Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to the UBBT --HISTORY in the Making!

Hello to all new UBBT members, Team 5 and beyond.

I started the UBBT four years ago –and I can’t hardly tell you how many wonderful people we’ve met, trained with, built for and with, walked with, cleaned with, and, well, just plain been exposed to during this program.

One or all of the members of this team have had something to do and/or spent time with Frank Shamrock, Ernie Reyes, Sr. and Tony Thompson, Cecil Peoples, Jhoon Rhee, David Meyer and John Will, BJ Penn, Fariborz Azhakh, Mike Swain, Troy Dorsey, Dave Kovar, Dave McNeill, Tommy Lee, Lance Farrell, Chris Natzke, The West Coast Demo Team, Matt Thomas, Bill Kipp, Jason Scott Lee, John Bielenberg, Samuel Mockbee, Skip Ewing, Nancy Walzog, Angelou, Pam Dorr, Dan Millman, Thich Nhat Hahn, and a ton of other amazing folks who have, in one way or another, touched us and left us all with something memorable.

We have done a whole lot apart –and a whole lot together. We’ve rock-climbed at ZUMA Beach in Malibu while whales and dolphins played nearby; we’ve performed with the West Coast Demo Team, trained with Ernie Reyes, Sr. and Frank Shamrock, David Meyer, Troy Dorsey, BJ Penn. We’ve fire-walked, backpacked, built houses, fallen off roofs, walked in Martin Luther King’s footsteps, sat together in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (four young girls died there September 15, 1963, victims of a bomb), toured and even worked on homes inspired by the late, great architect and teacher, Samuel Mockbee.

We’ve raised $100,000 to build or fix homes and help comrades. We’ve done at least two million push-ups as a team, paddled canoes on the ocean, hiked the Sierra’s, played in the waves at Waipio Beach on the Big Island, talked-story with Jason Scott Lee, visited people with almost nothing, who needed help –and others with almost nothing who wanted less. We’ve sat with monks, explored ideas, implemented new programs, hiked the Golden Gate Bridge, slept together, shared food, toothbrushes (forget it), shoes, and far too few late nights.

The names of the people, their determination, their dream and ambitions, their smiles…they all flash thru my head like a slide show: Mike Valentine, Karen, Pat Hoffman, Lance, Rob, Michael,
James, Stephen, Fari, Bryan, Alicia, Nancy, Claire, Jason, Rita, Ray, Garrett, and 100 others.
Their amazing forms, traditional and eclectic, their spirit, their words, their happy faces ready to help here, Do there, lift that, run there, carry, cook, hammer, listen (and listen and listen).

These people, each and every one of them, committed at every level, with years of martial arts experience or with just a couple of years under their belts, from near and far away (even Australia and New Zealand) –these people have helped to craft martial arts history.

It’s a fact that the UBBT has had (and is having) an effect on hundreds –and maybe thousands of schools around the world. Because of this work and all of these people, new ideas are being installed next to the old ones. People are, in the martial arts community, exploring kindness, empathy, activism, environmentalism, peace education, meditation, walking, simplicity, hero programs, anger management, personal victories, eco-adventures, mending wrongs and relationships, and at least 50 other ideas that have originated and/or been implemented by my UBBT classmates.

Because of the UBBT, at least in part, a new (old) kind of spirituality training is reemerging in martial arts schools around the world that didn’t, prior to this program, know exactly how to implement these concepts into their curriculum.

Now, with the UBBT 5, we are exploring the mobilization of our students. The new UBBT STUDENT PRORAM invites the students of UBBT members to join in and start taking unprecedented action in their lives, in their communities –and as a team. Business-wise, it’s probably not a winning formula, this inexpensive aspect of the UBBT (and I’ve even lowered the primary course tuition) –but it’s not a money issue, it’s the right thing to do.

The UBBT’s ideas, which are actually made up of other people’s ideas, from King to Rhee to Reyes to Lee to Uyeshiba to Kano to Homma to Hahn to (Name your favorite hero/thinker here), are meant to transcend the martial arts, the dojo, the style, the system, the country of origin, and anything that limits, constrains, or separa

I ask YOU, now, yes…you…to contribute your time and energy in this endeavor, this personal journey of yours. I ask you to invest in your training with rugged determination and unbelievable consistency.

I ask you to reach out to people you don’t know –so that you can teach your students how to reach out to people they DO know. I ask you, challenge you, to make your Ultimate Black Belt Test the most empowering experience of your adult life –by deciding you can do better, be more, do more –and by damn, making it happen.

Do it by making tomorrow count. Listen, read, learn, eat like a champion, engage each person as if he or she were THE MASTER (of all masters) –and shed some of the weight, the baggage, the anger, frustration, etc…you might be carrying around. Use the UBBT as a tool for personal transformation –and when you work on your self, it is reflected in everything around you –and it often becomes a tool for family, relationship, business, and community transformation.

Welcome to the Ultimate Black Belt Test, something on the Internet, something that only really exists in the minds of its participants. Something that isn’t meant to be just a brand name –but a revolution in thinking and action for a bunch of people who, in the past, have focused primarily on their own physical skills, competition, and business. All those things have their value, but the new mission is to take the martial arts “out of the dojo and into the world.” And, as Aikido Master Goku Homma pointed out, “My life is my dojo.”

In the coming UBBT we will show the marital arts world what a bunch of determined, focused, driven martial artists can do. It will be something that is pure, simple, natural, uncomplicated –but profound. Teamwork; small efforts leading to big accomplishments; environmental self defense; global self-defense; peace education; environmental self-defense; dietary self-defense; martial arts activists; anger management; and a sweeping away
of the invisible lines between martial arts, art, science, architecture, and all the other activities born of peace and kindness and wonder.

The UBBT is a rejection of the trivial, the dishonest or questionable, the insincere, anger, hatred, resentment, and all the other things that we REALLY need self-defense from. The UBBT project is mixed martial arts for living, fully.

Take it, run with it, make it your own.

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