Caveat: Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

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.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I am a Marine Veteran who practices martial arts, specifically the striking arts of Okinawan Isshinryu. Most of my time teaching was spent on the physical aspects. It wasn't until later in my winter years and practice that I discovered a deeper and more meaningful aspect. I rediscovered the old tome of the Ken-po Goku-i (goku-i will be used for brevity in lieu of ken-po goku-i) which the developer of the system awarded to all his black belts, those Marines leaving their tour of duty on the island.

I spent many years studying this short and terse tome to find the martial philosophy that legend and stories allude to in the study of this art, this esoteric study of the brutal civil system of empty hand.

Recent (last ten) years provided much insight to my practice and teaching. My study of this terse tome led me to the more extensive study of ancient classics like the Tao Te Ching and I Ching.

This book will not be offering any direct lessons in technique but rather a view of the system and the applications from a spiritual/philosophical perspective.

The goku-i will be mostly generic to the martial arts as a whole in lieu of direct inference from Isshinryu Karate Goshin [護身] Jutsu Do, The Way and Technique of the One-heart System of Empty Hand.

Most martial systems are sport oriented; it is all about the individual. True martial systems of combative nature are centered on the individual in how to utilize the human body to overcome a threat. It focuses on the physical self; in today's classical or traditional form it gives more than "lip-service" to the ethical, moral, spiritual, emotional and intellectual aspects.

Your mind and spirit the unconscious mind or heart are all sources of imbalance. The martial systems I understand rely heavily on balance, balance: of the mind, spirit and body. This book is an effort to bring balance back to the force, the path, the way of the martial arts.

This book, I hope, will bring more to your practice than the obvious and bring out the more esoteric perceived as hidden aspects of martial practice and application.

It can be said the strictly physical of the martial arts without the spiritual is simply a brutal way to dominate other human beings. The spiritual aspect of martial practice is often overlooked, misunderstood or just ignored in favor of instant gratification, getting to the fun stuff.

" ... Sooner or later you're going to realize, just as I did, that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path." - Morpheus, the movie The Matrix.

This book is a means for the martial artist to achieve "walking the path" and not just "knowing the path." It is easy to spout out quotes of this or that, to read the book of five rings to students and to say the I Ching says to do this or do that but it takes great effort and due diligence to actually live the words, the quotes and the meaning of such ancient teachings. Humans have endeavored to do just this, walk the path, over thousands of years, this is my effort to walk the path and to inspire others to walk the path, not just talk the path.

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

I walk the path - mostly. In some cases, the fact that you achieve the path, and in others your efforts to walk it suffice, as long as you continue the effort to walk that path. We have many paths we take, like the many faces we assume. When we step off that particular path we learn things about ourselves and about life - good. Then we attempt to get back on that path and that effort can be challenging - just do it, just try and try and try.

As Morpheus told Neo, "know the path - good - now walk that path - better." You martial brothers and sisters forget the mouth and institute your actions in a manner that walks that path - no kuchi bushi (mouth warrior), more Neo.


It might clarify intent by mentioning here that this book hopes to remove the curtain between two worlds: the dream world and the world of reality.

"I, Chuang Chou, dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”

In balance of martial systems we have the physical - the state of reality. We also have the spiritual aspects or those dream like mind states that speak to us metaphorically - the state of the goku-i. Much like the great Chuang Chou, are we to place our efforts in the real world of the physical or in the ephemeral world of the goku-i? This may be the question I am trying to answer but the answer may be in a balance - the martial arts shall only be practiced in a balanced state.


There are some inherent human traits one should be aware of when venturing into the realm of the philosophical belief through the goku-i or any other ancient classical system.

As a species, the human species, we have issues with ambiguity. We seem to be neurologically wired to feel discomfort with it. The brain will send out all these anxiety signals when we encounter any conflicting or confusing stimuli. When we do encounter such stuff we tend to create an interpretation that makes such ambiguity go bye-bye.

The human brain does not rely on the external data to create our vision of the world but rather what we create in our minds from our perceptions through our perceptive filters. In a nutshell we see what we want to see; we look at the world in accordance with our own worldviews, our perceptive filters and perceptions.

We also run into other people whose world view differs and we don't tend to just disagree but rather begin to change our view of that person as someone who is deficient or an-out-and-out villain. We will fight to the death for our worldview our beliefs.


Our memories are subject to the many ways the brain processes a huge amount of data received through our senses. These processes relate to past memories and build on that which sometimes takes relevant information and simply discards it without question. Our memories are undergoing constant changes as they are stored, retrieved and restored to the locations encoded in long-term memory.

This aspect gives a sort of credence to our minds and therefore our realities are subject to a Matrix like aspect where memories are both unreliable and subject to mixing reality and imagination. Are we living out a dream or are we living out reality and who is going to say which is which.

Keep this in mind as you study the goku-i and other aspects of martial systems. Test it out and test it again. Give it time to see whether it is something that works.


All human behavior is based on what it is to be human. There are a variety of ways to look at the world and a variety of ways to understand it, all driven by our mind's perception. Human perceptions and cognitive functioning are subject to doubt. The brain receives millions of pieces of stimuli every second from our senses. Our brains can only handle a small fraction so it comes down to choosing which is going to go through and which is not, this means the brain may or may not be providing an accurate view of reality. The brain therefore takes what it feels is relevant and then builds a model of the world. This is done under that heading you hear often: our ability to survive - survival instincts.


The brain takes shortcuts to get what is necessary for survival. It takes on what is important to survive and discards all the rest. Sometimes it is right and sometimes it is wrong.


Humans suffer from what has been termed, change blindness. This means we may miss something important even though it is right in front of us. Our brains are prone to making these errors in perception. The brain, thus us, can be conscious of only so much at any one moment. It is a fact of existence.


You should know that the one part of the brain we need for survival is also our most problematic part of the brain: the amygdala. It serves as the human cognitive handler. It is complicated and it takes care of all input. It can be viewed simply as the human bodyguard who dumps emotions and adrenaline while shouting loudly, "Danger! Do something now!" It is chiefly concerned with survival.


Knowing this, hopefully, means you will not allow the brain to color your view of what you read here but rather open the door to the fact that not all things are black or white. There is a gray area we can see and accept. See this as the out-of-the-box experience. We can, by this book in the study of the goku-i, reach a level where we utilize our subjectivity with an open mind free to inquire about anything.


Timing is mentioned and when digging deeper into the ken-po goku-i it was discovered that many aspects also speak to "time." The connectivity to the Universe, Earth, Sun and Moon find time to create rhythms and cycles in life that extends to human beings.

Two distinct times that humans will immediately relate to are "biological" and "personal" time. Where the goku-i speaks loudest in a silent fashion is on the subject of biological time.

Look at the nature of time: The ebb and flow of the tides; the rhythms of the seasonal changes; the cycle of the Earth in the heavens and the sun's influences. This is how man created time. This is how the clock we watch daily came into being. All of this nature time existed long before the watch, clock or timepiece.

Time is also connected by the changes in the Earth's atmosphere, the sun's spots, and the pull of the moon - all contribute to the rhythms of the environment which created time - timing.

When you read the particulars of the goku-i don't let it place your views into a cubbyhole where time is only that which appears as seconds, minutes and hours on the device worn about your wrist. Time, timing and how we make use of it all depends. This is something to consider when reading this book.

Let's discuss another aspect the fact that the environmental rhythms and cycles are what created life and opened the door to evolution. In the human body those same rhythms and cycles affect the hourly changes, shifts or cycles in the chemical aspects of the blood: blood circulates much like the cycles of the Moon, Sun, and Earth.

The environment stimulates the human body with the normal rhythms and cycles of life except when external events cause changes and those changes cause a loss of synchronization to nature - the environment.

Our biological clocks seem to be directly related to nature's clock. Staying in phase with nature's clock is what connects us with the twenty-four-hour clock cycle of Earth.

Take a step further, those biological clock times connect to the times of the day as influenced by the position of the Sun and Moon as well as the orbit/position related to all three heavenly bodies at any time in space. These biological time connections will influence the energy levels of the body related to a time of day or night and this energy influences the intellectual activity we experience.

This book is my philosophy as developed through the study of the "goku-i" with the hope it will inspire the reader to study and develop their own martial philosophy. It is a hope that it will bring a balance back to martial arts.

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