Reflections on the Writings of Hironori Ōtsuka

In the late 1980s I began my journey into the martial arts. I had always been fascinated by karate, so when a friend invited me to join him at his new karate club, I joined. And loved it.

After a significant foray into Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA — which I still study and enjoy), I decided to return to Wado-Ryu karate to complete the journey I began decades ago. Over the years I had mantained my fundamental skills and continued to watch and learn from many martial artists, but I wanted to explore the Ju-Jitsu base of Wado-Ryu more.

The Importance Of Teaching Validity

As anyone who has studied the quality assessment of anything is well aware, whether you are an educator or a scientist, a coach or an engineer, you know that there are two important qualities of any assessment:

  1. Reliability
  2. Validity

This article is primarily concerned with why it is important to teach validity when training people to perform valid assessment tasks in the physical or sporting environment.

Whereas reliability is how consistently an assessment is delivered and how consistently it performs its task, validity is the idea that something does what it says it will do. Reliability will be covered in…

Or, I Failed So Many Times At Uni And I’m Still Here Today

Photo of artwork on a closed, pink garage roller door. Big, red words jumping out of a spectacular blue, explosive cloud that say, “You are going to be fine”. Photo by Chris Wormhoudt on Unsplash

My future is inextricably woven together with my past. But only my present determines what will happen next.

University made my hand blue.

The smooth gloss of the exam paper slowed the soaking of ink into its fibres and my hand would glide over that ink and come away blue. Unless I used a black pen. In which case it would be, well, black.

I like to think that’s why I failed so many times. It’s not. But it would be nice if it were.

When I say that I failed at university so many times, I only mean that…

Why The Greatest Showman Is Such A Great Story

Image of Hugh Jackman as PT Barnum reaching up and looking skyward with a slight smile, with the movie title ‘The Greatest Showman’ to the right. Image from Fox Movies’ The Greatest Showman website.

In case you haven’t caught up with the sensation that was The Greatest Showman, I first of all invite you to disappear for a couple of hours and watch it — you’re bound to have a friend or family member who’s bought it, or perhaps you can rent it from an online digital distributor— and then get back to this article, if only because there will be spoilers up ahead.

The Greatest Introduction

As the house lights dimmed, my wife and I settled back into our reclining cinema seats. The screen went blank. Soon the giant silhouette of PT Barnum was cast against…

Simple Physical Exercise Workout to Do Between Paragraphs

Old type writer with a pocket watch on the keyboard. Photo by Cliff Johnson on Unsplash.

You may not be the same as me, but when I get into writing mode, I become focused. I mean focused.

I also don’t move. I sit there and type.

The body, though, it’s made to move. It wants to move, and I want to move it, but it’s so easy to just sit there, doing nothing but thinking and typing. After all, that’s what writing on a computer is. Thinking and typing.

A Simple Exercise Routine For Writers

So I thought I’d put together a simple exercise routine for all you writers out there. It’s easy to get caught up in what we do, and…


Waves break against a lonely cliff. Here the dark of night is deep. Moonlight, like a timid child, scatters over the cresting waves. A single, rounded coracle navigates rocky waters. A single, shivering body holds on for life, cowering beneath its woollen cowl.

Winds of ice and sleet streak down. Slivers slice the skin. Eyes clench shut, teeth clamp down.

Morning breaks and the weather stays the same. More sleet, more wind and more ice.

Vast, open, green valley with a backdrop of mountains rising into clean air. Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash

It’s not really deep breathing

It’s common to hear people talk about this idea of mindful breathing, at least in the circles I move in. Often, it’s connected to managing anxiety, stress and related things. I often read or hear people saying things like, “Practise your mindful breathing,” and I think to myself, “Yes! What a good idea!” until I hear them explain what they mean by mindful breathing. Then I think, “Oh. That’s a little disappointing …”.

I’ve come across two major forms of apparent ‘mindful breathing’. One is the box breath, which is an excellent form of managing your body’s healthy response to…

Small sword hanging at my side. The combatant can look just as fine on the field as the weapon can at their side.

Look Good Doing It.

Some years ago I came up with a broad overview of the elements of a fight, of the things that are most important when you’re engaged in a combat sport of some sort. These became known as The Three Rules.

They’re nothing all that new but I’d never heard anyone talk about the fight that way. So I coined them and use them for teaching martial arts all the time. Thing is, they’re useful for more than just martial arts. Anyway, that’s not what this is all about. This is about Rule 3 and why I think it’s the most…

A compass with a waterfall in the background. Tinted an antique colour to fit with the explorer motif.

The Case Of The Splitting Pants

It was some time after dawn that I summited the peak. The sun made its weakened petition for the morning ice to disband but to no avail. The concrete jungle slept, save for the occasional four wheeled beast that rolled along its well worn paths.

Fortunately, this path also was well worn but not by those wild beasts. Here, it was far more common to note other infrequent bipedal critters hunkered down in the cold and avoiding my eyes, as if I were some king of the jungle out to devour them on a whim. …

Close up photo of green grass with early morning dew. Photo by Stuart McDonald.

In this short series of articles, I will articulate my own experiences with the VIA Character Strengths survey results. I look at my signature strengths and how they impact my life on a daily basis and on into the future. Here’s the first one.


I grew up in a family that was actively involved in a local church community. I mean we were super actively involved. As I grew up, though, I realised that I never quite fit in the churchy scene. I loved certain things about it but I also found myself veering away from it in certain areas.

Stuart McDonald

Behavioural Exercise Physiologist, coach, martial arts instructor and anatomy/physiology instructor by day. Family Man by night.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store