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Hanshi Kaufman – Author of world’s best-selling version of Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

 Improvisation and Performance in Hebi-Ryu Kata

In the execution of a downward deflection, (erroneously called a “block”) followed by a punch there is always a slight hesitation. Everyone has experienced this moment—there is a deflection, a miniscule hesitation and then a punch or strike technique. Hesitation is the first problem to be overcome. There must be no hesitation when moving from one move into the next and movements must be accompanied by proper and dynamic breathing technique in synchrony. It should be understood from the outset that strength and speed as applied to execution of technique always limits technical efficiency and effectiveness until control occurs at which time the deflection is activated, and the strike instantly follows—one motion. The same applies to movement in the kata forms themselves. There must be no time lag between sequences especially in directional changes. This is easily overcome if the student attacks with the body and uses arms and legs as extensions and not as separate entities. It is essential to understand that you do not kick with your arms and you do not punch with your legs. (This is not intended as a pun. Too many practitioners use arms for leverage in kicking and legs in emphasis of executing a punch.)  Conviction is implied in the attack and a natural flow of energy ensues. Breathing is not an “addition” to technique as it is so often mistaken to be and should NOT be considered as part of the “ki” as a separate component. The obvious oneness of self and body must be constant. Breath must flow with the movement of the body and be coordinated with the actual techniques. “Ki,” on the other hand is an aspect of “will,” not will power.

Fluid motion is a significant factor in the ability to function correctly. The ONLY way to move is with the entire body. It is an unsteady and unstable act when you move with the arms or the legs and then to follow up with the torso. The same goes for leaning in or leaning out during execution of technique. PROPER FORM IS ESSENTIAL! This is requisite especially when using deceptive tactics. Moving with anything less than the entire body indicates a weak commitment to the attack. Also, in an attack scenario you should not “throw” lots of punches and lots of kicks. Generally, only one attack with any number of realistic extensions of technique will suffice if it is done properly. Even if an attacker is “stoned” and supposedly feels nothing, a well-placed focused execution is all that is truly needed. Keep in mind that karate is not for fighting in the ordinary sense of the word; it is for stopping an attack—only and thoroughly. This idea will be explained in depth throughout the text.

When you move to attack and do not include your whole being, an amount of resolve is lacking, and you will not be able to execute correctly. As a person, you are finite, and therefore even in the best of cases, you are limited in ability. Not understanding this, with concerted effort, is why most people cannot punch or kick effectively much less deflect an attack regardless of “rank” or the ability to hurt someone. It is not enough to be proficient with technique. You must develop and accept contempt for death. The intention of every attack must be considered as an act of finality regardless of the technique used: kick, punch, etc. There should be no difference in the definition of any extension emanating from the spirit through the body.

You must go into the attack with your whole being. The arms and legs performing the “hit” must accompany the torso. Not the other way around, and not to do so is like arriving at your destination and then calling for your car. Think this over carefully. This is a major consideration in proper warrior attitude.

The warrior attitude is based on the belief that constant practice will eventually enable you to overcome your own personal limitations with everything. Kata must be practiced over and over again until it is first nature NOT second nature at which time you will understand the futility of the martial arts, become enlightened and really be able to use technique when required by never having to do so. Think about this!

Most people will not attack in this manner because they are considering the possibility of themselves getting “hit” during the encounter. This mentality creates hesitation and deprives the spirit of the thing itself of its “beingness.” Not being committed to the attack means you are thinking of “things” that have nothing to do with the implied purpose of your actions in the first place. When you drive into an attack, you are physically and psychologically “pumped” relative to the amount of devotion you have given to the reason for your attack. Getting hit should not be a consideration to deter you from the intention and objective of destroying the enemy.

Karate is not about who hits harder, but who attacks with the most commitment. This is the “warrior” attitude and must be maintained throughout the entire attack to provide a totally unified action. This includes deflections, kicks, punches and breathing as well as timing, rhythm, and definition of the moves, which include balance and posture. It results in an attitude of technique not having to be thought about, a mindlessness, (not to be confused with being mindless) and oneness in delivering the specific technique for the desired result. The goal is to “hit” and not “make a hit.”

If you are studying the martial arts with the idea of getting a blackbelt then that is what you will do—get a blackbelt. You will then HAVE a blackbelt. You will not BE a blackbelt. Understand the significance of this difference. Karate may first be an intellectual process and then visceral, or vice-versa, but eventually, and with enough practice, it becomes “no-thing” as you become the thing itself and the thing itself becomes you. If teachers do not teach this mentality it is because they do not understand it and have no right to be teaching in the first place—language limitations notwithstanding.

Improvisation of the kata form allows for additional movement such as might be used by any artist or musician to effect communication with either a viewer, an audience, or in the martial arts, a target; an enemy.

Hebi-do kata are well thought out and are proven in practice and combat. Following specific and original forms of the kata is a vital first step in developing fluidity and growth within the art itself. After the basic kata have been mastered and fully understood, it is quite possible for the practitioner to create personalized forms and to develop improvisations of their own. It is assumed that if you are reading this you know fundamental techniques such as a lunge punch, round house kick, etc.

The concepts and theories presented here are not limited to the specific Hebi ryu kata. They can be applied to any kata from any style from any school. I have composed these kata because they satisfy a personal need for constant practice and simplicity in transmission of the knowledge of karate. They also give me the ability to extend form and function into full-blown combat technique of a more elegant style.

©SFK 2005

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Everything is becoming ‘old hat’. The news is continually redundant. Overwhelming amounts of information are leading towards insipid brainlessness. The war is boring. The economy is boring. The same stories repeated over and over are leading to a complete breakdown of interest and an ever-increasing rise of apathy. The information entertainment industry has become a soap opera scenario with more emphasis on the personalities reporting the slanted stories rather than the actual news that should be of concern to everyone. The devolvement of incomprehensible rules and regulations, the fears of identity theft and privacy violations, the fears of liberty being subtly removed from consciousness by the ‘machine’, the meaninglessness of politically correct morality, etc, are all leading to a complete breakdown of individual responsibility that is leading to a state of hopelessness further enhanced by the lies being told to us that insist that the reverse and opposite is true. The continuing downward spiral of innocuousness is leading to a thorough contempt for everyone and everything who with any semblance of authority is not only being questioned but is being held in contempt for having values that differ from the distressed outcries. We are becoming more and more an Orwellian society and the manner in which it is being foisted on the whole world is taking the awareness of it further and further away from universal awareness. Sounds scary, right? It is!
It seems that nothing relevant is of value. We are becoming a global society of personal assertions rather that representatives of fact. Everything is open to interpretation and with that license available all of the morons and cultural refuse are crawling out of the walls. Everything new is a redefining of the old. The void is becoming unrecognizably unrecognizable because it is becoming recognizably recognizable. (Aha, the old Zen game.) As for education (whatever the hell that now means,) we are losing all respect for substance and valuing the credential, wherever it comes from, rather than the knowledge. To even attempt to fight it all is futile. Therefore, in this writer’s view, it is now more than ever essential to raise the banners and charge ahead into the past. (I was going to say, “rally round the flags” but that would definitely be misconstrued.)
People, for the most part, do not understand the language they speak or the words they use. That is why the ancient masters always suggested that if you can’t say it in simple terms you should keep your mouth shut because you probably don’t know what you are talking about. And, because they are lemmings, their own opinions are usually based on the so-called authoritarian voices they listen to. No one is above and beyond this reality. A truth that is in essence the fundamental requirement of saving a society that is bordering on its own extinction must go back to its roots. Now, more than ever, we need to turn back to the values that have enabled us to grow and prosper regardless of the envy of the world. Not to do so is sheer folly.

Hanshi Stephen F Kaufman from The Hanshi Forum, November 19, 2004

#fearoresponsibility #firstamendment #freedom #hanshistephenaufman #hanshistevekaufman #leadership #life #mindfulness #newamericaneagle #wethepeople

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THE LIVING TAO by Stephen F. Kaufman

Poem Number 13 speaks of ruling the people and how the realm should be maintained to continue peace and prosperity. To learn more about this illuminating work and to buy an autographed copy visit: http://the-living-tao.weebly.com

Poem Number Thirteen

“Only he should rule who understands all people are the same. Only he should rule who loves all men as himself. Only he should rule who understands the unity of separateness. Bestowed with pride, he falls from Heaven’s grace. From disgrace, he arises owning nothing but himself. Owning nothing, he gives with an open heart. To be in favor and to be in disgrace are the same. To fall from favor and be lifted from disgrace are the same. A man who sees the difference sees the same thing. He who does not see the same thing is confused by both wishing to be availed of only favor. Expecting the bounty of the universe to not show him special favor, his special favor is himself.”


  The egotism involved with ascent through arrogance, conceit, and false pride is such that guard must be taken against its expression. The more you practice to become a perfect example of all, the easier is the acceptance of the Divine Beauty of all life. When loss of position comes, it is difficult for the man who thinks his rank was granted by himself to reassert his position in the world. Seeing rank as an extension of his own mind, he understands that there is never anything to lose because there was never anything to be gained. He is at peace with himself and walks in harmony with every man. He uses the value of his rank to become more valuable to the Spirit of the Thing Itself.

    The wise man gives with an open heart knowing that all is granted from heaven as a special gift that he desires to experience. Should he lose his composure about such things he will quickly fall into the depths of terror brought about by his own thinking that he is all that matters. Lifting himself from his morass of negativity, he sees the specialness of nothing except himself and he is able to guide himself and to guard his domain without effort.

    Being a man of wisdom, he sees being special as holding nothing of merit and does not become vulnerable. He understands that he can be trusted. Even though his rank and authority are treated as extensions of his own soul, he can walk in peace knowing that the hideous weight of responsibility is governed only by heaven, and that his acknowledgement of It is what protects the realm of his mind. His burden to himself vanishes and he lives in joy.

Learn more and buy: http://the-living-tao.weebly.com

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Death does not exist and only reveals nextness Wisdom does not permit the end of itself A man can only learn to move forward in any direction Not being concerned with what went before He should not care for the rewards of the day Seeking only that which can enhance his own reality He does not consider the rewards of his work By not considering the results of his work They are perfect and cannot be made better

            Nextness is what happens after a man leaves his body, or, that which was behind him, not caring to carry it along to his next destination on earth or anywhere else. When nextness is reached, Allness is released according to the conventions a man uses in his own thinking through personal contemplation of the Spirit of the Thing Itself. All is accomplished because the Spirit of the Thing Itself is expressed to the level of the man’s ability to understand and accept Its profound gifts. These gifts are made manifest in the world as a result of a man’s work and desire to attain perfection. If a man is enlightened, he will see these things as something beyond what he could ever imagine. This must not be confused with objects of physical possession that can be touched and held. These are only things that in time will cease to be in the form they now possess. Imperfection exists only because man cannot identify the Spirit of the Thing Itself as the means of Heaven’s and man’s natural existence. Heaven and man must coincide with each other. 

© Stephen F. Kaufman

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THE UNIVERSAL ESSENCE OF THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS – An Explanation of Emanations From the Void and the Acceptance of Mastery

(Higher elucidations of reality from my forthcoming work of the same title, … from the Introduction)

There is no such thing as yin and yang, which is not to suggest that yin and yang do not exist. Therefore, as existent forms of yin and yang would consist of all temporal good and all temporal evil, it is the implicit responsibility for people of all persuasion to overcome negativity and not need to focus on presumed aspects of good.

Here is the expansion of the ideas. First, understand that there is a direct correlation between all aspects of the ‘Rings,’ and that neither could function without the cosmic consciousness of all combined. It is the purpose of a personal ascension to higher dimensions of beingness that presuppose the need to eliminate ALL the variances and eliminate all forms of alleged evil, leaving only the aspects of good, which, by definition of reality, would not need to exist. Hence, there is no such thing as yin and yang…

The Void, which I have previously taught as being not nothing, which is something by definition, but no-thing, which goes beyond the totality of comprehension. In conscious form, the remaining ‘Rings’ are earth, water, fire, and air. Each having the essence of presumed understanding by any individual.

Earth and the resultant material world form all so-called seven sins and results in the hideous torment and pain of lack, loss, and limitation that any person would suffer regardless of presumed innocence.

Water is for the growth and development of all forms of pleasure, both good and evil, and enhances appetites for more incorrectly understood egotistical growth and a not inconsiderate level of awareness of having and not having.

Fire comprises pride, vengeance, retribution, and anger, at least, and the resultant anguishes that culminate in conflict and frustration for the soul, when it is not directed toward its own cessation.

Air is the basis of non-substance, or absurdities. Higher understanding suggests paying no attention to what can be considered meaningless things, such as words of wisdom that can only confuse and abuse your well-being and interfere with the balance of a person’s psyche. This can lead to wasting time while trying to come to terms with something that has nothing to do with your accomplishments.

How the substance of these ideas actuate in your life is the ultimate meaning of Musashi’s ideas derived from the ancient teachings of all legit masters in times gone by. It would be smart to attempt to understand them from a new perspective how each ’Ring’ controls your destiny, or if you control your destiny, or if it is irrelevant that you even think you have the authority to enhance or even understand your destiny. You are part of a higher ‘ness,’ and only exacerbate your lifestyle conditions by attempting to overcome the reality of what you are because of not understanding who you are.

To be continued…

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#selfrevealizationacceptance #stephenfkaufman #realityfacililtation #creativepoweroftheuniverse #spiritofthethingitself #motivation #actualaccomplishment #functionalliving #selfesteem #selfrespect

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WARNING! Don’t tread on US. #america #foreigninterference #patriotism #freedom #freedomofspeech #usarmedforces

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AMAA Writer’s Award. Thanks to Jesse Bowen for this singular honor. 11/28/2020

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