Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Goodbye for Now

This is goodbye. I will no longer be actively updating this blog. I'm sure the five people that read this will be heart broken. I am not quitting karate, nor am I changing any of my practices. I've only under taken a rather large project that is going to take some time to complete and I need to focus all of my attention on it. It has the capability of helping more people than this blog ever could and just might help myself as well.

If you need or want to contact me you can reach me at If you're ever in North Carolina, drop me a line and we'll do some training.

So for now, farewell and remember the only thing keeping you from practicing karate is yourself.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Exercise and Efficiency

I was thinking the other day about how exercise can teach us some bad lessons about efficient movement. Not all exercise, because obviously some weight lifting movements are based on how to efficiently get as much weight up as possible by using your whole body. I'm talking more about body specific exercises, or what might be called aesthetic exercises. These exercises make us strong, but they don't teach us how to use our strength.

Using structure and body weight to power technique is about using gravity and the natural sweet spots of your bones and muscles to perform work, while using the least amount of chemical energy possible, fuel. It's about using the least amount of muscle necessary. It's harder to fight if your tired and generally dropping your whole weight on someone will get more done than punching with just your arm. Many exercises on the other had excel at being exercises because they are inefficient. To maximize the benefit of many exercises, you move in a way that stresses the muscles the most. It is literally the point of exercise to stress the muscles to stimulate their growth. In a real way, these movements strengthen the muscles, while showing us the exact opposite way to use them.

Is this an argument against these types of exercises? No, but it could be. It's only to bring up the point that we need to be aware that what goes into training something and what goes into using something can be different things. We have a tendency to confuse effort with effectiveness. We feel strong when we use muscle, because the only other time we might feel strong is when we're in the gym. Weights make us strong right? In reality, a movement is usually very strong if we feel nothing at all, because it's efficient.

More principle articles are on the way. They just take longer to put together. Cheers.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Playing Monopoly

Using the same strategies you use to win a sporting match to defend yourself is like trying to use the strategies you develop to win a game of Monopoly to become a real estate tycoon.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Small Aside

Because of the nature of the series I've been working on, I've been spending a lot of time just thinking and examining. One thing I've realized is that while many people write about how what you learn from karate gets expressed in the rest of your life, I do the opposite. I don't apply karate lessons to life, but life lessons to karate. The order really isn't important, because the importance rests on making connections between topics to increase an overall understanding of everything, or life as it relates to ourselves. Is this karate training, life training or something else? It's something to meditate on.

Monday, March 14, 2016


The way I practice karate has been described as super traditional since I only practice one kata. About the only thing that Motobu and Funakoshi agree on is that people used to practice only one kata, or at least established a firm foundation in one kata before continuing on to another, so I guess it's fair to say that it's a traditional practice, but this isn't the reason I started practicing one kata. I don't practice this way because it's traditional. I practice one kata, because it's the only way I can practice karate.

I had no money, still have no money, to spend on classes. The greatest teachers in the world can live down the block, but if you have no money to pay them, they might as well be on the moon. I did know that people used to practice one kata that it was supposed to embody a complete fighting system and that there was no definitive interpretation to any of them. I decided that if people used to practice one kata and make it an effective fighting system for themselves than why couldn't I? I had a kata, some spare time and a drive to learn. This was how I was going to study karate, or I wasn't going to study karate at all.

Is it traditional if you practice a certain way because you don't have the money? Maybe, maybe not. I'm glad I went this route though. I've learned far more than if I'd gone the conventional way. I don't really care if it's traditional. It's not really about the labels. I'm not even sure if I really practice karate. It's just a convenient descriptor, because telling someone I practice Seisan requires too much explanation.

Thoughts on Analysis

My bachelor's degree is in English Literature. The degree taught me much and more about structure, narrative, rhetorical devices and language, but the over arching theme of all my classes was analysis. Analysis on the face of it seems rather simple. You're exposed to something and you give your opinion of it. This is what I thought analysis was, but it's more complicated than that.

Merely reading something and giving your own interpretation of the material is not analysis. Analysis is a tool. It is an activity to help you understand the material. It is not an end unto itself. Analysis is about looking at something through different lens, like putting a colored filter over a photograph. Some colors disappear, some are enhanced and this change in perspective brings attention to different aspects of it. In analysis these lens, are used to help shed bias, but also to take on the bias of another.

There is a theory of analysis in literature where you try and throw off all of your own bias, the bias of the author, the historical contexts of the work, or any outside factors and look at the work completely on it's own. It's an annoying and difficult prospect, but it helps you try and see things for what they are. There are other theories of analysis where you take on the bias of another person. My personal favorite is the Gay and Lesbian theory. I'm neither, but it's the only time I've read The Great Gatsby and enjoyed it by looking at it through these borrowed eyes. You borrow the eyes of another and you see what sticks, what changes and what fades away.

I try and use these same ideas to analyze my kata, and it's something to think about.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


I don't really like bunkai videos anymore. I used to like them a lot, but they don't really do it for me anymore. It's not really that they're bad, or that the ideas wouldn't work, but that they don't teach people to come to their own conclusions. They don't really teach people how to analyze kata for themselves.

I kind of think of kata as a spring board now, a template for possibilities and not so much as even different techniques. It's like a spring that gives rise to many different streams. The kata is the spring and the streams are the techniques, but the stream is not the spring.

I can come up with a bunch of drills, and techniques and variations of techniques and drills, and then make a flow drill to tie all of them together, but I don't think that would help people understand what a kata is in a helpful manner. A kata helps you build the tools to become a navigator. It's not a set of directions. If the directions are bad, or something goes wrong than there is no room to adapt. If you know how to navigate than you can come up with your own directions. You learn to adapt.

Practicing kata should start with identifying the principles that give rise to all techniques. Teachers should give students the analytical tools they need to find these answers for themselves. This way they can surpass the teacher instead of just following.

Some More Videos

Some more Rory Miller.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Noah Legel and the guys over at Karate Culture both put out some media on "fighting dirty." It's good stuff. There really isn't anything I disagree with in both their releases, but I think we all need a little bit of perspective. I kind of covered it in an earlier post, but I thought of a good example of what I'm talking about.

When I was in the Marines, there was a Wounded Warrior House on base, and I'd be assigned to cover events there. It was 2006 or 2007 and the house had just opened. There were two Marines there that had very traumatic brain injuries, so traumatic that they basically had half of their brain missing along with half of their skull. They walked and talked and were still basically functional though they needed some help. I also met those that lost limbs, were severely burned and blind.

I'm telling this story, because I've met several people that had very horrendous injuries in combat and survived. These are injuries where most people would have just died. This however isn't evidence against rifles, grenades and IEDs. These are highly effective and highly dangerous, but they don't work all the time. This is to say that if some people are so resilient that they can take a high powered round to the head and still live than what are the chances that your punches are going to work? It's not an argument against punches or any technique. It's just that some people are so tough that you're just screwed. It makes arguing about what's better having your hand open versus closed or whether hitting someone's skull is better than poking their neck rather moot, when you consider that even bombs don't work all the time.

Videos to Watch

I'm going to be posting some videos on here of some stuff I like, just to get some people exposed to what are hopefully new ideas and new practices. I hope it's beneficial.

No Such Thing

I've gone beyond good tactics and bad tactics. It depends on context. Some tools are good for some things and some are bad for other things. A wine glass is terrible for hammering nails, but it's awesome for holding wine. Does this mean that it's a crappy tool? No, it just means it's not a hammer.

You need to move beyond good and bad and understand that no matter what the context this stuff might not work. Solutions in the martial arts are fictional. It's only what may work, not what will work.

It's important to remember that even handguns aren't that effective, but if it's life or death, I'll probably put my money on my gun rather than my punches. The handgun is still much more dangerous whether it works or not.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Finding Strategy in Kata

As I practice it, kata is a collection of principles. These principles are largely concerned with generating force to do work in an efficient manner. In the most simple terms, it's teaching you how to move to achieve a goal. The goal generally being to keep yourself safe from harm by ending a conflict, which is not just pounding the crap out of someone but also escape. If you exit the conflict, you also end the conflict, physically at least. These principles however usually have a common theme. This theme usually pops up in different incarnations, but the result is generally the same. This is the strategy.

I'm going to give a sport example. Ronda Rousey is super awesome at arm bars, and she's super awesome at hip throws. They are her strengths. They work together to achieve the goal of winning the fight. She can slam someone with a hip throw and while they're dazed she can put them in the arm bar. An effective strategy for her would be movements that exploit these two strengths. Getting close, distraction, softening blows, etc. If she were to create a kata, it would most likely involve different ways to exploit these two strengths. It would have a theme. It would be a group of tactics that work toward her larger strategy.

The common theme that I see in my flavor of Seisan is the explosive use of linear body movement and unbalancing an opponent through what could be called opposing action to knock them down. There are other things that can be gleaned, but most if not all of the movements I practice have the potential to just drop someone on their butt. There are other types of movements or "techniques" that can be gleaned from the kata, but to me these are the major themes. All the movements either help me do this, or help me get in a position to do this. This is of course just my opinion.

In short if you find the theme, you can find the strategy. You'll find the themes by studying how the kata moves you to deliver energy and what that kinetic energy has the potential to do. It's sometimes better to figure out what the moves are not good for.

This is just how I've tried to analyze it, and what I've found useful to me.

Busting Logs

I've been spending a few hours each day splitting rounds of maple. They're from a tree we brought down in my front yard, and it's been a mission of mine to get it from fallen trunk to cords of wood for the last few months. All the rounds are finally sequestered in my driveway, so they're not an eye sore for the neighbors. I'm sure they're liking that. This activity has been my chief source of strength training for the last week, making it a point to spend a few hours on it each day. It was a thirty foot maple, so it's taking some time.

I'm using a sledgehammer, wedges and an axe to split the wood, though I have a chainsaw in my basement. I could get it done much more quickly with the gas-powered tool, but that's not the point. It's a challenge and a monster. Blisters, splinters, some blood and muscles so sore that sometimes it's hard to practice have been my rewards so far, plus dropping ten pounds. What I'll get in the end is more knowledge, more resilience, more strength and a ton of free fire wood. It's worth it to me for just the challenge and the accomplishment.

It seems simple enough on the face of it. Hammer wedge into stump, hit wedge with hammer and split wood. The logs don't know this though. Usually it's hammer, hammer, hammer, ping, and the wedge pops out like it was pushing against a spring. Probably user error along with lack of knowledge, but this is the kind of thing you have to figure out on your own. These are skill based tools. You don't just follow the instructions. These things build mental fortitude as well as physical. You need to work past the frustration, the pain and work toward progress. Swinging the hammer is the easy part. I know that sooner or later it will be routine. Once I've learned the weaknesses of the wood. It will take mindfulness and concentration.

I'm looking forward to what I'll learn.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Kata in the Dark

The only thing I miss about working third shift is walking out onto my driveway at three in the morning and practicing kata. I don't have much choice in the summer. The house hovers around 80 degrees and intense physical activity inside heats the place up even more. It's a nice test of will power keeping the house at that temp.

At that time of night is the quietest the city ever gets. Just the distant roar of cars on the highway and the insects. I don't know what it is about it, but karate outside and especially at night always felt right. The house can be distracting anyway. There are always chores to be done and the mind wanders. Outside it's just you and the critters and it's easier for me to concentrate.

Not a Warrior

I think it's important to say that the independent study of karate does not make you a fighter or a warrior. It makes you someone who studies karate. I know I dip my toe into self defense every so often, but this is more an encouragement for people to evaluate their own practices and not to unintentionally pick up bad habits. It's pointing out an alternative viewpoint. I try and practice my karate in such a way that it won't hinder me in a violent situation, but I'm definitely not relying on it. I try and focus on the fundamentals of my kata and how I can explore them. I work on what I can and try not to worry so much about the aspects that are out of my control. A parallel would be dry firing a pistol to work on fundamentals. It will help you improve your shooting, but it's not an answer to everything.

Independent study firmly places you in the recreational category of martial arts practice. There's overlap, but as I see it the only people who aren't playing around are force professionals. Police, military, prison guards and bouncers. The people who's safety depends on it routinely. Everyone myself included is just playing around. It's a serious issue, but it's also fun to explore.

Diligent, careful and thoughtful solo kata practice can help you build a solid foundation to work from. It's about building a tool out of your body. It doesn't mean you can apply it, but you can still study it. There are a lot more benefits from karate and single kata practice than just learning how to hurt people. This is okay. I believe this opens up a door for people to get interested and practice without feeling like it's necessary to engage in what is sometimes very time consuming and expensive training. It should be fun and thoughtful.

Showing My Own Bias

I definitely showed my bias in an earlier post on guards in karate. I've taken down the post, and I'm going to provide a little bit of clarification on the subject. I unintentionally skipped an idea that might have made things a little clearer.

Karate as I see it is an infighting system. It has a very particular range where many of the movements work best. This is chest to chest. It's much, much closer than many people practice their karate. In infighting there is no real guard. This is because offense and defense are not separated. They can't be because the distance is so close that a conventional guard no longer works. To stop an attack you have to break the person's balance and structure with your own attack. It's not about intercepting attacks, it's more about preventing them in the first place. It's not fool proof by any means, but neither is a conventional guard.

Infighting I believe is a better option for self defense. It's the range for which many predatory attacks take place, and a person is able to put all of their tools and techniques to use. Striking, grappling, gouging, throwing and locking are all options. This is opposed to longer range ballistic attacks, which limit the techniques you can use effectively. If you're beyond arms length from an unarmed opponent than you're relatively safe and should work toward escape or diffusing the situation.

To sum up karate for me is an infighting system, so there is no guard. Self defense and infighting aren't really separated in my head, so it was unfair of me to make such a blanket statement. These are of course just my opinions. I'll try to do better in the future.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Choosing a Kata

If you're already a karate practitioner and would like to change your avenue of study than the kata you choose will be rather simple. It's whatever kata you like to practice the most. In my opinion, there are no bad kata. There are some pretty wonky versions of kata out there, but even the worst of these can be fixed by paying attention to body mechanics and the principles of efficient movement. This means proper power generation, skeletal alignment, weight shifts and understanding how and why the movements work. It's a tall order. You'll have to do this type of stuff anyway, but it's easier if there aren't superfluous movements added to the sequence.

If you're new to karate than I would suggest that you choose one of the foundational kata like Seisan or Naihanchi. If you choose Seisan, I'd go with one of the simpler incarnations of the kata. There are many, many different flavors of Seisan and each put emphasis on different parts. Shito-Ryu, Uechi Ryu and Goju Ryu have fairly simple versions. There are a couple of reasons why I would suggest choosing a simpler looking kata. The first is that if you are new it will be easier to learn the sequence of movements. The second reason is that flashier or more complicated kata do not mean that they are more advanced. Each kata is a collection of principles and fundamentals. If you understand the principles and fundamentals, it's possible to create an almost infinite number of technique variations, so don't sweat about how they look.

I would also advise that you ignore any labeling of techniques in a kata. In my opinion, they hinder more than they help. Blocks are not just blocks, punches are not just punches, kicks are not just kicks. They have many different layers and uses, and labeling artificially constricts our thinking. They are blinders that we do not need. This makes the movements a giant black hole of sorts, but you need to have faith that everything will come together. Karate is more abstract than concrete, which is scary at first, but it prevents you from getting stuck in one frame of mind and allows you to be adaptable later on.

It's important to remember that just because someone learns a kata from a living breathing person doesn't mean that said person knows what they're doing. I've seen very terrible kata and technique from people who have been practicing long enough to know better. Why do I bring this up? It's because you're not going to do any worse learning on your own than going to many commercialized dojo. Take comfort in the fact that you can't do any worse if you were paying for it, so relax, practice and study hard.

Patience, practice and play are the key.

No Nonsense Self Defense

I'd like to turn people's attention toward this website, No Nonsense Self Defense, which I've added to my links. I've mentioned it before in another post, but I just wanted to repeat myself. It's full of great information on many subjects related to violence and self defense, and I encourage everyone to read it. I use this site as my bullshit meter. It helps me determine whether someone is trying to sell me snake oil. It's big, long and somewhat complicated so prepare to spend a few days glued to your computer reading all of Marc MacYoung's stuff.

Sorry if you recently tried to click on the link. It's now fixed.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Speaking Up

Karate is something so intensely personal, abstract and unique to each individual that it's almost pointless writing about it. I'm finding other karateka, who are much more skilled and knowledgeable than myself, with similar views and their overall attitude seems to be "why bother?"

This is understandable. I think I've written before that you can tell someone about certain aspects of karate until you're blue in the face, but until they have that moment of true recognition you might as well be talking to a tree. This isn't even considering trying to correct all the bad, useless and fantastical thinking that goes on in karate circles. There's much more self teaching that happens in karate than people are willing to admit or even think about. People don't like abstract ideas. They like concrete instructions and that's just something you don't really have in karate, no matter what people are trying to sell you.

The response to all this madness seems to be to step back into the shadows and just not talk about it. I've been tempted to do this as well. Why waste the energy? Why waste the time? Especially when I know it won't really make a difference. The reason why I want to keep writing is that silence is part of the problem.

I might be just another asshole internet warrior who doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm prepared to accept that title, but if I had the slightest hint about the alternatives to certain karate practices ten years ago than I'd be a lot further along. I'd have a place to get started and a lantern to help light my way. It wouldn't have taken me years to start asking the right questions.

Pressure Point Knock Outs

To paraphrase Rory Miller, if these pressure point knock outs were real than no one would survive a good massage.

I know you've probably seen the same videos as me. Some guy taps someone on the neck or the chin and they collapse like a boned fish onto the mat, and this guru has to do some sort of back rub to get the guy conscious again. This is stupid. People believe this stuff because they want the martial arts to be like magic. They want to power up like Dragon Ball Z, and turn into some ultimate unstoppable thing with their chi. Maybe not this exactly, but it's pretty close. I used to be one of these people. I wanted the martial arts to be magical and mystical. Some dojo don't try to refute this type of stuff. In some ways they encourage it when they say "you'll be able to unlock the kata subconsciously when attacked." It's playing on people's insecurities that they need an ultimate weapon.

I put this kind of stuff in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, alien abductions, moon landing conspiracies and astral projection that is the utter crap category.

Edit: I'd also like to say that I don't care for pressure point fighting in general. Like I've said, I broke my arm riding my bike. Because of the adrenaline dump, I was able to pick the bike up, fix the chain and ride home. An hour later, I couldn't even lift it, so I find the idea of performing some type of vulcan nerve pinch rather dubious.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Skill Not Included

This is something that's been bouncing around my head for a little bit. Skill is not included when it comes to kata movements or even analysis of those movements. I think skill is a foreign concept to many people. We can watch a professional athlete, a musician or an artist and enjoy their skill and on a certain surface level we know what a skill is, but we don't necessarily understand it. Most of us are much more familiar with just following instructions on some type of electronic gadget, or putting together some sort of boxed furniture from the store. Insert dowel A into recess G, or after booting up, click on the setup icon and choose tint from the drop-down menu. I believe we confuse the two sometimes. We confuse skill with instructions.

Kata has more of a parallel with hand tools than it does with electronic gadgets. There is some degree of skill required with electronics, but hand tools don't even come with instructions and require a larger degree of skill, nuance and experience to be used effectively. They're harder. It's why people don't use them. Anyone who's ever used a chisel knows there's a big difference between knowing how to use one and actually using one. They're two different things. Angle, pressure, grain and tactile feeling play a huge role in the finished product. This is information that can't be passed through instruction personal or otherwise. Kata is the same way. It's the text book and the tool, but this doesn't imply skill. There is nuance to it gained through experience. Not just partner practice, but solo practice as well.

Skill is derived from understanding how the tool works at it's most fundamental levels. If we understand the tool, than we can use it to its full potential. In regards to karate, understanding the tool really means understanding ourselves. This requires more diligent study turned inwards than looking for answers without.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Push Hands and Constant Pressure

I like push hands as a training tool. It allows me to practice my structure against a person in a non-competitive fashion and practice many of the patterns in kata that are not only used for ballistic attack, but are also used to receive and redirect force and put you in a position to return force without changing positions. I don't want to have to stop and reset my position to manipulate someone. I want to be able to manipulate them from the position I'm currently in.

One thing I've learned while doing this is that you need to give constant pressure. This could be deemed sticky hands, but it's more than just keeping contact, it's keeping pressure. I want to bog down the other person, to throw off their balance and keep them reacting instead of acting. I want them to have to move, shift and reset to manipulate me, so that they're always a step behind me. Part of how I do this is using stances, weight shifts and stable arm positions to lean on them. The end middle block position is a surprisingly stable position for leaning on someone. If the other person doesn't use structure than they'll be bearing some of your weight. Proper stance integrity is essential when I do this because if the person suddenly shifts than I need to have my balance.

Another lesson is angles. Use them. Angles, angles, angles. When ever I read something or heard something where someone was talking about angles they always seemed to explain it like you were lunging at someone from a few feet away at an angle, usually a 45 degree angle. I think it can be a little more subtle than this. It's really the difference between pushing a boulder and rolling a boulder. Another example would be walking furniture. You push at an angle and then the other side at an angle or you tilt it at an angle and walk it back and forth. It's the same with a person. You don't want to push into the center of their mass you want to push at the angles and tip them.

Just a few thoughts.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Consumer Mentality

Our modern culture is a disservice to most of us in my opinion. Our consumer culture that is. The health, and safety aspects of it are wonderful. We for the most part are brainwashed by advertising. We all like to think that advertising doesn't effect us, but sadly it does. We are constantly bombarded with sales pitches to buy products and services, while each individual advertisement is for a different product, the message is always the same: "Buy this and your life will be better if not perfect." Notice that the message is almost never "buy this because it's a superior product."

All this advertising builds up in our brain and we're constantly given the impression that stuff = happiness. How many of us when we have a project that needs to get done immediately start looking for the tools that we "need" for the job? Television tells us that with the right tools any job is easy, so we buy the planer, the table saws, the exhaust fans and other various tools to build a bird house. We spend thousands of dollars trying to solve imaginary problems. We've essentially out sourced all of our thinking to merchandise. We are taught that almost any activity is so complicated that we need a specialist to do the job for us. It's supposed to be a convenience thing, but how many of us spend days waiting for equipment in the mail or spend hours driving around to buy something. We usually spend the extra time we have in front of the television anyway and pine after the lives of people who don't spend their entire lives in front of the television.

There's still cost in time however. Most if not all of us work for a living. If you work for an hourly wage you sell your time. "Time saving" contraptions still usually cost you time and money just in a different way. For instance you could spend a few days earning the money to buy a decent rotary tiller for your hobby garden. However, it would only take a shovel and a couple hours to double dig the garden and you'd have those days of pay in your pocket, plus a workout. Win, win. You could also choose to work less. More time for karate. Two hours of labor could literally save you days of work.

I believe one of the larger lessons of karate is learning to adapt and solve our own problems. If you outsource all of your problems you usually gain junk. If you learn and adapt, you get the job done and you also gain a skill.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Benefit of Single Kata Practice

One of the chief practical benefits for practicing a single kata is that it limits the number of "techniques" that you practice. This might seem like a bad thing, but if you lean more toward the pragmatic side of things this is actually very good. You want to ingrain movements really hard into your nervous system. The more you do a movement the stronger those neural pathways become, the more muscles can be recruited for a movement and the more efficient it becomes. Practicing a single kata checks this box for me.

With only a single kata, each practice session adds to this. Each repetition is another brick added to your defensive wall if you will. Practicing multiple kata can have a dilutive effect. You're not just building one wall you're building a bunch of smaller walls. Each time you practice one you're taking time away from another. It becomes a compromise in training and things need to be balanced out eventually. The single kata takes care of this by shifting your focus on one instead of many. You don't need to worry about training kata that may be acting at cross purposes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why Hojo Undo Equipment is Cool and Stupid

Doing supplementary training exercises in the old fashioned way is pretty cool as a cultural study. I've used these old tools and it's pretty neat to discover exactly which muscles these old karate tools are used to develop. These are usually the deltoids, trapizious, the lats and the forearms. The exercises are performed for endurance because power endurance exercises are the kind of movements you want for physical conflict, but besides cultural study these tools are not necessary.

"If you don't use kigu, you're not practicing karate."

Read this recently and it made me roll my eyes. Almost all of these tools were some form of heavy household object. They ground rice were locks for doors or were just heavy stones. They were whatever you could find that was heavy. A modern equivalent would be lifting milk jugs or bags of kitty litter. In a hundred years it would look pretty silly to come across someone lifting their ancient traditional milk jugs because that's the true way that poor old great grandpa used to do. Besides the fact that the kigu came from Hawaii in the 1920s. The author of the above quote knows this, but I think some people are confusing form for function.

These grand old karateka were looking for results. Remember that there were no organizations, no belts, no ranks (as we know them) and no syllabus. You practiced however you felt made you stronger and you learned from others. You used what came to hand. Skill was what was important and not the kind you showed off to your friends, but the type that got you home at night. I'm fairly positive that if you could drop an Olympic weight set off at Matsumora's house and showed him how to use it, he'd be all over it. It's a lot more versatile than a rock.

If something is not about what you do, but how you do it than that's called aesthetics. Function has it's own kind of beauty, but form by itself is empty. It's an illusion. What counts are results.

There are plenty of free exercises that can work these same muscles. They're called calisthenics. You can look them up online and they only need a body. Your body. But then you'd just need to work hard, instead of playing with cool toys. Granted many of these tools can be made very inexpensively, but five dollars in my pocket is better than some more crap filling up my house.

The practice of one kata is the same. If I can learn karate from one kata than why should I pay someone for 20 if one will serve? Should I buy 20 different cars just in case, or twenty different corkscrews, 20 different kinds of axes? People love collecting this junk, but skill and creativity counts for more than possessions.