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

Line Three: yet the manner of drinking and spitting is either soft or hard


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 transition 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 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 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.


Shintoism gives us the yin-n-yang or in-n-yo and that is often symbolized by both an open mouth and a closed mouth on the Korean Lion-dogs on each side of the gate, Torii gate, upon entering a Shinto shrine. The mouth is in a closed position when spitting but in an open position when drinking. Spitting is a hard technique, yang, and the act of drinking is a soft technique, yin.

When you connect the significance of In-Yo to karate then to the driving culture of Shintoism it helps understand and explain the natural order of things being body-mind, heart-spirit, etc. that is referenced in the goku-i koan or terse tome of karate-jutsu-do.

It is said by Shintoism concepts that infinity, which, after splitting into yin and yang, give rise to the spiral of materialization. The spiral helix is everywhere in nature and the cosmos. The circulation of the Sun, moon, and Earth in the heavens is a path, a way, which is spiral in nature forming a spiral helix path through the heavens, space. Space, of course, is the void, the Tao as it infers by wu-wei.

The spiral motion forming a helix can be seen in practicing martial systems that utilize the centripetal and centrifugal fundamental principle of the system. As a demonstration displays it appears the participants are following a spiral path that is both centripetal and centrifugal or yin-and-yang in nature or natural flow producing and using energy through body-mind participation.


"It is not what others think of me that matters; it is what I think of myself. If I allow myself to be shaped by other opinions, I would become what they wish me to become."

As my studies and practice indicate, to me, before we can truly participate in society, or the Universe, we must first "know" that Universe within us as an individual.

To much of what we have within us influences how we interact with the Universe and if we are not sure of what we are within then we will not be beneficial and productive to those who stand outside of our personal Universe.

How can we instruct others in anything; the physical, mental or spiritual; as related to the ken-po goku-i, the ancient classics as the I Ching and other tomes of knowledge, like "Fully Present," "The Now," and "Becoming a Complete Martial Artist." These are but a few, if we are not fully and completely aware of our self.

It should be a primary goal of an instructor, or anyone intent on being involved in life, that they disentangle their thoughts from reality for we do influence our thoughts with our past experiences so we should take it all in and discover through our internal awareness as to what is correct. In the case of karate what is morally correct and socially acceptable behavior even in fighting, conflict, combat, etc.

Read the quote again, I personally do not want now or have never wanted to become what others thought I should become but rather what I feel I should become and I cannot nor have not done otherwise in my life.

If I get caught up in external validation, which is just a way to excuse myself from myself, which if you think of it provides me the perfect excuse when what others decide goes wrong, I can then blame them when in reality it is and always will be my decision and my fault when things go wrong. More importantly, keep this foremost in your mind, when things go right I can be satisfied that I did right, by me, myself, and I and that projects onto others who enter my sphere of influence. If both of us are alike in this concept then we are mutually influencing to our benefit.

As a fledgling practitioner I regard internal focus as a personal fundamental. As a fledgling associate instructor also focus inward to find truth and knowledge then as an instructor you will have already discovered "most" of the things you will transmit to others and it will be right.


As I study the tactual idea of the goku-i I discovered that the words used in the third line also are used when expressing both a hard or soft feeling. These are touch dominant words.

A soft feeling is described by feathery, fuzzy, limp, silky, soft, and so on while the hard feeling is firm, solid, hard, crispy and tough using just these few words to describe this view.

When we speak of unbalance same as a weight, the touch description is one of a heavy feeling where that same feeling comes just before the fall - so to speak. When we use karate, or practice a martial art, we are required to touch something. We brush up against an opponent. We feel them move and respond accordingly. We strike, we tap, and we pinch a vital point to gain control. We grasp and grab to apply the tactile method - grappling, aikido, judo, etc.

All of these relate to the goku-i as to heart, hard/soft aspects, balance/weight, strikes, directions, sides, seeing, hearing and grasping tactual or tactile - feeling the body movement. When Chinese system practice sticky hands techniques they are applying those tactual/kinesthetic principles that involve touch with balance and body connections.

In the martial arts we respond to stimuli, i.e. another tactile driven explanation of applying martial arts. This is why touch dominant persons tend to do well in sports or sport like physical activities. Martial Arts are about training us to be responsive to the touch/intent of others - yes?


The manner of drinking and spitting (inhaling and exhaling) is either soft or hard. Do you actually remain mindful of your body during your practice? Do you feel and acknowledge when you are remaining soft, i.e. tension is reduced to absolute minimum to ensure energy is not lost within the body yet available for transference to the target, and when it needs to be hard, i.e. that instant tightening of the structure to take momentum and speed, etc. and transfer that energy and force into the target.

The ken-po goku-i on hard-n-soft also applies to our ability to breathe properly. Breathing properly is dependent on many factors such as stance, structure, alignment, pose, and all the various techniques as applied and dependent on applications, etc. Do you remain mindful of not only tension/positive relaxation, i.e. hard-n-soft, as well as how your body alignment, posture and structure are to optimize breathing and reap all its benefits both martial and healthful?

Look at the ken-po goku-i as a short "reminder" list whose purpose, martially, is to remind us daily of all the fundamental principles we should be aware and mindful of at those times of training/practice/application. It is there to remind us that when we practice we should be sensing, feeling, and focused on such things as, "does this particular technique, pose, stance, etc. need to be hard, soft, exhaling, or inhaling to maximize its purpose and effectiveness?

Ken-po Goku-i, to remind and to teach, a door to more in martial systems!


It is very easy to "choose" things you want yet it is one of the most difficult things you do when you "choose" to do things you "need" to do. There needs to be a balance of both what you want and what you need to have harmony of self. Sometimes you have to forgo "wants" to achieve something that requires you do something you "need" to do that is sometimes unpleasant and difficult.

Practice, long and hard and diligent and continuous and relevant, is something you "need" to do in order to be proficient. I am talking about that practice of martial arts toward combative defense of self, family, and others. Not sport, not martial exercise but those fundamental principles that build the basis of the entire martial system. None of these are glorified, fun (sometimes they actually are fun in a funny sort of way), or awe-inspiring. They provide you what you "need" for your system to be effective and not what you "want" as in trophies, accolades, rank, etc.

You may want to be "constantly stimulated" but what you need may end up being "monotonous and repetitive." We all have choices and they are always ours and ours alone. You can choose to get what you want and bypass what you need but what you get will be less than what you may really want. Something worth having is worth paying a price and that price may be doing what you "need" vs. what you "want" yet you may find that taking on what you "need" even if not what you "want" will end up giving you something you may have not actually realized that you "wanted!"

Note: Is this why so many tend to seek out the short way to something vs. taking the time and effort to actually realize it with wants and needs achieved together. Quick fixes, quick ways to get in shape, quick ways to do this or that when it actually "needs" to be a slow and long process to achieve what is wanted.

SPARRING (soft) vs. FIGHTING (hard)

Sparring is a mutually beneficial tool used by two persons who have established a relationship of trust where both teach/learn how to apply karate techniques derived from waza basics, kata bunkai, and ippon-kumite/drills (san-bon-kumite, etc.).

Some refer to this in sparring as a tori-uke relationship. One gives, one takes and then they switch roles with the purpose of applying correctly martial techniques until they can be instantly applied in varying situations due to varying stimuli with no set pattern or rules. It is one of trust so that both persons as the speed and power are elevated to higher levels remains mutually beneficial with little or no injuries. The goal is to achieve a level of proficiency where it can be applied in the most realistic manner possible closest to what may be encountered in a physical street confrontation.

This assumes that the first 90% of self-protection/defense is trained in avoidance, etc. so when the 1% becomes reality the person or persons can "act" appropriately.

Fighting is not a mutually beneficial act. It is singularly meant to achieve damage to another human being. There is no trust for if there were then it would not be a fight.

There are several levels of physical encounters; from a schoolyard scuffle to a all out full-blown predatory attack with the sole goal of hurting you fast so they can achieve some nefarious goal such as tribal status or simply stealing your valuables.

Fighting is violence. Fighting is illegal. Fighting involves getting hurt by both participants unless it is predatory and the attacker gets you down and out so you cannot respond. Fighting has additional far reaching effects beyond the physical damage. There is psychological for the participants. There are legal issues both parties will deal with as to criminal and civil actions by the courts. There are psychological effects that all persons related to the participants endure; dealing with hospital bills, rehab to get past the damages, lost work, lost income, and so on ... you can see that fighting leads to a lot more than simply winning or losing.

Sparring is something that is acceptable to those parties who participate and has no goal as to simple violence or dominance of others if done correctly and if taught correctly. It is a tool to achieve proficiency in actual karate techniques. It is controlled.

Fighting is something that is NOT accepted by society. Those parties who participate, even if willing, are breaking the law for the goal of fighting is to hurt another human being, to dominate others for some unknown reason and is not taught in normal society except in a sporting aspect such as boxing.

Sparring vs. Fighting can have a vague line separating the two. The line can be dependent on training and practice where the instruction, good or not good, goes awry.

Sometimes fighting is taught in lieu of the dojo inherent nature of trust and benefit of both parties. It is where one or the other participants leave behind the rules and spirit of sparring to gratify their own need to be stronger and dominant, which is just another form of less than normal self-esteem - ego and pride. Sensei must make sure that sparring, i.e. tori-n-uke relations of trust, are never violated.

It would be assumed, traditionally, that a dojo is a tribe (a clan, a group) that has mutual goals and strives to achieve a relationship that is conducive to survival of the dojo along with a trust pact that remains morally upright. It should be something that promotes the growth of the groups potential not only in the world of martial technique but also the spirit of life itself.

Words such as valor, benevolence, truth - honesty, loyalty, rectitude, humility, respect, courage, patience, endurance, and will should be a major part of the dojo. These more esoterically driven goals must be an intricate part of training, practice and instruction to take karate past its brutal possibilities to a more martial system.

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