Information Officer / Editor

Sometimes when I post things on the Blog or Facebook, I really do wonder if anyone reads them. But, the fact is I enjoy writing; it relaxes me. More importantly, writing is a way to examine thoughts, feelings, rants, conceptual ideas, etc that float around in my mind–sometimes it can truly be a mess up there.

Recently I posted a promotion certificate for one of my students on Facebook. Unlike most promotions in the martial arts this one had nothing to do with belts and/or ranks. I simply announced that this individual, Grover Reece, was now the school’s official “Information Officer.” I also made a footnote at the end of the announcement that Spencer Burns would continue being the editor of the blog.

Well, it’s been less than a week since the announcement was made and I’ve already received two inquires about why I need both an “Information Officer,” and an “Editor.” Not that I need to justify/explain anything to anyone, here are the answers.

Information Officer

This was a position I created in the school when I first started teaching. I have a very specific way I want the school to be presented to the public, and it has always been very hard for me to trust others to do the job to my expectations.

Unfortunately, in the past mistakes have been made by others, even those with the best of intentions. I’ve paid for some of these mistakes, by having to face a barrage of negative inflammatory emails and forum posts. Such is life in the age of the Internet.

Back to topic…

Since Grover joined the school, he has taken it upon himself to promote the school in many different ways. No one asked him to, that’s just the sort of person he is. He feels we have something worthwhile to share, and wants others to know that.

During his efforts, he has quickly discovered how hard it is to generate interest among the masses. It’s time consuming, frustrating, and often unrewarding. It’s something that can really break one’s motivation. So far, though he may be flustered, he seems willing to still try.

Now, I’m not saying everything he has done was done in a manner that I would do it. Grover has a lot to learn. A lot. And it’s not easy.

I’m stubborn, very protective of the school, and normally want things done my way. I created the school, and I am ultimately held accountable for any information pertaining to it. This means that Grover has to learn to produce a product that reflects more of the image I’ve tried to create.

This is no easy task, since I no longer teach him directly (he trains with my Shidoshi-ho, Glen Hunt, in San Francisco). This is very evident if you look at the things he has posted, and the way he has promoted the school to date. It’s not bad, just different.

So what are the information officer’s duties?

  1. He is responsible for any printed, photographed, videotaped information that leaves the school.
  2. He is responsible for any advertisement related to the school, both in form and content.
  3. He is responsible for maintaining and updating databases.
  4. He is responsible for promoting/advertising any school events.
  5. He is responsible for examining and discovering new ways to market the school, in the most economical way possible.
  6. He is responsible for answering any inquires about the school that are not directed towards Glen Hunt, Spencer Burns, or myself.
  7. He is responsible for gathering release and wavier forms at hosted events, as well as collecting and distributing any money collected.
  8. Here is the fun one: he is responsible for periodically checking the Internet to see if anything is being written in regards to the school. However, he is not required to address such information, nor should he unless instructed to do so.
  9. He is responsible for maintaining, categorizing, and updating any historical information related to the school.

There are of course other things, but those are the main ones.

While I could continue to do all of these things myself, the honest truth is I’m getting tired of it. It’s simply exhausting and in many ways I’m out of ideas.

I’m hoping that by relinquishing some of these things, I will see Grover brings in some fresh perspectives, and maybe some more modern ways to attract students.

All I can say is – Good Luck Grover.

Editor

I write like I talk. I often ramble, get side tracked, and find it hard to get to my point
More often than I would like to admit, I find it hard to express myself clearly or succinctly when I write. I guess my mind doesn’t work that way.

Mix in a dose of bad grammar, run on sentences, misspelled words, and typos, and you have an end product that just isn’t very presentable. More importantly, I write what I feel, often not considering the consequences. One day I must learn to be more tactful.

My editor, Spencer Burns, cleans all these faults up. At least, he does as much as he can without rewriting the whole thing. He makes sure that I appeared to have some actual writing skills, that what I present is factual, and that I use some decorum with addressing things I dislike or those that attack me.

Trust me he has made sure I haven’t put my foot to deeply in my mouth, or made too a big an ass of myself on several occasions.

Though I may not say it often enough, I really appreciate that he does this.

I appreciate his work because I can often imagine his look of frustration when he sees the files I send him. Especially the long photo filled essays that could be written/organized in a much more coherent manner.

Furthermore, Spencer is my editor because his computer/Internet skills are vastly superior to mine, resulting in a much more professional end product.

Lastly, he is my editor for no other reason than that the blog was his idea.

Correction on the Principle of Back Pressure

The article on this blog on the Principle of Back Pressure recently caused controversy after it was (much to our surprise) featured on the front page of the Aikido Journal website. Part of the anger we received was due to the fact that nothing in the “Back Pressure” article gave credit to Don Angier of Yanagi ryu.

That was a mistake on our part, and we apologize.

We had intended to give Mr. Angier significant credit for the debt we owe him, but due to negligence during editing, that section of the original article was not included. Indeed, in the other “principles” essays, Mr. Angier was given significant credit for his help (e.g. the essay on #9 Chains of Motion/Commutive Locking).

Mr. Angier not only provided the name “Back Pressure,” but he also really opened our eyes as to how to understand the subtleties. The way Gary has described it to me is that he had previously had an understanding of this principle on a less sophisticated level and had asked other instructors about it; most jujutsu instructors also had an intuitive understanding of Back Pressure, but no term to describe it. However, Mr. Angier was able to describe it in more detail and give us the language to describe it. So as a named principle, this is not something that was handed down to us from the ages, but we have adapted it because of its importance.

As has been pointed out, if one really wants to understand this principle more deeply, Mr. Angier would be a superior source of knowledge. Be we have found working on this article to be very educational for us and we hope that it has been helpful for others. Our intention has never been to try to take credit for Mr. Angier or anybody else’s work; rather, we are trying to better understand these principles of how the human body moves and share with others our meager understanding.

We are sorry once again for the omission.

–Spencer Burns

Martial Arts Police – Part Two

I think anyone who read my initial essay titled “Martial Arts Police,” will agree I was civil, and certainly showed a lot of decorum. However, this morning I had too much free time on my hands, which led me to over-think/over-analyze the situation. Most likely more so than this topic deserves.

Maybe “The Martial Arts Police” have gotten under my skin because I was police officer. Or maybe its just the absurdity of someone or some group feeling they have—or at least fronting as if they actually have—some authority to investigate such matters that really irks me now.

Read their follow up letter to the response I sent them:

“Sir,

Thank you for your timely response.

Of course, you are free to exercise your right not to participate in the forum discussions.

Should you give up this right, you may register and respond on eBudo or other forums.

Your case reference number is USA-070301-002. Please keep this safe and quote this in any future correspondence.

Sincerely,

The Martial Arts Police (Koryu Division)”

martialartspolice@googlemail.com

Exercise my right not to participate? Give up my rights if I choose to talk? What the hell are you talking about? Who the hell gives you the authority to tell me or anyone else what our rights are?

You don’t even sign your name. Coward! At least I’m not hiding in the shadows.

What’s next, subpoenas, background checks, dispositions from witnesses, and a trial? Oh I forgot I’ve already been put on trial and lost. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I guess that doesn’t matter on the Internet.

I rarely loose my temper when dealing with things like this, but the self-righteous, self-serving, and self-indulgent stuff people think they can freely exercise on the Internet is getting to be too much. I’m sure they think they are being witty and tongue-in-cheek by being the “police”, but really they just come off as smug.

At some point people are going to have to say “enough already.” I guess I’ve reached that point.

People can talk about me all they want since I really don’t care. Few, if any, who make comments on the Internet know me, have seen me in action, or met me face to face to discuss these matters. Their opinion of me is meaningless. Furthermore, I truly believe many of these individuals who express themselves would be far more gracious talking with me face to face than they are over the net. The Internet allows people to let their rude and obnoxious side prevail.

However, publicly making accusations is another matter. State your belief or opinion that’s fine, but don’t accuse me of criminal conduct. Have you never heard of libel?

Back to the so-called “Martial Arts Police.”

First off, who are you, and what are your qualifications to be involved? How does this issue affect you? What training do you have that compels you to believe you have the investigative abilities to examine anything? You claim to be “The Martial Arts Police,” but you have no web site, and present nothing that indicates you the slightest authority and/or expertise to assert such a claim.

You attempt to come off as a disinterested third party, yet you use inflammatory language: claiming I’ve been charged with a crime, giving a case reference number, as if there is an actual case file, and explaing issues of my rights, to bait me into reacting. That is a trap I’ve apparently fallen for, at least to some degree (at least here on my blog I dictate what’s said).

More importantly, if anyone is committing fraud it is people like you, who pretend to have authority when they don’t. You are not peace officers. You have absolutely no authority except in your own mind.

So lets take a minute to educate the public on what the word “police” means. The word “Police” defined

po·lice (p…-l¶s“) n., pl. police. 1. The governmental department charged with the regulation and control of the affairs of a community, now chiefly the department established to maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime. 2.a. A body of persons making up such a department, trained in methods of law enforcement and crime prevention and detection and given the authority to maintain the peace, safety, and order of the community. b. A body of persons having similar organization and function. 3. (used with a pl. verb). Police officers considered as a group. 4. Regulation and control of the affairs of a community, especially with respect to maintenance of order, law, health, morals, safety, and other matters affecting the public welfare. 5.a. The cleaning of a military base or other military area. b. The soldier or soldiers assigned to a specified maintenance duty. –attributive. 1. Often used to modify another noun. –po·lice tr.v. po·liced, po·lic·ing, po·lic·es. 1. To regulate, control, or keep in order with or as if with a law enforcement agency. 2. To make (a military area, for example) neat in appearance. –po·lice“a·ble adj. –po·lic“er n.

Now I may be wrong (I’m not), but there is no, nor has there ever been a governmental body in charge of martial arts. Yes, there are associations, but these associations are not run by the government on any local, state or federal level.

Now, I cannot form a private police force to protect and police my neighborhood. That’s normally referred to as vigilantism. I also cannot pose or pretend to be a police officer, which happens to be a crime.

Secondly, as far as I am aware, there are no laws regulating martial art schools, and their curriculum. Some states have discussed legislation to license schools, but as far as I’m aware this has not happened yet. Mainly, this is because lawmakers haven’t figured out what parameters they would use when determining to license a school or not.

Third, I am unaware of any laws, patents, copyrights, or any other limits related to specific martial art techniques, theories, principles, etc. In fact, I would think trying to claim sole ownership of anything related to the martial arts would be improbable.

Simply stated, there are only so many ways the body can be attacked and used as a weapon. Most of these skills were already employed way back in history, when fighting hand-to-hand was the norm, not the exception.

Anyone claiming to have discovered something new, or revolutionary is just delusional.

Lastly, in order to “charge” one of committing a crime, as the Martial Arts Police asserted I have been, there needs to be a law, and sufficient evidence to indicate a crime was committed under that statue. That means those making the charge must be able to show a criminal act, and an intent to commit a criminal act. They must also have a victim of the crime.

First of all, there are NO MARTIAL ART LAWS!!!!!!! (Except those laws regulated to weaponry possession and usage.)

So far no victim has come forward. In this case, the victim would be Don Angier, he hasn’t said a word. I’m almost certain he wouldn’t care. His biggest complaint most likely would be how much I still don’t understand, and all the stuff that may be inaccurate.

The charge against me is “stealing.” What did I steal? I was given the information freely and with no restrictions for it’s further use. In fact, I was encouraged to explore it further, and make my own conclusions. That came from Mr. Angier himself (It should be noted he told everybody in the room that, not just me).

The fact that I rustled a few feathers by bringing this information to the public’s attention before others—who I acknowledge may be better suited to do so—isn’t a crime either.

Furthermore, I gave credit where credit was due. I never said all the information I wrote was something I concocted out of thin air, or was given to me by some mysterious Tengu. I clearly admitted, conceded the fact that I don’t know everything. I also clearly stated that I’ve have been fortunate to studied with people who do, and they have helped me arrive at the conclusions I presented.

Lastly, and this pertains more to civil litigation than criminal, has anybody lost anything of value and have I profited from sharing the information?

The answer is no and no.

Mr. Angier freely and willing shares the information I wrote about with anyone who attends his seminars. Those who choose to use it, and explore it more in depth are free to do so. I’m sure that some of his ex-students teach these things whether or not those individuals have his blessing to teach his art. Clearly, they have profited more than I, which I agree they should.

The fact that I feel some of his principles, or terminology, are more important than others I use, past or present, is based on my respect for the man and his knowledge. I’ve said this time and time again, but since I’m on trail let me repeat: Mr. Angier has helped me tremendously in exploring my art, refining my art, and searching for the science that makes the techniques within my art work. With that said, it shouldn’t be surprising that if he places an emphasis on a principle, then so would I.

On the other hand, anyone who thinks I derived the information I presented from one source, especially from a few seminars where the topics are briefly discussed is crazy. I started looking into these things long before I knew Mr. Angier existed, and I’ll most likely be adding to my knowledge long after he is dead.

As for profiting from it, what have I gained? Besides being a better practitioner, and a better teacher, I’ve gained nothing. No one is calling me to do seminars now that they’ve read this stuff. I’m not making videos, nor are publishers offering me deals to write books.

The whole point of this rant, and I admit it is a rant, is that it all of these discussions are a waste of time. Who really cares, expect the few people who obviously have nothing better to do in life than surf the net and stir up controversy?

Yes, there are those who say my story and others like them affect the integrity of the martial arts in general (I won’t argue that assertion), but there are so many more, bigger fish to fry than me.

In addition, who has the right, or the credentials to question anyone’s legitimacy, especially when they start making criminal assertions? Just because you have a famous teacher, or a pedigree doesn’t make you or the art you practice any better than anyone else.

The Martial Arts Police

On March 1st, 2007 I received the following e-mail from the “Martial Arts Police”:

Gentlemen,

It is our duty to inform you that you and the Yachigusa Ryu are being discussed in a negative light on Aikido Journal and eBudo.

There are several people on these forums accusing you of being frauds and of stealing principles and techniques from Don Angier.

They are also saying that there was no such person as Mr Yachigusa.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10072

http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36607

You are hereby invited to join these forums in order to respond to these charges.

Sincerely,

The Martial Arts Police

Now I have no idea who the Martial Arts Police are, who they think they are, or what their intentions are, but I wrote them the following reply:

Dear Martial Arts Police,

Thanks for your e-mail. This is not the first time my school, and my reputation has been discussed. I’ve already addressed the comment on E-Budo once before, so has one of my senior students. I’m sure my reponses are still posted on that forum somewhere.

Like I’ve said many times, there is no verifiable proof to my teacher’s claimed history. I don’t know how much more clearly I can state that. I’m simply repeating what he told me as I understood it. I tell that to everyone, so I’m not trying to “hide” anything. I’m very up front with the lack of evidence. It bothers me just as much as everyone else.

As for stealing principles I haven’t. All martial arts use the same principle. Science is science.

As for stealing them from Don Angier, who I have great respect for, I gave him credit numerous times for the terminology, and helping to understand them better. Clearly without his help, I would still be searching for a lot of ways to explain the things I do. I owe him a lot, and made sure to include that in my essays.

If I was stealing from Mr. Angier, as you say I’m “charged with,” why would I mention his name at all?

I should also point out I’ve written to Don Angier for clarification on how I understood things, and benefited from his corrections.

If I am stealing as accused, then I am stealing from countless others who have also aided me in my understanding of the listed principles. The accusation that I obtained all the info I wrote about from a bunch of seminars is ridiculous. I wish it had been that simple.

Thank you for your invitation to join these forums, but experience tells me its not worth my time. People will believe what they want to believe, no matter what is said. I also have no desire to involve my self in pointless Internet wars.

Sincerely,
Gary Moro

Yachigusa Ryu Jutsu

While I think my response is adequate I would just like to add a few more comments for anyone who really cares. (Comments relating to statements made on: Aikido Journal Forum.)

#1 – The last time I checked there are no copyright laws for martial arts terminology, so to say I’m charged with something is ludicrous. Martial artists throughout time have used other people’s information and terminology to express concepts and principles that they didn’t have their own name for.

In addition, it is not uncommon for martial artists to apply learnt knowledge from other sources, and add that knowledge to their curriculum. That’s how people get better. THEY LEARN NEW THINGS.

#2 – Richard Elias is absolutely correct that he helped me understand the concept of Back Pressure, as well as aiding in the clarity of many others. He has helped me a lot, so has John Lovato (so have other members of Don Angier’s school).

Similarly to what I said about Mr. Angier, Mr. Elias and Mr. Lovato have also helped me to better understand things I had already done to some extent. In many ways they opened my eyes about how detailed the techniques in the art I was taught actually are.

Their help has been invaluable, and I’m a better martial artist due to their efforts. However they are not the only source for the material I presented.

Of course based on the logic used on those forums, I also stole from Kano, since I often talk about Judo.

#3 – I will stress this point again: I gave Don credit time and time again for terminology in my essays. However, I have never been given a list Of Don Angier’s principles so I can’t comment on the similarities. In my system we have about 60 more principles I haven’t had a chance to write about yet.

I also have not been privy to detailed explanations of Don Angier’s principles, since I have never been a direct student of his, nor have even claimed to be one. At seminars he discusses various principles, but only on a superficial level. I wrote my explanations as I understand the principles from my experience and what I was taught by countless others, not just Don Angier alone.

Don Angier is extremely knowledgeable, but he not the only one with such information. Terminology maybe, but not content.

#4 – When I first met Mr. Angier I wrote him several times asking him about various elements and the principles he discussed during a seminar. In each letter I told him how I understood things, and his normal response was to tell me when I was right, or if I needed to explore things in more depth.

In other words, he was willing to help me explore my art, and help me further my education.

# 5- Mr. Elias asserts the techniques I use to illustrate the principles are from Don Angier. Be serious. I’ve never seen Don do Osotogari, and many of the techniques depicted are done in countless other styles. Most are very basic, and that was intentional. I tried to use techniques a variety of people could relate to.

Mr. Elias even states that they are technically different than what Don Angier teaches, and he is right, because I learned them from someone else. I’m not copying what the Yanagi Ryu practitioners do, but to be completely honest I have adjusted some of what I do thanks to their corrections.

Like I said, I try and learn from those I respect and who have the knowledge and skill to teach me. If that’s a crime, I’m guilty as charged.

#6 – I have never ever studied karate, nor have I claimed to be a samurai. I’ve even stated that my teacher would laugh when I referred to him as a samurai, which should be enough o dispel that myth.

#7 – Mr. Elias asserted I didn’t know how to tie a hakama. However the truth is I just tied it differently, like many jujutsu and Aikido practitioners do. When I was informed of the proper traditional method, I adopted it. Once again, when I was shown the proper way to do something I corrected my methods.

If that proves anything all, it proves is that when I’m shown that I’m doing something wrong or if I’m shown a better way to be effective I take full advantage of the information.

Indeed, it is the case that Mr. Elias did teach me how to fold the hakama correctly, a skill I’ll be the first to admit I lacked.

#8 – I do own a lot of videos Don Angier has produced. However, they are mainly on weaponry and do not go into any detailed information. Having been to enough of Don Angier’s seminars I know that there is no way to copy what he does without first hand instruction. His stuff is too detailed and technical to make it work if you don’t know what he is doing.

In other words, it would do absolutely no good to copy the stuff from his tapes, because it would be next to impossible to get the techniques to work properly. It would actually be more frustrating than fruitful.

Okay, that’s my statement, and that’s all I have to say on the matter. People are going to believe what they want to believe, no matter what. Enough said.