I’ve started this website as a means to explore my journey through the martial arts and hopefully help others as they proceed along in their training. Here a few questions that frequently come up in my conversations about this site and online writing in general –

What’s Up with the Site Name?
You’ll notice I named the site Ikigai, and that I sometimes sign off under it. By no means do I have a trademark on that term. In fact, its slippery nature is what drew me to it in the first place. To best explain what ikigai is, I would like to borrow a passage from http://www.toad.net/~uuca/sermons/ikigai.html –

“ikigai…means “that which most makes one’s life seem worth living.” In his book about how Japanese and Americans make sense of their worlds, (What Makes Life Worth Living?) Gordon Mathews explains that ‘Ikigai is what, on a day-to-day and year-to-year basis, each of us most essentially lives for, be it lover, dream, booze, or God.’ (vii)”

I decided to name my site Ikigai because it allows me to write about everything I feel would be beneficial to the reader, not just karate. Furthermore, I feel that trying to pursue budo and the martial arts is something that inevitably seeps into every part of your life. It becomes ikigai.

What’s Your Background?
First off – I am not an individual who has achieved “the martial way,” as I believe it is not something that is attained. One simply does the best they can each and every day. I do believe, however, that actively engaging in discussion with other martial artists is an extremely healthy practice. Respectful interchange of ideas online is a fantastic opportunity we would be remiss to pass up.

To get a full idea of my experience and background, check out my personal bio.

Why Should I Read Your Stuff?
Hopefully I can offer you something unique. As a writer by trade, I feel that I can purvey different martial art concepts in both an entertaining and educational fashion (hopefully you will think so too!) I’m going to try and provide a healthy mix of personal anecdotes, advice for practitioners, martial art philosophy, topical commentary, and other neat stuff.

So Are You a Hardline Traditionalist?
As a martial artist, I have a strong appreciation for different styles of training. I have always guided my own training by submerging myself as much as possible throughout the martial art timeline. By that I mean I actively train in Muso Jikiden Eishen Ryu, a very old budo art from Japan that deals heavily in mind and spirit set. I also train in classical karatedo and kobudo, which bridges the gap between historical and practical. Finally I actively investigate, discuss, and watch the modern happenings of martial arts like the recent popularity of MMA and Krav Maga (unfortunately I don’t have time currently to seriously train in this, but I would definitely like to). Whenever I meet a practitioner of a different style (and especially an instructor), I make it a point to absorb as much as I can from them.

I am constantly analyzing myself to find ways to improve. At all times, not just in the dojo. Right Now.

What’s Your Take on the Traditional Vs Modern Argument?
There seems to be an abundance of defensiveness and childish behavior from both sides; anyone who hangs out online could readily testify to that. I think flaming and trolling should be below every martial artist. If someone comes up with a great argument for/against a concept, I love it. But people need to ease off of the delusion that they are the gatekeepers of doing things “the right way” and just need to keep exploring.

I Think You Suck and What You are Saying is Stupid.

Fine Print
All written work and pictures (unless otherwise noted) are copyright of Matthew Apsokardu © (2008). All rights reserved. Practice of any martial art can be potentially dangerous, and Matthew is not responsible for any injury incurred due to attempted application of advice or techniques described on this website. Matthew reserves the right to block any user or commenter he believes is abusing the site or is compromising the community environment.