Friday, April 30, 2010

The Human Route

 A poem I found in Prairie Wind, The Nebraska Zen Center's Spring 2010 newsletter:

"Coming empty-handed, going empty handed, that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud that disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
But there is one thing which always remains clear,
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
Then what is the one pure and clear thing?"

-Anonymous...Tang Dynasty

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One More Black Belt!

Congratulations to Jesse Frank on earning his Shodan. 1st Degree Black Belt in Zen Goshindo Karate.

Jess receiving his Black Belt. He was very tired.

Sanchin Kata

More Sanchin Kata

Free Sparring with Andy...a very skilled boxer!

Free sparring with Sensei Rick

We all had a great time! Jesse did a fine job.
Thanks to the Black Belts and Students who helped in the testing!
Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Domo Arigato Gozamashita

A Big hearty Thank You to Ta Wan for my new Broken Bokken header on the blog!

Looks cool! Can't thank you enough.

Hands palm to palm,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Limits Exist

Muso Soseki, a Zen Master (1275-1351) was also a renowned poet. His poem, All Worries and Troubles, is one of my all time favorites.  Here it is:

"All Worries and troubles
have gone from my breast
and I play joyfully
far from the world.

For a person of Zen
no limits exist.
The blue sky must feel
ashamed to be so small."

Cool poem.

Hands palm to palm,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Black Belt

Ross (in Bandana) Congratulations on earning your Black Belt!

Some Samurai time with Mariah
Yudansha the old man putting Ross in arm bar 
Joel's rear attack

Ross recuping post elbow to noseRoss receiving Black BeltWhat's a bb test w/o blood and swollen noses!
and jammed knees!

Once again, Congratulations to Ross and a big Thank You to the Yudansha
Sensei Verna
Sensei Rick
Sensei Mariah
Sensei Joel

and to Jake (yellow belt) Ross' brother who was our gopher.

For more photos visit my Facebook Photo section.

Hands palm to palm,

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blatant Marketing

After May 10th, if any of my readers would like an autographed copy of Black Belt Healing let me know. It retails at $16.95...I would just have to add shipping and handling charges.

I have a book signing on May 8th and if there are any books left over (I am hoping I sell out) I will have a limited supply to sell on-line.  If the demand is more than what I have I can always order more books.

Also, if any Budoka out there would like to have me come in for a workshop on healing and martial arts, also give me a buzz. Send me an email or just a comment with contact info and I will get back to you...and thank you for reading.

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Blog

Taking the advice of Narda, one of the followers of this blog, I have started a new blog to record some new adventures in my life.  Now, some of you might think I have gone off the deep end. Don't worry. That happened years ago!

The new blog is

It is a blog of my playing in the playground of my mind.  I am not seeking anything other than to just play and enjoy the journeys.  I am done seeking after the 'magic pill' that will make life perfect. It is perfect just as it is. Also knowing that no state of consciousness stays constant, chasing after any one state over another is folly. I am just a big kid at heart and have a playground that is eternal and infinite.

As Shido Bunan Zenji wrote: "Die while alive, thoroughly die. Then just do as you as will, and all is right." 

I will be keeping this blog as well to continue to post my passion for the Martial Arts, Zen and Healing Arts. So, please join me from time to time over at the Samurai Shaman blog if you are interested.

Hands palm to palm.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Had fun with the Mohican Headstart students planting Pinwheels to Prevent Child Abuse.  Future warriors and healers learning how to be gentle and caring.

They enjoyed the pinwheels, as did the adults. It was a beautiful day for them to come over to the clinic and partake in the 'planting'.

As Martial Artists, I believe we need to be in the forefront of teaching the youth how to be true warriors, not punks. Since starting our martial arts class I have had a few community warriors come and talk to me. I will be lining them up to come and speak to the kids about their traditions, culture and language. Culture and language is so important for that sense of identity and belonging.

Budo is so important and a good Martial Art class becomes a family...a place to belong. My brother was on vacation in the Bahamas last week and started a conversation with another martial artist and they instantly bonded. Such is the way of Budoka.  It 's one big family.

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Strange Healing

About two months ago I jammed my neck (head-butting a brown belt in the stomach...long story). About two weeks after this my vertigo returned. This prompted me to go see my Chiropractor for an adjustment of my neck and back as it helped in the past.

During the first session (I had four in one week) she told me I really f**ked-up my neck. After the adjustments I began having a sharp pain in my back between the shoulder blades. Breathing was difficult and sleeping on my side exacerbated the discomfort. I continued to due my yoga and visualizations for healing which gave me some relief.

Well, today I had a strange healing. At lunch I decided to do some self-hypnosis and requested a healing from my subconscious. I put on some Shamanic drumming music and entered into a trance. I lost track of time but my conscious mind kicked in when I heard and felt a 'pop' coming from my chest/heart area and I could 'see' the shape of glowing chakra in my mind's eye. The feeling was great and one of relief. All afternoon I have felt at ease, not only emotionally, but the discomfort in my back was gone!

I am going to use more Shamanic background music for my self-hypnosis sessions and see what happens. I have been thinking of doing some past life regressions in this manner as well. I love taking trips. Would you guys who read this blog be interested in hearing about my journeys?

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, April 19, 2010


This is one of my favorite stories from ancient China. It teaches us about the folly of judgement and the impossibility of truly knowing anything.

The story begins with the farmer's only horse running away. The farmer used the horse for so many purposes on the farm. One of his neighbors offered sympathy with, "Too bad about your horse." The farmer replies, "Maybe." The next day the farmer's horse returns leading four wild horses into the stable. This time the neighbor congratulates the farmer with, "Wow, what a stroke of luck!" The farmer again replies, "Maybe."

The next day, while trying to tame the wild horses, the farmer's son breaks one of his legs. Again, the neighbor offers sympthay, "This is sad. What bad fortune." The farmer replies once again, "Maybe." The next day, the general of the army is sending recruiters out to gather young men of fighting age, but the farmer's son is layed up and is spared from going off to war....and the story goes on and on and on.

I think of this story whenever I find myself struggling with a tough situation. As I've matured and have at least five decades to look back upon, much of what I thought was 'bad' actually turned out 'good'...and so on. Non-judgement. Just seeing now as now...remembering picking and choosing is the dis-ease of the mind.

Hands palm to palm,


Saturday, April 17, 2010


At the Broken Bokken we wear a patch on our uniforms with a Tiger and a Dragon engaged in battle. When entwined like this they are the animal representation of Yin and Yang.

The Tiger is Yang.

The Dragon is Yin.

They are in a battle that neither can win since they need each other. Can't have Tiger Yang without Dragon Yin. They move together and are a wonderful way to explain martial concepts, especially to new students.

Typically, we begin teaching Tiger techniques. They tend to be easier to learn as most people are used to 'hard' hitting, clawing, blocking, etc. Most fights you see are typically yang on yang. Once Tiger Yang is getting mastered, the flowing moves of the Dragon Yin are introduced. These can be joint locks, throws and evasive strategies...and work quite well when set up with a Tiger Yang.

As both get mastered, the student learns to blend the two in self-defense situations. The student learns to yield and flow like the dragon, then hit like the tiger....or suddenly pounce like a tiger and then wrap up the opponent in an excruciating dragon joint lock.

There are many ways these concepts are taught, but this one way we teach about these two animals...and how they can work together to teach us the way of yin and yang...soft and hard...and how to use these complementary opposites not only to save our lives physically, but when we look deeply, spiritually as well.
Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Tao of Bazooka Joe

Came across Bazooka Joe the other day and was reminded of one my earlier posts. It is a good least for me.

When I was a kid Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum was awesome! Not only did we get a great chewy bubble gum, but we got a comic strip featuring Bazooka Joe printed on the inside of the wrapper. Bazooka Joe was always getting into some kind of mischief and I always looked forward to his antics.

After all these years though there is only one joke that I remembered because I thought it to be so hilarious and absurd...and little did I know that it was a great teaching as well.It goes something like this:

It's dusk. Bazooka Joe is outside on his hands and knees under a street lamp. His buddy comes up to him and asks, "Bazooka Joe, what are you doing?" Bazooka Joe responds, "I am looking for a nickel I dropped."His buddy then gets on his hands and knees and begins to help Bazooka Joe look for his nickel. After about ten minutes of fruitless looking his buddy asks, "Where exactly did you drop your nickel?" Bazooka Joe says, "I dropped it in the house." His buddy looks at him in astonishment and remarks, "Then why are you looking out here?" Bazooka Joe says, "Because the light is better."

It's a classic.It is also a great teaching that is contained in all major spiritual traditions, such as Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, etc. This teaching is that our nickel of truth, enlightenment, security and all that we seek is inside our house, not outside it. Look at the human condition today.

We all seek a form of security by wanting more money, a nice car, a great relationship, family life, career, etc. We want all of these things...and you know what is interesting? It does not bring the contentment we sought.Question: Why did you begin training in the Martial Arts?You were seeking something weren't you? It could have been a sense of security through self-defense expertise, or improved health, or any number of things.

When you look at it closely you began training in Budo to get something. I felt that when I got my Black Belt a lot of my inner insecurities would vanish. Well, they didn't! In fact, I still felt pretty much the same. I was stronger and felt more confident with a lot of kick-ass skills, but still that little nagging sense of something missing existed. It's because I hadn't found my nickel yet. I was looking in the wrong spot.

The Martial Arts was the light that I thought would help me find my nickel. I was wrong. There is one thing in the Martial Arts that you eventually wake up to...and that is there is always someone who can ring your bell. You can't defend yourself from everything and everyone. This reality then forces you to look inside your house...inside your spirit/mind/body. And this requires faith. The light isn't as great. At times, you can't see where you are going. You have to trust that you will find your nickel inside...and when the time is right, it will reveal itself. And when it does, boy is it bright!

The light is so bright you see things you've never seen before. It's like seeing or finding a 'hidden' bunkai (application) of a kata you have been practicing for over ten years, but never saw it before. You get so excited you can't sleep. Discover this for yourself. I encourage all martial artists to begin that journey inward. To look inside your house. After all, that is where you dropped your nickel.

Hands palm to palm,


Saturday, April 10, 2010

When you cut an apple in half, have you found the inside, or have you created another outside?
If you choose either one I will hit you with my broken bokken!
Hands palm to palm,

Friday, April 9, 2010

There is No Preparation

As a white belt going through the ranks of Karate, I often disliked the warm-up and conditioning exercises. I found this preparation to kick, punch and throw people around a waste of time. Too boring, I often felt. I see this in many students as well. "When are we going to practice real Karate?", I am often asked. "We want to free-spar and wrestle on the mats," is also often heard.

What students, and myself, did not realize that this 'prep' time IS Karate. It is not preparation to do Karate, but it is Karate as well. The body and mind need to be warmed up and conditioned properly to take the vigorous activity.

In Zen, many students come to the temple to seek enlightenment through meditation. They see Zazen as prep-time for enlightenment...and it is amazing how many students quit cause they hate the prep time. Too boring is often the reason...just how I felt in Karate during warmups.

It is not till you realize that the warmups and Zazen is NOT prep time. The warmups are Karate and Zazen is enlightened activity. They are not preparations for anything. They are IT!

There is no preparation. It is an illusion and delusion of the mind.

When people ask me know how often do I practice Karate, I tell them 24/7. There is no prep time. Everything I do is Karate...just like everything I do is Zazen...enlightened activity. No prep time.

This is it!

Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Buddha!

April 8th is the day most Buddhists celebrate the historical Buddha's if you see Buddha today wish him a Happy Birthday....then kill him.
Hands palm to palm,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seeds of Awakening

This morning as I ripped off April 6th from my Zen Calendar, April 7th's inspired me to post it.

"Just as there are certain species of plants and trees whose seeds sprout only after a fire...our buddha-nature may be like a seed that grows in the ashes of our burned-out forest of illusions."
-Marian Mountain

Hands palm to palm,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Till You Die!

One of the first questions most new students ask when joining the dojo is, "How long does it take to earn a Black Belt?" This is a good question...however, not always an easy one to answer. Without getting too philosophical with a new person, I typically respond, "About five years."

Getting to the coveted Black Belt can be an arduous road. It is full of hard work, sweat, some blood, bruises, fear, anxiety and of course, it is just plain fun!

One of the most important things I will tell a new student is that the Black Belt is not the is the beginning. I know it can deflate some people's aspirations, but it is true. A Black Belt is technically proficient in the art...but this is just the springboard to greater things. If a student is in a hurry to get a Black Belt I try to help them understand that this is a lifelong adventure.

When I put a Black Belt around someone I know they are a 'lifer'. If they are just looking for a trophy Black Belt they won't make it in Zen Goshindo. They will get weeded out and generally will go find somebody who will give them that Black Belt in one to two years.

For me, I feel the body needs to mature with consistent training. I can 'feel' when the body and the mind has matured into a Black Belt. For myself, it is an intuitive thing. I don't have a cookie cutter curriculum for students to follow. Afterall, we are all different, with different needs.

I have two students preparing for their Shodan testing at the end of the month. Both have seasoned over the years and have those five years in. Their skills are good and most importantly, I know these two guys are lifers.

Reminds me of a story from the Zen world. A student monk asks the master how long do we train. The master responds, "Till you die." These are the students I want. We do this till we die. Black Belts will show up as long as you just keep training.

Hands palm to palm,


Monday, April 5, 2010

Trying some new stuff

I will be making some changes to the blog over the next few weeks. I have added a "Healing Tip of the Month" and announcements of future seminars. I know many of my readers live far, far away and can't make it to these seminars, but I will do my best to post pictures and information from them.

I might even move out of my comfort zone and change the template!

Any and all feedback, whether it be good, bad or ugly is welcome. As I grow in my knowledge of technology I am going to try an add more video, especially seminars, both martial and healing...I have to upgrade my camera. It sucks and doesn't always work right...or it could be operator error.

I am also moving into the area of publicizing my book, Black Belt Healing. So, I will share some of my adventures into this world. It is knew for me and I don't mind sharing my journey. Publishing, and now Publicity. I look forward to the adventure.

Take Care....Hands palm to palm,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Zen Buddhism is a Koan

Since the early 1970's I had an interest in Zen and its philosophy and practice. I fell in love with the works of Alan Watts and slept with Suzuki Roshi's 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind'. If a book had the word Zen in it, I bought it.

It wasn't until around 1988 that I began formal studies with a bona fide real life Soto Zen priest. I sat my first sesshin with Rev. Nonin Chowaney out of Omaha, Nebraska. It wasn't what I thought it was. From what I read Zen was about spontaneity, freedom and of course meditation. When we started sesshin I thought there would be more action, but all we did was sit and stare at a wall for what it seemed like, well, forever. My knees ached, my back ached and I had no idea that there was also so much bowing and full prostations. Then chanting sutras in Japanese! Totally lost.

Well, to get to the point of my post. Zen without Buddhism is basically Taoism. It is more in tune with nature and is about harmony and maintaining balance. Zen is about following the Way and developing a sensitivity and insight into the world, not necessarily the teachings of Buddha.

Buddhism is about ending suffering, finding enlightenment and following the teachings and doctrines of the historical Buddha. In some circles Buddhism can be very dogmatic and overly concerned with form and politics, not unlike the Catholic Church. Yet, I love the teachings of the Buddha and am very much influenced by them.

It just seems to me that Zen and Buddhism can be polar opposites. Zen and its humor and spontaniety...Buddhism with its form, scriptures and ritual. In many ways having them together is a living koan. Reconciling these two into a practice and way of life seems to be the conundrum that I have struggled with over the years....part of my bias is I distrust formal religion and its heirarchy. No wonder Nonin gave me Shinzen....Trust my Dharma name.

But just now as I write, my Dharma name is Trust Zen, not Trust Buddhism...or even Zen Buddhism. Interesting...oh well. My wife wants to talk to me now and put my 'mistress', the laptop aside.

Hands palm to palm,

image courtesy of Buddhism Now