Happy New Year buyῡ – welcome
to the Year of the Dog!
Ranking as the eleventh animal in Chinese zodiac, Dog is
the symbol of loyalty and honesty. People born in the Year
of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They
are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward,
venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility.
Having a dog, myself, I agree with that description. Excellent
traits in a human being, also, don't you think? I plan to
do my best to exhibit them in 2018. Join me?
So what happened this past year? Plenty, as usual!
In terms of international travel, my first stop was the
Italian Senryukai. Hosted by my friends Giuseppe
(Pucchi) and Aurelio Costa, it was a combination of training,
eating, sightseeing, eating, eating and eating!
Aurelio, Jack & Pucchi!
Francesco & Pucchi modeling
the Senryukai T-shirt
The t-shirt they made for the training was a bit much – but,
it certainly had the stylish Italian flair!
Senryukai Training in Frascati,
I attended the BuyuKai in July at Castle Kattlenberg in
Germany again last summer. I have participated in BuyuKai
a number of times. This is a GREAT event and I encourage
all my martial arts friends to attend. It is organized by
Steffen & Sabine Fröhlich. I think there were buyῡ
from over 14 countries there this past year – with some top-notch
coaching on everything from the basics to pretty advanced
stuff. Really, you MUST go.
We enjoyed another Buyῡ Camp East in New
Jersey. A new place – much more room inside and outside.
Definitely an upgrade, although we'll miss our old spot, the
site of so many camps with folks like
Mark Hodel, Dick Severence
and Ed Martin. We'll never forget you guys!
Steffen doing self-help marriage counseling at Buyῡ Camp
Buyῡ Camps are a great way to connect with old friends and
get the "continuing education" and inspiration that will
help you "keep going" when you get back to your own, local
training group. Please keep an eye on our seminar page for news about
Buyῡ Camp 2018.
One of the perennial teachers at every singleBuyῡ
Camp we've ever had – both on the East Coast and West Coast
– was Ed Martin. Ed passed away on July 13, 2017 and we
will miss him tremendously. He was a great mentor to us
here in the USA,
as well as, people all over the world. He set an example
of consistent training and told stories that taught the moral lessons
of true warriorship. Irreplaceable man.
Ed Martin - "Papa-san"
Good luck, Ed, in your after-life adventures. We know they'll
We also had training seminars in NJ, of course, and a couple
in Florida. Ed Figueroa of Tampa Bay Buyu Dojo (who
also trains the Orlando group) received his DaiShihan certificate
in Japan this year. Congratulations, Ed!
Ed, Claudia and Jack after a Tampa seminar.
I also got to train with my friend, Joe Lopez and
the dedicated buyῡ
of Hawaii Bujinkan.
Hawaii Bujinkan hanging
I am lucky to be spending more and more time in Hawaii,
and it so great to have friends there to train with.
Thanks, Joe! See you in 2018!
Joe & Jack 2017
And there is more about Hawaii coming up further down in
the message. Warning: bucket list alert!!
I was able to visit Japan in 2017 to train with my teacher,
Soke Masaaki Hatsumi. A special seminar in December commemorated
the 50th anniversary of the Bujinkan. It was also Hatsumi
Sensei's 86th birthday!
With Hatsumi Sensei at his
86th birthday celebration.
As always I met a lot of great friends and buyῡ in Japan.
and Noguchi Sensei at the party.
Miki received his DaiShihan certificate this year and Alex
passed the Go-Dan test. Congratulations, guys!
Miki, Alex and Jack taking a quick training break at the
hombu Dojo in Atago.
And we always find time for the Buyῡ Dinner.
Buyῡ at Agio's
And it was the late Oguri Sensei's daughter, Sayaka-chan's,
birthday (she is 4th from the left). Check out her Ninja
Some of us took, what is becoming, an annual trip to the
onsen hot springs in Hakone.
Miki, Jack & Alex in
Hakone. I guess I'll shave next year...
I wrapped up the trip with some training at Rob Renner's
dojo. Thanks for the invite! The irrepressible Hiromi is a talented selfie-photographer.
Rob, Hiromi and buyῡ
training in Matsudou.
Sayonara, Japan, but I'm sure we'll meet again soon!
And there are many more pictures on our Buyῡ Facebook
here for upcoming seminars in 2018,
including Buyῡ Camp east in New Jersey next
My book "The Ethical Warrior," is still doing
well. Click the cover if you want to read the book.
And don't forget the re-release of the old videos I did back in the 90's on Bujinkan
basics. All 4 videos are now on one DVD. I had a laugh looking back at some of the footage
– boy I'm getting
There is some pretty good stuff on there, especially
for people working on the basics. And you'll see some
of your favorite buyῡ on there lending a hand.
You can get it on Amazon.com.
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.
As an American, I think you would be proud of these
young men and women. They are physically and mentally
tough, yet respectful and ethical. Many are veterans
of both Iraq and Afghanistan. For those of you who
feel called to warriorship, and are of age, consider joining
them. The Marines are always looking for a "few good
men." And women!
The warriors I am privileged to train with are quite
physical, but are also focused on how to maintain their
ethics and a "protector mindset" under the
adversity of war.
– USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2017
"Talking Ethical Warriorship"
– USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett 2017
MCMAP Director Joe
Shusko addressing the troops after the grueling
boss, LtCol Joe "Joe Marine" Shusko (Ret) – roguish!!
Ethical Warriors" of MAIT 1-2017 – USMC photo
courtesy of Homer Brett
2-2017 – USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett
3-2017 – USMC photo courtesy of Homer Brett
I have been involved with MCMAP since its inception
in 2000. And every year I get older. But the Marines remain
the same age! So, it's no wonder that, after a hard
day on the Battle Course, Joe Marine and I always
retire to the Globe & Laurel Restaurant in Quantico,
VA for some protein and adult beverages. The G&L is
a veritable museum of Marine Corps and law
Enforcement artifacts. I recommend that you visit
the Marine Corps Museum and then drop by the G&L for a meal
and libation. Website is
When we were there this past October, we ran into
the owner of the G&L who is a long-time
hero and mentor of mine. Marine Corps Major Rick Spooner is 92
and a veteran of China, WWII (Saipan and Okinawa),
Korea and Vietnam. Look up the word Gentleman in the
dictionary and you'll see his picture. He is also an
With Major Rick
Spooner at the Globe & Laurel, Quantico, VA
For several years now I have been talking about
Group International. As you may know, RGI is made
up of military and law enforcement professionals who
teach conflict de-escalation under stress. The RGI curriculum
extrapolates on the work I have done with Robert L.
Humphrey and the Marines in the areas of ethics, conflict
communication, physical protection skills and leadership.
We had two more RGI Conflict Resolution Courses in 2017
for police officers in New Jersey.
The RGI Ethical Protector Course consists of more
than just sitting around looking at PowerPoint
presentations. We work on real warrior skills, such
as defensive tactics and physical fitness. As
we like to say "you can't buy memories like these!"
practicing take downs - the RGI way.
Conditioning for protector professionals
And what would an RGI course be without Joe Shusko sharing his patented
"Tie-Ins." Tie-ins are stories that teach values and
inspire moral behavior.
Joe Marine sharing
his Tie-In values stories with NJ police officers
If you haven't already,
check out his book, "Tie-Ins For Life." Available
We also had two new associates join RGI: Toms River,
Police Chief Mitch Little and Marine Corps Special
Operations (MARSOC) Officer, Alex Carney.
Mitch Little leading
from the front.
Alex Carney sharing
insights on how to function under the stress of
Welcome aboard, Mitch and Alex. We are proud to have
you with us!
I also did several workshops for senior-level law
enforcement personnel on ethics, leadership and
We are just getting warmed up and RGI is poised to do
even more cool things in 2018.
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
Events. And there is more news and lots more pictures
on our RGI Facebook page
Another project that RGI has been involved in for
the last several years is with Lake Highland
Preparatory School in Orlando, FL. This school is
the first school in the country to adopt the RGI
Ethical Protector concept as part of their school
culture. They have two Ethical Protector Societies
Blackwatch for the guys, and Dara for the gals. We
have built a mentor corps within the school by
training society members in leadership, ethics, fitness and
protection skills. This is done at our friend,
retired Major General Tom Jones'
Outdoor Odyssey Academy
in Boswell, PA, every June. Participants include Blackwatch and Dara
members, as well as, a dedicated group of teachers
who also undergo the training. Outdoor Odyssey's
motto is "Leadership Through Adversity." Believe me,
and ethics with Blackwatch.
Training with the Blackwatch Ethical Protectors.
Lake Highland Dean of
students and my friend, LtCol Mick Davis, USMC
It all starts at Outdoor Odyssey, but the secret to
Lake Highland's success is sustainment. Dara and
Blackwatch meet frequently during the school year and
members also mentor the
younger students into the Lake Highland Ethical
Protector culture. It's all about the students, and
their results are amazing. Disciplinary problems and
bullying are way down, academics and athletics are
off the charts! All American educational
institutions should take note. If Lake Highland can
do it, why not other schools?
Mick and me - sustainment is the key!
Lake Highland invited me back in November to discuss
the philosophy behind the Program with the students,
teachers and parents. I received a warm reception
and look forward to heading back to Outdoor Odyssey
in June to work with a new batch of Lake Highland
on the Run
Mario, Jack, Phil, Vel
Bobby and Rob.
Ha ha, the blues -
hurts so good!
Here's a little bit of us live, if you're
interested. Ilya Stemkowsky on drums this time.
We also did
more gigs with legendary drummer Bernard "Pretty"
Purdie (Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Steely Dan,
Hall & Oates, Alan Jackson, etc. etc. etc.).
Rogues on the Run
with Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on drums.
Here's some exciting news:
Bernard asked me to produce his next album! In fact,
we are hip deep in it. I wrote 13 songs that
cover a wide variety of the different kinds of music
Bernard has recorded over the years. Here's the
Jack, Bernard, John
Korba & Paul Nowinski
Paul and Purdie -
"one and-a two and-a you know what to do...!"
Musician and singer extraordinaire, John Korba
Pretty happy to be involved!
I don't want to say too much at this point, but
things are going great. The album is scheduled to be
released in 2018, so stand by!
And don't forget to pick up Bernard's biography. It's
a wonderful read!
You may know that one of my favorite guitarists
is the great Robben Ford. Robben is one of the premier
electric guitarists today, particularly known for his
blues playing, as well as his ability to be comfortable
in a variety of musical contexts. A five-time Grammy
nominee, he has played with artists as diverse as Joni
Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison,
Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan,
John Mayall, Greg Allman, John Scofield, Susan Tedeschi,
Keb Mo, Larry Carlton, Mavis Staples, Brad Paisley,
and many others.
Well I got to play with him again in 2017.
guitarist – Robben Ford.
And guess what! Robben offered to play on the Purdie
album! Wait until you hear his awesome contribution!
And one last music-related remembrance. One of my favorite types of music is Bossa Nova.
And my favorite song is "La Garota de Ipanema" which
you may recognize as "The Girl From Ipanema." Well,
after the Argentina TaiKai I went from Buenas Aires to Rio
De Janiero, Brazil to visit the land
of Bossa Nova. Here she is
the Girl From Ipanema!
The Girl From Ipanema
And here is a rendering of the original score.
It was very inspiring to be in the place where Bossa
Nova was born, for sure. In fact, on the new
Purdie album there are two songs that I wrote that were
inspired by the music of Brazil, so listen for them.
Next year maybe I will actually meet the Girl From Ipanema in person. Put that on the Bucket List!
I wonder if she'll look straight ahead or at me.
A stroll on Ipanema
Beach looking for you know who!
In 2017 I did get to check another item
off of my bucket list. My Jersey Shore
friends know that I am a fanatic, amateur
bodysurfer. Well, in 2017 I got to meet and go
bodysurfing with the former world champion, Mark
Cunningham! Mark is a world-renowned waterman who
lives in Hawaii. He was also the head lifeguard at
Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu for twenty
With waterman Mark
We went to Makapu'u, Old Man's and I was even able
to get us on to the Marine Base at Kaneohe to surf
Pyramid Rock beach and do a little beachcombing.
Mark is also an artist who uses materials that he
finds washed up on the beach or buried in the reefs
to create wonderfully unusual art pieces.
Mark at Pyramid Rock
Beach on Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe.
And what a nice man! A real gentlemen infused with
the aloha spirit. And don't I look professional with
the DaFins he gave me?
With my new DaFins
– pro model! Thanks, Mark!!
And his lady, Katye is also a sweetheart. We got to
share a meal with them both. So fun! I'll leave you
with a photo of Mark in action.
Isn't that about the coolest thing you've ever seen?
I hope to get lucky again and share a few more
bodysurfing adventures with Mark in 2018.
jam-packed year. So what else is in store for
When I was in Japan Sensei was painting for us and he asked
me what I wanted.
I said, "nande mo ii (anything is fine)."
He painted me this:
Dou" by Masaaki Hatsumi from author's personal
"Shin" means "God." "Dou" means
"guide." [Just an aside: we think it says Shin Dou
– the first character looks like it could also be "wa,"
which means "harmony." Such is the nature of Hatsumi
Sensei's calligraphy. Nothing is ever fixed.]
Sensei has an uncanny ability to anticipate what you
are thinking about – and inspire you to think at an
even higher level.
So if we assume that it says shin dou, what is
that telling us? First, there is really no such
thing as the word shin dou in Japanese. As
he often does, Sensei has strung two characters
together that typically don't go together.
So, it is up to us to catch the feeling of this
unique concept: God guides.
best friend, the late Mark Hodel, was a wise and
funny guy. He had many great sayings which I still
ascribe to, such as, "never refuse a breath mint,"
and others. One of his favorites was: "I love my 55
year old brain, too bad I couldn't have had it in my
25 year old body."
I kind of know what he meant. My brain
does work better and faster now than it ever has.
Without trying to get all mystical and magical, I
have to say that I often seem to be able anticipate what will happen before it happens.
This is very useful in martial arts, of course. You
develop a sense of what the opponent will do next
and move preemtively to thwart his intentions. That is probably just the result of long experience,
not the ability to really predict the future.
But, I think, years of consistent training may also
instill in the practitioner a trust in "ban pen
fu gyo," the old ninja saying that might be
interpreted as "10,000 changes, no surprises for the
ninja." Again, maybe we are not really seeing the future,
but are just not surprised when what happens,
happens. We trust that we can adapt and survive just
about anything, because of our training. And a trust
In "Ninjutsu Hiketsu Bun," an essay on the
essence of ninjutsu by Takamatsu Sensei, it
If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of
Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego's desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible
– the attainment of the "mind and eyes of
God." The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate. In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear
and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer, and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce.
The vast universe, beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja.
Having the "mind and eyes of God," doesn't mean that
we are God.
God guides. OK, let him (or her!). Maybe Hatsumi
Sensei is just trying to encourage me to not
overthink or worry, but let God guide and protect.
Takamatsu Sensei reminds us, in order for that
approach to work, we have to train!
So on to 2018!
The longer I train, the more I realize
that, that for me, it is not about learning the next technique or
memorizing the densho. For those of us who have been
training awhile, we
kind of "seen it all." But
sometimes we can see something and not truly understand what
we have seen. That is why I think it is important
for me – all of us
– to go to Japan at least yearly to observe Hatsumi
Sensei's movement in person. And, that's also why I like to use the word
"practice" as it applies to our training. Practice,
to me, gives the feeling of working to build a
deeper and more thorough understanding of what we
already know –
or are supposed to. Think about that for
a second. When we first started budo training, everything
was new, and for years, we could look forward to
learning "the next cool thing." But what happens
when we have "seen it all?" Well, as we have
experienced, perhaps, almost everyone quits
at some point. They have gotten what they
wanted. Perhaps, it was an adequate level of skill and/or
self-confidence. Or a rank, or a medal, or a title.
And for them, that was enough. They're done. Like
finishing a course at university. You get your grade
and you're finished. Most of the things you learned
you never use again.
Eventually you graduate.
You start your "real" life."
But for the budoka, I believe, the "real" life
begins when you have already been taught
"everything," and start to really
practice. Everyday, the same basic things, Over and
over. Until you understand them with that "86 year
old mind" in the "whatever your age-old body."
And think of what we begin to understand when we finally stop thinking about the newest, shiny
Juppou Sesho (十方折衝) - being able to
"artificial gravity" created when encountering force
from any perspective,
then stacking our kamae behind the opponent's
"balance point" to control their space without
power or force.
Kaname (要) -
finding the "pivot point" and learning to use the natural power of three
Ishi Tobashi (石飛ばし) - using the
"skipping stone" concept and not freezing or
stopping when one approach isn't working, but
"skipping" seamlessly to the next natural space
until we succeed.
Of course, these are my personal characterizations
of these principles recommended to us by Hatsumi
Sensei. But, it's amazing what insights we can get
from what we thought we already knew just by
devoting ourselves to the simple discipline of
practice. As I often say: the training is infinite,
so, no matter how long we have been practicing, we
are all the same distance from the end.
So, in 2018 let's simply deepen our practice
– and let God guide us..