I've written a little on "jo ha kyu" before. IT doesn't look I've touched "shu ha ri", though.
To my mind, they're very much related. For a quick recap, "jo ha kyu" are three levels of practice. Sometimes in the same kata (ZNKR teaches that: early stages on jo, most unsheathing in ha and final release and strike in kyu), sometimes of the same kata (koryu as I know them have different "views" of the same kata, each one faster than the one before, not only because of speed but also due to "dropped" and fused moves).
"Shu ha ri" is the progressive understanding of technique. From the rote repetition to the transcendence, travelling through an experimentation phase.
In a way, "kyu" level is an experimentation, "what if I don't have time"; in another, it's simply transcending the early kata and grabbing what you really need of it to survive in an emergency.
Now, as I've seen it, most MAs focus on a single partnership of those levels. Traditional MAs focus on Jo+Shu, doing countless repetitions of the very basics. RBSD focuses on Kyu+Ri, trying to go past the form into the unpredictable "real" fight. Our branch of KJKB probably focuses more on the mid ones (ha), trying to go for improvisation and small changes of a basic structure.
My point is that you need to explore all three levels in each set. If you only do basics, you won't really understand your MA (and you'll likely end up focusing only on a particular trimmed down expression of those basics [*]) and will have some trouble if you use a toned down version of those in real life. If you only do the "highest" levels, you'll have trouble when you find someone who has an unexpected advantage (a fitter, fiercer opponent) and don't have your basic structure in place or any of that "traditional crud".
The mid level might be the most versatile, BUT it's also dangerous to fall in, easy to fall into the confidence that you're "dynamic enough", beyond that silliness of repetitions and that mindlessness of adrenal training.
My belief is that you need to do them all. Your mindset will make you lean towards one of them, that's fine. But don't let comfort dictate you; you didn't start MA to fall into that. But you need the basics (fundamentals) to prevail over nastier people, specially under stress. You need a taste of stress to realize how those things work. And you need the mental flexibility to switch gears, the relaxation of the mid level regarding both the exact move and the demands of real adrenal stress and its effect on learning.
[*] If you follow MacYoung-isms, you'll end up turning fundamentals into basics.
Again, a Blue Snake Books item. Again, really, it could have used some more editing. Some at all would have been nice, in fact.
Mind you, Mr. Yore is a competent writer who loves his practice. Some of his acquaintances, in the second part of the book, are not as used to communicate, and it shows. This does not even take into account duplication of information.
Now, following the classics, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly:
Good: Sonny Umpad is quite an interesting character, a very little known one. That's a pity and a mistake this book helps solve. Also, Sonny might be one of the great unknowns of late XXth century martial arts. Someone who wasn't as known as he should have. Not as in "deserve" or for his own sake, but MA lost an incredible source of information and teaching when we lost him.
Bad: editing. I've come to believe BSBooks uses no editors. This is not the worse case from their press, but it still shows. Some contributors, specially, should have sent their piece around before closing it.
Also, while I'm not the most welcoming of people as it pertains to technique photographs, so take the following with a grain of salt:
There are several sets of techniques. Some of them are intriguing but, of course, they lack the expression that movement would give them. Sad, but expected. What is annoying is the very first set. After all the hullabaloo of the very first chapters about syllabus and student generations and such, you'd expect something more about those 17 strikes. Unless there's much more than meets the eye, those are not really all that different from, say, the 9 angles in other systems.
And, lastly, we know very little of Sonny's family; it's a lost opportunity. No mention of his kids, for example.
The Ugly: related with above.
Now, be aware of two items: I don't practice Filipino martial arts (or Indonesian or anything similar); I'm only acquainted with them, I respect them and use them as a tool within my art. As item two, I'm very slightly acquainted with one of the pupils of the following generation (you can find her link on the right).
That said, this book is guilty of making me see the bad blood between both generations. I was aware, mind you, that there were different generations and mindsets, as is only natural, but the constant defensiveness of the early chapters made me dig deeper. I've been for a while in MA, and some things have a very specific smell. Once you know what to look for, it's there. Sadly.
This does not make it a bad book, mind you, and there's no vitriol as you might expect from similar experiences, but it stops it from getting great. As is, and if you need a primer to one of the great figures of FMA, I'd start here[*], then check the Dog Brothers DVD (Grandmasters' Speak v. 2) and only then go for this book. If you can afford it, it's a must have. If you have to budget, get the other works (first one's free, after all).
[*] If it disappears, search "FMA digest 2006 Sonny Umpad".
The lack of it, rather. There's a lot of violence ranting and shouting, but discourse? Discourse as in "let's hear what this is about and gather data and opinions to set our laws"? Nope.
Almost [?] no other subject manages that. With all their faults, laws are properly discussed, voted, argued. Violence is a subject where the State and its court tell you: "Don't bother yourself about things you don't understand; we'll take care of it". What, however, makes them even think they do? Well, they're politicians. They also believe they know economics, and these past five years would like to chime in.
But what makes us think we don't?
Ourselves. Because, really, as a society, we mostly don't. Even LEOs, crammed through the academy, often don't either. I was at a dinner some days ago with people from another gym. One of them insisted that knives over an inch where "illegal weapons"; there was no way to get him to accept that the weapons code (of which I did have to pass a test) says otherwise. I've had similar discussions with cops. A partner had some trouble because he was carrying sheathed, bagged, broom sticks.
And that's among people who train around violence, work against it... What do you expect of Joe Citizen? Do you really expect him to know the difference between Department Regulations, Criminal Law and how that affects what he can (or is even expected to) do and what his LEO friend can or can't do while on duty?
How can you expect people to decide their laws, to vote on them, when they can't argue proper response and legal ramifications of this? Because as I see it, the guy on the right bottom is also guilty of a couple of misdemeanors, at least.
But people prefer not to talk about it. Those who do, get pulled by their own emotions far too often. How can you discuss things seriously?
You can't. And that means the specific you, not the impersonal, and myself, don't really know what happens, or what will happen, if we end up dealing with violence. Who will help us in the aftermath, and who won't. How law, State, and friends will see us. And how we will see ourselves.
I think my change in swords some time ago messed my hasuji slightly. And maybe that made me more aware of it.
It's been some years since I first read this, by Marc. Sometimes, what Marc says clashes with my perception of the MA world. We are, after all, several timezones and an ocean apart. And I have simply stopped going to seminars not taught by people I respect. Or, at least, have a good pointer to.
So... Knives are not sticks... Well, duh. And, yet... I tend to reduce weapons to reach and plane. And, in that sense, a stick could be an axe.
And yet, yet... I'm finishing reading a book on a specific FMA style. The last part is a collection of techniques and photographs. I'm really not fond of those, here or anywhere else, but it got me thinking on hasuji... again.
Now, I haven't done much FMA. Not my branch, no more than that. But I first got introduced to them in the mid 90s. I've met at least three distinct styles, a bunch of instructors, and made my hours with those. Plus, our system (KJKB) encourages us doing FMA as a way to familiarize (no more) with weapon attacks, and we do use an extremely simplified version of Doce Pares in our classes (very few angles, very few distances... just a very basic "Look out, he's got a stick!" based on FMA; plus, they're good teaching some kinds of body movement and awareness).
What I haven't found yet, in all those years, is an instructor teaching anything remotely related to hasuji.
For those not fluent in Japanese specifics, that's the idea that an edged weapon must "impact" and travel through a body following the edge symmetry. You can try how doing it wrong works with an eggplant and a wide knife. Slice them tiny.
About 20 years of acquaintance with FMA and not one single word on that, the difference between a strike and a cut. Now, you might say it's because I'm not "in the system", but it looks like the kind of thing that should be explained first. At the very worst, early on. And, yes, a good bunch of FMA traditionally work with mediocre steel. But that only makes it more important to make the best of it, does it not?
Dunno... Either I'm missing something or Marc was right all along.
Check de Becker's works on Fear. There are videos and shorts all over that work well enough.
Now, remember that (otherwise obliviable) movie, 'The Phantom Menace'?
"Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering."
That's another kind of fear. Terror, you might call it. It's a fear that has no use. And, yes, Fear has use. But fear that comes from nothing, from lack of knowledge... That fear is as useful as contempt, its other side.
It's the fear that won't allow you to seize an opportunity, to grasp a real danger, to avoid another danger that has become somehow more familiar. An extreme of this last one: why don't a lot of women raise against abusive partners?
My family used to talk about fear vs respect. You didn't fear the sea, you respected it. I've found this, sometimes, in martial arts (and only in serious ones, whether they were more 'artsy' or 'real'). You don't fear your weapon, but you must respect it.
Don't fear people, respect them. A lot of people who might otherwise become a danger through your own actions migt become even friends, mostly neutral. And that's good. A lot of silly dangers will evaporate, and you will be able to focus in what's important. Loss of face against a pub patron is annoying, but not as important as, say, being able to work next Monday.
It's a simple meme, a difficult one. People will rebel against it, even if you manage to get them to nominally accept it. It's a hard one to grok.
One of the groups I train with has been mostly stagnant for the last decade or so. Some external restrains have been removed recently. So, the instructor for these last years is becoming a hurdle.
As things spread, the way this has come to be becomes clearer. And you check that instructor's experience and acts and you see how he's modeled a group he insists is "democratic". But only as far as it matches with his view.
Now, this is a pretty small and healthy group of people who, if they're not friends for life they are good partners, including that instructor. Imagine how it works in less healthy ones?
Autumn training with Ángel, 2013 edition. In a couple of weeks, training in Torrejón, in part due to KJKB's 50 years in Spain. Sadly, it's an instructor's meeting, so I'm not it (yet?).
Food for thought, good training and such. Yesterday not so much. Today's been nice. I have to make an effort to play with bigger ones, I'm slipping in that sense. Lower belts have their own instructor and I think it's becoming a habit to lower down my performance. It's more comfortable, after all.
Some years of Judo and WJJF Ju Jutsu. After passing through Kuk Sool (WKSA), I'm now practicing kajukenbo [KSDI, under A. García] and getting back on iaido (ZNKR & Tatsumi). I'd like to get my 'physical' memory back on Judo and what I knew of other soft styles (but, right now, KJKB fills my learning abilities in hand-to-hand).