Posts from June 2007

Nostalgic collection of martial art courses and ads from comic books

In this great gallery you can catch up with our childhood fantasies. Ads promising everything from joining the black Ninja society to learning the secret devastating fatal techniques of the Dim Mak expert are offered at a price starting from 99 cents.

It’s a pity we lost so many years training, when we could have paid the money and get over with it.

In the words of one disappointed student: “what? What do you mean 12 years for a black belt? don’t you have something faster?”
There you go, just 99 cent plus delivery.
link to Dan Kelly’s site


Should esoteric knowledge in martial arts be given away?

By Yossi Sheriff

More then twenty years ago one of my teachers told me: “Sheriff, don’t reveal everything to your students”. Such a Japanese thing to say, the proper thing to say would probably be: “tailor your teaching to the student”. Maybe this is what he meant, maybe I misunderstood.

I’ve been thinking about it recently, mainly in the context of my knowledge in martial arts, knowledge that is starting to unfold in our martial arts encyclopedia, the AKBAN-wiki. I thought: “would that teacher be happy with our project?” that’s a big question, I’m not sure, probably not. I know that most of the instructors in AKBAN had doubts about opening up our vast databases. They probably thought about the old Sufi proverb adopted by countless esoteric doctrines: “Knowledge revealed is power lost”.

Probably this is what my teacher was thinking about, maybe he wanted to protect me from loosing power.

I can side with him and raise several other points: some people that have problems with giving, people that actually feel weakened by giving, should not disclose what weakens them. And more, if the receiving party, the student, is not ready for learning, then knowledge should be given only according to his level of being. As we say here: “thou shall not feed steaks to babies”.

If our knowledge, our dear “secret esoteric knowledge” can be found in two clicks in the World Wide Web, then it’s probably not so mysterious, we will not be snitches of the truth; the internet did it for us. (In a separate thread I must add that if a teacher thinks of the student as enemy then he is not suitable for teaching).

This is not the main point, “knowledge revealed is power lost” does not deal with protection of the weak, or preaches abstaining from teaching students that are not ready; It is an absolute, overriding insight, a proverb that belongs to a certain state of mind, the state of mind of those who know.

I did not assume my teacher’s advice. I know the surface of my experience and the volume of the proficiency that stems from it, but I never thought that the knowledge I have is complete, quite the opposite, even in good times I feel lacking in knowledge and correct actions.

In my place and, and I can safely say: all of the instructors of our martial arts school, AKBAN, in this place there is a lot to learn. Our diverse martial knowledge is just scaffolding, a skeleton, upon which new insights can be built. Thus one of the main cornerstones of the AKBAN method is dialogue.

There is immense value in giving away knowledge. Sometimes I don’t know what I will say at the next moment. Speaking, the action of the language, makes magic and creates, in response to the attention of the listener, a new knowledge.

I am addicted to this process, if I must name it I’ll call it “Open end“, just to differentiate it from “Guru-izm”, from a place where someone professes to know some absolute truth. With “Open end” nobody knows what will happen in the next moment, what we will know then. We only know our path. Our path has clear boundaries; it is lined with professionalism, humanity, usability and investigation. We know not were it does lead; instead we emphasize the excitement, the experience of discovery, the sharing of private thoughts with another.

I sat the other day with Navot – a Judo Shodan and an old Akbanaut – to a coffee. Navot is also a top notch patissier and since I like baking I quoted “knowledge revealed is power lost” and we sat there, thinking, how the best cooks and patissiers are willing to reveal knowledge. Pierre Herme teaches in several schools, has apprentices, writes books and of course sometimes appears on television.

Of course, some important parts of what Mr. Herme knows is not transferable, this part is the sum of all what Mr. Herme is plus his somatic knowledge. Maybe this I why he is willing to teach all he can, because he holds the essence, and not only this, he gets back all he gave consciously. These are the mathematics of knowledge.

Knowledge should be given. We will get more knowledge in return. Students will probably need a path, a qualified guide and years of experience to make it work. Bur knowledge should be given.

So the suitable proverb here should be one that I have walked with for many years: “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”



By Konstantinos Kavafis (1863-1933)

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.

Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that
Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)


Translated by Daniel Mendelsohn


Harmony with the surrounding

By Gabi Frishlander

In every visit to Sinai, I felt that this desert carries a different and sometimes enchanting flow of life. Good karma goes a long way there. Nir Unger and I were on our way to Muhammad’s family near Santa Katrina, when we met on the beach with an expert on finding water, a real dowser, there by invitation of the Egyptian government. He was invited to help locate water in the arid expanses of Sinai. He was also on his way to meet Muhammad, who is known and respected throughout Sinai. Andre, Nir and I were in a minibus loaded with groceries for the family when it started to drizzle. Water came down from the sky after a dry spell of years. Although not a torrent, the drizzle signified to me that this visit will be extraordinary.

There are states in which we perform well, with accuracy and correctness and there are states in which things are done in true harmony with others and the environment. Not unlike a Jazz jam session or sparring with and old friend, like a song that resonates off distant cliffs or a physical structure which blends with its surroundings and reflects its location.

Shortly before sunset, after tea and a rest from the drive, Muhammad asked Andre the dowser to come down with him to his wadi behind the family’s home. He suspected there was water there and wished to know what Andre thought of it. Andre can describe where the underground water stream starts and ends, he can determine the kind of rock that will be dug up and the salinity of the water below, as well as the depth of the water basin. We went down to the wadi, Muhammad, Andre, Nir, Salah (an old friend of M) and myself with a camera to record the search for water.

After returning to Tel Aviv I was editing the footage while in the background Caetano Veloso was singing “Maria Bonita”. The song somehow felt right for the piece and I simply pasted it into the clip. The result was beautiful. First, I saw how Andre was actually dancing his explanations to Muhammad while sensing the water below in eerie synch to the music. Next I noticed that all persons present (including the cameraman with his pans and zooms) were “dancing” in a kind of non-verbal communication and without audible music, but in a harmony that cannot be ignored.

3 things were common to everyone present there: Firstly, all were types of warriors – Andre having an extensive background in Aikido, Nir in Ninjutsu, Muai Thai and various Chinese internal martial arts, myself and the two Bedouins whose very lives in the desert represented the warrior’s way. Secondly, I think it was a common love of humanity and nature. Thirdly, we were all there to give some kind of service, Andre, Nir and myself to Muhammad and Salah, and vice versa.

Trying to narrow it further, I could say that all were persons connected to themselves. People who feel at peace in their inner homes, whether from living a spiritually clean life in the desert as our two old Bedouin friends, or by learning Maharaji’s meditations (as I did) or through whichever spoke of the wheel they traveled to get to the center.

If we use the wheel as an analogy to life, then outside, furthest away from the center, life is fast and turbulent but closer you get to the center, things slow down. At the very center the movement stops altogether and, in fact, a new reality presents itself, one that is different from the one we are used to experiencing in our daily lives.

The wheel has many spokes leading from outward within. The paths are many but in the center all differences are removed. That is the moment we experienced in this video clip.

Gracie fails drug test after fight with Sakuraba

After his recent fight with K. Sakuraba,

video 1 of the fight,
video 2 of the fight,
video 3 of the fight,
Royce Gracie failed his California State Athletic Commission drug test.
Gracie was tested positive for Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Gracie said he will appeal, but meanwhile he has been suspended from June the 2nd.

This heightens the question of whether there is a fair chance for a MMA to compete successfully in a field that is plagued with competitors using illegal substances to boost performance.


Your martial arts web site is back online, sigh…

These were more then 12 nerve recking hours…

Due to huge increase in user traffic on our martial arts encyclopedia and because of the big data bases demands that were tasking our previous server we had to move your martial arts site.

We now host this huge web site on a separate server.
The good news are that it was worth it, every page loads faster, especially the AKBAN-wiki but also more esoteric issues like esoteric ninja hats.

Sorry, friends, we didn’t think it would be that complicated.

Oh, almost forgot, thanks to Erik R. who from far far away found the DNS problem that was the root cause and corrected it.

Thanks to all of you who sent mails regarding this problem.