Essays & Updates

This blog focuses on classical and traditional martial arts, especially the practice of internal martial arts, both in their classical forms and as applied to free practice. Here you will find essays on martial arts, updates on training activities, and listings of events of interest.

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  • Update : Kagu no mine

    Kagunomine is the spring peak observance practiced in certain forms of Shugendo. With spring in full bloom, I look back over the last six months and provide an update on my training. Ideas both orthodox and heretical abound.
  • Update : Musha Shugyo

    I have entered a period of retreat called Musha Shugyo (武者修行): hard training, intense study, and spiritual asceticism drawn from Taosim and Vajrayana Buddhism. I will no longer be as regularly updating this site.
  • Essay : The Correct Mind Shadow

    The characters Jiki, Shin, and Kage, when combined can be glossed in a variety of ways. Doing so changes the meaning of the name, and the perspective one had on the art of Jiki Shinkage-ryu.
  • Essay : Gogyo Exegesis

    Examining some of the strengths and weaknesses of a tradition. What is in a name? Does the first model that come to mind for a set of teachings represent their ultimate meaning? What is the role of secrets in an art? What is a teacher, and when you are, what do you do then?
  • Update : Solitude and Insight

    I have spending time at solo practice, consulting with colleagues, and free sparring. I remain inspired by what I see some of the local HEMA community doing with their arts and have benefited from being able to witness some of their skill first hand.
  • Event : Taijiquan Classics Seminar

    Master Zhang Yun taught for two days in Silver Spring, MD on the Taiji Classics.
  • Essay : Logic and the art of the sword

    Logic is all too lacking in the martial arts. There are many challenges that benefit from critical thinking: deciding on an art to practice, finding a good teacher, deciding if a group is no longer the right one, discerning the right training path based one's personal capabilities and interests. These are but some of the decision points a martial artist faces in their career.
  • Essay : Too Close

    I used to train in Katori Shinto-ryu, under a splinter group of the main line of the art. I learned a large portion of the curriculum they taught, and received their first rank (mokuroku). However, the more I practiced Jiki Shinkage-ryu, the more I questioned how Katori Shinto-ryu was taught.
  • Essay : Semiotics and Martial Theory

    One of the challenges I face when I hear the word internal used in reference to Japanese jujutsu or taijutsu is that the spread of internal schools of Chinese martial arts seem to post-date the major influx of martial theory from China to Japan.
  • Essay : Is It Still Aiki?

    The question of what internal power is and how it relates to other arts and their practitioners that want to add it to their practice, especially if it may have been common in the practice amongst their founders, but not successfully transmitted to later generations at scale, is a complicated one that touches on several different models of identity. Semiotics meets the sword.
  • Update : Winter Light

    I'm happy to be hitting the tail end of winter. Reflections on recent discussion on internal training, Shinkage-ryu and Shinto-ryu, and the merits of walking a long, slow, path to excellence in physical culture.
  • Event : Enbu for Karunakaran Chindan

    An enbu was held dedicated to the memory of Karunakaran, who recently passed away. Karunakaran was Donn Dreager's most senior jodo deshi and David Hall's Shindo Muso-ryu jo mentor. Koryu demonstrated included Shindo Muso-ryu jo, Isshin-ryu kusarigama, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu heiho, Kashima-shinden Jiki Shinkage-ryu kenjutsu, and Masaki-ryu manriki.
  • Event : Longpoint 2016

    I enjoyed watching the finals for rapier & dagger and longsword at Longpoint 2016 this weekend.
  • Event : Wu Taiji Quan Seminar with Zhao Zeren and Zhang Yun

    Zhao Zeren and Zhang Yun taught a series of three seminars on the Wu Style Taiji Quan of Wang Peisheng during May 2016 in Princeton, Pittsburgh, and Silver Spring.
  • Update : Taiji Classics

    An important book on Taiji Quan is published; April brings rain and focus on developing skill with the spear.
  • Event : Kagami Biraki 2016

    I have been rededicating myself to my Hatha Yoga asana practice, incorporating the use of kettlebells for conditioning. Recent corrections on my Wu Style Taiji Quan have been very useful, profoundly changing how I approach solo form practice in the art. I also had the pleasure of attending the 12th annual Kagami Biraki hosted by the Masakikai and Hoboykai in Sterling, Virginia.
  • Event : Bai Shr Ceremony

    At the end of summer, I traveled to Princeton for a seminar in Bagua and Taiji and was accepted as a disciple by Zhang Yun. I also traveled to the Pacific Northwest, where I attended a conference focused on Functional Programming, visited with family and friends, and enjoyed taking many pictures.
  • Event : Kagami Biraki 2015

    Sunday I traveled to Sterling, Virginia, to participate in the annual Kagami Biraki (Opening the Mirror) enbu held by the Masakikai and Hobyokai. A number of different martial arts were demonstrated as part of the gathering, including: Yagyu Shinkage-ryu heiho, Kashima-shinden Jiki Shinkage-ryu heiho, Shinto Muso-ryu jo, Ikkaku-ryu jutte & tessen, Isshin-ryu kusari-gama, Masaki-ryu manriki, Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, Hakko Denshin-ryu jujutsu, and Tomiki Aikido.
  • Essay : Are You Connected?

    I was talking with a colleague about what it means to be connected and I felt like sharing some of my thoughts on the topic here.
  • Event : Tian Gang Dao

    This weekend I traveled to Pittsburgh for additional training in neijiaquan. I attended Zhang Yun's taijiquan class and met up with several of his senior students I had not seen in a while. It was great to train with everyone and get pointers on my body organization. I also had a chance to get further correction of my Yin Bagua Zhang and also learn the remaining sections of the Hebei Xingyi Quan Za Shi Chui (mixed skills) form.
  • Event : Kagami biraki 2014

    I attended the Hobyokan and Masakikai annual Kagami biraki (opening the mirror) new year's gathering. A number of different martial arts were demonstrated as part of the gathering, including: Yagyu Shinkage-ryu heiho, Kashima Shinden Jiki Shinkage-ryu heiho, Shinto Muso-ryu jo, Masaki-ryu manriki, Hontai Yoshin-ryu (jujutsu, iai, bo, hanbo), Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, Hakko Denshin-ryu jujutsu, Kokoro-ryu batto, Goju-ryu Karate, and Shito-ryu Karate.
  • Event : NAMT 2013 Araki ryu and Toda ha Buko ryu

    I enjoyed watching Ellis Amdur's recent koryu demonstrations at NAMT in Paris.
  • Essay : Aiki and Internal Training

    The first martial art I practiced for an extended length of time was a self-defense oriented amalgam of Aikido, Judo, Jujutsu, and Kempo/Karate. I have since transitioned to spending a good amount of time learning internal martial arts ideas via the route of baguazhang, taijiquan, and xingyiquan. This has illuminated my striking and grappling practice, offering a glimpse of the higher levels of martial arts training that was suggested but ever elusive in my original jujutsu school.
  • Update : Wind and Storm

    The first martial art I practiced for an extended length of time (1989-2005) was a self-defense oriented form of modern jujutsu that was developed in New York City and was a mixture of Karatedo, Shorinji Kempo, Judo and Aikido with techniques drawn from Danzan-ryu Jujutsu, Sosuishi-ryu Jujutsu and Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu created in the 1970's. In 2012, I wrote a summary article of my conclusions about the art's history so people interested in training in it could be properly informed

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