Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sound and Vision

August 24, 2006

Good morning teams,

The following comments may take a few minutes to read. I wrote it all, this morning, in my normal “stream of consciousness” style –and I believe it offers both insights into what we are doing –and gives voice to why we are involved together at this time and place.

As you may be aware of, we are on the edge of a new educational “era” in the martial arts community. Our work in the UBBT –and the work that the 100 is beginning, has brought –and will usher in --an entirely new/old dimension to the what, how, and why of the martial arts –being a professional teacher –and our “path” as martial artists.

I write “new/old” as there might be no better way to describe this blending of universal concepts (peace education, sustainability, environmental self-defense, personal development, voluntary simplicity, cutting edge technology, global awareness-participation, web-based education/community, meditation, etc…) with the methods and intent of our collective work. Does that make sense? Do you recognize the shift in our thinking and actions? Can you see where, based on the last 20 years in “martial arts industry education”, we are making a radical “shift” in intent and method and purpose?

It’ very clear to me that we are changing; Now, what direction we will eventually head…I’m not exactly sure. I do know, however, that the glory days of “business method education” like we’ve seen from EFC, NAPMA, MAIA, and others --is over. They will continue to play a significant role in providing education and resources for the martial arts community, but there is a new “movement” among school owners/master teachers (and up-and-comings) towards ideas and intent with more “universal” meaning and purpose. It might best be described using college-metaphors: Business education is the Freshman and Sophomore years –the work we’re doing is what comes after that.

I believe I am, at the moment, the leader of this “movement” ---however, I will very soon (if not already) be just one of many people who embrace --and take action on --the kind of martial arts education and direction I’m eluding to. Already we are collecting a group of thinkers and doers who are taking action in their own schools and communities in all new and interesting ways. Already we are beginning to “think globally” about the purpose and methods and education in the martial arts community –while “acting locally” to see the ideas manifest themselves in new and more-relevant/important programs, curriculum, --and results.

All of this is that “small turn of the steering wheel” I’ve mentioned in our talks. It may, right now, not seem like a big turn in direction ---but down the road we are going to find ourselves in an all new (and I think, BETTER) place.

What I’m hoping for is to collect a team of highly motivated and intelligent people ---action-takers, thinkers, creators ---who can collectively contribute to this “movement” that’s based on education and expansion of what the martial arts are all about. I think that in the long-run (and maybe immediately) we will see a broadening of our market (for students) and certainly we will feel and experience the thrill and power of creating a kind of work that speaks to the soul….that we know and recognize as “the master’s work” –and that is both therapy and solution…work that follows The Way so clearly that it empowers and energizes us in all sorts of extraordinary ways.

I don’t yet have a clear vision of how it will all come about or where it will lead, but I know for certain that I must proceed in this direction. All that I knew and cared about in the martial arts, you know, WHY I trained, WHY I attended classes, WHY I sought to be a teacher…all of this has evolved to where I am now. I don’t know about you, but I can’t go back. The business methods and the methods for promotion and the curriculum and the dialogue and the leadership and the motivations and intent in the present-day martial arts community, well…it no longer speaks to me as it once did. Now something new calls –it gets me up at 4 am, like this morning, it’s tugging on my brain and my spirit. Something bigger, something more important, something that makes more impact in the world –that raises peoples awareness. In it’s simplest form, you might call it a “new definition of self-defense training.” It is certainly a new definition of the term “martial arts education.”

The UBBT and the 100 depends on its members. If you guys and gals step up in every way you can, we will make history. If you use these programs to find the motivation to get in the best shape of your lives, then we will stand as representatives for the fitness-power of studying the martial arts. (OH, and the other element of this idea –is that you find the power to inspire all people you come in contact with to do the same. It’s not enough for us to serve as role-models ---we must inspire and mobilize [management] others. If it’s only about “us” and our personal growth, I think we will lose a most important ingredient to our long-term success and global-impact).

If you folks pursue the meditation and the much-needed expansion of the “spiritual” side of the martial arts/life ---then we will be taking back some of what the yoga world has embraced (and flourished with), something we had once in the martial arts community, but which had become displaced –and we will be leader in a revival of the esoteric aspects, the grounding aspects, the “feed your soul” aspects, the “wake up and live in the here and now –the in-the-moment” aspects of the serious study of The Way of the martial artist (The way of the Peaceful Warrior?).

If you men and women embrace Project Based Leadership and other forms of “martial arts activism” (defined as seeing the philosophy of the martial arts [read: life] manifest itself in the lives of our students –but OUTSIDE of our schools and outside of anything that has to do with kicking and punching), you will usher in a new unique selling proposition for the martial arts industry –which will shift the way we promote our schools –and CERTAINLY, the results we get from our work. PBLT and related ideas could give the martial arts an all new face –and all-new role in the world. We all know the real bullies in the world aren’t people ---they are empowering and selfish attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. We all recognize that in today’s world we don’t necessarily need “self-defense” from kicks and punches –as much as we need defense from apathy, ignorance, prejudice, violence-thinking, environmental degradation, conspicuous consumption, unwholesome dietary habits, junk food, junk thinking, and so on. The difference in our thinking, right now, is that WE can actually DO SOMETHING about all of this. That we might actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the world, based on how and what and why we TEACH. This, I believe, is part of the major shift in our thinking and action that I’m writing/talking/teaching about.

If all of you embrace PEACE EDUCATION and actually become the leaders in your communities for teaching non-violence education and anger management and other forms of clear and sustainable thinking ---well let me tell you, we will automatically take an all new –and vitally important role in our communities and the world. Need I say to you “a more valuable role” too? There is a mile-wide gap in each of our communities --that gap is an educational one, that we might fill. We can become the teachers for some of the things that are missing in the world ---that cause so many so much pain. We can become a integral part of THE VILLAGE that raises healthy, productive, centered, compassionate men and women. We are not “the answer” ---but we can become a vital part of the educational system that helps the world be a better place. What more could we ask for?

At the moment we are, I think, something LESS than what represents our potential. At the moment we are UFC fighters, mixed martial artists, fitness instructors, self-defense teachers, school owners, traditional karateka, black belts, seminar leaders, association heads, chief instructors, and all the other titles that don’t reflect the size and scope and power we might embrace if we all evolved and pursued the idea of “mastery” more intently. We’re going to have to define and redefine what a “master of the martial arts” is ---and then pursue it the way Martin Luther King pursued the ideas of civil rights –the way Thich Nhat Hahn and The Dalai Lama pursue the ideas of peace and compassion –the way the Cousteau family pursues ocean-awareness –the way Stephen Hawking pursues science –the way Armstrong attacked his beloved sport: with PASSION.

Why? FUN! PASSION! PURPOSE! MEANING! All the things that fuel our fires –that keep us young and alive and alert and interesting! How about relevant! And inspired and growing and learning! Yeah…those are the reasons WHY.

Ok, Team 3, you men and women must rise to an all-new place: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually ----AND, you’re going to have to do it both alone and together. You need to get yourself training HARD and consistently –and then you need to fulfill your potential in the context of this program. DO THE WORK, now. BOND as a team and HELP each other. This is your chance to do what you said you would do. ARE YOU a martial artist? A leader? A visionary? A “role-model?” OR NOT? Get on it.

Team 3 –consider yourself members of Team 4 (and Team 1 and 2 while you’re at it). There is no separation with us; only the mission to make a difference and apply ourselves like the “Masters” we want and hope to be.

Team 4, you guys and gals are going to start on the effort and sweat equity of all the other teams. You’re going to take what’s been done already –and craft an even more amazing journey. You’re part of a family of people who believe we should do and be more.

YOU-TUBE: is the UBBT of the communication world. You-Tube is an amazing cultural phenomenon. Get on the site and STUDY it. Eric Kastner (Alicia’s brother) will be a Team 4 member –and will be serving as a technical advisor to an all-new approach to our film-making adventure. Watch for more input from Eric in the coming weeks.

Why You-Tube? It’s immediate. It’s powerful. It’s an amazing connection tool for us –for our students –for our communities –and for the martial arts. It’s here and now and insanely affordable and easy. You will be creating an on-line video journal of your testing process. THIS WORK may become our “film” –and we’re looking for a kind of journaling and presence that gets hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions, of spectators to your journey. It takes the price of our film equipment from $4000 to between $40 and $400 (depending on your camera). Wow. It also means that we won’t be waiting a year or more for a film to “come out” ---our individual and collective journey airs almost immediately. We’ll know how many people are watching. We’ll hear from our audience, immediately. And if we are authentic in our quest, we will have the opportunity to teach and impact and inspire uncountable numbers of people.

On top of all that, if and when a film-deal falls upon us, by using You-Tube, now, we will all have become ultra-comfortable in front of a camera –communicating our ideas. This will serve us in many ways –let production people see what we’re capable of –and give us a huge leg-up when the opportunity arises. Preparedness is what makes for good luck. Best of all, your students and community can “tune-in” NOW and see what you’re doing / going thru / working for.

Ladies and gentlemen: Let the games begin.

Teams 1, 2, 3, and 4 -----now’s the time to ask yourself about HOW you can be or stay involved. Now is NOT the time to rest –now is the time to join and pitch in. Now is the time for 100 like-minded people to step up and, together, change the world as we know it.

If you think the martial arts are something “special” ---if you think being a “martial artist” is something important ---then let this be a wake-up call to MOVE ---NOW. Now is your time! You’re at that age ---you’re in the peak of your careers –WE ARE THE MASTERS of tomorrow –and the work we do today –will leave a legacy for those that follow us. We are the Joe Lewis’, the Jhoon Rhee’s, the Ernie Reyes’, the Bruce Lee’s , the Bill Wallace’s of the future. This is our arena! Education! Advancement of curriculum and methods and INTENT.

I think it’s our time. I can upon you to contribute to and support the work.

NO Negativity –only contribution.
Respect for self and others –TEAM.
Perfect training –perfect diet –perfect thinking.
Participation no matter the obstacles.


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