"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?"

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The Way of the Empty Hand

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.)

The “Way.” The way is not easily defined simply because of the many perspectives and perceptions as to what the way is and what it means to a martial artist. It is still an important distinction when defining the practice and training of a martial system. If you fail to train and practice with a mind-set/mind-state as to the actual goals of that effort it could result in unpleasant repercussions, i.e., say you practice toward this more philosophical way while thinking that since karate is also considered a fighting and self-defense system that what you train and practice will actually work in a physical situation, it won’t. 

Some look to ancient classics to determine what it is that makes a discipline such as karate as “A Way.” The Way, from my perspective and understanding, is about using this extremely physical discipline as a means to derive a philosophical moving meditative oriented effort toward combating personal and spiritual daily life struggles. It is taking a formally combative ancient model and using it to achieve more internal growth. This is where such studies as those applied to understanding the terse karate Zen-koan-like ken-po goku-i where it goes beyond the literal and into a more metaphysical understanding through the difficult and disciplined practice of things like basics, kata and types of kumite/drills. 

It is a combination of a diligent physical practice coupled with a Zen like Buddhist oriented contemplative meditative process where our thoughts toward life experiences create an atmosphere where one can “see, hear and touch” truths toward self-improvement, etc. This is how the gokui is to be supplemented by the spiritual-like study of such classics as the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching and the Analects, etc. 

Through the physical leaning and manifestation of fundamental principles such as those listed as physiokinetic principles promote a physical balance, health and well-being allowing the mind to calm and create present moment type of mental processes where one learns to control the ego, the monkey brain emotional roller coaster ride brain, and reduce actions, thoughts and deeds from a pride stance to a morally, honest and humble perspective. It’s goals are to reach a state of living where one lets go of ego or vanity; becomes more open, balanced, peaceful, receptive. 

The uniqueness of the way of the empty hand, as with other martial endeavors, the structure within a dojo where the teacher, student, leader, follower and other useful roles provide optimum learning and teaching processes. Acceptance of such roles inter-connects with the human need and instinct to gather into groups for survival. It allows the sharing of knowledge and creates a personal and group wisdom that also enhances the Way for the individual. It promotes mutual respect, honor and integrity that often becomes a part of those fundamental principles of martial systems should that system also be used toward defense in conflict and violence. 

The Way works to allow the use of win-lose paradigms as a novice level training tool but the gaol is to reach a level where one achieves a win-win group dynamic where all parties leave with growth, maturity and enlightenment. It helps us achieve a way to penetrate the gossamer covers that allow us to see past those illusory barriers of life and to realize our potential as individual toward our potential in the group dynamic seeing opportunity and to have clear unimpeded vision in all the “myriad things of the Universe.” 

The ability through such endeavors contributes in a mental, visual and tactile sense model a means to focus on the now, the present moment, while discarding or ignoring of the past of regret and the fear of the future. It teaches us to remain in the present moment, the now, so we can achieve actions and deeds that are not hindered by fear, anger, or paralysis (the freeze) regardless of whether it is in normal conflict or the battles of physical attacks.

The repetitive practice of things like kata promote a meditative state induced by the many repetitions of basic movements until they are encoded into what some call, “muscle memory,” or to be at the instinctual levels allowing our lizard brain access in states of need and emergency. Balance in motion promotes a mind-set where balance of mind and spirit contribute toward greater contributions to self, the group and society as a whole. 

The suffix often attached to martial systems, i.e., as karate becomes karate-do, that suffix denotes a way of being, being human person who is in balance with others and the group or tribe. The building blocks used is such classical ways, i.e., kata, hojo undo, drills, etcsl are technical methods that open the path, the way, toward strategic and tactical goals to achieve artistic expressions and when properly applied also lead to combative expressions leading toward a more combative application such as civil self-defense (remember this requires distinctions in practice and training).

The way also through this first level of martial arts, i.e., traditional or classical forms, are the foundation, the blueprints, used to achieve a more personal style and creative ability that is applied to self or toward defense in conflict and violence. 

The health and well-being that is a corner stone of a practice in the Way also achieve such things as flexibility, pliability, gentleness, and harmony necessary for mental health and well-being also necessary for group mental cohesive health and well-being. 

The Way also, outside the actual physical applications toward self-defense, provides a direct physical model that creates an environment of struggle, opposition and challenges of positive stresses of the mind and body that provide positive growth and personal resiliency. 

One through the Way of the Martial Arts when properly applied leads to a personal integrity and harmony that promotes personal growth, peace, and a philosophical basis for living a good and full life. It clears the mind for learning and insight, it creates a social learning contract that has mutual respect and integrity as its foundation. It is this focal spirit that allows the individual to break through life’s obstacles and our internally created barriers to create an open minded socially acceptable human being. 

When one takes up the mantle of practicing toward a “Way” they are, in my personal view, trying to achieve what is described herein. The distinction between this and a combative Way or Warrior Way is the translation of these goals from a primary role to that of an inter-connected wholehearted Way as described in the principles that underly all martial combative fighting system, i.e., principle of theory, physiokinetic, technique and philosophy. When that distinction is consciously implemented in training and practice along with the complete realistic way of self-defense then you have that system. 

This is the Way, the Way of the Empty Hand!

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