Rich Black

OK, now that I have your attention! My seemingly controversial post title "Rich Black" probably isn't what you were thinking. You see, I have a background in printing and there is an ink color that is called "rich black." Rich black in printing, is an ink mixture of solid black over one or more of the other CMYK: (C)yan, (M)agenta, (Y)ellow and Blac(K) colors, resulting in a deeper, darker, more rich tone than black ink alone generates in a printing process.

This idea of "Rich Black" is true for everything that we do. It is a combination of perspective, skill and execution. How you do what you do and why you are doing it makes all the difference. Take music for example. A novice can play a note, cord or song and even when it is correct, it may lack feel and soul. It doesn't breathe. It doesn't live. Here is a short but very interesting conversation with Rush's drummer Neil Peart and jazz drummer Freddie Gruber about this concept:

I've played guitar with guys that have brought so much depth of tone and soul to seemingly simple notes or phrases, the same thing played by someone else might be unrecognizable in comparison. Simple elegant, powerful.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to study with many talented and gracious teachers that share their experience and knowledge. Take yoga for example. You can practice it as a one dimensional static stretch or if you are like Behnje Masson my instructor at  From the Heart Yoga Center, yoga can be a profoundly deep, multilayered experience that breathes, lives and grows. She is quite amazing really. She can peel open a posture to uncover a deeper understanding and more meaningful experience. Even the people with no experience what-so-ever go, "aha" when they see or feel when a posture done correctly with organization. It shines in a way that is unmistakable. There have been times where we will work on one posture for almost an entire class and it remains challenging, enlightening and beneficial. I have been to other classes where the poses are done like a laundry list, static, thin and dead. To avoid being bored and to fill the time I sometimes see people trying to teach or learn more quantity of techniques and neglect the deeper substance.

Martial arts is like this as well. When my friend and instructor Jack Hoban  teaches his budo taijutsu art, each posture and movement has a depth and sophistication to it that is inspiring. There have been times where we will work for hours on just one element of a stance, move, interaction or idea before moving on to another aspect. Or we may work on how one element of something comes out in a number of different applications. It is this depth of knowledge and expression that makes all of the difference.

Professor Steve Olson once said after attending one of our RGI Ethical Protector workshops:

"It's simplicity on the far end of complexity."

Although he was talking about the ethic of the Universal Life Value, which drives all of our martial tactics and techniques, it can also be applied to the tactical movement of the defensive tactics as well.

This simplicity is not to be confused with easy. As a matter of fact, it takes a lot of work to make things simple. Take Krav Maga for example, this Israeli method of defensive tactics was developed to be taught in a short amount of time. It had to be effective, but not take a year, a decade or a lifetime to learn and use. People needed to learn it in a short amount of time. Or as I say, "Learn to day use tonight."

Storytelling is another example of this "rich black" experience. I remember being mesmerized by my Grandfather's colorful stories of his days in the great depression. I could sit and listen to his stories for hours. I miss those days spending time with him listening as he shared his life with me. Later master storyteller Joseph Campbell captured my attention with his rich tales of exotic lands and strange cultures that maybe weren't as dissimilar as we thought. His revolutionary 1949 book "The hero with a Thousand Faces" changed the way we look not only at other cultures, but ourselves. Joe saw the common thread among the different myths and religions from different cultures throughout the world. His groundbreaking book outlines what he calls the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. It changed my life.

I try to approach and express myself in this way. It's a much different path bringing this amount of attention and depth to what you do, but it's worth it. It's unmistakable when compared to the other experiences. It can be done in anything that we do. Our job, hobbies and relationships. Every aspect of life can be a "Rich Black" experience. At one level you can call it mindfulness.

What is mindfulness you ask?

Well, professor and author Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as:

“Paying attention;
On purpose,
in the present moment, and

Anyway, that is yet another rabbit hole for another post on another day, but for now, it's back to bringing this level of richness to my practice, my teaching, my relationships and my life. Whether it is at my Krav Maga Academy, a PeaceWalker Leadership Workshop and RGI Ethical Protector Course, or anything else I do. I for you: I hope you are creating a "Rich Black" experience in your life as well!

Keep going!

All the best,


  1. Hello, Good day. Am Tochukwu from University of Nigeria Nsukka. I came across this blog and finds it educative and interesting. View this link for more information Thanks.

  2. Tochukwu- Thanks for reading my post and leaving your comment. The link to your University is a nice touch!

    Be well,
    ~Craig G.


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