Trash Talk Tuesday: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when discussing our arts

It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!


Disciple of Master Trik-Ki Woo:  Ha!  I made your instructor wince when I attacked him with my Finger of Death from across the room!  That proves my art is better than what you do, prancing around in your pretty white pajamas.

White Belt Wanda:  I happen to know Sensei Stewart had two bean burritos for lunch.   We all went out for Mexican after the morning session.

Disciple:  Look, he’s bowing out of your training area now because I’m controlling him with the mind powers my Master taught me!

Wanda: Nonsense.  He’s heading for the restroom.  Now either shut up and train with us, sit quietly and watch us, or get out of our dojo.

Disciple:  You’re next, pretty girl!  Prepare yourself for the Finger of Death!

Wanda:  Ooo, I’m scared…  Hey, what happens if I pull your Finger of Death?

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc – “After this, therefore because of this.”  It’s quite possible both Disciple and Wanda are committing this fallacy.   Disciple is assuming Sensei Stewart’s behavior is the direct result of the Finger of Death.  Wanda’s idea of the effects of bean burritos on her Sensei’s digestive system is more plausible because many people do suffer ill effects from eating beans.  However, it could be that Sensei Stewart has an iron g.i. tract and was wincing at the sight of an outlandishly dressed cultist waving his pinky finger.  Sensei Stewart might have bowed out of the dojo in order to call a cab to take the Disciple back to Master Trik-Ki Woo’s headquarters.
If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book _The Fallacy Detective_ by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

Powerful but Vulnerable

I am not always comfortable with sharing my inmost thoughts.  Sure I can blather on about stuff, but when it comes to who I am deep down inside I’d rather hide.  I was going to publish this post at my regularly scheduled time after a few other articles I have written and scheduled for the weeks ahead, but publishing later rather than now feels too much like hiding.  I don’t like opening myself up.  But I’ve “met” enough of you to know that if I do step out of my comfort zone a bit I will come out better for what I’ve learned from you.  One of Sensei Andrea Harkins’ recent blog posts affirms that if I do draw some real, live, actual “hate,” it’s OK.   I’ll survive, learn, and grow.


So… On with the story.

I was sparring with a man who was a match for me in size, strength, skill, and intensity.  In a moment of carelessness, I threw what I thought was going to be a no-contact jab to the face.  Thank God it missed.  Without realizing it, I’d put way too much power into that jab.  Believe me, I heard from a Sensei about it immediately after that match.  No, I’m not going to dissect what was said or how it was said.  Frankly, there is no “best way” to say what he had to say, so I’m not even going to “go there.”

In a nutshell, “You could have killed him.”


I took that warning very seriously.   I don’t blame any of you readers one bit if you want to roast me over coals for that moment of carelessness.  I know in my heart that I have changed, I will grow, and I have learned.  Controlling the use of force will be pounded into my muscle memory more and more as time goes by if I train diligently.   Nothing anyone can say will change the fact that I am turning things around, and that is something I can hold my head up about.

I know Karate isn’t about arranging flowers.  I’ve always been aware that I’m learning how to hurt and kill people.  So why am I making such a big deal out of this?  It could be because of the circumstances.  It would have been much nicer if, for instance, I’d been performing a kata and some Sensei had said, “You did that strike so well it would’ve felled an ox!”  Or if I’d punched a bag and heard a thunderous THUD echoing through the dojo.  Maybe, at only eight months into my training,  I wasn’t expecting to hear that I am capable of killing someone.  And maybe I just plain don’t want to hurt or kill.

[scratching record sound] WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?


You read that right.  I’m training my body to become a weapon, but I don’t want to hurt or kill.  I will if I have to – Mama Grizzly Bear will defend her cubs!  It’s just that I remember the things my Grandfather (WWII veteran) said about taking a human life.   And as someone who has given birth twice and nurtured those lives for almost eighteen years now, it’s hard to abruptly adjust to the fact that I can also take life.  That idea had, until the day I was warned, been relegated to the fuzzy realm of “someday.”

I’m processing what being able to kill means to the person I’m becoming.  I’ve figured out a thing or two – otherwise I wouldn’t have written the preceding paragraphs, right?  I know I’m even more diligent than ever in learning how to control myself during drills and kumite, and this is a good step.  But on an emotional level, I’m still processing the concepts.  I have a feeling I’ll be revisiting this issue and working through everything that goes with it throughout my karate career.  Am I correct?

It was tempting for me to just never let anyone know, but this blog is about the experiences of a beginner.  Sometimes us beginners have to deal with hard things.  I’ve bared my heart, so I’m vulnerable.   I won’t ask for anything but honest responses.  If you hurt me in love or if you hurt me because you enjoy inflicting pain, I will learn and grow.  If even just one person can benefit from what I’ve written, it’ll be worth everything.

What Motivates Me to Continue?


On this Valentine’s Day, a bunch of us are expressing our love for the martial arts we study!  This blog is going to be short and sweet because I really want you to have the time to read what everyone else has to say.  I’ll provide links to others’ articles below.

What motivates me to continue studying Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate?

I have many reasons to continue bowing, sweating, shouting, forcing my muscles to work when they want to quit, lugging mats in and out of gymnasiums, and occasionally yelping in pain. I’ll start in chronological order, as my reasons for continuing in Karate have accumulated over time.

1) My daughter wants me to train with her.

2) I need to shed some extra pounds.

3) I love kata and bunkai.

4) There’s more than enough in Karate to keep me busy until I’m no longer physically able to do it.

5) I’m growing and changing.

6) I love finding out I can go beyond where I once thought my limits were.  Facing and pushing through challenges is quite a rush!

As promised, here’s a list of the other participants’ blogs.  Please make their Valentine’s Day special and leave a word or two of affirmation in their comments boxes!

Jackie Bradbury, “The Stick Chick:”  Why Do I Train?

Katy Garden: “Love of Martial Arts

Brian Johns: “What Motivates Me to Keep Practicing Martial Arts?

J Wilson: “What motivates you to take martial arts?”


Trash Talk Tuesday: Weak Analogy

Time once again for us martial arts bloggers to learn:
1) How NOT to make a case for or against someone or something
2) Why certain comments set our teeth on edge
3) How to stay focused when discussing our arts

It’s Trash Talk Tuesday!

White Belt Wally says, “I’m studying Karate, therefore I’m just like Bruce Lee!   Watch me do a flying kick!”


White Belt Wally has very little in common with Bruce Lee.  The differences between him and Bruce Lee are vast, therefore White Belt Wally is using a weak analogy to argue that he can do a flying kick.

When the differences are minor, you have a strong analogy:

Sensei Sam says it is possible for a student in Hayashi-ha Shito Ryu Karate to adapt to Shindo Jinen-Ryu Karate fairly easily because the basics are very similar.   Therefore, White Belt Wanda doesn’t have to fret about switching to another style after she moves from Seattle to Portland.
If you’d like to learn more, you can follow along in the book The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

The Best Athlete in the Family

Let me introduce you to the best athlete in my family.

17 pounds of cute!
17 pounds of cute!

Don’t let his small size fool you.  Dex is speedy enough to keep up with larger dogs, his endurance is incredible, and his agility is jaw-dropping.  He hops and trots through the treacherous jumble of slippery logs on the beach like it’s nothing.

Ready for action!

He delights in movement.  One summer we taught him to do a little Parkour…

Let’s get a little closer and slow it down some.

Every paw precisely placed.  Strength gathered and released as appropriate.  Breath synchronized with what his body is doing, jaw relaxed.  Timing of each step and leap – perfect.  Natural, graceful, and yes, joyful movement.  He doesn’t think.  He doesn’t worry.  He just moves from instant to instant.  His body knows what to do.  Each movement leads right into the other.

Man, I wish I had all that in my Karate!!!

Guess what?  Dex has a handicap.  He was born with bad knees in his back legs – his right bothers him more than his left.  The kneecaps are prone to popping out of place.  He knows how to pop them back in.  When Dex first came to us, the muscles that support those knees weren’t well developed so he often limped or even refused to put weight on his right back leg.  Daily walks, especially uphill walks, have bulked up those supporting muscles nicely so Dex rarely limps anymore.   The building up process was a bit rough for him, but he always has been overjoyed to go for a walk.  Wow.  There are times I have to talk myself into exercising!

So there you have it.  A little furry creature with a positive attitude and incredible athleticism.  An animal who overcomes the challenge of a handicap every single day and who lives in constant appreciation of the simplest things (like tidbits and tummy rubs).  Maybe I could learn something from Dex.