: Karate

Official Release: Tales from the Western Generation

tales from the western generationI’m very pleased to announce the official release of “Tales from the Western Generation”! This book is a collection of over 30 interviews with some of the most senior karate practitioners in the United States. These are men and women who studied directly with the great masters of Okinawa, Japan, and early USA.

I’d like to show off what the book has to offer!

What is Tales from the Western Generation?

In 2008 I started Ikigai Way, and shortly after began pursuing interviews with martial artists that I found particularly interesting or impactful. After completing a handful of interviews I realized that there were some amazing individuals with unique stories that had a lot to share…but no avenue to share it! That’s when I decided to begin pursuing the stories of karate greats with more zeal and collect them all in one book.

“Tales” is the culmination of that effort, and breaks down like this:

Section 1 – History of how Eastern martial arts made their way to America. Prior to 1950 Judo was the most popular Eastern martial art in the United States. Despite thousands of Chinese immigrants during the gold rush era, Kung Fu remained a well maintained secret. In section 1 I explore how the importation of various Eastern martial arts affected the eventual growth of karate in the USA.

Section 2 – Interviews with the Western Generation. The crux of the book, this section features over 30 interviews with senior practitioners of various karate styles. The interview guests come from diverse backgrounds and studied with senior sensei in Japan, Okinawa, and the United States.

Section 3 – Conclusions. Using the wide context of the book, I draw certain conclusions about the past, present, and future of karate, applicable to individuals of all styles and skill levels.

Hear Stories About Great Masters Such As: ___ Interview Guests Include:
Hohan Soken
Okazaki Teruyuki
Shimabukuro Zenryo
Tsuyoshi Chitose
Odo Seikichi
Robert Trias
Kise Fusei
Oyata Seiyu
Peter Urban
Matayoshi Shinpo
Miyazato Eiichi
Shimabukuro Eizo
…and many more!
Chuck Merriman – Goju Ryu
Ed McGrath – Isshin Ryu
Maynard Miner – Shotokan
Glenn Keeney – Goju Ryu
Victor Moore – Shuri Ryu
Cathy Cline – Shotokan
James Logue – Oyata Shin Shu Ho
Bill Hayes – Shobayashi Ryu
Nicomedes Flores – Okinawa Kenpo
William Dometrich – Chito Ryu
James Coffman – Matsumura Seito
Doug Perry – Shorin Ryu Shorinkan
…and many more!


Where to Get the Book:

You can get your copy of “Tales” at the following locations:

 western generation kindle western generation paperback western generation hardcover western generation signed copy

Vote on the Subtitle for “Tales from the Western Generation”!

We are approaching the final stages of publication for “Tales from the Western Generation“. It’s an exciting time, but also a little tense as I have to make decisions that I have been putting off. One of those decisions is which subtitle to use. The title of the book is set, but I want a subtitle that is both catchy and descriptive of the content of the book. It’s difficult to encapsulate the scope of the book in a single sentence. After all, I’m interviewing a wide array of senior karateka, discussing history of karate on Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S., and discussing the overall boom of karate as it became globalized. How does one sum that up succinctly enough for a book cover?

This is a difficult decision, but not impossible. I feel that, with a little help from you, we can come up with something that does the job. In the poll below I have included some of my favorite subtitles. I would like you to vote on whichever you think does the job best, and/or submit your own subtitle for my consideration.

NOTE: If you submit a subtitle and I opt to use it, I will send you a free copy of “Tales” upon its publication!

Please Vote Below:

Building a Fire (A Martial Arts Thought Exercise)

There are a lot of analogies about martial arts training. Once you fall in love with an art, it tends to stay on the periphery of your mind, resulting in perceived connections with whatever you have going on throughout your day. One of my favorite karate similes is from Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, which goes something like this:

“Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to it’s tepid state.”

funakoshi boiling water

Funakoshi Sensei was a great philosopher, and his observations ring as true today as when they were written. Anyone who has taken a break from their martial training knows just how accurate Funakoshi is – and “tepid” is a great word to describe the decay of skill that can occur rapidly.

Thanks to men like Funakoshi, I am occasionally inspired to think in non-literal ways about training. I wonder…what else in life reflects the simple, yet complex undertaking of martial arts? It was that lingering question that cropped into my mind when I was building a fire just the other day.

I recently moved to a new home in Pennsylvania, back from my mountainous excursions in Colorado. This home, unlike my previous dwellings, has wood burning fireplaces. I’ve started fires before in my life, as most kids do at one point or another, but I never really learned how to burn for longevity and heat value. I realized early on that there would be some trial and error in the development of my burning skills.

The Elements of a Good Fire

Fireplace_BurningI’ve come to appreciate some of the key factors that go into developing a fire that burns efficiently and effectively, which I present for your consideration:

Starting Small with Incremental Steps

If you stack a bunch of logs in the fireplace and toss a match in, there is a very good chance you’ll be disappointed with the results.  Even if the logs are very dry, there is just too much wood density there. To start a fire reliably, you have to begin by lighting small pieces of paper or tinder. That initial burst of fire will go out quickly though, so you have to make sure it interacts with slightly bigger pieces of kindling. Once you have the kindling burning you can begin to integrate larger logs. Skipping any of these steps, or taking on too much too soon, can result in failure.

Providing Maintained Exposure

Firestarter logs have become popular because they provide an extended amount of heat exposure at the beginning of the fire building cycle. This is valuable because to start larger pieces it requires a consistent flame over an extended period of time in order to dry, heat, and ignite. Without consistent, maintained exposure, a significant fire cannot be built…even if the initial flame is bright and hot.

Developing A Burning Core

Most people think of ash as the residue left over from a fire, but actually the ash core plays an important role in the burning process. As logs burn and turn into embers, they sink into the core and create an intense, lasting heat. It’s that core that helps provide significant heat to the home-at-large and also allows future logs to burn more readily. With a good core, a fire can be built, rebuilt, and maintained over a lengthy period of time.

Replacing Logs at the Right Time

I made the mistake early on of waiting until one set of logs was almost completely burnt out before adding the next set. I figured I was getting the most life span out of each, but in fact, I was missing my chance for a clean transfer of heat and energy from one to the next. Although it’s proper to let one set of logs achieve maximum heat and even start to turn to ember before adding the next, you still want to add the next set of logs while the first set is burning hot.

Re-Igniting Embers

I’m always surprised at how a fire can spring back to life with a little help. I’ve had fires that seemed almost completely out except for a few glowing pieces in the logs and core. With some light poking (and occasionally persistent poking), even those fading fires have sprung back to life with fresh oxygen and energy.

Building Your Martial Fire

meditation_fireI bet your catching on to what I’m doing here, but let me explain. In the martial arts, if we place too much on a student too soon, or they try to take on too much right away, it’s very possible their enthusiasm for training will fizzle before it has a chance to truly grow. Instead, if we give them a small taste, allow it to spark their interest, and feed them more and more as time goes on it is more likely that their interest and commitment will grow.

In both your personal training and the training of your students, constant and careful exposure will be the secret to long-term success. Even though it might feel satisfying to train 12 hours a day for a month, the real value comes in training a responsible amount over long periods of time. It is with that maintained exposure that a person develops a true core of understanding and passion for the art. With a well developed core, the martial arts will fuel and guide a person in all aspects, even when they aren’t in the dojo.

Part of being a strong leader in the dojo or in a martial arts organization is understanding how to manage and empower your students and constituents. If students have access to their teachers while the teachers are still in their prime, the benefit of being exposed to the high level of execution will stick with them and benefit them throughout their training. Furthermore, as the senior echelon ages, the younger generation will be better prepared to take on the duties of their elders. If the ranking seniors wait too long to invest properly in the next generation…it may be too late.

There comes a time in most martial artists lives when they are sidelined by injury, work, lack of enthusiasm, or a myriad of other distractions. Despite that, most still have the passion for the arts somewhere deep inside of them. A small amount of inspiration, of poking and prodding, from the right source can bring that old flame back to life. You can be that inspiration, or, if you need it, you can seek that inspiration from someone who might be able light your fire.

What Do You See?

Contemplating the connection between building a fire and cultivating a strong martial spirit is an interesting exercise. What connections between the two do you see that I haven’t mentioned here?

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