The Da Vinci Kata

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” –Leonardo da Vinci

Learning a kata requires that you go through several stages. First you have to learn the basic pattern and the techniques. Then you have to perfect what you’ve learned. Then you have to deconstruct what you’ve learned and perfected in order to truly understand what the kata is teaching you vis a vis close quarter engagement.

Mastering Stage 1 and Stage 2 kata is challenging enough on its own without adding the ingredient of introspection that comes with Stage 3 kata. Many people prefer to remain in Stages 1 and 2 because, for one reason or another, the introspection of Stage 3 doesn’t appeal to them. There’s nothing wrong with staying in Stage 1 or 2. As they say in Italian, Chi sta bene, non si muove. “If you’re happy where you are, don’t move.”

For those of you who’re interested in entering Stage 3 […]

2018-03-05T17:21:28+00:00 Bujutsu|

Talent is Over-Rated by Geoff Colvin

The famed chessmaster Capablanca was once asked how many moves ahead he saw when playing a game of chess. His answer? “I see only one move ahead, but it is ALWAYS the right move.”
Such confidence! How did he get it? Cognitive scientists and neurologists have long been fascinated with the neural component of peak performance. Professional coaches and athletes have followed pied-pipers galore in search of that millisecond edge over the competition.

Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated, culls the latest scientific research into peak performance and finds that your grandfather or grandmother were right. It turns out that the way to Carnegie Hall does indeed run directly through Practice. Colvin’s contribution to the growing list of popular non-fiction books treating this issue is his ability to clearly articulate exactly what kind of practice is needed in order to become a high-quality performer in your chosen field.

If you want to get […]

2018-03-02T23:15:52+00:00 Grit and Mindset|

Seido and The Shadow

Not long ago in Rome during a Master’s Tennis Tournament something remarkable happened. In a tightly contested game, American Andy Roddick challenged a linesman’s call on a ball hit by his opponent. The remarkable thing about this incident was that Roddick argued against his own interest. He insisted that the opponent’s ball had landed inside the line and that he, Roddick, should NOT be awarded the point. Spectators applauded as if they’d witnessed a miracle. Imagine! Sportsmanship in a professional sporting event.

Such adherence to the principle of “fair play” is especially remarkable in this day and age, when the broad culture places a higher value on winning at any cost than it does on playing by the rules and planning for the long term. According to geneticists and anthropologists, however, it was always this way, and will always be thus. In Dark Nature, naturalist Lyall Watson states that the study […]

2018-03-02T23:16:52+00:00 Budo|


This Japanese word, kizeme, means “spirit of attack.” It is said of Miyamoto Musashi, the famed Japanese swordsman, that as he grew older he relied more on kizeme to defeat adversaries and, as a result, emerged victorious from challenges without taking the life of his opponent.

The willingness to attack is a potent weapon, made even more potent by prior demonstrations of effective technical skills. Clearly, Musashi’s reputation preceeded him throughout Japan and this alone would be enough to intimidate even the best swordsman of the age. Yet it was not just “hype” that Musashi employed in his duels.

The strategy of Musashi’s midlife, according to Kenji Tokitsu’s recent biography of the famed swordsman, was that of incessant interdiction of his opponent’s attack. Musashi placed enormous emphasis on intense training. Musashi himself claimed that it was through this lifelong boot camp approach to the practice of swordsmanship that he had developed the […]

2018-03-02T23:16:41+00:00 Budo|

Hone O Oru

This Japanese expression has two basic meanings. The literal meaning is to break one’s bone(s), as when falling from a height. The figurative meaning is “to try harder.” That is, to try so hard that one’s bones break.

Undertaking bone-breaking work is a core value in a classical Japanese dojo. Passage through such an ordeal presents the karateka with new insights into his or her kokoro, or heart-mind-spirit. These insights often serve to diminish the strangle-hold the ego had held on the mind prior to the ordeal. Contrary to popular belief, diminishment of the ego does not render a person ineffectual in the world. In fact, the smaller the purchase your ego has on your life, the more able you are to access highly functional energies and insights that a too-strong ego would deny. A person with a strong bond to kokoro places confidence in something beyond the small self […]

2018-03-02T23:16:25+00:00 Budo|

Culver City Seido’s Approach to Competition

Competition and cooperation are two modes of interaction that engage us throughout our lives. West LA Seido Karate recognizes the need for being skillful at both. We channel the cooperative instinct in the dojo in a variety of ways, ritual courtesy being the most visible. We also give our competitive nature its due. In weekly sparring classes and periodic tournaments throughout the year, the West LA Seido program provides the eligible student with sufficient opportunities to “test” her or himself in controlled but intense contests.

The word competition comes from Latin, where it meant “to seek with.” In Seido Karate-do, when we compete we remember that we improve quicker and surer with our opponent or training partner’s challenging presence in the dojo. Competition seen from this perspective becomes a way in which we, with our training partners, “seek together” to improve. We use each other in this intentional, mutually acknowledged process […]

2018-03-02T23:16:14+00:00 Budo|

A Way Out of the Overload


How do we simplify? There’s a welter of information, advice, techniques, schools and every imaginable video tape available on the market to answer that question for you. In making a selection from this movable feast you’d want to take into account the background and credentials of the person offering you a way out of the overload. That’s assuming you didn’t just throw up your hands in exasperation and walk away from the task entirely.

I recently encountered a credible voice amidst the tumult. Richard Machowicz was a member of the U.S. Navy Seals. Having left the service, he continues to work in the field of personal protection and teaches an intensive workshop in Southern California as he trains to become initiated as a Buddhist monk. That’s a pretty strong curriculum vitae for cutting through the crap, wouldn’t you say?

Richard Machowicz has written a book, “Unleash the Warrior Within”, […]

2018-03-02T23:17:04+00:00 Bujutsu|

Do the Do!

We are embarking upon a new year. As usual, some of us will make “resolutions.” There isn’t anything wrong with setting goals for the year. It’s actually a good idea. It may help focus the energy we bring to life.

A karateka may be excused if he or she makes only one resolution for the coming year: More training! This is an appropriate and achievable goal. Besides, it’s the only way to go.

Recently an article in the Los Angeles Times reported on the upsurge of interest in and legal sanctions for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in California. People interviewed in the article were full of enthusiasm for the sport. It had been outlawed for a time in California but due to the bright commercial performance of MMA in other states, such as Nevada, and because of some changes made in the rules to restrict the more brutal aspects of […]

2018-03-02T23:18:20+00:00 In the News|