LETTER FROM THE
First month of the year is in the books!
At the begging of each year we sit down and put together our personal, professional, and health goals for the year. But, this year were super late in doing so! Partly because we were tied up for most of the month on an amazing adventure in Southeast Asia where we got to explore budo, design new products, and forge new business relationships. (Which we expand on later in this issue.)
Before the holiday break we got to meet a very talented, passionate martial artist by the name of Sensei Rod Coulter. We got to sit down with Rod, learn more about his journey, and even got to learn some new skills & flow drills; All of which we are sharing with you.
Lastly, since it's cold outside, we figured we'd launch the Budo Beanie to help everyone stay warm through the last leg of winter. Check it out here.
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Featured Budo Brother
I started my Martial Arts Career at the age of 13; this was from a love and interest of Martial Arts. It was the 80's and yes Ninja movies were all the rage ;) However, what got me kick-started was a mugging incident on my way home from shop class. My class mates and I were walking back to our school from the school we had to go to for shop class (our school was smaller and didn't have a shop class) when out of the ally ran a small gang of thugs. Before I knew it, my friend had a knife at his throat, and the wooden dowel that my teacher had given me had been ripped from my hands and put in my other friends face. I told my friends to keep walking. We said we don't want any trouble, and after a few words and shoves we were lucky to walk away unharmed.
That event rocked me, as soon as we got back to the school we opened up the yellow pages and looked up martial arts schools. My friend and I went and looked at a Hap Ki Do school, but at that point we never joined. About a year and a half later, I was in grade 10 and still had a strong calling to take Martial Arts. I started training with a student who claimed to be a "Ninja" and after only a few classes with him I could see he was a fraud, some kid who took some Karate and was taking advantage of the Ninja craze of the 80's. I then got a job at Lotus Martial Arts Supply. The owner knew I was training and not happy with my teacher, so he recommended I check out this other school, which turned out to be a great thing.
The new club was lead by Master Phil McAndrews; A student of the Late Grandmaster Simon who had successfully opened multiple locations of Temple Kung Fu. The system was a Kempo system, which was a blend of Shaolin Martial Arts and Karate. It was a hard system blended with soft. The group was mostly adults, and at the time I was still quite young, around 14 years old. The sparring was hard, yet really great. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group, and the knowledge gained from the system. Master Trevor Higgs would often come to teach, he was a force to be reckoned with. Sparring matches with him were always a learning experience, and I even ended up literally getting kicked through a wall and into the change rooms ;)
Master McAndrews decided to step away from Teaching. One of his senior students, Gil Lafantasie, took the dojo over. Gil was a tremendous fighter with great skill so the school continued to be a great place to train.
By the time I was 18, I finished high school and decided to try my hand at Modelling. This was an amazing experience as it afforded me the ability to travel the world, and meet people I could never have imagined. Every time I would travel I would look up a local school and continue my Martial Arts studies; This would continue for 6 years. In between travels I would continue to train in Calgary, and one night while taking a walk to the local 7/11, I walked past a door that had large Kanji on it. I knew right away that it was a Martial Arts club. It was nondescript and intriguing. I opened the door and walked down the stairs, I was met by a larger shaved head fellow with a big smile. He was very welcoming and although he was getting ready to leave to Japan the next day he spent about 45 minutes chatting with me. That was a turn in my Martial Arts career, his name was Jay Creasey, he was, at the time, one of the only Canadians training the true art of Ninjutsu, and was on his way to one of his many visits to train with Hatsumi Sensei in Japan. Upon his return, about a month later, I began training with him at his club in Calgary, Canada.
The next shift in my training came in 1996 when Jay Creasey hosted a Knife expert from Tacoma Washington, his Name was Datu Kelly Worden. This was one of my most shocking and memorable experiences ever in my years of training. Datu was both funny and incredibly skilled. By this point I was a blackbelt and thought I knew a thing or two... Well, I knew nothing! I left the seminar at the lunch break and was so rocked by what I had experienced that I never made it back. This inspired me to learn more from Datu, so from that point I began to host Datu Worden coming into Calgary for the next 20 years. I would also join in on the seminar circuit that the Canadians had created between Edmonton and Saskatoon. Then, I would travel to Tacoma to do private training with Datu, and attend his Annual Water and Steel Camp -Which is held every Labor Day long weekend in the Puget Sound.
During my time training with Datu in the system Of Natural Spirit International, I would continue to train with Jay Creasey. I traveled to Japan to train directly with Hatsumi Sensei, which was a great experience. The training was nothing like what I was getting with Datu, but the experience was worth the trip. My training with Jay continued and he awarded me my 5th degree black belt. I am grateful for all I have been given and have learnt from that experience.
I decided to teach full time in my own Dojo, and this was support both by Jay and by Datu Worden. During one of the Water and Steel camps, I was awarded my 7th degree from Mr. Worden, which I hold in the highest regard.
I now teach a blended system that includes the arts of all my previous and current teachers. The lineage of which I am very proud to be part of. I encourage everyone to train and get a true understanding of their path. Only by training will you discover this.
Repetition is the mother of skill. You MUST train!
Skills Of The Month
How to Deal With a Knife Attack
Opened Hand Vs. Stick
The 6 Count Sumbrada
Adventure - Part 1
The Adventure Begins!
The Sweet Spot
The past year has been an amazing experience for both of us - We have managed find our "sweet spot" with Budo Brothers where our gifts, passion, and purpose have all come into alignment. It makes it so that work is not work. Passion seeps into everything we do, and the dream is actually becoming a reality.
Vision & Goals
One of our goals with Budo Brothers is to eventually travel the world, learn a different martial art on each continent, and bring cool products to market that are inspired by the journey. That’s our vision, and we took the first step in making dream a reality by travelling to Vietnam!
The purpose for the trip was to establish new business relationships with top quality manufacturers for some of our gear. It used to be that we would make 10-20 products at a time, but now we require 10x that without sacrificing quality. After doing a lot of research, we found out that Vietnam has turned into a bit of an epicenter for quality and affordability over the past 10 years. So we decided to go see it for ourselves!
Going into Production!
The main focus of the trip on increasing Budo Brothers production capabilities. But, we also figured we would try our hand at producing a little documentary to capture the entire experience. So, before embarking on the journey, we ended up buying a bunch of new gear:
- Couple new camera lenses
- 1 Boom-Mic
- 2 Lapel Mics
- 320 GB of memory cards (which we ended up maxing out!)
- Two GoPro Hero 5's
- And a loot bag full of GoPro attachments that the lord himself wouldn't know what to do with
One area of life that we became all too familiar with, is the dreaded "draining battery syndrome".... To thwart the threat of being "out of juice" on the regular, we made sure our charging game was strong!
The only bonus to having three connecting flights and 24hrs of door to door travel, is it provided loads of time to play with our new toys:
The game plan was to use AirB&B the entre trip so we could stay off the beaten tourist trail, and live alongside the locals. This strategy ended up paying DIVIDENDS!
Finally touched down in Ho Chi Minh City. We were instantly blown away with all the crazy traffic! Apparently, traffic laws are governed by one word: Flow! It literally flows like a river with bikes zipping around slower cars and everyone laying on their horns like it is some sort of sophisticated Morris Code. For instance, our driver honked his horn 3 quick honks for no apparent reason. Then, 1 minute later, it was 2 longer honks, followed by 4 quick ones. Both of us were looking around to see who he might be communicating with, and had no clue how it worked.
See, where we’re from (Canada,) if you honk your horn... You mean BUSINESS! One of two scenarios is about to take place.... Either, 1) you are going provoke a road rage incident and get into a fight, or 2) You are about to smash into someone sending a tweet. Needless to say this 'ecosystem' took some getting used to. Here's a taste of what we're talking about:
Word to The Wise
Do your homework prior to travelling to foreign countries to figure out what taxi rates are, because those sneaky devils will pull a fast one on you! After some aggressive haggling, we ended getting a taxi that was inline with our research and headed to our first AirB&B. Later we learned that UBER is alive & well in Vietnam helping to disrupt the swindling that takes place in the cab industry, which ended up making the rest of our travels super easy.
Either way, we roll up to our apartment building and meet “Miss Saigon” to get our keys. But first, we needed to go to the 5th floor… Only problem, there was three of us, plus our luggage Vs. the smallest elevator that mankind has ever created. See for yourself:
Now, were we pleased by the fact that "Miss Saigon" just so happened to be kinda cute? Yes. Not only that, she went out of her way to help us get a lay of the land, showed us where to go, where to avoid, and blessed us loads of tribal knowledge. Naturally, we asked her where we should go for our first night in Vietnam… and bashfully invited her to join us [not smoothly I might add.] Fast forward a few hours and we are out with a bunch of amazing locals, and ended up hitting the town!
New Years Eve
We almost cooked our goose on night 1, but made sure to keep some gas in the tank for the main event: New Years Eve. We had ZERO plans and left our fate in the hands of the party gods... (which ended up smiling down on us.) We had no idea where we were going to go, or what we were going to do. But fear not! Our new entourage of Vietnamese beauties knew exactly were to go, and by the end of the night, I’m pretty sure we lost count of how many skybars we ended up visiting. Hands down, this was the BEST NEW YEARS OF OUR LIVES! Here's a sneak-peak:
Vietnam Street Food
One thing that blew our minds was the street food. By far the best food we have ever had, and I am now ruined as Vietnamese food back home just doesn’t stack up. It was so bizarre; it looked like anyone could set up a restaurant on the sidewalk, plop down some tiny Fisher Price chairs around a small plastic table, and boom! You’ve got yourself a restaurant. The most interesting part was that most of these street food joints only served one item. Grandma had spent her life perfecting a recipe, and that’s the only thing they serve. BUT DAMN WAS IT GOOD! And for a whopping $1, you were full with nutritious food picked & prepped that day!
Each day we would fill up for a buck, then set out to complete our daily missions. The next mission was to...