What your words say about you

Growing up, one of my mother’s mantras was “think before you speak”. She would drill it repeatedly into my head. And if she had to say, it was usually too late for me. For those of you that didn’t grow up in the south in the ‘70s, the switch was the primary mode of discipline. It … [Read more…]

Message to the Martial Arts Student: “You Are Not a Consumer”

Last night I reminded the class that we are practicing Japanese Karate. It’s not American-style Wal-Mart karate in a box. It’s not there to be “consumed”, and you are not a consumer.   Moreover, we have a relationship. My job is to show up and give you my very, very best. Sometimes it takes a lot, and sometimes it’s oppressive, and sometimes it’s … [Read more…]

David Bowie’s Jiu-Jitsu Paradox

The martial arts are filled with paradoxes. And recently I’ve been considering how paradoxical life is, as an older, more mature person – or a person who’s working on maturing well. It seems that many of life’s “gray areas” have now become the norm. What I once was very dogmatic about, I now see that there’s another side … [Read more…]

Our blind spots

[Please note that this post includes some explicit language.] My Thai boxing instructor told me that when he recently went back home for the holidays, he trained at a friend’s dojo. After working out, his friend said that one of their former classmates had gone to Japan to train. And my teacher said, “I really dislike that … [Read more…]

A memorable life, part two

In last week’s post, we were discussing what it means to live a memorable life. We wanted to take a longer view of this topic of “resolutions”, since around this time of year we start adjusting our plans for the future, considering what we want to improve and change. Such a project, living a memorable life, leads us … [Read more…]

A memorable life (part one)

In the classroom we discussed a Bruce Lee quote that I paraphrased like this: if you want to have a memorable life, if you want people to remember you, you have to live a life worth remembering.  That notion leads us into the new year, where traditionally people set goals and re-evaluate their habits. Over the upcoming … [Read more…]

Success through failure

Wednesday mornings is the day that I do kung fu with Sifu Vizzio. Yesterday we were working on a six-punch combination and a four-kick combination. And he was asking me every time I threw the cross to duck under his cross and come back with a hook. But every time he threw the cross, I … [Read more…]

how to recognize a trailblazer

Recently I got a message on Facebook from someone I’ve known from Jiu-Jitsu for decades. The message said, “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me but you had said a couple of things to me years ago that I never forgot. I’m going through a crisis now and I need some help.” And I said sure, give me a call. So … [Read more…]

martial arts paradigm shift

In ’94, when I was competing for a spot on the Pan-American Olympic karate team, I was going against the heavyweight national champion from the rival organization. During a heated match, he fell and broke his neck and is to this day paralyzed for life. That event totally spun me around. It was what Stephen Covey calls a “paradigm shift” – a moment when … [Read more…]

Chop wood and carry water

There’s an old Zen saying that the way to enlightenment is to chop wood and carry water. In other words, there’s no secret or magic to it – it’s just hard work in the service of others. Do you know what you do once you become enlightened? You chop wood and you carry water. That’s … [Read more…]