It's all about mentoring.
We are just getting warmed up and we
expect to be even more involved with CCPD in 2016.
If you are interested in learning how to apply the Ethical
Protector training as a law enforcement or military
professional – or just want to explore the concept with the
top-notch RGI instructors in a hands-on setting as a
civilian warrior – check out RGI
And there is more news and lots more
pictures on our RGI Facebook page
This past year I was again privileged to work with the Marine
Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) in Quantico, Virginia. This
important program is led ably by my good
friend Joe Shusko (LtCol USMC ret.). It covers armed and unarmed
martial arts techniques, combat conditioning, mental training
and character development.
I say this every year, but I am so impressed by these
young Marines. They are physically and mentally tough, yet respectful
and ethical. Many are veterans of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The methodology we use is simple but vitally important: train
a lot, talk a bit, train a lot, talk a bit. The Marines relish
the physical training, and then are open to hear how to use
their training and core values to maintain their ethics and
a "protector mindset" under the adversity of war.
In martial arts training, it is often easy to focus on the physical
part while giving mere lip service to the mental and character
elements. But all three parts must go together.
"Training" - USMC photo
courtesy of Homer Brett 2015
"Talking Ethical Warriorship" - USMC photo courtesy of Homer
My MCMAP inspiration and
boss, LtCol Joe Shusko (Ret) - we're a lot colder and wetter
than we look!
"Marine Ethical Warriors" -
USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2015
The Martial Arts Center of
Excellence - Raider Hall, Quantico, Virginia
Played a good bit of music in 2015. Our band "Rogues
on the Run" had another fun year. We did more gigs
with legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (Aretha
Franklin, James Brown, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, Alan
Jackson, etc. etc. etc.).
Purdie & Jack
Still have that old Les Paul.
Vel, Phil Jack, Bernard,
Rob & Mario - Rogues on the Run
Bernard and I re-united with our old Jersey Blue band mate,
Gene McCormick, at the Newport Jazz festival in Vermont this
Jack & Gene McCormick
"Pretty Purdie" - The
Brothers from another
Rogues in Vermont bringing
down the house!
real fun year of music. And don't forget Bernard's biography.
When Bernard is on the road, we have another "pretty" great
drummer, Ilya Stemkowsky, playing with us.
ROTR outside the Ragin' Cajun - come see us Spring through
Fall on Tuesday nights!
If you like contemporary blues with a touch
of jazz, please visit our webpage.
We are also on
A little bit of a different kind of year, but a full and
rewarding one. So what's
in store for 2016? When I was in Japan Sensei was going to
write me a calligraphy and he asked me what I wanted. I said, "Something for next year." He painted me this:
Calligraphy by Masaaki
Hatsumi from author's personal collection
Can you read it? It says "smiling monkey."
We already discussed that 2016 is the year of the monkey.
Sensei reminds us to smile. Ha! This makes me think of an
admonition that Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu is said to have given Hatsumi Sensei's teacher,
Kakujitsu na shini chokumen shita tokinisae, warainagara yukan.
"When faced with certain death, die laughing"
I'm not going to try and over-explain this. I think most budoka have thought about this and what it means for them.
And I think this is a perfect continuation of our theme from
last year: mu-shin.
Again, mu-shin is often translated as “empty mind,” but as
I said last year, I think of it more as a “clear mind.” It's
not that we can somehow stop having thoughts and emotions. They
are always there. Sometimes they are very natural,
appropriate and helpful. But sometimes they are not. The Japanese word
kukan usually refers to the feeling of the space between the warrior and the opponent. But we proposed last year that there is also a "kukan" within the mind of the warrior that exists “between” the emotions. Our ethical and physical training
helps us to “see through the spaces” and between
counter-productive thoughts and emotions.
So, if we are able to find the spaces between and beyond the emotions, what do
We may just see a creative solution that saves lives
– and that is the Ethical Warrior’s number-one job.
might mean the ability to focus on life's most
important commitments – and act! Protecting life requires action – deeds. We need to see past all of the distractions and focus
on what is
most important in our lives.
Still, "laughing in the face of death" sounds like a serious, maybe grim, existence. Especially when you place it upon the backdrop of what is
going on in the world today. People are scared and worried.
And scared and worried people do selfish and bad things. And
One reason people are scared and worried, I believe, is
because they are
philosophically confused – profoundly so. But there is a
reason, I think. It comes down to
this: some peoples' relative values are so important to them that
they believe that those values – whether they be cultural,
behavioral, political, social, religious, economic, etc. –
somehow supersede the LIFE value of others. And if you
don't agree with them then you are demonized and
dehumanized. Or killed. It is fascism, plain and simple.
(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Here's the rule: no relative value, regardless of how "moral" or
"great" you think it is, can supersede the Life Value.
And that is the good news. There IS a "true north" to
the moral compass. LIFE. Don't get confused. Don't get lost.
Calibrate your compass! And smile.
Do you know what is the most often repeated introductory
phrase I hear? Everyday and everywhere? It is a variation of
this: "Well, the problem is..." or "Do you know what the
problem is? It's..." or "Here's the problem..."
we all know what the problems are!
Somehow, defining problems in a new and "special" way
is supposed to relieve people of the responsibility of addressing, maybe
even solving," those problems. All thought and word. No
You gotta smile at that. Or laugh.
and laugh in 2016. But also ACT! We can't solve all the big
problems. Frankly no one of us can.
Big problems are solved by a lot of little people (like you
and me) solving a lot of little problems. What small
problem can you solve today? What "small" person can you
protect today? Today. Don't talk so much.
People ask me what to do about the deficit. ISIS. Greedy
bankers. Greedy mooch bags. Unethical politicians. Huh? HOW
DO I KNOW? I can't solve those problems.
But I think I can
do some things. I can work with some forward-thinking police
departments who want to heal disconnects with their
communities. Support the Marine Corps in developing Ethical
Warriors to protect us and innocent people overseas. Help
sincere people find daily meaning in their martial arts
practice. Be an ethical protector to my family and friends.
Maybe even hit a great note in a blues song every once in a
while. Those things I can do. And here is the thing: none of them are that much
more important than the other.
And whatever you can do,
whatever small problem you can fix – as long as you DO it – is no less
important. And, maybe, the smaller the thing,
So...smile. Laugh. Act.
Happy 2016! Gambatte!!