Beyond Win and Lose

What’s the alternative? Revisiting an old martial arts maxim provides a clue. There is a meme I see from time to time on Facebook that always makes me cringe. It goes something like this: “Beware of the person who is not smiling when you’re winning.” It’s as if to say that this person is your enemy, a snake … [Read more…]

How to Live and How to Die

Martial arts, as traditionally taught, has always been about life and death. For millennia it has presented the practitioner with a way to live better – as well as how to die better. In our context, “life” is to survive and then to succeed. “Death” is to live a memorable, fulfilling life with principle, and … [Read more…]

Peeing On The Bed

I’ve actually never told anybody this story because I’m not so proud of it. But I believe there’s a lesson in here for those of us who do Jiu-Jitsu and strive for a better practice. Growing up I was very, very poor. There were times when there wasn’t a lot of food – that kind of poor. And … [Read more…]

The things that matter most

In the 1980s, when I was doing karate, our running joke was that Americans would do karate and then all of a sudden, they’d have a Japanese accent.  We laughed at them – they’d been practicing for five months and suddenly they acted like they were Japanese. Then in the 1990s, I noticed the same phenomenon … [Read more…]

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…]