Many of you know of my involvement with Resolution Group International and Jack Hoban. I thought some of you would be interested in Jack's 2016 message, so I re-posted it for you.
New Year's Message
January 1, 2016
Happy New Year – welcome to the year of the Monkey!
Happy New Year – welcome to the year of the Monkey!
Actually it is the year of the Fire Monkey. I have heard that 2016 is a year for taking risks and being rebellious, a year where agile, inventive minds, sheer guts and bravado will win out. It will require courage, action and true devotion, but it is a year to pursue even the wildest of dreams. 2016 is a time to start new endeavors, for they are destined to succeed under Monkey’s influence. But a word to the wise: those who can hang on for the wild ride, outsmart the confidence-trickster, and bluff their way through will come out unscathed. Those who are dull or slow witted, and can’t handle the stress will come unglued.
Boy, it sounds like a perfect year for the budoka! I'm ready. How about you?
So what happened this past year? I did a bit less international traveling and fewer martial arts seminars in 2015 (you'll hear about the reason below). But we did get to go to Switzerland and Germany last Spring.
I also attended the BuyuKai at Castle Kattlenberg in Germany last summer. I have participated in BuyuKai a number of times. This is a GREAT event and I encourage all my martial arts friends to attend. It is organized by Steffen & Sabine Fröhlich. I think there were buyῡ from over 14 countries there last year – and some top-notch coaching on everything from the basics to pretty advanced stuff.
BuyuKai info here: http://www.buyukai.de/. See you there next July!
We enjoyed another Buyῡ Camp East in New Jersey.
Lot's more Buyῡ Camp East pictures HERE!!
We also had training seminars in NJ, California and Florida.
We also had training seminars in NJ, California and Florida.
I was able to visit Japan to train with my teacher, Soke Masaaki Hatsumi, and many buyῡ martial arts friends from around the world. As is the tradition, I led the group in "Happy Birthday," and a toast to his health and longevity. Facebook video here.
Several of us headed to the onsen (hot springs) in Hakone for some soaking, shochu and relaxing. Congrats to Josh on the "big" win!
And there are many more pictures on our Buyῡ Facebook page here.
Check here for upcoming seminars in 2016.
My book "The Ethical Warrior," is still doing very well. It was recently selected for inclusion on the Marine Corps Commandant's reading list. Click it if you want to read it.
You may know that Bruce Gourlie and I wrote a follow-up book for protector professionals called "The Ethical Protector." Check it out!
In 2015 we released an old video I did back in the 90's on Bujinkan basics. I had a laugh looking back at some of the footage – boy I'm getting old!
But there is some pretty good stuff on there, especially for people working on the basics. And you'll see some of your favorite buyῡ on there lending a hand. You can get it here, or on Amazon.com.
I did more teaching with Dr. Steve Olson at the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility. Steve and I have been applying the Marine Corps Ethical Warrior principles and Robert L. Humphrey's Dual Life Value theory of human nature to business leadership and ethics. This is very exciting work (and a little controversial) as it runs quite contrary to what is being taught presently in business schools.
Our venture is called the Ethics Innovation Group (EIG). Steve recently moved to Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. He and I are really looking forward to seeing how this evolves in 2016.
We are still working on a business book based on the Ethical Warrior concepts! I know, I said that last year, too, but these things take time...
For several years now I have been talking about Resolution Group International. As you may know, RGI is made up of military and law enforcement professionals who teach how to resolve conflict under stress. The RGI curriculum extrapolates on the work I have done with Robert L. Humphrey and the Marines in the areas of ethics, conflict communication, physical protection skills and leadership. We had 6 more RGI Conflict Resolution Courses in 2015. We trained officers from a number of different agencies, but many of the attendees came from one particular department.
Earlier I mentioned that I didn't travel as much to do martial arts seminars in 2015. Here's the reason: In April I received a phone call from the Camden County Police Department (CCPD). Camden has the dubious honor of being the most dangerous city in America per capita (see article). The Chief, Scott Thomson, had spun up a whole new police force and wanted RGI to train them as "Ethical Protectors."
We have been doing just that. Click here for some news coverage on the Ethical Protector Program.
But it takes more than just training. Changing the culture of an organization such as CCPD requires a "top-down, inside-out approach." We started by creating a "mentor cadre" consisting of 20 of the best, brightest and most respected officers in the department.
The mentors have been working with us to train (and most importantly to sustain the training of) the rest of the department. It is one thing to attend required training. It is quite another to be mentored with "genuine concern" 24/7/365. Training, no matter how great, wears off without sustainment – and good, consistent leadership. That's what this Program is really all about.
We are just getting warmed up and we expect to be even more involved with CCPD in 2016.
If you are interested in learning how to apply the Ethical Protector training as a law enforcement or military professional – or just want to explore the concept with the top-notch RGI instructors in a hands-on setting as a civilian warrior – check out RGI Events. And there is more news and lots more pictures on our RGI Facebook page here.
This past year I was again privileged to work with the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) in Quantico, Virginia. This important program is led ably by my good friend Joe Shusko (LtCol USMC ret.). It covers armed and unarmed martial arts techniques, combat conditioning, mental training and character development.
I say this every year, but I am so impressed by these young Marines. They are physically and mentally tough, yet respectful and ethical. Many are veterans of both Iraq and Afghanistan. The methodology we use is simple but vitally important: train a lot, talk a bit, train a lot, talk a bit. The Marines relish the physical training, and then are open to hear how to use their training and core values to maintain their ethics and a "protector mindset" under the adversity of war. In martial arts training, it is often easy to focus on the physical part while giving mere lip service to the mental and character elements. But all three parts must go together.
A little bit of a different kind of year, but a full and rewarding one. So what's in store for 2016? When I was in Japan Sensei was going to write me a calligraphy and he asked me what I wanted. I said, "Something for next year." He painted me this:
Calligraphy by Masaaki Hatsumi from author's personal collection
Can you read it? It says "smiling monkey."
We already discussed that 2016 is the year of the monkey. Sensei reminds us to smile. Ha! This makes me think of an admonition that Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu is said to have given Hatsumi Sensei's teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu.
Kakujitsu na shini chokumen shita tokinisae, warainagara yukan.
"When faced with certain death, die laughing"
I'm not going to try and over-explain this. I think most budoka have thought about this and what it means for them. And I think this is a perfect continuation of our theme from last year: mu-shin.
Again, mu-shin is often translated as “empty mind,” but as I said last year, I think of it more as a “clear mind.” It's not that we can somehow stop having thoughts and emotions. They are always there. Sometimes they are very natural, appropriate and helpful. But sometimes they are not. The Japanese word kukan usually refers to the feeling of the space between the warrior and the opponent. But we proposed last year that there is also a "kukan" within the mind of the warrior that exists “between” the emotions. Our ethical and physical training helps us to “see through the spaces” and between counter-productive thoughts and emotions.
So, if we are able to find the spaces between and beyond the emotions, what do we see? We may just see a creative solution that saves lives – and that is the Ethical Warrior’s number-one job.
Mu-shin might mean the ability to focus on life's most important commitments – and act! Protecting life requires action – deeds. We need to see past all of the distractions and focus on what is most important in our lives.
Still, "laughing in the face of death" sounds like a serious, maybe grim, existence. Especially when you place it upon the backdrop of what is going on in the world today. People are scared and worried. And scared and worried people do selfish and bad things. And dangerous things.
One reason people are scared and worried, I believe, is because they are philosophically confused – profoundly so. But there is a reason, I think. It comes down to this: some peoples' relative values are so important to them that they believe that those values – whether they be cultural, behavioral, political, social, religious, economic, etc. – somehow supersede the LIFE value of others. And if you don't agree with them then you are demonized and dehumanized. Or killed. It is fascism, plain and simple.
Here's the rule: no relative value, regardless of how "moral" or "great" you think it is, can supersede the Life Value.
And that is the good news. There IS a "true north" to the moral compass. LIFE. Don't get confused. Don't get lost. Calibrate your compass! And smile.
Do you know what is the most often repeated introductory phrase I hear? Everyday and everywhere? It is a variation of this: "Well, the problem is..." or "Do you know what the problem is? It's..." or "Here's the problem..."
Yo – we all know what the problems are!
Somehow, defining problems in a new and "special" way is supposed to relieve people of the responsibility of addressing, maybe even solving," those problems. All thought and word. No deed.
You gotta smile at that. Or laugh.
So let's smile and laugh in 2016. But also ACT! We can't solve all the big problems. Frankly no one of us can.
Big problems are solved by a lot of little people (like you and me) solving a lot of little problems. What small problem can you solve today? What "small" person can you protect today? Today. Don't talk so much. Smile. Laugh. And act.
People ask me what to do about the deficit. ISIS. Greedy bankers. Greedy mooch bags. Unethical politicians. Huh? HOW DO I KNOW? I can't solve those problems.
But I think I can do some things. I can work with some forward-thinking police departments who want to heal disconnects with their communities. Support the Marine Corps in developing Ethical Warriors to protect us and innocent people overseas. Help sincere people find daily meaning in their martial arts practice. Be an ethical protector to my family and friends. Maybe even hit a great note in a blues song every once in a while. Those things I can do. And here is the thing: none of them are that much more important than the other.
And whatever you can do, whatever small problem you can fix – as long as you DO it – is no less important. And, maybe, the smaller the thing, the better.
So...smile. Laugh. Act. Enjoy yourself.
Happy 2016! Gambatte!!