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1700+ Posts... and Counting

Live NHK World TV News from Japan

Here is a better link to live NHK World TV news from Japan:


Charles C. Goodin

Top 12 Earthquakes

In About Large Earthquakes, I mentioned that "[F]ive (5) of the top 15 earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the last seven (7) years. In other words, thirty-three percent (33%) of these earthquakes have taken place in just over six percent (6%) of the time."

I looked at the earthquake list again. Actually, it is also true that five (5) of the top 12 earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the last seven (7) years. In other words, almost forty-two percent (42%) of these earthquakes have taken place in just over six percent (6%) of the time. What's up with that?

Another thing, when two bad things happen, watch out for the third. Bad things tend to happen in threes (I think this has to do with the shape of multiple universes or something). We had the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor disasters (I'm counting this as one event) and the attack on Libya. What is next?


Charles C. Goodin


Fortitude is another way of expressing the Japanese concept of gaman (to bear the unbearable). Of course, fortitude is not a trait that it exclusive to Japanese. At times of great crisis, such as wars and natural disasters, people of all nations and walks of life, rise to the occasion and demonstrate the best characteristics of human beings.

What makes the Japanese stand out to many of us in the West, is not just their ability to bear incredible suffering, but their lack of complaint and the way that they remain so composed and orderly. It seems to me that Japanese are raised this way -- with an emphasis on these specific traits.

I remember once that a pair of sai were stolen from my home. They were very nice stainless steel Shureido sai. I thought to myself, "How could this happen?"

I did not mean, "How could someone steal my sai?" Instead, I meant, "How could anyone steal?" It was hard for me to believe that anyone could allow himself to do such a thing.

I know that this is very naive, and that theft is a reality in many places, but I was raised by a mother who was born and raised on Japan before the war. Theft is just something that his not done. I heard many stories about my grandmother. My mother always said that if she saw someone in need, she would invite them in to eat. If they needed something, she would give it to them. Perhaps if more people were like her, there would be less need for anyone to steal.

I was at a supermarket once and found a $100 bill on the floor. Of course, I turned it in to a cashier, because it was not my money. It must have been dropped by someone, who would be looking for it. The thought of keeping it did not cross my mind. It simply was not mine.

Sai and a $100 bill are very small things. The devastation faced by so many people in Japan is indescribably great. However, I wanted to explain why it is that we do not see looting in Japan. Looting is not something Japanese are raised to do. I'm sure that many Japanese could not even think about it. How could they take something that does not belong to them? Instead, I think that they would share what little they had. And if they did find cans of food or other items in the wreckage, and they did take it, they would try to find out who the items belonged to so that they could compensate them.

I am not saying that everyone in Japan, or any country, is perfect. However, we can clearly see that the Japanese reaction to the earthquake and tsunami reveals concepts such as gaman, fortitude, honesty, and cooperation -- values that are taught to Japanese children, and, by the way, to martial arts students. In Karate, we also learn such values -- not to become Japanese, but to develop our character.

I was sent a link to a Youtube video you might want to watch. It addresses these concepts much better than I possibly can. Please see:


Charles C. Goodin

About the Largest Earthquakes

I have to confess something. I check the usgs website at:

about 20 times every day, and have done so for years. I check this website every time I go online, and every time before I go offline (and sometimes a few times between then). If I have several windows open, one of them will always be this website. I usually know about significant earthquakes a few minutes before they are on cable news.

The Sendai earthquake, for example, was originally reported as a pair of back to back 7.9 earthquakes. This then changed to the 8.9 rating. As soon as the magnitude was upgraded, I was off to purchase gas and ice (before the news hit).

Anyway, please see this map and list of the largest earthquakes in the world since 1900 (that's 111 years ago):

The list is below the map. Two things jump out to me.

First, five (5) of the top 15 earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the last seven (7) years. In other words, thirty-three percent (33%) of these earthquakes have taken place in just over 6 percent (6%) of the time. What's up with that?

Second, look at the map. Major earthquakes generally occur on the Pacific ring of fire. Look at numbers 2 and 7 on the map. Number 2 was in Alaska (a 9.2 earthquake in 1964). Number 7 was in off the coast of Ecuador (an 8.8 in 1906). Now look at what is between those two numbers/locations. None of the major earthquakes since 1900 have taken place in the stretch of land that includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Australia has been spared as well, as has Hawaii.

No one knows what the future holds, but I think that we should all do our best to be prepared for natural disasters. If one occurred in your area, how long do you think it would take for basic services to be restored? Even if your home is spared, how long are your prepared to take care of yourself and your family? Do you have the necessary provisions?

While I was writing this, there were two more earthquakes in Japan (4.8, and 4.9), and one in Russia too (5.1). I just checked.

Again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.


Charles C. Goodin

NHK World English

You can watch NHK World English live online at:


I can't stop watching all the news coverage. I've even been watching the news in Japanese on cable. That footage differs from our normal cable news stations such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.


Charles C. Goodin

Gaman -- To Bear the Unbearable

As those of us in the United States watch the devastation in Japan as a result of the 9.0 earthquake, the tsunami it unleashed, and the threat of the failure of multiple nuclear reactors, many of us are probably amazed by how calm and collected the Japanese have remained, even the victims. They seem to be able to bear the unbearable.

My mother was born and raised in Japan. I am hapa (half Japanese and half Caucasian). As I result, I sort of understand some Japanese concepts, but usually not quite correctly. Please let me try to explain my understanding of the concept of "gaman."

Gaman means to bear whatever happens without complaint. It is not good to draw attention to yourself by complaining. That would make you look bad. However, to bear the unbearable is a sign of real character and will be respected. We are supposed to endure physical injury without showing pain. We are supposed to bear natural disasters and immediately get on with the recovery and rebuilding. Complaining will not accomplish anything. If tears are to be shed, let them be shed while we are working on resolving the problem.

With respect to the earthquake and tsunami, these are natural disasters. Who is to blame? No person caused them. The same nature that makes the plants grow also made the earthquake and the tsunami. You cannot curse nature.

Japanese almost have a sense of resignation or inevitability -- natural disasters are bound to happen. You cannot do anything about them, except to prepare to the best of your ability. It does seem that Japan was ready for the earthquake but that no one could be prepared for such a severe tsunami. No one could do anything about the tsunami, so you just have to bear it, even if it is unbearable.

I am not saying that Japanese do not grieve and shed tears. Certainly they do, but mostly in private. If you see victims standing in the midst of indescribable destruction, they will usually appear to be calm. However, when you see them receiving aid, then they might cry. It is almost as if they are sad that they needed help -- as if they could bear the unbearable, but not the fact that they needed help.

I am certain that I have not explained this correctly -- perhaps 1/2. But I have done so for a reason. We should not let the calm and controlled looks on the faces of the victims in Japan lead us to believe that they do not need help. They do. And it does not mean that they do not appreciate help. They do. They just do not want to ask for help, not because they are arrogant or too proud -- but because they have been raised to bear the unbearable without complaint.

The earthquake and tsunami were natural disasters. The nuclear power plant problems, although caused by the earthquake and tsunami, are man made. I do not think that gaman applies to that disaster quite the same.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and people suffering in Japan. Especially here in Hawaii, we realize that but for the grace of God that could have been us. Given our proximity to the ocean, a similar tsunami would have wiped out most of Oahu and the other populated areas of Hawaii's islands.


Charles C. Goodin

We Are Safe

Aloha from Hawaii.

I just wanted to let everyone know that my family is safe. We live inland at at a pretty good elevation.

At this point, I am not sure about the extent of damage on Oahu and the other islands. There seems to have been flooding in some areas (mostly on other islands) and I have not heard about any injuries.

Fortunately, we had many hours to prepare for the tsunami. It was eerie to hear the sirens going off. As usual, there were lines at the gas stations and grocery stores.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.


Charles C. Goodin

Sai Rules

Next week, my friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata, will teach a class in sai basics for our students. Tonight, I went over some sai basics to help prepare the students.

The first thing I discussed were sai rules:

  1. Don't touch another person's sai.
  2. Don't ask to touch another person's sai.
  3. Don't touch another person's sai (same as rule #1).
  4. Youth (under 18) should wear eye protection when practicing with sai.
  5. Make sure that you have a safe distance around you (measured by your arm's span plus the length of the sai, plus an additional safety zone.
  6. Don't play around with sai, ever.
  7. Be aware at all times.
  8. Look at where you are striking with the sai.
  9. Don't point sai at other people.
  10. Don't step over sai.
  11. Generally, don't place sai on the floor.
  12. When placing sai on a counter, for example, point the tips away from people.
  13. When traveling, sai should be kept in a case.
  14. If a stranger or visitor brings "naked" sai (not in a case) to the dojo, it gives the appearance of a challenge.
  15. Don't touch another person's sai (same as rules #1 and 3).
One of our students teaches gun safety for the military. He added that you should always treat a weapon as if it is loaded, and don't point a gun at someone unless you intend to shoot them.

With sai (in our dojo), safety is always the primary concern.

For the record, I enjoy sai, but prefer bo.


Charles C. Goodin

Cement Edging

I was working in my son's yard (a multi-year project). His grass is so strong that it would grow under any plastic edging I tried. So I eventually decided to excavate a pretty deep trench (at least 1 foot) and make a cement edging about 8 inches thick. It took me a few days to dig a trench about 30 feet long.

Off I went to the hardware store to buy cement. I did not know how much to buy. I thought I might 3 or 4 bags. I asked a worker who made some calculations based on the dimensions I gave above. He said I needed about 25 bags of cement! I thought he was crazy!

So I bought 5 bags (which seemed like a lot) and went to my son's yard, mixed the bags and poured them. The guy was right -- 5 bags was only about 1/5th of what I needed. I had to go back and forth to the store four more times.

That trench required a lot of cement. I guess I thought that the cement would rise like dough.

So here is the point. Learning Karate looks easy but it takes more than a student might think. He might think it will take 5 bags, but the instructor knows it will take 30 (or 100, or 1,000). Experience tells us that learning Karate well takes a great deal of time, effort, dedication, and refinement.

Any good foundation takes a lot of cement!


Charles C. Goodin

Blind Men and the Elephant

Do you know the story of the three blind men who felt an elephant? Since each felt different parts, they thought they were feeling different animals. This shows that there can be many aspects to a single thing.

Karate is like feeling an elephant, a lion, an eagle, a turtle, a whale... basically a whole menagerie. There are so many aspects of Karate and no two students will have the same impression. They could easily think that they are studying two different things. There is one Karate but many interpretations... and each of them is valid.

I am biased because I learned Karate here in Hawaii, first from Filipino instructors of Kenpo Karate and then from an Okinawan instructor of Shorin-Ryu. I then learned also Shorin-Ryu from an Okinawan instructor of Shorin-Ryu in Okinawa. None of the schools/dojo I attended were commercial. None of my instructors did Karate for a living. None of the schools/dojo I attended participated in tournaments. My dojo has always been very family oriented. Okinawan culture, and Karate's place in that culture, became and remains an important focus to me.

If you take my background and my focus on Karate... that is like one of the blind man's impressions. It is just one impression. It is my impression. It is just one impression among thousands (even more).

The only difference is that I head a museum and write this blog and articles. My voice gets to be heard more than most, and I choose to express my opinions.

But my view is just one and I respect other views (although I might not want to pursue them). All the different views make up Karate.

I am tending to become a minimalist in Karate. I do think more about stripping away the unnecessary to reveal the essential -- in terms of technique, body dynamics, applications, and thoughts generally. I do not practice Zen or anything like that. I have just reached the point in my training where less is much more.

Which explains, to some extent, my post Take Away...


Charles C. Goodin

Take Away...

Take away the name of the martial art.

Take away the name of the style.

Take away the name of the dojo.

Take away the uniform.

Take away the patches and embroidery on the uniform.

Take way the belt.

Take away the patches and embroidery on the belt.

Take away the rank.

Take away the titles.

Take away the certificates.

Take away the organization.

Take away the tournaments.

Take away the trophies and medals.

Take away the demonstrations.

Take away all the external trappings of Karate and what are you left with?

Hopefully, quite a lot! And if you think about it, from a self-defense perspective, none of those things will help you.

So why did I mention those things? Because so many people spend so much time and effort on them, when the most important things in Karate are inside you (your skill, conditioning, and attitude).


Charles C. Goodin

Student First

I have taught Karate for some time and written about it now for about 15 years. As a result, I am called "Sensei" by many people, not only including the students in our dojo. It seems to be my second name. My personal friends call me "Charles" but many other people just call me "Sensei." This is a respectful term among Japanese and Okinawans, so I accept the courtesy because I recognize that it is respect shown to Karate instructors generally. My Karate instructor friends and I also refer to each other as "Sensei."

However, I consider myself, first and foremost, to be a student. I should rephrase that. I consider myself to be first, second, third, and fourth, to be a student. Perhaps fifth, I am an instructor.

I try to learn every day -- each and every day. The way to learn is to train. Thinking about Karate is OK if you are thinking about things as a result of your training. It is not just idle, intellectual speculation. Thinking follows training, and you learn and improve as a result of training.

Even though I am 53 and a grandfather, I am still quick to ask questions and will often admit when I do not understand or have questions. This is easy to do, because I am a student. I do not let the fact that I am also an "instructor" get in the way of me being a student. As a student, I am training and learning, asking and listening, and working at it. That is what I mean when I say that our Karate is always a work in progress. It is a work in progress because we are constantly working at it.

If I ever get to the point when I think that I am done and "get it", then my Karate will no longer be a work in progress. It will be a dead thing, just a memory. Of course, I do not expect that to ever happen. I plan to keep working at it as long as I possibly can.

I often describe myself in this blog as a student. This is not false modesty. This is my honest view of myself. Compared to a new student, I might be a senior student. If the new student is a younger brother, I am an older brother. We are brothers in training. He is training, and I am training. I may be older and have more experience, but I am not different -- we are both students.

Some people, I have observed, let the title of "instructor" or "Sensei" (and a host of "higher" titles) get in the way. For some people, having reached this "higher" level makes it harder for them to learn. Some think they already get it. Some are afraid to admit that they do not.

As we say here in Hawaii, I am not afraid of "making A". I don't think I get it so I am not afraid to admit that I don't. I am not ashamed of this because I am still working at it. Of course I do not get it! I may get a little, but I am working on getting as much as possible of the remainder.

I do believe that my attitude of being a student first (second, third, and fourth) has helped me a great deal. I can honestly say that I have learned a lot about Karate from many instructors, not only my direct Sensei. For example, I have learned a lot about bunkai from Sensei Pat Nakata (who teaches Chibana Shorin-Ryu). When I explain a technique, I no longer remember if it is something that I learned from my direct Sensei, or from Nakata Sensei, or from other instructors in the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai (and the Hawaii Karate Kodanshakai before that). I think that sometimes when I explain and demonstrate a technique at a Kenkyukai training sessions, the other instructors must be thinking, "Hey, I taught him that!" And it is true.

In about a week, I have asked Sensei Angel Lemus to visit our dojo and teach a class in takedowns. I really admire the way that his takedowns flow seemlessly from Karate applications. I am not going to stand around and watch when he teaches -- I will be there to learn!

As an instructor, I am not made less by bringing in other instructors and experts. I am not made to look bad by learning from them -- BECAUSE I AM A STUDENT.

The same week that Lemus Sensei is visiting, I have asked Sensei Pat Nakata to visit and teach the sai basics of Sensei Shinyei Kyan. That is going to be some week!

I have not only learned from senior instructors. I have learned a lot from my own children -- all of them. My first son practices Kendo and also practiced Karate with us. My second son is the head our dojo. My third son is an instructor in our dojo and also learns Ju Jitsu and MMA. My daughter is also an assistant in our dojo. I have learned from all of them, particularly my second and third sons who like to show me things (like how to choke dad). My second son and I also compete on koshi and dynamics and who can teach the best.

I have also learned from each and every student in our dojo. When I "teach" them I am learning by teaching, and I get to see the techniques anew through their eyes and physical expressions.

You do not need a rank or title to learn -- you just need to have the right attitude and a willingness to train, observe, question things, and train some more. If you do this you will become more skilled.

Will you be promoted? That is not the question. The question is whether you will learn and improve.

If your focus is on training, there is no time for nonsense and politics. If you are spending a lot of time on nonsense and politics, you must not have enough time for training. If someone wants to talk politics, I will politely excuse myself and get back to training. Politics, to me, is something idle people do. People who train are too busy.

I do have an intellectual curiosity about Karate. That is why I research, write, collect artifacts, and worked (with the help and generosity of many people) to create both the Hawaii Karate Museum and the collection at the University of Hawaii. But even these things are secondary to training. Training is first. Also, even as the head of a "museum" I am still a student. I am leaning so much about Karate's history and traditions. I don't get that either. I am still working at it.

Please let me be very clear about this -- when I say that I am a student first, I am being honest and serious. This is not false modesty or feigned humility. I mean it.

So let's celebrate being students and do what good Karate students do -- train!


Charles C. Goodin

Rarest Karate Books -- An Idea

I wanted to suggest an idea.

The Hawaii Karate Museum Collection is a collection of rare Karate books at the University of Hawaii. While is bears our name (to honor all the donors to the museum and the collection), the collection completely is owned by the University of Hawaii.

If you have any rare Karate books, or would like to acquire ones such as this one:


(Ryukyu Kenpo Karate by Gichin Funakoshi, originally published in 1922)

You could donate the books directly to the collection at the University of Hawaii, in your name or in the name of a person you would like to honor. You do not need to donate the book to our museum. However, we do still acquire and receive books and donate them to the collection.

So if someone out there would like to acquire the Ryukyu Kenpo book, read it, hold it, enjoy it... and then donate it to the University of Hawaii, that would be great! You could also donate money. None of this would go to me or our museum -- it would go to the collection at the University of Hawaii.

Here is a link to the Donations page for the collection.

Thank you very much. I hope that in my lifetime the collection will include every Karate book written before 1950, and most of the significant ones after that date as well. Wouldn't that be a great resource for Karate enthusiasts worldwide?


Charles C. Goodin

Rare Karate Book At Auction

One of the rarest Karate books is up for auction. Please see:


It appears to be Ryukyu Kenpo Karate by Gichin Funakoshi, originally published in 1922 (arguably the first Karate book ever published).

I would love to acquire it for the Hawaii Karate Museum Collection, but it is beyond our means. If we cannot acquire it, I hope that one of our readers might acquire it for their own collection. But please confirm its authenticity, publishing date, version, condition, etc. I cannot confirm that information.

That is one of the 20 or so books we are seeking for the museum collection. Perhaps one day.


Charles C. Goodin

Being Realistic About Strength

It is important to be realistic about your own strength. I am much stronger than my wife, but I am much weaker than my sons. Thanks to my sons, I am frequently reminded about how strong young men can be.

I can bench about 200 pounds once. My second son can bench about 245 pounds. My third son can bench about 310 pounds, and I think he is trying to work up to 350 or 360 pounds this year.

Of course, there are men (and women) who can bench much more than this.

I heard that at this year's NFL Scout Combine, one athlete bench pressed 225 pounds, 49 times. That was a new record for that event. 225 pounds, 49 times. I weigh about 170 pounds. That guy could lift me, easily, over 50 times! And I am sure that there are people who are stronger than him.

Last night I lift my second son and carried him a few steps. He put me on his shoulders and walked around the house!

As we age, our strength generally declines. Even if we become more efficient and learn to generate power better, we still have to realize that untrained people could be much stronger than us. This is even more true for women (and I fully realize that there are many women who are much stronger than me). But a 110 pound woman will almost never be stronger than a 210 pound man, let alone a 310 pound man in good shape.

Let me put this very clearly and directly -- if a Karate student were to wrestle or grapple with a good Ju Jitsu or wrestling student, he would almost certainly lose (unless he was also really good at grappling). If I were to grapple with my third son, who practices Ju Jitsu, I would literally have no chance at all. When he holds me down, I can barely breath (and he is being very nice to me). He would choke me out or break something really quickly.

And my third son is very quick to point out that he is still a beginner and the advanced students and pros would "kill him."

So... we should avoid grappling with grapplers. My best option with someone like my son, would be to avoid the encounter. If there was no way to avoid it, I certainly would try not to get into a grappling match (because I would definitely lose). And to make matters worse, my third son strikes very well. Hmmm, that only leaves very dirty techniques for me... and he knows those too.

We have to keep it real. We have to be aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, and be realistic about the strengths of other people. And don't forget that a drugged or deranged attacker will have seemingly superhuman strength! No matter how hard you hit him, he probably would not feel it.

That does not mean that we should not defend ourselves. It just shows how important avoidance is, and if there is no other way, quick self defense and escape. We do not want to "slug it out" with younger and stronger attackers (or multiple attackers) -- not to mention armed attackers.


Charles C. Goodin

10 Types of Self Defense Anyone Can Learn

I received a link to the following article and thought that it was very interesting:

The article is at the Home Alarm Monitoring website and was written by a woman who was mugged/robbed in her own carport and yard. She has many practical suggestions. I recommend that you read them.


Charles C. Goodin

Three More Thoughts About Work

Three more:

40. Don't just work hard, work smart.

41. If you have to walk to the other side of the building to get something, ask yourself if there is anything you could take there.

42. Karate training is always a work in progress.

Charles C. Goodin

Thoughts About Work

Here are some things I tell my own children about work, and some things I have heard over the years.

  1. Anything worthwhile takes work.
  2. When they complain that a task is difficult, I say, "That's why they call it work."
  3. If it was easy, they could easily hire someone else could do it.
  4. A job worth doing is worth doing well.
  5. You might not be stronger or smarter than another person, but you can accomplish more by working harder.
  6. Chotoku Kyan used to say, "If he practices three times, I will practice seven!" With this work attitude, Kyan Sensei became a great Karate expert.
  7. Fall down six times get up seven.
  8. When you work for someone, give them 100%. Don't show up late, leave early, call in sick unnecessarily, or spend time on private calls. You are there to work. Earn your pay.
  9. If your boss has to lay someone off, who do you think he will let go -- his best worker or his worst? (That is assuming that the worst worker is not a relative.)
  10. A job is not done until it is done. (Keep working at it until it is done.)
  11. A commitment made is a commitment kept. (If you say you are going to do something, do it.)
  12. If you can learn to work hard at Karate training, you can apply that same attitude to school, work, family obligations... anything.
  13. There is no shame to being less skilled than another Karate student, as long as you are still working at it.
  14. In Karate, the work is never done.
  15. Work on your character is never done either.
  16. Life is easier if you enjoy your profession (job).
  17. Generally, you can get a better job (in terms of pay, benefits, prestige, etc.) if you get a good college education. If you have the opportunity, get a graduate degree.
  18. No matter how good your job may be (in terms of pay, benefits, prestige, etc.) you have to consider your quality of life.
  19. Opportunities rarely come by chance, you have to make them.
  20. You make your luck.
  21. Fish or cut bait.
  22. Crap or get off of the pot.
  23. The sooner you start the job the sooner you will finish it.
  24. Thinking about the job is often harder than doing it.
  25. A lazy employee is like dead wood.
  26. If I have to ask you to do it, I might as well do it myself.
  27. Don't ask me if I need help. I will always say no. If you want to help, help. If you don't want to help, don't was time talking about it.
  28. If you help someone, forget about. If someone helps you, never forget it.
  29. Some workers do the work of three people.
  30. Honest work is always worthy of respect.
  31. Do it now. Do not put it off until tomorrow.
  32. Don't say it, do it.
  33. A large weed was once a small weed. Why didn't you pick it then? It would have been much easier.
  34. Finish one job, begin another. Don't waste time in between.
  35. It is hard to find the time to do everything you need to do. You have to make the time.
  36. What you did (accomplished) yesterday is good, but what are you doing today?
  37. No matter how much education and special training you might have, you work for your client. He might have no such education or training, but he is your boss. You are lucky to have him. Don't forget it.
  38. People who work in ivory towers are resented.
  39. I met many attorneys and doctors who had children who did not want to pursue education or a profession. One day when I stayed late at the law office where I worked, I met a cleaning lady from the Philippines. She had come to Hawaii with her husband. He was a cleaning man too. They had ten children (as I recall): three doctors, two lawyers, two engineers, a school teacher, and two children in college. I was in awe of that couple's accomplishments!

Charles C. Goodin