Generating creative sparks in 2019
Welcome to our new website, a little sleeker and more tech savvy.
Never before do we need surefootedness in our individual journeys as we navigate into a volatile future, promising as long as we stay positive. The martial arts have provided generations of souls vitality, safety, mindfulness and meaning.
At the Wind School we perpetuate a whole-health philosophy. Since its founding, our School has offered thousands of students a spiritually-grounded Dojo, a Way Place, as a sanctuary, and a learning environment for vital living, personal protection, and a means to evolve into wholeness through the lens of Traditional Okinawan Karate-Do and Asian Mindfulness practices.
Exciting Events On The Horizon
I’ve been selected to appear alongside some of the top instructors in the U.S. discussing the merits of Traditional Karate training in a new book being written by Scottish author, Gary Quinn. (Release date not yet determined)
Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio will interview me on May 21, 2019. Whistlekick is one of the most listened to martial art podcasts in the U.S. Karate legends, Super Foot Bill Wallace, Fumio Demura and other greats have been interviewed on this weekly platform.
Hayashi’s interview on Whistlekick Radio will debut in early July, 2019 and can be accessed any time from that point onward at https://www.whistlekickmartialartsradio.com/
Don’t miss my latest article on NEIHANCHI, Okinawan’s Essential karate kata in the Media section. Long considered one of the most vital forms to come out of Okinawa, Neihanchi is a powerhouse kata filled with internal lessons and practical, tactical self-defense solutions, unrivaled by most other kata.
I hope to film a Training Video for Masters Magazine on Okinawan Neihanchi Kiko later this year. My ongoing research into kata is establishing me as an expert on Internal Okinawan karate kata development. It’s been an exciting study, which has pulled curious, dan-ranked martial artists from around the U.S. into a dialog.
I also hope to break ground soon on a new book about Karate KIKO. As many know this is a personal passion of mine. This project is to be also complimented by an online teaching course on Internal Karate with a projected completion in 2021.
It is my desire to continue to research, present, and preserve the best of the martial traditions for those looking for guidance, grounding, an athletic outlet, personal safety and enhanced vitality.
I practice karate as a form of yoga. This was not at all my focus when I was a teenager. And I suspect not many people would even understand what it means to practice a martial discipline in this manner.
So I’d like to clarify my statement.
The essence of yoga is a path back to the source of Self. It’s the search for authentic nature. It’s not about becoming more flexible. The essence of karate is transcendence of human conflict(s), learning to quell both inner and outer rebellion. It’s not about ultimate fighting. Its about ultimate peace.
Better flexibility or agile fighting skills have their place but they were always considered lesser talents when you were not being confronted by a hostile adversary or an inability to perform a task requiring looser muscles.
Hype about fighting. Hype about flexibility has distorted both the Karate and Yogic arts. But Western culture loves hype about everything. We live in a hyped-up culture today. It’s even hard to hear the real teachers over the din of the false ones because there is so much empty chatter out there.
It’s an illusion that you are going to grow fast, mature fast, succeed quickly—or do it all by yourself. That’s for a very rare few.
Life itself is an art and disciplines like yoga and the martial arts are there to aid us in our journey if used properly. However, the mainstream has lost its way in regard to these arts. More and more arts are being used for self aggrandizement. And many arts are becoming superficialized, watered down, even degraded.
The reason for the decline is that most people are pursuing lopsided goals. There is very little real or meaningful spiritual cultivation taking place in mainstream martial and yogic communities. This is what distorts our goals. Everyone’s in a rush to gratify themselves. Get that certification, get that belt. Get, get, hurry up and get important.
Look for the grounded paths, the clear-minded ways. They are out there. Choose your disciplines and teachers carefully. They are always calling the seekers.
Sit down and think about what really matters in life. That is when you will see the deep arts loom into view.
From an article by Jay Michaelson:
“Lama Surya Das, the “Buddha from Brooklyn,” is one of the handful of
Westerners who have been teaching meditation for decades. And yet, he
says we’re doing it wrong.
Lama Surya Das says there are other ways to meditate besides those that
are currently popular: “So many people seem to be moving narcissistically
into self-centered happiness-seeking and quietism, not to mention the use
of mindfulness for mere effectiveness,” he says. “True meditation
generates wisdom and compassion, which may be very disquieting, at
least in the short term.”
“‘Quiet your mind’ or ‘calm and clear your mind’ are instructions I hear
way too much,” he says. “Some teachers actually encourage people to try
to stop thinking, when in fact meditative awareness means being mindful
of thoughts and feelings, not simply trying to reduce, alter or white them
out and achieve some kind of oblivion.”
“The anti-intellectual meditators, thought-swatters and imagination-
suppressors have long ruled meditation-oriented circles in the West,” he
says. “But authentic meditative practices can enhance and even unleash
the creativity and imagination.’
You don’t have to quiet the mind to do many of the types of meditation
he proposes. They don’t involve trying to find a quiet ‘moment of Zen’
apart from the messy, noisy world of work, family and children, but rather
inviting all of the noise into meditation.
One thing that I have come know in my forty-six years of teaching is that you can never know definitively who is right or who is wrong about a physical art like karate in a purely academic arena. In other words, talk can be cheap and it can also be misleading. The mind is meant for understanding the nuances of our craft and giving our body direction, but our body is meant for action and that is where the meaning of a technique and its results count. All the talk regarding karate ultimately lies in your ability to test what you are told and put it to good use in the real world. I’m all for healthy discussion and debate that prepares the arena for action. But for anyone to say this is the way it is or isn’t about how to punch or kick or block or lock, without an actual test, is simply misleading.
Even in matters of historical research I find as scholars dig deeper some of our previous held beliefs and conventional understandings about karate and its techniques have gotten turned upside down. Nobody is going to pull your heart out with a spear hand. The Okinawan farmers didn’t beat the Japanese samurai. Kata possesses way more knowledge that anyone could ever imagine. The karate myths I was taught as truisms back in the 1960’s have since popped like chewing gum bubbles. Historical research gives us a more sobering and grounded perspective on the martial arts with each passing year.
I would like to briefly address the practice of a karate stance called the Shiko Dachi, or what we know as the Seiuchin dachi, from my perspective as a career practitioner and teacher. Volumes could be written about the stances of karate; their history, their functionality, their symbology, their cultural relevance, even their role as something more than musculo-skeletal levers and conveyors.
Every sensei worth his or her mettle as a guide will discover that the novice needs concrete information to progress in their arts. If you want a student to flounder just be ambiguous when explaining a technique to them. “Well, it could be this way or that way, and on Monday’s we straighten the back leg, but on Wednesday we keep it a wee bit bent.” Or, create a rigid boundary so stiff that the student can’t even breathe without catching your eye. A returning kyudansha, who had studied under two different isshinryu sensei told me that that he was informed when sinking down from his Seisan dachi he must “Never, ever” pivot on the heel of his back foot. I asked for the rationale. None was provided to him. He just knew that he must never, ever do such. Honestly, this is dysfunctional teaching. “Prove it?” He couldn’t. The advice was wrong.
A dachi must begin as a fixed position for the novice. If you were a beginner, and asked me what a Shiko Dachi (otherwise, Seiuchin stance) was, I would explain the dachi’s body structure in precise detail for you to anchor into. I didn’t say, I’d explain the foot position. I would explain the whole body structure. Dachi are not just ‘foot’ positions any more than a bow is exclusive to the arrow and the bowman. Since so few karate-ka go into deep study of their arts, we now have too many junior masters (masters by longevity or rank, not necessarily by deepening skills) who have not outgrown their early and limited notions of fixed dachi.
I recently read an article entitled “Is The Shiko Dachi Pointless?” The author went on to discredit the low posture to all but kata rehearsal, and to say it was also considered a Horse stance. I couldn’t disagree more with his opinion. The two stances are very different in structure and purpose.
A Shiko dachi is distinguished by the following factors; heels one and a half shoulder width apart, feet turned out 45 degrees, pelvis tilted slightly back, neck held slightly forward, torso also inclined slightly forward, anal sphincter relaxed. The Shiko dachi is a Water element stance. Yang or descending meridians are switched on in this posture. In this posture energy descends. Most arm motions associated with the Shiko dachi extend to the left or right of the torso, rather than in front of it. It is used to bring the opponent down or to follow an opponent down to properly apply a joint-locking technique.
There are five layers to form work; the individual technique or tool (in this case the Shiko dachi), the selection of a set of techniques called tactics to achieve the overall goal called strategy, the state of mind, and finally, the raw energy currents circulating through and around the body. Whether we look at these five layers from the bottom up or top down, each one exerts influence over the other. A Shiko Dachi must be viewed with these five layers in mind. For example, the overall stability of a Shiko dachi held by a person lacking in confidence is not the same ‘posture’ as one who is confident.
Academics may debate that the ‘physical structure’ of a proper Shiko dachi has more integrity than say a narrower stance, to which I would say, find me a Shiko dachi without a psychic inhabitant. In other words, narrow or wide isn’t going to matter much if one lacks confidence in the stance overall. In the world of action we must always look at the whole entity; body and mind, and look beyond the conventional thinking that stances are just foot and leg positioning. Things are not what they appear when you take a hard look at Traditional martial postures. Blocks become strikes. Strikes become blocks. Even stances can become blocks and strikes on certain occasions.
All stances are both transitory and transitional. They flow kinetically, stimulating obvious and hidden bodily energies. Hopefully, the novice will eventually awaken to this awareness. In our school we have two distinct, but not mutually exclusive, rationales for any standing posture. We have the obvious musculo-skeletal leveraging, conveying and weight value of the stance, and we have its bioenergetic quality. I find most karateka are at a loss understanding what a stance’s bioenergetic reality is outside of ‘doing it vigorously’. Put simply, every posture creates a dynamic flow of interior energies. Slight shifts in the physical posture, including the angles of the foot, the pressures of leg depth and width, will shift these forces. There is an art running beneath the biomechanical nature of karate and it is extraordinary, and part of the true legacy of the martial arts.
When a novice can precisely execute a fixed Shiko dachi, he or she is ready progress into the many technical gradations or ‘expressions’ of the stance.
To suggest a tight anal sphincter in a Seiuchin dachi is incorrect. It presumes lack of knowledge how the leg meridians are influenced by forward and rearward pelvic tilts; how the energy-gating action resulting from anal sphincter tension and relaxation coupled with the various angles of foot positioning, and whole body posturing becomes a conduit of inner tides either sucking the energy out of the competitor or spitting it back in imbalancing volume.
From my end, you have to see the energy effects of these slight changes in a stance posture to believe them. Counter intuitive? Yes, which only makes stance work all the more fascinating. We’ve had over thirty yudansha with a combined total of over six hundred years experience tearing up the ground on this topic.
Our intent is to make this information available to the senior most karate-ka in the U.S. if they are unfamiliar with this technical bonanza. We’d also like to see a reinvigoration of the Karate arts which have been taking a back seat to MMA-hyped advertising and misleading statements like the one espoused in the article I came across.
Keep in mind, once you select an individual technique to practice, there are multiple levels to training with it. This multi-tiered understanding of karate technique represent the best of our Traditional form work.
The more martial artists we get into broadening this dialog, the more exciting and forward moving this information will become!
The Shiko Dachi is not pointless!
John K. from Greenwich, NY has the right idea. If you’ve got the power, why not show it! John is a long time black belt and a member of the distinguished ‘Sanchin Seven,’—a group of advanced martial art practitioners studying the internal principles of Okinawan karate.
Some Native American tribes consider the appearance of wilderness creatures at certain points in one’s life a ‘spiritual event,’ portending something of the immediate future of the observer(s).
So it was a curious moment when on the eve of a promotional ceremony, a red fox was suddenly spotted in a bed of pachysandra by yudanshas, Tim Smith and Bob Giangrande, who just happened to spot the creature out of the corner of their eyes as they were training.
The fox was standing perfectly still, focused on the backyard deck where Brain Vivas and Tom Maloney were speaking with my brother.
I had the unmistakable sense the fox was weighing its options to run or stay.
I went upstairs to notify the three men on the deck of the fox’s appearance in the yard. By then the fox had turned completely around. Curiously, rather than vanish, it lay down in the pachysandra and within seconds, its face emerged with a chipmunk in its mouth.
The fox must have sensed the movement of the chipmunk in the vegetation beneath it while it was standing still, weighing its options.
As the sages often point out, stillness reveals more about our world than might, at first, be apparent. When we are quiet within the world can be heard more clearly, and not just its familiar sounds. Stillness brings to our inner ear those vital behind-the-sound-sounds, where the human spirit gets nourished.
And so, ten senior-most members of the Wind school, many with over twenty years of experience, sat still like that fox, listening to a fellow member give his presentation of Sunsu kata. He posed questions, proposed theories and demonstrated some of the nuance and complexity behind this enigmatic Okinawan form. Later, inside everyone sat quietly listening to four of their martial brothers talk about the impact of karate on their lives and training.
I believe the foxes in the room that night found some nourishment.
The material world that we are all so familiar seeing and touching is not all that comprises our reality.
We know this to be true if we just think of the inner world of our own minds; our thoughts, desires, imaginations, memories, and intentions. We can’t ‘see’ our own mind with our actual eyes or ‘touch’ our own thoughts with our actual fingers, yet we know our mind to be real. We know our thoughts convey substance. We know this because we possess another faculty; a feeling sense, an intuitive sense that acts similar to our fingers and eyes, a sense that enables us to touch or to see the invisible side of life. But this is a sense less-developed in the majority of society.
Other aspects of our immaterial reality can be found in the patterns and cycles of life that sometimes foil our attempts at happiness, health, or success, despite our best efforts to break their grip upon us
In the study of the martial arts, you will also hear masters speak of martial ‘spirit.’ They will describe a time when the martial spirit enters the practitioner.
This is a significant moment. In Yoga this would be considered the opening of the ‘third eye’, an eye that sees, feels, makes sense of the inner realms and their energy currents. To modernize this observation, we could say that the awakening to the existence and relevance of the spirit world opens up a pan-vision, a quantum reality, allowing one to see beyond the limited perspective of material nature, of simply moving ones limbs in a powerful coordinated fashion, into the mysterious world of vibrations, of frequencies, of energy and non-linear information sources. Initiation into the spirit world, into the spirit of one’s martial practice, opens up a whole new potential for action, a whole new way to think about power.
A spiritual guide will bring to the martial novice a map of this interior frontier and a way to negotiate it. Just as many students entrust their obvious martial growth into the hands of their sensei, that same student may entrust their spiritual growth into the hands of a guide familiar with reality’s inner terrain.
The role of the spiritual guide is manifold. He or she will help you to negotiate a previously unfamiliar, unknown landscape, offer clarity how spiritual energies entwine with and enhance material life, reveal hidden or unconscious patterns that hold you back from succeeding in your study, offer tools to uncover your authentic nature, reveal how your karma plays a role in your progress, direct you to the means of nourishing your soul, and teach you tap into an ever-flowing well of vitality.
In a world that is becoming over-solid, over-material, and over-emphasizing the superficial, a competent spiritual guide will help you to remain fluid, direct you away from the illusions and distractions of life toward true spiritual warriorhood where you will see the real and relevant conflicts you must confront. A spiritual guide will offer you understanding of, and the energy for, what you really want in this life and how to win those battles that stand in your way.
DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND
Recently, an isshinryu practitioner reached out to me to let me know he was reading my latest book, Rebel Isshinryu, and to share a thread from an isshinryu Facebook forum discussing my work.
With all due respect to the many years of martial commitment and value brought by the two respondents in their thread, Charles James and Victor Smith are out of their venue of martial expertise when speaking on the topic of Internal Isshinryu and the controversial subject of KI as it relates specifically to the underlying technicalities of this art and which forms the basic platform of my work. read more…
CHRONICLES OF THE DOKA
#37 in a continuing series
(84 days in the teaching life of an American sensei in 1999)
Sunday, January 16, (continued) Sunday, January 16
I drill the two teenage boys, Frankie and Chris, on slip-stepping and diagonal evasions. I tell Frankie to hold his hands atop his head, while Chris, the designated aggressor, must lightly punch strike torso. Frankie gets popped in the mouth by accident. His braces cut his lips—motivation to use his mouthpiece. This exercise is followed by lead change drills with multiple rounds on the heavy bag. The hour passes quickly.
I spot John K’s truck through the front window. John has driven an hour down from Greenwich, Connecticut for his private. He’s early. I see him lift his truck hood up. Something must be wrong with his vehicle. The man has poor carma!