Category: Bill Stynetski

What are some defining characteristics of the Japanese Samurai culture?

Theirs was a culture rising from war. From the very beginings they served their employer or daimyo in protecting cities. This was before they rose up to power as a class, or in politics. They were servants bred in warfare and combat.

They were experts in warfare and trained for the battlefield. They were experts with weapons such as the bow, spear and sword, and experts in unarmed combat.

They trained constantly in the use of these weapons, for the purpose of combat.

Theirs was a culture of service in war and peace. They were fierce, and for the majority of them, loyal warriors.

Those that survived the many major battles throughout Japan’s barbaric history, walked, limped or crawled away from battlefields. where tens of thousands on both sides lay dead, and another tens of thousands on both sides lay screaming or in shock waiting to die from their wounds.

It was not until around the 10th century that samurai grew into a ruling class in Japan.

  • William Stynetski

What is it like to be a blackbelt in a martial art? Are you ever afraid of your own safety around rough people?

Look at it this way. A significant number of assaults causing lasting and permanent damage (those requiring multiple surgeries and facial reconstruction), and deaths caused by bare hands or with a weapon or instrument have occoured throughout the history of man and continue to this day.

I would wager that 99.9999% of those were caused by persons without any significant martial arts training at all.

It does not take a black belt degree in some martial art to inflict serious damage, maim or kill someone. Nor is a blackbelt any kind of guarantee that you will survive every encounter.

Our nations elite combat troops receive some of the best combat training in the world, yet, unfortunately, some of them do not make it back alive.

Martial arts training does give you a set of tools, figuratively speaking, and an ability and knowledge of how to use those tools.  This is coupled with a sense of self confidence and awareness that is also developed over years of training.

Fear can be an incredible ally. Being controlled by fear isn’t ideal, but ignoring it isn’t the way to go either.

William Stynetski writes about the military, martial arts, parkour, health and fitness.

How to Best Prepare for Bootcamp or Basic Military Training

There is no best way to train for boot camp. It is impossible for someone who has not been in the military to even fathom what recruits go through.

You just go and do everything you are told to do. You will be pushed. You will be punished. You will be tested. Stay alert. Do your best at EVERYTHING. Stand out and shine among those that are not doing as well.

Then turn around help and motivate those very same recruits that are not shining as bright. You will know when to do that, you will know how and where to do that in due time.

It is not about what you do and how you do it. It is all about attitude. A positive attitude wins each and every time in basic, and throughout a military career.

William Stynetski

Want to get better at cooking? Here’s how:

For me, I will find a style of food that I am interested in. Then I will go to Half Price Books and buy 3–4 cookbooks on that style of food.

So if I want to learn to make Indian food, I pick out some recipes from those cookbooks and start learning how to do them. It is more involved than that, though, because you also (with the better cookbooks) learn some of the history and how to stock your pantry with the right ingredients for that style of cooking.

I will follow a recipe once or twice to get it down, then susequent times I cook that food I will make adjustments to suit my own tastes. I will do this with single recipies, or entire planned out meals.Campsite Breakfast-1

It doesn’t have to just be a particular ethnicity of food though, either. You can buy a books on cakes and pies and have fun with those. Or a book on sandwiches and make a different sandwich every Saturday for lunch.

The most important thing, though, in my opinion, is to try recipies that introduce you to new cooking techniques and methods. Oh, and to have fun while you are doing it.

William Stynetski

Easy Traditional Japanese Breakfast: Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago Kake is a pretty traditional and easy Japanese breakfast to prepare and enjoy. I like to use reheated leftover rice.  I will heat it up to steaming hot again in the microwave, and then make a little well in the rice, much the same way people make a well for the gravy in mashed potatoes.

Then crack an egg into the well.

Tamago Kake Gohan 1I will let it sit for a minute or two, then mix it all up. The hot rice will cook the egg a little, but it stays mostly raw.

Tamago Kake Gohan 2Next you can add some toasted nori (seaweed), sesame seeds, or furi kake.

Tamago Kake Gohan 3Serve it up with hot tea and some miso soup (I used instant here, but usually will make my own dashi to make home made miso soup from scratch).

Tamago Kake Gohan 4Mix it all up and add some shoyu if you like.

Tamago Kake Gohan 5And there you have it.  Tamago kage gohan, or Tamago gohan for short.  A really easy and traditional Japanese breakfast.  It’s really good.



How is a bokken used to train a samurai by lessening the injuries that would be induced by a real sword?

Good bokkens are about the same length and weight of a real sword, and can be very expensive. These good ones are even crafted in the tradition of the sword system studied.

For instance this one at $85.00 from Tozando, in the style of the sword used by Yakumaru Jigen Ryu.Yakumaru Jigen Ryu - William Stynetski

Ok, so $85.00 isn’t really all that expensive. Take this one for an example of an expensive bokken, also from Tozando.William Stynetski - Facts Bokken

It is a Deluxe Loquat Bokken, and the price is $1,045.59. Prices for bokken can fall anywhere from $10 to much, much higher as you can see.

As far as lessening injuries go, about the only thing a wooden bokken will not do is cut or slice human flesh.

Other than that, the bokken is an extremely dangerous weapon. With enough force, a bokken can still stab through soft targets, like the solar plexus, throat and eyes.

And with even less force can break and shatter bones of the fingers and hand. With a little more force these weapons can break arms, ribs and skulls.

So in a sense, yes, a person training with wooden weapons will not have to pick up their sliced off body parts off the ground, or get stitches, but a few weeks in a cast could definately be a possibility.

As could death. I can tell you, even a light and accidental hit with one of these really hurts.

Wearing armour, as samurai did on the battlefield, during training will lessen the damage taken, but in the hands of a skilled swordsman that samurai undergoing training will definately feel it when a mistake is made. Even then, the hands, fingers, and especially the thumb is a desired and usually exposed target.

These are real weapons, and the beauty is they don’t have to be used like a sword. Afterall, it is a piece of wood, and it can also be used like a short staff, but yes they hurt. Yes they can cause damage, and yes they can even cause death.

  • William Stynetski