Eastern Thought

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There are philosophies and religions, and the lines often get blurry. I tend to think of religions more about faith and belief, while philosophy is more about thought and behavior, but even that gets murky. In the end, here's a list of some of the Eastern ways of looking at things. (Or at least how a western guy looks at the eastern ways of looking at things).

Eastern Thought


I studied it enough to know there no such thing as a "reheater organ". I also studied it enough to know that there's general benefits that extend well beyond the placebo effect. So it is both wrong and right at the same time. Whether the explanation for why is right or not, doesn't change the efficacy. And denying the efficacy because you don't like the explanation is probably more dumb than the other way around.


Buddhism: always working towards Enlightenment. Buddhism is based on one mans enlightenment, Buddha. The philosophy originated in India, but traveled to China, Japan and influenced much of the Orient. Many cultures have a mythology that goes along with the tales of their ancients, and Buddha is no exception, there is a lot of mythology associated with his life. But in the end, the ideas that stick are that of a human learn peace, self-discovery and enlightenment through meditation.

Ch'i or Ki

What is Ch'i or Ki?

Ch'i (Chinese) or Ki (Japanese) is the internal force in our bodies, the manifestation of our spirit. It comes from the Taoism, and the universe, or our center (which is our center of balance). And the idea in Martial Arts and Eastern Medicine is that if it is out of balance, you must balance it. And if you're balanced, you can harness it to do things things you might think are impossible.

It varies from a very useful visualization tool (mind over matter), to mechanical techniques (physics), to supernatural force, that George Lucas borrowed for Star Wars. It is real, and can be demonstrated: it just doesn't always mean what people think it means.

Choosing a Martial Arts School


A few people have asked me about Martial Arts schools, and how they should choose. I did teach Martial Arts for a decade or two. This might aide some in having more confidence in deciding on which studio may be best for them. Most people start off backwards, they want to leap to Choosing a Martial Arts Style, and while that's not bad if you really have your heart set on a particular system. If you don't know where to start, I want to start more basic -- find an Instructor, Student, and then Art, in that order.

Do not be afraid to go to many schools in your area before deciding on the "Right School". (I recommend trying at least 3). These guidelines apply whether you are looking for you or your child. Just watch 3 classes (or part of them), and decide which seemed the best.

Choosing a Martial Arts Style


In Choosing a Martial Arts School, I stated that the instructor may be the single most important of the variables in choosing a school, and the quality of the Students is a reflection on the teacher. But they are not the only factors. Here is some information on what to expect from different styles, cultures and arts. This information can help you choose a "style" as well, and maybe give you a starting point.


Confucianism was best summed up by Rodney King, "can't we all just get along?" With way too many people in close quarters, a religion about how to get along was bound to spring up. Confucius was a man, alive from 551-479 BC. One of the major concepts of Confucianism is li, which translates roughly as propriety, order, and courtesy, and is often expressed through ritual and ceremony. Li is basically the laws by which we are governed.



What amazes me is that one of the most important things in a beings life, their own ego and sense of self, is one of the most ignored areas of their lives. People often run on autopilot of their emotions. To me, to be consciousness means to be aware of your surroundings. You, your body, and your personality is your closest surrounding. Thus people that aren't aware of their own motivations and actions, are ignoring who and what they are, and are by definition subconscious (below consciousness). This is probably far greater than half the people most of the time, and too many people all of the time.

Ethics of a fight

Ethics board.jpg

Ethics of a fight: know yourself, and know others. Since nobody wins a fight, the best way to avoid loosing one, is by not getting in one. To avoid doing that you should understand your motive and theirs, understand aggression, escalation and take responsibility for your actions and even reactions.

Fighting Spirit


Fights are often more mental than physical. It is a battle of wills, and an important factor is who has the most to lose. This is a reason that you don't want to corner wild animals, or wild humans. If they have no path out, then they are much tougher combatants.

James Mitose


James Mitose was an Japanese American that learned the hard way about our legal system and how the public views Martial Artists. He is well known in some Martial Arts circles, because he brought Kenpo/Kempo over to Hawaii and the mainland from Japan, and is one of the important Masters of the art.

Keep the tiger behind the bamboo

This is a rambling life lesson, that I once learned, and often ignore.

My Karate Instructor used to say, "keep the tiger behind the bamboo". The lesson being that if no one knows you or how you think/feel, it's far easier to keep the business professional and not lose customers (since they can't disagree with you, and can only imagine what you do/are). Their imagination of you, is likely more grandiose than any mundane realities, so their ignorance (and fear of the unknown) plays to your benefit.

Legalities of a fight

If you thought the fight was over when the last punch was thrown, you don't know much about the law and societies need for justice. Legalities are different than realities. Laws vary from state to state, and sometimes city to city. It is hard to prove "your intent" or the intent of "the other guy". So just like it is best to avoid a physical fight, it is also best to avoid a legal fight. The law rarely looks at either person as a hero... they more see two people who weren't smart enough to avoid combat, and each side is trying to prove the other side was worse.



Pacifism: when is fighting is better than the alternative? These are my thoughts. To me, the aggressor is not the one that throws the first punch, but the one who insists on fighting -- and it is not the person who won't fight because they can't win, but is the person who tries to avoid fights and exhausts all alternatives despite knowing that they would probably win.


Shintoism is the Japanese religion that believes in millions of spirits (Kami) in all things. These spirits are good and bad, more powerful or weak, flawed or not. Because no "founder" of Shinto and there is no supreme book or reference, this makes shinto very adaptable.


The 'Tao' is an indescribable abstract. Since I enjoy a challenge, I'll try to describe it. Taoism is a philosophy of harmony and balance with nature and self. The word 'Tao' means path, road or way. It can be interpreted as method, principle or doctrine. The 'path' is the harmony and orderliness of the universe, it is this manifestation of 'Tao' that is the "natural order" or "heaven on earth". A person need not strive to achieve the Tao, one just yields to the natural forces and follows the path of nature and Taoism.

The Art of War

by Sun Tzu, Translation by Lionel Giles,Interpretation by Ari Sabouni

The Tiger and the Strawberry

❝One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran, but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice... As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine... Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth... It was incredibly delicious, the best strawberry he ever had!❞
πŸ“ Zen (Buddhist) parable
The Tiger and the Strawberry

Unbendable Arm

What I use to demonstrate Chi (internal energy) is called "the unbendable arm".

First without Chi: Stand upright. Extend your dominant arm out, palm up (but in a fist). Have your partner put the back of your fist on top of their shoulder, and they can rest both hands at the crook of your elbow. With every muscle in your arm tense, when they slowly pull down, they will be able to bend your arm.

Next with Chi: Stand upright. Extend your dominant arm out (on their shoulder), fingers extended, hand vertical (palm to the side), close your eyes and relax. Say, "go". Stay relaxed (only resist whatever force they're pressing on you). And as they push down, imagine your arm is steel rod extending in the distance, or a hose with energy flowing from the earth out through it. Imagine they can not bend or budge it. If you're both doing it right, they'll be unable to bend your arm. (Or at least it'll be MUCH harder).

What happened Easterers call Chi, Westerners would call body mechanics, technique and visualization. But it doesn't matter if you believe in their explanation or not, we just proved it though demonstration.