for the last few days I’ve been staying up too late, and that’s putting a serious damper on the entire “get up early and swim.” So I’ve missed doing that the last two days. Hopefully I’ll be back in swing or swim by tomorrow.

I just realized that I’ll be out of the area (if you count last weekend) for four straight weekends. Last weekend we headed down to Corning NY to visit with a friend to work out, more on that later… This weekend I’m going home to celebrate my birthday with family. Next weekend I’ll be in Cortland for a Martial Arts seminar with Dan Inasanto (one of Bruce Lee’s closest friends and who Bruce hand picked to take over for him). The weekend after that it’s up to Toronto for Film Fest. So for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be one busy boy.

As for that trip last weekend, I’ve been continuing the Martial Arts research that I started at the Super Summers Seminar. To have things make a bit more sense, here’s a short history of the Martial Arts. Basically everywhere has some type of indigenous form of self defense/combat system. “Modern Martial Arts”, if they can be called that, began in China, it’s initial development influenced by a number of Indians who were living in China. It eventually spread to Okinawa by sea travelers (yes that same Karate Kid Okinawa). From Okinawa it spread throughout Japan. The Arts also spread from China across the Asian Subcontinent along trade lines. With each new local they mutated and were integrated into local fighting systems. Each culture’s values, ideals and needs were integrated into their approach to martial arts.

In the case of Japan the argument can be made that culturally they are much better at innovation than creation. They are not necessarily as gifted as Americans, for example, in the creation of wholly new ideas (this is not meant to be a cultural slam as everyone has areas where they excel and areas where they do not). However, when it comes to taking an idea and streamlining it or building off of it, Japan leads the world. As a friend put it, forget the art, Japan’s all about business (which is a bit of an overstatement, but as a broad comment works).

Anyhoo, why does all of that mater? Well most traditional martial arts are taught through the use of forms. Basically any given form (or kata in Japanese styles) contains a subset of moves from the whole style. Their use in the form teaches students about both the moves and the overall application of the style. In many cases (including my own) students are given the forms to work and have to decipher them on their own. I study Chinese Martial Arts. The Chinese tend to hide a lot of what martial techniques do in subtle actions or artistic display. So I’ve been beating my head up against a number of forms for a number of years, looking for clues to unlock them. At Super Summers, I found a key where I never expected.

I attended a seminar given by Sensei Kevin Jones, from Corning, where we were taught a kata from Goshen Ryu Karate (one of the oldest forms of Okinawan Karate). As I was working the form in the seminar I suddenly have the huge realization that the form incorporated aspects of Tai Chi, Wing Chun, and other Chinese Martial Arts (as these in turn were the basis for Goshen Ryu). But, because of the streamlining of the techniques by the Okinawans and Japanese, the application of said techniques was much more obvious. This was HUGE! I had found my Rosetta Stone. Looking at the Japanese interpretation I was able to immediately see the applications of techniques whose meaning had been escaping me. In turn, understanding those techniques, lead to understanding of other aspects of the forms. Thankfully, due to exposure to a number of other world-class instructors at the event, I was in the right mindset to receive that info.

Since then I’ve been working that kata as much as I can as to not to forget it. So, as I mentioned earlier, last weekend my self and a few friends took a trip to Corning to catch up with Sensi Jones, hang for a while, talk bad kung fu movies and work technique. One thing I love about the Martial Arts, and this is true of any hobby/passion, is the network of friends that it builds.

Any hoo that’s enough for now… I have to get back to work.