Sunday, February 12, 2017

RIP Katsuoh Yamamoto, 1938 - 2017

It is with much sadness that we share the  information  that Soke Katsuoh Yamamoto, founder of Yoshukai Karate passed away on February 12, 2017 in Japan.  Born on July 10, 1938, Soke was 78 years old. His long and courageous battle with cancer finally came to a peaceful end.

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One of the last masters who learned from the pioneers who brought Karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan, Soke Yamamoto acquired and honed his skills under Sensei Tsuyoshi Chitose, founder of Chito Ryu Karate, before founding Yoshukai Karate in 1963. 

He touched many lives and inspired many people with his bravery and strength of mind, keeping with this legacy through his last and most difficult battle against cancer. We will now carry on his legacy with pride, not forgetting the many teachings and lessons we all gained from him.  

Over the course of the last 23 years I had the honor to meet and train under him many times. I will miss his courage, integrity and kindness.  


Sunday, January 22, 2017


The least amount of leaning or twisting our torso tremendously decreases our stability. Keeping vertical and straight is extremely important no matter what we are doing, meditating, walking or fighting (from a standing position).

A common advice given to help us keep this proper posture is to imagine a golden thread glued to the crown of our head is pulling it upward.

Now it is a beautiful image, but it is not easy for everyone to imagine this kind of things. 

Last November, my Sword Master Carl Long Hanshi told us to make sure to always see our belly or chest in our peripheral vision when looking horizontally. 

I like this much better than the Golden Thread way, and it also works for Martial Arts as well as for Meditation. It is easier for most of us to see things than to imagine them. 

Positive secondary effect : Deeper breathing.

Additionally, while this should be part of our formal Zendo and Dojo practice, it can and therefore should also be practiced in everyday's life. 

This is primordial.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


There is a subtle but important difference between being aware of a thought and thinking it.

When you are just aware of a thought it is not fully born, it is not there yet, and if you play it well, you don't have to let it take over !

Once a thought becomes fully conscious, it is much more present and becomes commending and compulsive. It will suck you in and grab control of your consciousness. 

In terms of dependent origination, your ego is born.

This difference is better experienced than said. But I will try 1 simile.

Imagine you are on a board surfing the crest of a wave. As long as you stay balanced on your board, you are simply aware of the strength of the wave. The wave and you are one.

But if you dont pay attention and fall off your board, all of a sudden you feel the strength of the ocean. 

Training is necessary to acquire the ability to be aware of thoughts without being taken over by them.

This applies, of course, to Zazen. Be aware of thoughts, emotions or other mental activities before they become powerful enough to drag you in, you can keep surfing the crest of the wave. 

Try it...

Dharma gates are boundless, I wow to enter them...

Friday, August 5, 2016

Cross Training

Practice is not just about improving skill in one discipline.

Martial Arts, Zen and Mosaics are the 3 legs of the chair I sit on. If you remove one leg, the 2 remaining legs won't stabilize your ass. If you make one leg stronger, it increases the stability of the whole chair.

That's what Cross Training is about...

Don't get stuck anywhere,  learn in one place to be more efficient somewhere else, Dharma gates are boundless, enter them ! 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 reasons why you should not use a shinken.

In the past 16 month I have seen in 2 occasions some high ranking Karate people cut themselves with their swords. In Public. Fortunately, their cuts were superficial, no tendon or bone were cut. But the blood spilled in front of many people. 


This is unfortunate. Cutting yourself with your sword is akin to shooting yourself in the foot with your own gun. Would you trust a gun instructor who'd do that ?

Sharp swords – also called Live Blade or Shinken in Japanese – were designed to kill people swiftly and effortlessly. The only reason to use them is to practice Tameshigiri – actual cutting of targets. This is done in a particular environment, with strict safely guidelines.

They should not be used for Iaido which is normally practiced with Iaito. Iaito have the same geometry and shape than regular katana, they may be slightly lighter to prevent stress injury, and they are dull to avoid accident. They are designed for this purpose of safe practice.

If Japanese masters use them, so should you. 

For the following 3 reasons :

A dangerous fallacy.
I have heard many people say “I like to practice with a sharp sword, because it forces me to be more accurate.” Invariably, those people cut themselves. And it's just a matter of time before someone cuts someone else. So this is a fallacy, and a dangerous one.

A bad image of Yoshukai
Unless you know what you are doing, you will cut yourself, as long as it happens in private, it is your problem, but if it happens in public, you are displaying a poor image of Yoshukai in front of students or parents.

A serious liability
An other aspect of this is that when you bring to a room, a dojo or a beach a sharp sword and leave it unattended on the ground, you are in effect letting a dangerous weapon in the open for anyone to mess with. Would you leave a loaded gun laying on an open table in a picnic area ?
People, and children in particular, are curious and can be sneaky. If anyone would grab your sword and accidentally cut themselves, or wound or kill someone, you would likely be liable, as would probably be whoever organized the event or own the venue where it happened.

So if you don't have a sword, please purchase a Iaito, there are some good ones available at Cheness. If you already have a sharp sword, dull it. Use a grinder and take the sharp edge out of it or ask someone to do it for you. If you want to keep your sharp sword purchase a Iaito.

If you have questions about sword purchasing, please contact me at

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Original Mind

One who practices Zen must put a stop to all kinds of conditions and eliminate all sorts of things -- good and evil, right and wrong, self and others, mundane and supramundane. He must abandon both the body and the mind, thinking of nothing whatsoever, letting his mind go free. If one is not bound by seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing and if one is not deluded by circumstances, then, and only then, can he truly practice Zen. 
The Zen practitioner should understand that :
  • Past things are already past. If you do not think about it, then any thought of the past vanishes; thus, there are neither any past things nor any past mind. 
  • Furthermore, future things have not yet arrived; so if you do not wish for or seek anything, then any thought of the future vanishes; thus, there are neither any future things nor any future mind. 
  • Finally, present things are already present, so if you are just aware without grasping at or dwelling on anything and never let a thought of love or hate arise, then the thought of the present vanishes; thus, there are neither any present things nor any present mind. 

If you can understand the mind without being fixed anywhere or on anything, just generate pure thought, neither grasping at anything nor dwelling anywhere - that is seeing one's own Original Mind; that is seeing one's own Original Nature. 

Dazhu Huihai - 8th century AD

When you practice Zen, sit in the lotus position, close your eyes, keep your body erect and allow your mind to become clear and still. Abandon any thoughts of good or evil. When thoughts do arise, just observe each thought carefully and become aware whence it arises. Then you can become aware of false thought as it suddenly arises and suddenly dies away, as it comes and goes, never stopping for one instant. 

You should have ni impulse to follow false thoughts anywhere nor  hold any idea about getting rid of it...

... In time, as the observer becomes very skilful, false thought gradually falls away until, without a single thought arising, there remains only still, clear voidness. While walking, standing, sitting and lying down, always practice in this manner...

From the Introduction to the 
Translated by Dharma Master Lok To 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shindo Muso Ryu Jo Jutsu

Not easy to locate good instructional videos... Here are 2 great Jodo videos with Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi.



Enjoy, Practice