Sunday, November 30, 2014

Far East Meets Middle East

Pic shows Masaaki Hatsumi (left) talking to Imi Lichtenfeld (center) Doron Navon (right).

For years Jack Hoban has suggested that I go to Japan to meet his teacher Hatsumi Sensei and to experience the Japanese culture first hand. Back in May of this year it looked like I would have the time and resources to join him on one of his pilgrimages to the Bujinkan Hombu to finally meet the people and experience the martial art and culture first hand.

Knowing that I also trained in Krav Maga, Jack forwarded me an article where Imi Lichtenfeld (Israeli Defense Force's first Krav Maga Head Instructor) was introduced to Masaaki Hatsumi by Doron Navon who was the first non-Japanese person to pass the godan test. Doron who was from Israel had also trained in Krav Maga and was a Judo champion.

After being introduced to Hatsumi and watching him train, Imi is said to have told all of his students at that time to go study Ninpo. So, in Jack's own way was he was connecting the dots for me as well. Ironic?! Well, it gets better: You see I was first introduced to Ninpo Taijutsu or Budo Taijutsu in the 1980's by reading Stephen Hayes books and training with friends who had gone to seminars, but the first real experience that I had with a shidoshi (senior teacher) was when in 1990 a good friend of mine Kevin DeVries and I went to Ann Arbor to a seminar with (you guessed it) Doron Navon. 

I remember Doron being the real deal. Doron was a gentleman warrior who knew his stuff and was very good at his art and as an instructor. At his seminar not only did he teach concepts from Budo Taijutsu, but also Feldenkrais method of somatic education as well (of which he is also an instructor of). I came away from the seminar very impressed. 

Who would have guessed that almost 25 years later my connection to Krav Maga, Ninpo Taijutsu, Hatsumi Sensei, Doron Navon, Israel and Japan would be brought full circle?!

Then the first day at the Bujinkan Hombu I meet one of Doron's first students: Moti Nativ! Nice guy, very Isreali! =)

It is truly a strange and wonderful path!

Now I'm off to train with Nagato Sensei for a few hours.

More to come soon!

All the best,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Land of the Rising Sun

Well, after 17 hours or so on a plane I have finally arrived here in Japan. Being that I have to get some sleep before training tomorrow I think I'll begin my time here by telling a quick Japanese Zen story. Don't worry though, I'll write more of my own thoughts and adventures soon enough, but for now it's some zzzzzzzz's for me and some Zen for you:

A Zen Tale from Japan
There was once a man who was being chased by a ferocious tiger across a field. At the edge of the field there was a cliff. In order to escape the jaws of the tiger, the man caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw, to his dismay, there were more tigers on the ground below him! And, furthermore, two little mice were gnawing on the vine to which he clung. He knew that at any moment he would fall to certain death. That's when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth.

He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.

For those of you who aren't into metaphors, I'll decipher this one for you on the next post.

Good night all.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Focus


Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my second most favorite holiday, after Halloween of course. Things that I am thankful for are too numerous to list here on this blog, however my main categories are:


*Not necessarily in that order.

What are you are grateful for in your life?

The holiday season is full of many things both good and less desired. If we choose to focus on the negative  we will surely find ourselves being drawn away from those things that matter most this time of year: Spending time enjoying the holidays with our loved ones, connecting with things bigger than ourselves, giving, appreciating (oh, is that why it's called Thanksgiving!? =). 

So it is really a matter of focus:

Focus on what you are grateful for and you will probably have a much better time over the holidays and throughout the year.

Focus too much on what upsets you and/or what you don't have and you will probably be miserable or at the very least not enjoy those things that you do have and all of the wonderful things that are apart of your life.

It's your choice!

The only real way to dispel darkness is to turn on a light. It isn't about fighting the darkness.

Light will dispel the darkness without the effort of a conflict between the two. Light just does what it does. It's natural. The brighter the light the more the darkness recedes from it. The trick is how can you help the light shine brighter?

Letting your light shine inspires others to do so as well!

Begin by focusing on what you are grateful for and be here now (present). The more you can focus on the good stuff, the more you can inspire your own life and the lives of those around you. It's a habit just like fighting can be. Remember you have a choice, it's up to you!

Today I choose to be grateful for the Life I have and everyone and everything in it. The good, the bad and the ugly! It has all contributed to me in ways that are so profound words fail me in full understanding and expression.

Have a great holiday!

All the best,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Good Harvest

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.

So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn. 

The wolf is only as strong as the pack and the pack is only as strong as the wolf!

All the best,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Pound of Butter

There was a farmer who sold a pound of butter to the baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting a pound and he found that he was not. This angered him and he took the farmer to court. 
The judge asked the farmer if he was using any measure. The farmer replied, "your Honor, I am primitive. I don't have a proper measure, but I do have a scale."
The judge asked, "Then how do you weigh the butter?"
The farmer replied "Your Honor, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I have been buying a pound loaf of bread from him. Every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter."
~Author Unknown

What is the moral of the story? We get back in life what we give to others. Whenever you take an action, ask yourself this question: Am I giving fair value for what I am receiving in return? Am I getting back what I put in? Being biased become a habit. Some become so off center that that they don't even know what the truth is anymore. But who are they deceiving? Themselves!
Keep going,