Thursday, August 30, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Variation within the Song:
How Improvisation Unlocks True Understanding in Martial Arts Forms
By Corey Wiscomb
When I teach beginners ‘The Form’, the version I share is square, fluid, structured, and nearly the same every time. Physically it is a nice calisthenic that opens the joints of the body, especially invigorates the muscles of the lower body, improves balance, and relaxes the overall state of being. These health benefits alone make the practice of Tai Chi a worthwhile asset in many people’s lives, and hence why the art is practiced across the entire planet in today’s day and age. Yet, running the form in this way, the same every time, day in and out, while it shows great perseverance, will never yield any true understanding of the art within. Variation is the key that will unlock this gate.
I have been fortunate to study multiple styles of martial arts in depth in my continuing lifetime study of the fighting arts. I will not bore you with the list of black belts I have achieved over the past 26 years of practice. Instead I wish to make a comment on forms, since they are the major method of passing most martial styles on to future generations.
The First Level:
Forms, in most hard styles are straight-forward (or at least appear to be). A punch is a punch, a block a block. Physically the set is practiced nearly the same every time and the only variation you commonly see is a change in pacing of the movements and the dynamics of the speed and tension held during the motion. But the motion is the same. Go to any weekend martial arts tournament anywhere across the nation and you will see what I mean. This type of practice is good for physical strength and provides the foundation in stances and techniques for which the practitioner of that style will place on top all of their other martial skills.
The Second Step:
Not every school practices interpretation of form, often called bunkai. Those that choose not to leave their students with a complete disconnect for the purpose of the movements as to how they should be used in self-defense. And those that provide one interpretation to a form movement handicap their students by limiting the potential of a strong and capable movement to a single scenario that may never happen. Let me pose a question…
Have you ever watched someone practice a form before sparring only to see that the two seem like two separate arts? Their body moves in an entirely different way and the stylistic clarity of the form simply went right out the window. This is what happens when students have no interpretations to their forms. The moves are empty and the students think of them as a separate practice, so when the sparring begins a whole new set of skills emerges. Disconnect.
And on the other side of things are those who have single interpretations to their movements. They try desperately to be patient for the exact scenario for when to use that one movement only to have it pass in the blink of an eye. I can’t even begin to tell you the thousands of set techniques and applications that I have learned over the past two and half decades. And as a practitioner who is fond of sparring I can tell you that the perfect scenario happens next to never, or at absolute best one out of ten times… but let’s be honest, these are martial arts and we’re talking about fighting as preparation for self-defense, and having techniques that work only 10% of the time or less is not acceptable. As a competitor who won many national and international titles I learned one thing right away – I would have to adapt, I would have to improvise.
A little History to build understanding on the way to our Final step (for today):
My first awakening was in the study of the ‘9 Moving Forces’ as applied to Kata in the art of Shorei Goju Ryu. The practice, without going into detail, asks the practitioner to provide interpretation of striking, locking, choking, and lethal application all within one movement or form. Striking applications are usually obvious, but turning a down-block into a joint lock or lethal application was a very new and mind altering approach. And it’s true what they say, “A mind, once stretched, will never return to its former dimensions”. For more specific information on the ‘9 Moving Forces’ consult “The Pinnacle of Karate Do” as written by Robert Trias.
Once my mind began to see these movements in abstract ways a new understanding began to arise in my mind, perhaps it was possible to spar like the forms. My search led me to the (he’d like it that I call him this) infamous George Dillman, and for the first time I watched someone move the same in form as they would in fighting. George is best known for his understanding and application of Pressure Point Control Tactics, but it was his deep connection to form that drew me in as a student. I was completely enamored with the technical understanding and multitude of applications that he possessed for any movement given to him out of any kata, any style. I am still impressed to this day. Yet, the technical necessity of each movement brought me back to the dilemma I had hoped to resolve – too much information causes too much thinking, aka, the “paralysis of analysis” and in combat there is not even a split second for that.
I was passed around amongst many great teachers and after several years found myself in London, England training Small Circle Jujitsu with now Grand Master Leon Jay, son of Professor Wally Jay. While he didn’t really run forms per say, I was forever changed by the (painful) introduction to the art of ‘lock flow’: using your opponent’s energy against them no matter where they choose to move. This required a willingness and ability to adapt at a moments notice to the will of the opponent, and a technical proficiency in how to move in a balanced posture that was capable of mobility and stability at all times. It is all about flow, and it is never the same twice. Agh, variation, we are back to our theme.
Now, those that know me know that Tai Chi Chuan is my martial base and I’m quite certain it will be for the remainder of my lifetime. It is the bottomless vessel that I poured all my other knowledge into when I emptied my cup. Sparring in Tai Chi Chuan is quite different than other martial arts. It begins with the practice of Push-Hands in which partners work to upset each other’s balance using the techniques of the form. When done appropriately it is fluid and contains same balance and postures as seen within the form, but rarely in the same order. It forces us to vary the movements in a way that often reveals to us the application of the movement itself only after we have done it. There is no thought. The body is in a constant state of adjustment to the present pressures and intents of your partner/opponent, there is no set pattern from which the mind can simply go to cruise control. It is a feeling and an experience that is absolutely necessary in order to understand the formwork, the very well from which to draw the water of substantial variation so as to practice the actual art of Tai Chi Chuan. Without it the dance is one of insubstantial motions that are quite often meaningless as to any application and serve no purpose in furthering the art other than a calisthenic exercising for the body. I have said that the vessel of Tai Chi Chuan is bottomless, and that is why it can hold all the elements of other arts within it. They simply become fuel for interpretation when added as extensions to the very abstract, yet completely functional, movements of Tai Chi Chuan.
In those times when I am not leading a group of beginning students the form becomes an improvisation of all that I have studied and experienced, I do not change the form, but I never run it the same twice. It is in these practices that my breath goes the deepest, my presence is brought to its absolute peak, my body opens to an immense rush of circulation, health, and my mind enters a deeper meditation than any other. This is the variation that brings form to life. It has taken me nearly three decades of practice to discover this and I can’t wait to experience it for the rest of my life.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Raw Story reports:
"A 63-year-old former engineer may not fit the typical image of a dark-clad assassin with deadly weapons who can disappear into a cloud of smoke. But Jinichi Kawakami is reputedly Japan’s last ninja.
As the 21st head of the Ban clan, a line of ninjas that can trace its history back some 500 years, Kawakami is considered by some to be the last living guardian of Japan’s secret spies.
“I think I’m called (the last ninja) as there is probably no other person who learned all the skills that were directly” handed down from ninja masters over the last five centuries, he said."
"Kawakami first encountered the secretive world of ninjas at the age of just six, but has only vague memories of first meeting his master, Masazo Ishida, a man who dressed as a Buddhist monk.
“I kept practising without knowing what I was actually doing. It was much later that I realised I was practising ninjutsu.”
Kawakami said training ranged from physical and mental skills to studies of chemicals, weather and psychology.
“I call ninjutsu comprehensive survival techniques,” though it originated in war skills such as espionage and guerrilla attacks, he said.
“For concentration, I looked at the wick of a candle until I got the feeling that I was actually inside it. I also practised hearing the sound of a needle dropping on the floor,” he said.
He climbed walls, jumped from heights and learned how to mix chemicals to cause explosions and smoke.
“I was also required to endure heat and cold as well as pain and hunger. The training was all tough and painful. It wasn’t fun but I didn’t think much why I was doing it. Training was made to be part of my life.”
Kawakami says much of the ninja’s art lies in catching people unawares, rather than in brute force.
“Humans can’t be on the alert all the time. There is always a moment when they are off guard and you catch it,” he said.
It is all about exploiting weaknesses that allows the ninja to outfox much bigger or more numerous opponents; distracting attention to allow a quick getaway.
It is possible to hide — in a manner of speaking — behind the smallest of things, Kawakami said.
“If you throw a toothpick, people will look that way, giving you the chance to flee.
“We also have a saying that it is possible to escape death by perching on your enemy’s eyelashes; it means you are so close that he cannot see you.”
This last part about deception reminds me of another Ninja story I read years ago; An old Japanese lady told her family about her father, a ninja.
Could he disappear, they asked?
"Once when we were being attacked, he hid us in a manure pile".
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Former Moonie and "Father of American Tae Kwon Do" Jhoon Rhee
In May of 2011 we took a look at Alex Gillis's excellent history of Korean Karate, "A Killing Art".
Gillis has done an intense study of the politics of Tae Kwon Do and it's close relationship to the Unification Church of Reverend Moon and the Korean and American CIA.
For the purpose of this article, we will explore the origins of the intense nationalism and anti-communism that led to this unholy alliance.
The Korean peninsula has always been under attack or occupation by it's neighbors China and Japan. By extension, the influence of far right-wing Japanese nationalists played a tremendous role in shaping post-war Korea. Here is a description of the "Japanese Patriotic Societies":
The Rise of the Militarists
"Ultranationalism was characteristic of right-wing politicians and conservative military men since the inception of the Meiji Restoration, contributing greatly to the prowar politics of the 1870s. Disenchanted former samurai had established patriotic societies and intelligence-gathering organizations, such as the Gen'yosha (Black Ocean Society, founded in 1881) and its later offshoot, the Kokuryukai (Black Dragon Society, or Amur River Society, founded in 1901). These groups became active in domestic and foreign politics, helped foment prowar sentiments, and supported ultranationalist causes through the end of World War II. After Japan's victories over China and Russia, the ultranationalists concentrated on domestic issues and perceived domestic threats, such as socialism and communism." (link)
After World War Two and into the Korean War era Korea, Japan and the United States had one common agenda; anti-communism.
While not playing down the atrocities committed by the Communists, we cannot overlook those committed by these allies in the name of anti-communism. It's a broad subject, but it may help to focus on Korea.
According to researcher Dave Emory and detailed in Robert Boettcher's book "Gifts of Deceit" after W.W. 2 the American forces reinstalled the very Japanese fascists they had defeated to run post-war Korea. While the Japanese were detested by Koreans, they successfully industrialized the country and assimilated elements of Korean culture with Japanese schooling and industry. The United States later insured that Korea remained stable under a series of right-wing dictatorships.
In return, South Korea contributed to U.S. war efforts in Vietnam and elsewhere, sending troops and hand-to-hand combat instructors.
The Korean CIA became an extension of the American CIA, and as expected it's tentacles reached into various social and religious programs. This of course, included the Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Moon is a strong anti-communist who views himself as Christ reborn. Many of us remember the sales of flowers to fund the church, and that Moon owns the right-wing Washington Times newspaper.
Moon's right-hand man is named Bo Hi Pak, A Korean agent and president of the Korean Cultural and Freedom Foundation, an organization that channeled funds to the intelligence services. Later, the organization became involved in a scandal to bribe U.S. Congressmen.
Bo Hi Pak's cousin is none other than the father of American Tae Kwon Do, Jhoon Rhee.
Rhee had helped set up the Korean cultural and Freedom foundation but denied any knowledge of the illegal activity and intelligence connections.
Rhee allegedly split with Moon and the Unification Church in 1965. The church run by the Moonies went on to corrupt the U.S. government and dabble in industries such as building M-16 rifle factories and taking over fishing fleets.
Along with Gillis's book "A Killing Art" the book "Gifts of Deceit" by Robert Boettcher contains explosive information on the corrupting influence of Moon and the intelligence services. Boettcher was staff director of the Congressional investigation into the Korea-gate scandal of Korean bribes and influence peddling. Here's a brief review of Boettcher's book:
Gifts of Deceit
by Robert Boettcher
Legislative assistant to Representative Donald Fraser,
review by Allen Tate Wood
In Gifts of Deceit the late Robert Boettcher insightfully and thoroughly documents the activities and findings of the Fraser Committee. This congressional subcommittee( through it's 1978 report) on International Organizations opened a window on a world in Washington which many would prefer to see closed forever.
The report of this committee informally called the “Fraser Report” exhaustively documents and details Sun Myung Moon's role in working to shape American foreign policy. It further names a whole host of characters including American politicians, military leaders, Korean diplomats, former Japanese prime ministers, not to mention President Dwight D. Eisenhower who wittingly or unwittingly wound up acting as agents or surrogates for Sun Myung Moon and his "Unification Church".
In addition to reading like a first rate who dunn’it Boettcher's book gives the reader a behind the scenes look at official Washington which to this day has done nothing about the principal findings of the Frazer Committee: namely that the Unification Church has engaged in systematic violations of U.S law. Banking and currency laws, securities and exchange commission laws, Immigration and naturalization laws and charities fraud laws.
Boettcher's book is the first book that reveals the global geo-political ambitions of the Moon organization. It is a must for students of foreign relations, students of destructive cults, and for students of the U. S. Constitution particularly those who take an interest in the first and the thirteenth amendments.
It should be noted that author Boettcher was killed in a suspicious "accident". Here is his obituary in The New York Times:
Robert Boettcher, Staff Chief In House Inquiry, Dies in Fall
Published: May 30, 1984
Robert B. Boettcher, who was staff director of a Congressional investigation of South Korean influence-peddling in Washington in the 1970's, died Thursday in a fall from the roof of an apartment building on Central Park West, where he lived. He was 44 years old.
From 1971 until 1979, Mr. Boettcher directed the staff of the House Subcommittee on International Organizations. In that capacity he was in charge, under Representative Donald Fraser, of gathering evidence of a scandal in which Tongsun Park, a South Korean millionaire businessman, and others were accused of unlawfully seeking to influence American political figures in providing military and economic aid to Seoul.
Most recently Mr. Boettcher served as executive director of development and public relations for the Dance Theater of Harlem.
It's a dangerous line where the CIA crosses paths with Karate and religious cults.
It goes without saying that many, many Korean Karate masters went to work training intelligence agents. This included my own instructor, Tae Hong Choi.
As Gillis describes in "A Killing Art", Korean martial artists were inseparable from both crime syndicates and the intelligence agencies.
U.S. Probers Given
Secret and Detailed
Reports for 2 Years
By Scott irZt ciT1 g
and Charles R. Babcock
Washington Post Staff Writers
For the past two years, a former
director of the South Korean Intelligence
Agency has been secretly
giving federal investigators here
detailed information about the
KCIA's efforts to influence I.I.S.
officials with cash and gifts.
• According to informed sources, Kim .
Hyung Wook, who was KCIA director
In Seoul for seven years during the
1960s, has provided investigators with
a road map for their probe of the
South Korean influence-buying
scheme by revealing secret Swiss
bank accounts, identifying South Korean
businesses used as KCIA covers
and naming key KCIA agents, including
South Korean businessman Tongsun
In particular, Kim has told U.S.
• South Korean President Park
Chung Hee systematically has diverted
to Swiss bank accounts roughly
5 per cent of all foreign investments
in his country.
•Park Chung Hee regularly funnelled
money into campaigns of congressional
and presidential candidates
here during the 1960s.
*U.S. congressmen visiting South
Korea were routinely given cash-filled
envelopes, elaborate entertainment,
female companionship, honorary degrees
•A number of U.S. congressmen
now under federal investigation were
given cash in this country through
Tongsun Park and other KCIA. conduits
here, With some congressmen receiving
as much as $50,000 each.
• Park Chung Hee's son-in-law, Han
Byung Ki, then deputy ambassador in
the South Korean mission to the
United Nations, directed KCIA agents
who tried to suppress South Korean
dissidents in this country.
•Bo Hi Pak, a former military attaehe
at the South Korean Embassy
More at link
Friday, August 3, 2012
It's been a while since we've dropped down the rabbit-hole over here at Dojo Rat, so hang on for the ride;
As described in this article in "Wired", Vietnam Veterans of America are suing the CIA over mind control experiments:
"For two decades or more during the Cold War, the CIA and the military allegedly plied the unwitting with acid, weed, and dozens of psychoactive drugs, in a series of zany (and sometimes dangerous) mind-control experiments. Now, the Vietnam Veterans of America are suing the agency and the Pentagon for perceived abuses suffered under the so-called "MK-ULTRA" and other projects.
Six veterans are suffering from all kinds of ailments tied to this
"diabolical and secret testing program," according to a statement from the vets’ lawyers, passed on to SpyTalk’s Jeff Stein."
Now, it's doubtful that this lawsuit will go anywhere, but what comes out in depositions and discovery may reveal more pieces to the mind control puzzle.
Essentially, the U.S. Intelligence agencies were developing programs to create assassins that could be programed to kill on command, and in some cases not remember what they had done.
Many, many researchers believe the accused killer of Robert Kennedy (including his attorneys) was one such programmed killer.
The CIA admits they had experimental mind control programs, but says they suspended them in the 1970's.
Others say they suspended them because they were successful and had gone operational. There was no need for further experiments.
The Kool-Aid killings in Jonestown were another example of a CIA mind control operation gone terribly wrong. That cost the lives of at least 700 people and Congressman Leo Ryan who went down to investigate. Ryan was shot dead on an airstrip and the followers of Jim Jones were poisoned and shot to prevent disclosure of the program.
Voices in Your head?
Right about now you're saying "Dojo Rat has gone off the deep end!"
But check this out;
Here is how far the technology has come: companies have the ability to put voices in your head as part of new add campaigns. Here is an example from "Add Age":
"NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman's voice right in her ear asking, "Who's there? Who's there?" She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, "It's not your imagination."
No, he's not crazy: Our intrepid reporter Andrew Hampp ventures to SoHo to hear for himself the technology that has New Yorkers 'freaked out' and A&E buzzing.
Indeed it isn't. It's an ad for "Paranormal State," a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an "audio spotlight" from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium."
Yes, that's right. Putting voices in your head.
This is in billboard advertising. Where do you think the technology came from?
Now, we could go very, very deep into this subject, but perhaps this example will make the point; there are lots of movies that show how hypno-programmed assassins are created. The most famous is perhaps the original "Manchurian Candidate".
One of my favorites is the Warren Beatty movie "The Parallax View", which I saw in a theater when I was about 15. It woke me up to the idea of conspiracy as historical truth. Here is a scene where Beaty, as a reporter follows a trail and ends up in one such hypno-program:
No shit. This is how it's done, but in a more graphic way.
So when we have people in society that flip out and pull off some horrific crime, it may just be a random event of a troubled individual.
Or maybe not.