"The Author, it must be remembered, writes from his own standpoint!"
My personal "Interpretive" Lens!

"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour


"Providing a first step on a path to self-reflection." - C. E. James

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

"What is true today may be reevaluated as false not long after. Judgements are frequently based upon a set of "temporary" circumstances surrounding them. Conflicting ideologies can exist simultaneously. Antagonistic dualities are complementary aspects of a unified whole: are seen as mutually dependent mirror images of each other." - Nahum Stiskin

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.


Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

Kenpo Gokui

The lines of the ken-po goku-i are set from an atomistic aspect simply because it is the manner in which the brain learns. Its nature is completely holistic and like the I Ching must be in a form that promotes learning and understanding so a person can see, hear and grasp the nature of a holistic system. The gokui is a method to teach us how to be holistic. Its terseness is the best that can be done to convey its holistic meaning.


A person's heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while the blood circulating is similar to the Sun and Moon yet the manner of drinking and spitting is either soft or hard while a person's unbalance is the same as a weight and the body should be able to change direction at any time as the time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself and both the eyes must see all sides as the ears must listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction.

A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth while circulatory system is similar to the cycles of the moon and sun yet the breathing methods are either hard or soft while one’s posture should allow one to advance, retreat, engage, and disengage as the body should be able to act in accordance with time and change so that one must enter a state of emptiness (mushin/zanshin) allowing the eyes must see all sides and the ears should listen in all directions while the mind must grasp all the tactual data not seen on all sides and not heard in any direction. - My rendition per translation from Andy Sloane Sensei.


Master Zeng said, "Am I preaching what I have not practiced myself?"

All Bottles are Truly Good

All Bottles are Truly Good

Search This Blog

Ken-po Goku-i - A new view!

As I study this short and cryptic pome called the "Ken-po Goku-i" I discover the limitations of the addition of numbers before each one. I have a distinct feeling the numbers were added by Americans who have a pension for ordering and numbering things. This is especially true of the military and after all the Isshinryu system as taught today was strongly influenced by Military with particularly the Marines.

I feel that the numbering and even ordering of these pomes puts limits on its interpretation. I believe from my view of the silk copies that were given to the first group of Marines who earned black belt at the end of the tour on Okinawa has no numbering at all, just the kanji characters. It must also be noted that the characters provided do not translate to what is written in English. Although I would not consider the google translation feature to be as accurate as we would all like it does give a good approximation. When translating the English to Kanji or Japanese Kanji characters what you see has the core characters but added more …

I do believe, as I mention in the following, that the first two pome's are the keystones of the whole, the whole is also a keystone to the ancient classics as studied today by the translations. I don't wish to assume that Tatsuo actually studied such things as the I Ching but all clues point to that as being the case. After all the Chinese had strong influence on Okinawa and as time passed it may have trickled down to him.

I go a bit further by adding the reference, much like the trigrams of the I Ching, or designations of sons and daughters. This would be supported by the knowledge that Tatsuo had two kata that met the designation of father and mother, i.e. Sanchin and Naihanchi, and the other six open hand kata are a combination of the offspring being a daughter or a son. This, if you will allow through the lens of personal interpretation, seems logical to this extent since they tend to connect in this way. I would even go so far as to say "Sunsu-no-te" kata is the "first born son" of the Isshinryu system of Goju and Shorin which are the father and mother referenced in the two kata Sanchin and Naihanchi.

I don't wish to go beyond this as an initial and fundamental interpretation and/or understanding of the ken-po goku-i as that should and shall remain the preview of the individual who wants to achieve the uniqueness of the system to their personal practice. So, here is my fundamental view of it:

CAVEAT: As stated many times this is a fluid interpretation that is my viewpoint through my personal interpretive lens and is meant only to inspire one to "dig a bit more" in their practice and training of the Isshinryu system; the Okinawan fighting arts, etc. Enjoy and good luck! [Note: I also took the liberty to add the last two pome's as if they were one because it just fit.]

A person's heart is the same as heaven and earth.

Look at the person as the "human" in the I Ching trilogy where the heart is considered the center or point of balance for humans while the human is the center or point of balance in both Heaven and Earth. Male and Female make "one" and both of the same "heart" where they act and live as if in harmony with the nature of Heaven and Earth. Much like the Earth being influenced by the pull of the heavens, i.e. stars, other planets, the sun and moon, resulting in the fluidity of nature where calm and peace are achieved when it all balances out.

The blood circulating is similar to the sun and moon.

The sun and moon have the greatest influences on the Earth where humans or a person live. The interconnectedness of the Universe, i.e. heaven and earth, etc., along with mankind/humans affects the way we live, i.e. moon effects tides and the sun affects the winds which change the tides and oceans temperment, etc. While these very same aspects of earth/nature have affects on our emotions and personalities, i.e. rain storms can cause us to be depressed, etc.

These two primary pomes of the goku-i cover all of the myriad things produced/created by the Tao or great Tai Chi; the "one" of the universe called the void or "Ku." All the next six pomes are the sons and daughters of these two much like the I Ching primary hexagrams for Heaven and Earth. One and two represent Heaven and Earth hexagrams where their inner selves represent the trilogy of Heaven/Man/Earth. This warrants further study.

This, for me and my viewpoint, changes the way one should view the ken-po goku-i, i.e. in lieu of eight pomes there shall be two pomes with three sons and three daughters to better align the practitioners thoughts toward the ancient classics such as the I Ching and the Tao-te-ching.

- The manner drinking (inhaling) and spitting (exhaling) is the same . It is neither hard or soft. (Yang: Son)
- A person's unbalance is the same as a weight. (Yang: Son)
- The body should be able to change directions at any time. (Yang: Son)
- The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself. (Yin: Daughter)
- The eyes must see all sides. (Yin: Daughter)
- The ears must listen in all directions. (Yin: Daughter)

The manner drinking (inhaling) and spitting (exhaling) is the same . It is neither hard or soft.

Hard, soft, this can mean striking hard with chinkuchi or it can mean parry a strike by deflection with soft palm parry to the forearm. This is the literal meaning or at least one of them to consider.

Something to consider beyond the literal is the transitions between soft and hard of the mind. Extend this into the soft or hard strategies you utilize in actions. If you are resolute in using karate literally then your mind is hard. If you are open to all the possibilities beyond just techniques then your mind is pliant/soft and allows for this type of action. Somewhere in the middle, equilibrium of soft/hard mind allows you to shift in any direction (fifth pome).

Offense and defense can be either hard or soft as already mentioned. Our body language, what we project in addition to our voice can be either hard or soft and is determined by the tactics used as indicated in our overall strategy.

Our tactics can be karate techniques or simply our way of speaking or reacting to an attacker. Many injuries are avoided; many conflicts are avoided by understanding this before hard acts are committed.

There is a time for our minds to be hard and a time for them to be soft/pliant to allow for alternatives. We can literally "spit/hard" into an attackers face or we can "drink/soft" in the alternatives that de-escalate or avoid conflict. We all have the choice and with knowledge achieve greater tactics, both hard and soft, to achieve our goal on non-violent alternatives to conflict.

A person's unbalance is the same as a weight.

A person's unbalance is the same as a weight does not always mean literally to be physically unbalanced so they fall to the ground. Unbalance starts with the mind. To get your attacker/opponent to lose confidence in their ability is to unbalance their mind. This results in their minds leaving the moment and start to "think" which distracts and delays allowing you to strike first (remember this could be an opening to de-escalate vs. strike with fist, etc.).

If you are resolute in your readiness and have practiced diligently with present moment awareness you will "see" and/or "hear" opportunity to achieve unbalancing of the opponent in their mind that the rest follows and also becomes unbalanced. Their confidence will leave and allow you to dominate in a positive way.

Do not let your mind succumb and be unbalanced, remain resolute in action and thus through the strength of your eyes, face and mind cause the other to lose or unbalance their mind allowing you to strike first, fast and completely.

The body should be able to change directions at any time.

Changing Directions at any Time does not always apply to the literal change of the body using stance transitions, etc. but can also mean to change the direction of your strategy. You can actually shift from defense to offense or offense to defense as required. The body will change instinctively in regard to whether you are attacking or defending. This also equates to the changes in mental states. Remaining positive and acting positively is paramount and drives how you apply either defense or offense.

Changing the way your body language talks to others is also applicable. If one approaches you with intent to do harm you can change they way your body projects your intent. It is best to find balance in this to not project weakness but still project non-violent intent while at the same time projecting strength of character and strong attitude that causes the other to pause and take another look at the actions they take.

Sometimes this change in direction which equates to the way your body, face, and eyes talks to others can mean the difference between avoidance and peaceful resolutions vs. conflict and injuries, etc.

The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.

Opportunity does not always mean an opening in another defense to actually strike with intent to injury, etc. Opportunities to those who truly practice the way of the empty hand can be found long before anyone actually comes to blows.

Find the opportunity to strike in a manner that prevents conflict, that is the ultimate goal. A sophisticated defense can prevent the attack thus the attacker never gets the chance to touch you. This is striking before being struck (striking does not have to mean actual striking; striking with words and such to prevent striking is best). Call it a positive defense utilizing your eyes and ears.

We tend to focus too much on the physical strike when other strikes should also be a part of our repertoire of techniques. The technique of the mind is far more powerful than the arm or leg, foot or hand, elbow or knee. One must be taught from the novice level in the fundamentals that to strike with the mind at the first opportunity is far better than resorting to violence.

The eyes must see all sides. The ears must listen in all directions.

Literal and metaphysical aspects apply. In karate power is necessary, along with lots of other variables, to achieve effective karate technique. In the practice of karate the "eyes" become a significant factor.

Literally the eyes are required to "see" and thus "assess" before action is involved. This is practiced in kata by "looking or seeing" before committing to a move such as a parry or strike. The "eyes" provide decisiveness in application of the technique. Before the brain can determine which technique or tactic to take it must perceive the problem.

Next, the "eyes" provide a focus for that same technique. Look with determination and resolve at the target, which is the opponent. Put your eyes dead on their shoulder/head area and lock on with the facial and body language that speaks of determination and resolve. The direction of the gaze, eyes, will also provide additional focus toward the target area. Try it, hit the heavy bag while gazing at it directly then try it again with the eyes down, left, right, up at the sky or what ever and see if things don't go hinkey.

The "eyes" also provide stability to the body. Eyes turning toward the target provide a line of embarkation for the body and the weapon of choice so it starts the physical process that provides power, speed, and such to hit. Eyes must point to the opponent and target, in general, to achieve maximum effectiveness.

If you don't put your eyes on target then you lose focus, that of seeing what is occurring and what effectiveness the weapon, hand or foot, etc., will have on the target. It the eyes lose direction and focus then the ability to protect and defend; utilize good solid technique effectively; will suffer.

The eyes truly must see all sides, all sides of the spatial arena, all sides of the opponent, all sides of the effectiveness of action, and all sides of any situation.

We see literally then we see in a figurative sense but what we see internally is most important. Taking a look inside ourselves involves looking inward which brings to mind reference in karate circles of old the term, "third eye." (click photo for larger view)

When you see references, especially in the ancient classics, you need to "see" the more modern term in its place. The third eye is supposed to be about the middle of the forehead just above the eyebrows. Does this provide a clue to the modern meaning of "third eye?"

The part of the brain in that location is the "frontal lobe" which involves planning/anticipation; follow-through; impulsive; judgment; reasoning; abstract thinking; smell; motor planning; personality; emotionality; speaking; integration of thought and emotion; self-monitoring. Hmm, if we look at these we realize most of what we do and how we do it comes from this area so maybe, just maybe the third eye is referring to the use of the frontal lobe in meditation, etc. to achieve true seeing into the self.

I may be stretching this a bit to elucidate on the "seeing" we accomplish through the term usage of "third eye" but it makes sense. Yes, seeing or vision in a literal sense in not handled here but we are not talking about literally seeing something but lets say, "spiritually seeing" the self with a critical "eye."

To see in all directions is not just spacial but internal as well. To see ourselves as we truly are is in all probability the most difficult task/goal we have as humans. Karate-do tries to lead us toward this understanding and with the ken-po goku-i studies maybe this is the light that shines on us to allow us to see within, in all directions.

Do we take these literally of can we also take them both beyond the literal? When we "see" or "hear" things are we actually seeing it truly; hearing it clearly? Questions that a karate-ka/person must answer in both conflict and life.

When we see or hear something most times we see the surface or hear the words but in almost all cases this is a cover that does not always convey truth. We see someone with a scowl on their face as they approach us and we might think that this guy is going to attack us. But if we truly "see" beyond the obvious we may determine that they are totally consumed with some thought and simply pass us by. We must see everything which means not only the facial expressions but how the eyes convey messages. We also have to see the body language that goes along with the face and eyes. We must see beyond the outer veil and into the inner truth to truly understand. Our imaginations will take us to the extreme so we need to temper it with knowledge and true active seeing.

This goes along with actively hearing. Sometimes the words are driven by the monkey brain which tends to send out anything and everything with out thought. This can be driven by some anger or fear but the words themselves may not be indicative of true meaning of the person. This is where active hearing must be coupled with achieve seeing so they both can be analyzed to determine the true meaning behind the words spoken and the body messages that are unconsciously provided by the person.

So, the pome of the goku-i, numbers seven and eight, must not be restrained in practice and training by the literal perception but taken beyond literal meaning and encompass the underlying information that will truly provide you with what is really necessary to overcome vs. the obvious and imaginations of the monkey brain.

To "see all sides" of the story, the body, the voice, the face and eyes, and truth will be seen. To "hear in all directions" is not just hearing sounds but hearing the subtleties of the persons spirit and the truth will be heard. Both will provide totality of any situation allowing you to practice the art of avoidance. To see and hear the truth allows you to provide appropriate actions, verbal and body language, to de-escalate vs. actions requiring the use of karate techniques.

The true art of the empty hand. A sophisticated defense can prevent the attack thus the attacker never gets the chance to touch you. This is striking before being struck (striking does not have to mean actual striking; striking with words and such to prevent striking is best). Call it a positive defense utilizing your eyes and ears.

The eyes must see all sides. The eyes must not be fooled by our minds. We may observe one thing but our imaginations will sometimes carry that to an extreme causing our monkey brain to kick it with exaggerations that will lead to misunderstandings that result in conflict.

We sometimes take the most direct route in this particular tome of the ken-po goku-i, seeing the obvious but forgetting to "see" the extent of one's imaginations. It is said, "One should not be misled by bad phenomena which meet one's eye." (quote from Kazumi Tabata Sensei)

Misled by our own minds thus strengthening the idea and need to train the mind/brain to differentiate the myriad things we "see" in our lives as well as in training and practice.

Knowledge must be the tempering of the steel forged by our observations and imaginations so that truth and clarity is "seen" in all we do, this is important and maybe the most important aspect of the ken-po- goku-i's seventh pome.

Literal and metaphysical aspects apply. In karate power is necessary, along with lots of other variables, to achieve effective karate technique. In the practice of karate the "eyes" become a significant factor.

Literally the eyes are required to "see" and thus "assess" before action is involved. This is practiced in kata by "looking or seeing" before committing to a move such as a parry or strike. The "eyes" provide decisiveness in application of the technique. Before the brain can determine which technique or tactic to take it must perceive the problem.

Next, the "eyes" provide a focus for that same technique. Look with determination and resolve at the target, which is the opponent. Put your eyes dead on their shoulder/head area and lock on with the facial and body language that speaks of determination and resolve. The direction of the gaze, eyes, will also provide additional focus toward the target area. Try it, hit the heavy bag while gazing at it directly then try it again with the eyes down, left, right, up at the sky or what ever and see if things don't go hinkey.

The "eyes" also provide stability to the body. Eyes turning toward the target provide a line of embarkation for the body and the weapon of choice so it starts the physical process that provides power, speed, and such to hit. Eyes must point to the opponent and target, in general, to achieve maximum effectiveness.

If you don't put your eyes on target then you lose focus, that of seeing what is occurring and what effectiveness the weapon, hand or foot, etc., will have on the target. It the eyes lose direction and focus then the ability to protect and defend; utilize good solid technique effectively; will suffer.

The eyes truly must see all sides, all sides of the spatial arena, all sides of the opponent, all sides of the effectiveness of action, and all sides of any situation.

"To hear a lot means to learn a lot." The verb for hearing is classically used because of the importance of oral traditions, but it also came to apply to reading and research or to the whole process of information gathering. - Analects 7:27, Hexagram 26 of Confucius.

The importance of actively listening and seeing is still valid today and more so than past although both differ as much as Yang differs from Yin. In the past since history was not written, writing was not as efficient in those times, the transference and accuracy was all oral while today the glut of information requires the same ability to see and hear but for different reasons.

This is truth and to acquire the knowledge and proficiency available for the FMA one must "see" and "hear" with everything that nature provides in that endeavor for with out it the system is slowly diluted into nothing of value. As one master said of kata, "Kata with out bunkai, with out purpose is merely a dance."

Hexagram 39 of the Confucius Analects states, "When they look [see, truly see], they think of how to see clearly." "When the listen, they think of how to hear keenly."

To truly see does not just mean what is visible to our eyes but what is invisible to what we see for seeing also means to perceive for perception is influenced by the mind and how we interact and learn from our life, the now/present and those encounters in life past. We must train our brain/mind, spirit, and body to see things with the type of clarity that does not create false perceptions. In order to do this one must first see within themselves "clearly and distinctly." Our ability to view in present moment clarity means the difference between true understanding or the repercussions of misunderstood experiences.

We actively listen all the time yet we don't always perceive truth. We tend to jump ahead when listening to thoughts and impressions that pop up while information is traveling to our hearing. To achieve a level of keen hearing is to achieve the ability to actually listen to outside while keeping the minds tendency to chatter along quiet so that we hear the entirety of all influences of life and living. If we spend time thinking within while trying to listen with out we muddle and fog up the flow of information causing misunderstanding. Listen actively and keenly to achieve a higher level of knowledge and understanding. This may mean shutting down the ego and remaining open and present.

No comments:

Post a Comment