. Repitition; doing something over and over until it's second-nature. There is a saying that practice makes perfect. We practice our Art in the Dojo and out of the dojo, so that when we are faced with a real-life challenge, we will be confidently prepared and our actions will be second-nature.

"What does not exist in the Dojo?" EMBARASSMENT!
Low-Ranks often look at the higher-Ranks in awe. We have line workouts, for example. Most times we go in Rank order from White to Black (meaning White Belts go first, then Yellow, then Green, etc.); sometimes from Black to White (meaning Black Belts go first, then Brown, then Purple, etc.) When we have workouts that go from Black to White, I notice lower ranks trying their derndest to execute the kicks or combinations with the same skill as the higher ranks; that is good. Sometimes when we go from White to Black, I notice low ranks "act" unsure of how to execute the kicks and combinations, although they have learned. It's sort of an insecurity; not being sure "if I'm doing it right" and knowing their older dojo brothers and sisters are watching, and it can cause them to feel embarrassed. But they soon learn that Embarassment does not exist in the Dojo. On a mental level, one can feel embarrassed at the questions they ask while learning. Being ashamed and feeling stupid. It's great to get past the embarrassment and apply confidence to their learning, isn't it? Why be shy? Are you embarrassed to ask? Are you ashamed that you don't know something? What do you do about it? Lay down and be quiet? "Guess" the answer? Or do you squash embarrassment and seek answers with confidence that you will learn?

"When does a Ketsugen Warrior give up?" NEVER!
During Intensified Training, it's a popular feeling to want to give up! <img src="> But we endure to the end, though left an exhausted bag of lumpy muscles, we succeed in the lesson of developing our stamina/endurance.

Last evening I did a Moon Lodge Spread with my Medicine Cards. Surprisingly (or not) Elk was the animal drawn for the East position ~ the "Whirling Spirit Card." In this Moon Lodge Spread, Elk is the key to unlocking my spiritual nature and to clearly seeing my spiritual talents and abilities. I re-familiarized myself with Elk this morning; interestingly some things fit here while talking about Intensified Training:
Elk Medicine represents strength, stamina, nobility, and protection of women.

The ability of Elk to endure a steady pace for a long period of time teaches the art of endurance. Elk will change its pace when necessary teaching you to be adaptable to shifts along your path. It will speak to you of turning to your own gender to gain understanding of what you are going through either emotionally or mentally. Its great strength leaves it few enemies and it will show you how to take a stand and fight for what you believe in every time. The warrior in you, male or female, will be brought to the fore when Elk appears. Through this teacher you will learn endurance and stamina as you make your way consistently along your path.
~ Cinnamon Moon 1 ~

Elk have tremendous stamina and can run for a very long time.
~ www.sayahda.com/cyc2.html ~

Elk Medicine teaches that pacing yourself will increase your stamina. Elk medicine people may not be the first ones to arrive at a goal, but they always arrive without getting burned out.
~ Jamie Sams' & David Carson's "Medicine Cards" (Revised, Expanded Edition) ~
*gives Full Courtesy to Elk* :bow

"What do speed and accuracy create?" POWER!
When you can move very quickly ~ FAST, and when you can hit your target with accuracy, the power that speed and accuracy creates is what will drop them. Bruce Lee said this, "A powerful athlete is not a strong athlete, but one who can exert his strength quickly."

*gives Full Courtesy to the memory of Bruce Lee* :bow

"When dealing in Karate, you're dealing in what?" DEATH!
Don't be shocked. It's truth. Why does one learn Karate, or any Martial Art? The main reason for the majority of people that I have encountered is for self-defense. If confronted with a real-life situation, this concept does not necessarily mean that we should aim to kill our attacker. But there is a chance that it could be a fight to the death, as in old Martial Arts movies from the 70s. They did not just fight to maim, did they? They fought to death. This is what we train for. To be able to fight until the adversary is defeated. And there is a possibility that that defeat could end in death. :dunno

I think strength and speed training was pretty much covered in a nutshell under the conceptual question "What does speed and accuracy create?" but I just wanted to add one more quote from Cinnamon Moon 1 from Elk Medicine and then move on...
They are powerful animals with strong reflexes and respond quickly to anything that appears on their path.
Just to point out something else Bruce Lee said that makes a heck of a lot of sense to me, "When the athlete is running as fast as he can, he should not feel as though he ought to be running faster."

The smallest portion of my Martial Arts training ~ physical self-defense. <img src=">

In our physical self-defense training, we do what is called "cubbing," "sparring" and then there's "maxing."

1. Cubbing is play-fighting, and the term comes from what animals do. When you see dogs and cats "play fighting" with each other, what they are doing is called cubbing. They are practicing their natural way of fighting with their brothers and sisters, but these fights are very gentle so as not to hurt each other. When one of the animal yelps, the animal who accidentally inflicted the pain will immediately let up. Then the cubbing resumes.

2. In sparring we apply more power and agressiveness, but still practice a high-level of control because we are still dealing with our Dojo brothers and sisters and do not want to maim each other. <img src=">

3. Maxing is giving it all you've got. We do not max with our brothers and sisters. Ever. We max in real life. We *practice* maxing by shadow-fighting (some would call it shadow-boxing) and we also use dummies for maxing. Poor Rahmeel! <img src="> Rahmeel is the name MT gave this 7-foot dummy we have. Rahmeel is now in pieces; part of him is in the garage and his cement base from which he was torn (lol) is now used as something to sit on in the backyard. Rahmeel has been through some STUFF! <img src=">

As I mentioned, I've only been faced ONCE in my adult life with a situation which warranted the use of self-defense, and at that time I only had undergone 3 lessons.

I do, however, have opportunities to compete in a variety of Martial Arts tournaments, and whenever I compete, I take a Place and go home with trophies, because Ketsugen RULES! :nod

I'd like to talk a little about the last time I competed. I learned a big lesson. It was at the Twin Towers Classic International Karate Championships held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center ~ a huge arena with competitors from all over New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and some even traveled from out-of-state to compete. It's one of the biggest competitions we attend annually. In fact, I think it is THE biggest competition each year. Hundreds of spectators. <img src="> The evening before the competition, I was sparring with my Master Teacher, and at the end, we bowed to each other; he reached to give me a hug and I got hurt! <img src="> What happened was, when I fell a few weeks before, I was wearning high-heeled sandals and the toenail on my big toe split half-way down. I had it taped, but when he went to hug me that night, his big foot stepped on my toe, and the toenail RIPPED! <img src="> I collapsed! <img src="> Dang-it! So I entered the competition the next day in a lot of pain. Ooowww my big toe! :cr I took 2nd Place in Weapons; that was the first competition. My toe was throbbing. :cr While I was sitting on the side stretching, one of the women who I was to compete against, saw my toe wrapped in tape ~ I saw her staring at it. A few minutes later, when I was looking the other way, this woman STEPPED right on my toe. She said "Sorry" but I didn't think she was. I think she did it deliberately. So... after Weapons, the next competition was Forms (Kata) ~ I was in so much pain that I messed up some of the moves that I needed my toe for <img src="> but even still, I took 3rd Place among a slew of competitors (there are 5 Places) in Forms. By then I just wanted to cut my toe off and be done with it! <img src="> I went and changed into my street clothes; I told the students and my Master Teacher that I was in too much pain to compete in the Sparring. They understood, and stated their admiration for going as far as I did, taking 2nd & 3rd Places with an injury. I sat by my ring and watched the men fighting (women were to fight after them). I wanted to fight. I wanted to compete. I knew I could win, but would never find out sitting at the ringside. I finally jumped up, ran/limped to change back into my Gi, and the kids were so happy to see that I was going to fight. A problem arose though, because the footpad was pressing against the hanging toenail, mashing against the torn flesh, and I literally cried at the pain. :cr My Master Teacher stood in front of where I sat putting on my protective gear. I told him I wanted to compete, but was in too much pain. He said, "If you were in the street and your toe hurt, what would you do?" I said, "I'd fight." He then turned to watch Jessie Wrey on the stage. My lesson was in Jessie Wrey. Jessie Wrey is an AWESOME Ketsugen Warrior. You see, some years ago, Jessie was in an accident and lost the ability to use his right arm. It just flops around at his side. I may be a Champion Warrior, but Jessie is a Grand Champion. He is poetry in motion. Jessie is fast, and he mostly uses his legs when he fights. To watch him in competition, it seems like no one really wants to fight him ~ they may as well just "stand there and wait to get hit." <img src="> So I found myself a toenail clipper and took a deep breath as I performed a lil toe-surgery. I competed and took 2nd Place in Fighting ~ I lost only by one point, and that was because of my toe injury. By the time I walked off with my trophy, my toe was all bloody. But it didn't matter. I did it for me. I did it for the kids. I did it for my Master Teacher. I did it for Ketsugen.

You see, it is known that my motto in Martial Arts comes from Bruce Lee: "The real competitor is the one who gives all he has, all the time."

One last aspect of my physical self-defense training deals with gang-fighting, where MT would have me fight against anywhere between 2 and 5 opponents at one time. He'd give a scenario, and we'd play it out. Gang-fight training is pretty cool. Because who knows if on the streets, in real life what could happen? I may not be confronted with just one man in the future ~ it may be 3 or 4. I'll take 'em all out! :nod One by one... :nun

I also train in weapons, but those are just extensions and aids in fighting. In truth, IIIIIIIIII become the weapon. Who is to say that I will happen to have a bow staff in the street? Or a pair of nunchuks? Or a samurai sword? Not realistic, huh? But knowing how to wield a weapon is important because anything I pick up can become a weapon. A broom. A garbage-can lid. A 2x4. A cane. An umbrella. Knowing how to work with weapons could prove to be helpful in real life, yes. :nod

We are taught Forms which we call Katas. The best way I can describe what a Kata is, is that it is a dance. It is a simulated fight with someone else. It is a display of what is referred to as shadow-fighting. As one goes up in Rank, the Katas become more intricate, more detailed, more moves and combinations. We have to remember every Kata we've learned.

Very important ~ we learn how to "breathe" in a special way; the techniques bring energy levels up and it's pretty important to learn how to manage breathing when combined with adrenaline.

We have four ways to practice. These are done in a specific order, as follows:
A. Motion Study ~ moves are executed extremely slowly, in slow motion in fact. Strict attention is paid to every single detail of the moves; We study the motions.

B. Dynamic Tension ~ moves are executed extremely slow, as in Motion Study, except that *breathing* is applied and the movement is made with power-tension, as in calisthenics (sp?).

C. Speed and Accuracy ~ moves are executed with... umm... :ntz Speed and accuracy! :fun

D. Maximum Power ~ moves are executed by simultaneously combining breathing, power-tension, speed and accuracy. Maximum power is what is used when faced with a real-life confrontation.

Well, that's as much as I can type right now. My fingers have undergone some exercise in strength, endurance and speed in this post! <img src=">

*gives Full Courtesy to Chief Grand Master Teacher* OUSSSS :bow

Thank you for allowing me to share Ketsugen ~ a way of life... <img src=">

Won't you share your way of life with us too? :nod
*Edited for indexing.

Edited 1 time by CinnamonMoon Mar 25 09 1:35 PM.