Monday, November 27, 2017

Zen and Martial Arts complementarity

It is common belief that Zen practice will help someone progress in Martial Arts. 

Matsuoka Roshi, himself a black belt in Judo as written at length about it. Taisen Deshimaru even dedicated his book Zen Way to Martial Arts to this subject.

Shimanukuro Hanshi performs Tameshigiri - actual cutting of a rolled tatami mat cover.

In an article about  Zen and Martial Arts the author writes : 

"The Samurai achieved perfection in martial arts such as kenjutsu, kyujutsu, and jujutsu through the practice of Zazen"

But I have met several Martial Arts Masters who reached  a high level of mastery without practicing Zen.

Even if it had a deep influence on the ways of the samurai class,  saying that Zen was THE basis of their spiritual training is a questionable generalization.

Now this being said, here is this week's question to you all :

Do you think the practice of Martial Arts can help someone progress in Zen ? 

I hope you had a happy thanksgiving and saved lots of money by not spending any during black Friday...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Culavedalla Sutra

Us Zen people do not care too much about Buddhist scriptures. We might be missing on some things. The Pali Canon has many gems...

As I was researching Mindfulness of Feelings, I discovered 2 weeks ago the Culavedalla Sutra and found it very interesting in 2 aspects :

    Elder Nun Dhammadinnā’s Story painted at Wat Pho, Bangkok

  • In this sutra, the teachings are given by a Nun named Dhammadinna while the Buddha is sitting beside her listening. After the talk, the Buddha said that he could not have taught any better and praised her. This is a good reminder of the importance of the contributions of Nuns to the Dharma.

  • I finally found some clarification about the "neither pleasant nor non-pleasant" feeling, the one that leads to delusion if you let it take you away on arising. I had had quite some problems understanding what the damn thing could be. And there it was quite clearly : 

"Pleasant feeling is pleasant in remaining, & painful in changing, friend Visakha. Painful feeling is painful in remaining & pleasant in changing. Neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is pleasant in occurring together with knowledge, and painful in occurring without knowledge."

Beside that, this Culavedalla sutra is very insightful about the 5 aggregates and the Noble Eightfold path. You might enjoy it... 


May all beings be happy...

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Our next  Tameshigiri training session will be held this coming Saturday November 18 at the Mokurai Dojo in Headland, AL.

Please contact me at (334) 798 1639 or by email at if you would like to attend.

Tenshin Ryu Kenjutsu : one origin of Yoshukai Iai

In 2014 I spent 2 hours at Mr Culbreth's residence with Soke Yamamoto to discuss Yoshukai Iai with him.
Soke showed me some bunkai for several of the waza and we also discussed the origin of Yoshukai Iai which he had not learned Iai from Dr Chitose but from 2 different masters from Kyushu. 

Although I am not exactly sure I fully understood Soke Yamamoto, I believe he had been training in Kumamoto in the 2 styles of Tenshin Ryu and Jigen Ryu, until one of the masters he was training with quit teaching.

In this Tenshin Ryu video, you can see where some of the Yoshukai Iai moves probably come from.

Although Tenshin Ryu Nodachi is much longer than the regular Katana used in Yoshukai iai, the waza at 1:40 is very close to the Yoshukai Waza #8, and the next one at 2:00  is very similar to our #7. 

Also, Chiburi and Noto are the same. 

I teach Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu at the Yoshukai Karate Dojo in Dothan , Alabama. You can contact me at 334 798 1639 or by email at

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tai Chi and good Sleep lead to better Health.

Sleep, Stress and Inflammation
Lack of Sleep can induce stress and chronic inflammation

Stress, which can be caused by lack of sleep, causes  inflammation. The stress level of insomniac people can be so high that constant inflammation occurs throughout their bodies. Such chronic condition can contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and other serious medical problems.

A recent study shows that inflammation levels can be reduced within the body through both cognitive behavioral therapy and Tai Chi practice.

The study was designed around 123 older insomniac adults. They were randomly assigned one of three different types of treatment: 
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, 
  • Tai chi movement meditation, or 
  • A sleep training seminar. 

Tai Chi reduces Stress and Inflammation due to lack of Sleep

The Study showed that : 

  • Those who received cognitive behavioral therapy and practice Tai Chi experienced significant reduced levels of stress and inflammation and slept better. These benefits were maintained after 16 month. 
  • Those participants unlucky enough to be assigned to sleep seminar classes, there was no benefit in lowered inflammatory rates.

Researchers concluded that behavioral modifications that reduce stress are the key to better physical health, once again illustrating the link between mind and body.

You can practice Tai Chi in Dothan every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 7:30 to 8:30 AM and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30 PM

For more details, please contact Frederic Lecut 
by email at 
or by phone at (334) 798 1639


Friday, September 8, 2017

Should Masters adapt to their Disciples ?

Humans are a highly adaptable specie with a great ability to learn and develop expertise. Still, body types generally condition our physical abilities. 

Judokas know it is easier to throw someone taller than you and to sweep someone shorter. This is simply due to the relative position of their centers of gravity. 

O Soto Gari Sweep
O Soto Gari

So during his first sparring matches a short guy will generally put emphasis on throws, and a tall one on sweeps. With years of diligent practice, abilities change, expertise comes and a tall fighter might develop a great way to throw an shorter opponent, or a shorter guy might become excellent at sweeping a giant. 

However, at the beginning, in order to develop self confidence in students, a teacher should adapt his teachings according to their physical abilities and be able to teach both types of techniques, independently from his own preference and body type.

The same applies to spiritual practice. Dharma gates are boundless, we vowed to enter them. We should be able to teach a variety of practices. You may liken the Buddhist path to the ascension of a mountain. On your way to the top, several trail of various difficulty are available.  Zen in essence is about getting off those trails to directly climb to the top. Not everyone can do this. Some people will fall off the rocks, some will get lost on their way. 

This is going to hurt.
Gravity is not just a theory...

I believe a practice leader should know how to teach different path to different disciples at different stages of progress. Before teaching them how to climb rocks, lets teach them how to walk the trail. The Buddha first talked about the 3 Noble Truths : Dukkha, Anicca, Anatta. Emptiness came much later... We should keep this in mind.

What are your thoughts ?

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Tensho Dai, a tonfa kata, was created by Master Yuki Koda (1944- 1997) the late head of US Yoshukai Karate.

Tonfa were originally handles used to turn the top stone of a traditional Okinawan rice grinder.

Okinawan kobudo weapons Tonfa were originally handles to stone rice grinders
Okinawan Rice grinder with its Tonfa wooden handle

Here the kata is demonstrated by Shihan Mike Lilley at the World Yoshukai Karate &  Kobudo organization summer camp in Eufaula, Alabama, USA on June 17, 2017.

 Enjoy and practice...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Witty !

I had been looking for a while for Tsubadome, the rubbery ring that prevents a Tsuba from sliding off the Bokken. 

rubber tsubadome used to prevent the tsuba to slide off the bokken.
2 tsuba dome

You can easily purchase a set of Tsuba and Tsubadome, at a price of about $4.50, but I had no intention to buy all these tsuba when what I really needed is a bunch of Tsubadome.

Tsubadome holding the tsuba on a bokken.

DIY department stores – where I spend several hours every week -  carry a wide assortment of vinyl and rubber hoses and I thought I probably could find a hose that would slide over a Bokken blade and do the work at a fraction of the cost.

braided vinyl hose to make tsubadome
Braided vinyl hose

So one evening of May, on my way home from the dojo I decided to stop by Lowes. I took the tsuba off my bokken so it would look more like a stick than a sword. You never know...

Hickory bokken used for Kenjutsu Japanese Swordsmandhip practice
Amazing Hickory Bokken from Hickory Arms

I got in the plumbing department and having found a salesman asked him if he could cut a piece of 1” ID hose to see if it would slide on my stick.

The guy looks at me and says :
“Oh, a wooden katana !”
So much for being incognito...

As the hose was too small I asked him to cut  a piece of the 1 1/4” ID hose. 

clear vinyl hose to make tsubadome
1 1/4" OD clear vinyl hose

That one was slightly too big.

  • So I ask : “ Would you by any chance carry 1 1/8” ID ? ”
  • “No Man, I’m sorry, but... Huh... I know what your problem is !”
  • “Really, and what is it ?”
  • “You’ve got a metric katana !”

Et oui....

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kenjutsu Seminar at Yoshukai Karate Dothan

You are invited to our first Bokken Week-end at the Yoshukai Karate Dojo in Dothan, AL on April 28, 29, 30. (Last week end of this month). During this seminar we will practice Kenjutsu and Jojutsu with partners and only use wooden weapons.

Kenjutsu Jojutsu Bokken seminar in Dothan last week end of April
Crossed Bokken ready to attack, or separate...

Some people like to brag about being “naturals” at sword. I'm sure you've heard this before.... This is to say the least unfortunate. There is nothing natural about sword or stick fighting. It takes proper instruction, time and effort. Just as being an expert in Karate Kata or Heavy Breaking does not make you a fighter, practicing beautiful Iaido or Tameshigiri does not make you a swordsman. 

Kenjutsu Jojutsu seminar at Yoshukai Karate Dothan April 2017
Shimabukuro Hanshi pressures Robin Ramirez

Short of actual fighting, paired practice is the best way to improve your distance and timing. It is also much safer... This is what we'll practice this week-end and will have fun doing it.

Programme : 
Instructor : Frederic Lecut, 3rd Dan MJER, 5th Dan Yoshukai Karate.

Schedule :
Friday, April 28:  6:30 to 8:30 pm
Saturday, April 29 : 10:00 am to 5:00 pm with one hour lunch break
Sunday, April 30 : 10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Location : World Yoshukai Karate Dojo : 1791 Ross Clark Circle, Dothan, AL 36301

Cost : 1 Session $10.00, full week-end : $ 20.00

Practice Kenjutsu - Bokken Weekend at Yoshukai Karate Dojo, Dothan, Alabama
Shimabukuro Hanshi & Carl Long Hanshi

Contact : Frederic Lecut : (334) 798 1639,

Friday, March 24, 2017

3 Yoshukai Kata

Here are the official counts for Yoshukai Karate Mugen, Sanchiryu and Kusanku kata, demonstrated on March 18, 2017 at a Yoshukai Karate Instructors seminar in Dothan, AL.

 Mugen - open hand, by Mr Tony Adams

Sanchiryu by Mr Dennis Trawick

Kusanku by Mr Josh McCullars


Wednesday, March 1, 2017


When people speak and argue for hours it is often because they do not have a clear and common understanding of what they are talking about.

This at times happens in Buddhism. (Believe me, I was there...)

Clear definitions allow everybody to  be on the same page when discussing or reading about an issue.

Tibetan Buddhism defines mind as what distinguishes sentient beings from rocks or trees or bodies of water. Mind is that which grasps - or rejects - something external. It is characterized by a discriminating awareness or a sense of duality.

 "What is the mind? It is a phenomenon that is not body, not substantial, has no form, no shape, no color, but, like a mirror, can clearly reflect objects."

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

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.

  Image may contain: 1 person, beard

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.