Sunday, October 25, 2015

Episode XXXVI-Friendly Neighborhood Podcast Shownotes

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Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

  Recorded On: 10/21/2015
  Back to the Future Day
  Martial Thoughts: Fighting Words Podcast
  iTunes reviews
Interlude Music:  Stop (I'm already Dead) by Deadboy and the Elephant Men
Interview: Master David Stephens
  Kwong Sai Jook Lum Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu
  Sho Kosugi
  Craig Mitchel
  Frank Thomas
  Ng Family System
  Chuck Gross
  Master Gin Fun Mark (Video)
  Jim Thompson  Larry Tatum
  Ed Parker Jr.
  Kenpo Karate
  Balintawak (Filipino Martial Arts)
  The Last Dragon
  The Perfect Weapon (Jeff Speakman)
  Ip Man

    Shaolin Concepts
Interlude Music:  The Call of Ktulu by Metallica

This Week in Martial Arts: October 20th, 1948 Toshihiro Obata

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Twitter Account: @martialthoughts
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Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna

4.5 Ninja Stars for two classic martial books

In the interest of full disclosure, I received these books from the publisher for review purposes

Title: The Art of War
Written by: Sun Tzu
Interpreted by: Stephen F. Kaufman
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Format: Softcover
Cover Price: $12.95 (US)


Title: Book of Five Rings
Written by: Miyamoto Musashi
Interpreted by: Stephen F. Kaufman
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Format: Softcover
Cover Price: $13.95 (US)

    This is a little different type of review today.  First, I'm going to be reviewing two books at the same time.  Secondly, I'm not going to review the books themselves, but rather these particular versions of them.  The Art of War and Book of Five Rings are classic books that I believe everyone reading this has heard of, and probably read themselves.  However, each version that I have read (I own three different versions of each now) interprets them a little different.  Its fun to go through them and see how they take the same material and translate them differently.
    Both books have been claimed by the business community since the 80's as insightful books on how to conduct deals and corporate takeovers, but that wasn't their original purpose.  I can see why they are used that way, but I don't see them really being able to work with that intension.  They are books about conquering enemies and ruling people, not management and buyouts.  Business and war are very different aspects of humanity.  Both deal with conflict, true, but in very different ways.  That's why Kaufman Hanshi has gone beyond the simple idea of translating the books, and instead works as interpreter, speaking specifically to the martial artists out there.  What's funny is his introduction goes through and talks about how the Way of business and the Way of the sword are not the same, and how this version of the book is intended to be for, what he terms martialists, and then the back cover of the book, where it gives the category, says "business."


    Kaufman Hanshi really does a good job of taking both titles out of the poetic, esoteric type of writing into something more concrete.  He does keep some of the embellishing terms used throughout both books, but makes sure they make sense.  He also does a really good job of making sure everything is geared towards a martial reader.  This could be a martial artist, or a military officer, but they are both going to get something more out of this version than the others that are translated for a businessman.


   Anytime translation or interpretation is done, there will be some drift from the original text for interpretation's sake.  If you go in with that knowledge, then everything is fine.  However, there are some writings in Book of Five Rings that I haven't been able to find in other versions.  They still fit in exactly with the intent of the book, and indeed even explain things better than other versions I've read, but its still going outside the original author.  Just a picky point with me. 


    It is always hard to translate ancient foreign language texts into modern English.  There are many
terms and ideas that we don't have equivalent words for.  That being said, I really like both interpretations of these books.  I think that martial artists would do well do what I did, and take these texts along with other translations, and compare and contrast them.  I think when you do that, you get a much fuller, and complete version of what the original authors were trying to convey. 
    With all of that said, I'm going to give Kaufman Hanshi's interpretations of these two classics 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars, as they are very well done, and specific to the martialist audience that is reading them.  I just don't know if any one version of these books gets the full meaning into it.  But to be honest, these are the closest I've seen that gets the right intention across.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Martial Thoughts: Fightin Words Episode 1-Tao of Jeet Kun Do

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Recorded: 10/9/2015
Intro Music: Fight the Good Fight by Free
Topic of the Week:
Tao of Jeet Kun Do by Bruce Lee

Figh Like a Physicist by Dr. Jason Thalken
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Tuttle Publishing Bruce Lee Books are now available as e-books
Rory Miller
Jun Rhee

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Twitter Account: @martialthoughts

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Martial Arts is for "Unnatural" Athletes

    Michael Jordon was not a "natural" basketball player.  It is well known that he got cut from his high school team1.  In fact, I'd venture to say there are no natural athletes in the world.  Going out on a limb, I'm say that all the things we think of as athletic abilities are only learned skills.  Speed, strength, and endurance are learned skills.  Learned from an early age, and encouraged by activities, but learned.  Sure, there are minute inherited differences that allow for those skills to shine better, or physical size enables ease of playing some sports, like basketball.  But think of it this way.  What if instead of weight classes in combat sports, what if we had height classes in basketball.  Then you could have shorter people, who might have just as much skill getting more high level coaching and learning to use their skills better, instead of focusing on anyone who's over 6'5".  What does this have to do with martial arts?  Well let me explain.

    I was always fairly athletic in high school.  I was on both the football and the track team.  However, because of my short stature, I didn't really fit in well with either sport.  On the football team, I was fast, but not fast enough for wide receiver or running back.  I was strong, but my size prevented my from playing on the line (until they saw me play in a game).  In track I had good endurance, but not enough to win at the long distance events.  I could do the long jump and high jump, but not enough to win at any meets.  Overall I was a good athlete, but not good enough at any one thing to specialize in it.
    Once high school ended, and I went to college, I started doing martial arts.  This is where my lack of specialization shined.  Martial arts seems to be made for the non-specialist.  The arts require coordination, strength, endurance, and a general kinesthetic sense.  All of which I learned playing sports.  I did end up playing left guard for my high school team, and because of my height, I had to learn (in hind sight, I know this is what I was doing) to use my center and control their center line.  I got quite good at it.  I learned a skill that would instantly come in handy once I started my martial arts. 

  I write all of this not to brag about myself, but to use myself as example.  I had no real success in high school sports, but the physical skills I learned there helped me later on in my martial arts.  I want to encourage anyone who is worried about the physical skill set required for martial arts.  Martial arts does not require specialization in a physical ability or skill set, instead the best martial artists should have a generalist approach to abilities.  They should have strength, skill, kinesthetic senses, endurance, flexibility, and coordination.  Even more importantly, they should have all in balance, with no one aspect in excess.  So all the people that we call "natural" athletes are usually those who have one skill or one physical ability which exceeds the others.  Martial arts is designed for those who don't have those excesses, the unnatural athlete.  Sure we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  For example, I am really low level in flexibility, but martial arts gives everyone an opportunity to practice these skills and places emphasis on all the learned physical skills.  That's what makes martial arts so special, and why so many of us unnatural athletes have found our place in the arts.

1. He tried out for his high school's varsity team as sophomore and despite being 5'11" the coach deemed him too short to play.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Episode XXXV-Podcasts Assemble!

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Intro Music: Theme from "Enter the Dragon" by Lalo Schifri

  Recorded On: 10/04/2015
  New reviews on iTunes
  Coming Soon: Martial Thoughts: Fightin Words a new Podcast
  T-Shirt ideas
Interlude Music: Burried Alive by Fates Warning
Interview: Craig S. Kiessling
  Northern Shaolin Kung Fu
  Ti Da Na Shuai
  Shaolin Temple with Jet Li
  Big Sword/Big Blade/Big Chopper/Dai Dao
  Chang Kai-Shek
  Russel Wong
  Romeo Must Die
  Avatar: The Last Airbender
  Contact Information

Interlude Music: Mississippi Queen by Mountain

This Week in Martial Arts: October 1st, 1913 = Birthday of Helio Gracie
  Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
  Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  Masahiko Kimura
  Rorion Gracie
  Royce Gracie

Contact InformationTwitter Account: @martialthoughts
Atemicast Youtube Channel

Outro Music: Voodoo Chile-Jimi Hendrix / Gayageum ver. by Luna