A LETTER FROm
Dear Budo Fam,
We have a jam packed month ahead of us. We're busy working on some exiting new initiatives, and gearing up for the Martial Arts Expo in Vegas. We're looking forward to checking out a few solid seminars and meeting some legendary martial artists. Stay tuned for our full report on the Expo in next month's issue.
This month's eMagazine is another double feature! Sensei Alan Colter shares his story of finding martial arts later in life, and how it helped him persevere through some serious challenges.
We all have our challenges as we try to navigate this wild ride called life... But, imagine not being able to use your legs?? That's one challenge that Larry McDonnel faced, and it was martial arts that helped him actually gain the ability to walk... I'm going to stop right there, and let you read the rest Larry's inspiring story!!
Lastly, we share an amazing discovery we made while we were on our Vietnam trip earlier this year.
(Hint: It smells really good, and it's used to enhance meditation.)
Featured Budo Brother
Sensei Alan Colter
Many individuals begin their martial arts journeys in their youth. In my case, my martial arts journey began when I started training with my six-year-old son at the age of 37 – I will be 55 in two weeks.
While spending time in the Canadian Armed Forces bases in the 70s, I ended up watching a lot of Bruce Lee & kung fu movies which intrigued & inspired me to start. More importantly, I saw an opportunity to spend time with my son, learn something new, something meaningful, and do something physical. I was hooked in the first two classes, and I’ve been training ever since; 18 years and counting.
I want to take you back to 2009 - The year I had to face the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to overcome in my life. The financial crisis of 2008 was still reverberating around the world, and I suddenly found myself getting laid off from work. I was 47 years old, had been working fulltime for 28 years, had always received favorable reviews, and addressed work with the same energy and gusto that I addressed everything in life.
After a year of hapless searching in a job market that was saturated by experience, and compounded by a large young pool of university kids, I was feeling devastated and meaningless. I began reading, searching and introspecting – I started a study and practice the art of releasing my ego using the ideals I had honed in the dojo, in concert with the wisdom passed down by the masters such as Bushi Matsumura:
"To all those whose progress is hampered by ego-related distractions let humility, the spiritual cornerstone upon which karate rest, serve to remind one to place virtue before vice, values before vanity and principles before personalities".
After my ego release exercises took root, I found myself in a completely different frame of mind – I was no longer pushing to find work. Instead, I began focusing on being the best person I could be, relaxing and exploring things I never would have considered in the past, discovering what was truly important, and allowing the universe to guide my path. This resulted in the opening of my own karate club, The Bunbukan, in September 2010. And coincidently, a month later I was working full time in a three year contract position.
I train in Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo-jutsu (KU as it’s known to its practitioners,) which is a recent art developed from the lifelong martial arts research and training experience of Hanshi Patrick McCarthy, his International Ryukyu Karate Research Society (IRKRS) organization, and his principles of the 36 habitual acts of violence. To quote Sensei Patrick McCarthy, "The fundamental basis of Koryu Uchinadi is to provide life protection skills. In doing so it’s practice also conditions the body, cultivates the mind and nurtures the spirit, in order to improve health, it’s holistic purpose; build moral character, it’s social aim; help empower oneself in order to surmount human weakness, it’s philosophical nature; and in doing so, reveal inner peace and tranquility, it’s spiritual essence".
I did not choose this art – it chose me! There are certain things that happen in life – sometimes we purposefully hop from one thing to the next never finding what we truly need. And sometimes the universe seems to guide us to a place that satisfies us, challenges us and allows us to develop well beyond who we thought we should or could ever be. The universe guided me to martial arts training and KU and I feel one with all that it is.
At the Bunbukan, I choose to focus on those habitual acts and non-sport based training. The school is a place where we endeavor to balance both the physical and mental pursuits (the Bunbu) and embraces anyone who may benefit from our style of training. Our focus on courtesy, respect, humility, effort, focus, patience, perseverance, courage and critical thinking are highly valued by students, parents and instructors. KU training is empowering and we particularly encourage women and children to train with us. The Bunbukan houses some of the finest KU practitioners and instructors in Canada.
Life in the dojo is the same as life outside the dojo for me. Some of the virtues that I have practiced in the dojo and use every day include: patience, perseverance, open-mindedness, work effort, lifelong learning and meditation.
Martial arts has provided an avenue for me to link mind, body and spirit; it has provided me the opportunity to explore myself and grow in ways that likely would not have occurred in other forms of exercise, meditative practices, etc. Martial arts training has been synergistic with everything in my life and has allowed me to see parallels and share experiences across a broad spectrum of my life.
Skills Of The Month
Featured Budo Brother
Legs, don’t take them for granted
You know that scene in Forest Gump when Lieutenant Dan pulls Forest off the hospital bed and yells at him that it was his destiny to die in combat? Lieutenant Dan then asks; “Do you know what it is like to not be able to use your legs?” Forest Gump responds; “W-w-well yes sir I do.”
My oldest daughter went with her grandmother to physical therapy. Her grandmother had her knee replaced a few weeks ago and is still recovering. My daughter was telling me about the therapy. I told her I was all too familiar the routine her grandmother was going through.
One of my earliest memories as a child was looking down and seeing orthotic braces on my feet. When I was born, my feet were turned inward. So the doctors did everything they could to straighten my feet outward so I could walk. In some cases; that mean wearing orthotic braces on my feet all day and night. I don’t think I wore my first pair shoes until I was 4 or 5 years old. I remember getting my first pair shoes. I was in Maryland at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I had an operation on my legs and the casts came off. The doctor had asked mom if I had a pair of shoes. He explained to her that I would need them for physical therapy. My mom and a nurse took me to the nearest mall so I could get shoes. Soon afterward I spent what seemed like months at the hospital going to physical therapy learning to walk.
During this time while I was learning to walk, I would sit or lie around in bed watching TV or movies. I will admit I watched Mary Poppins 100s of times; this was also the time I discovered Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Cynthia Rothrock movies. I wanted to do what they were doing.
While growing up I expressed interest to my parents that I wanted to practice martial arts. My parents had their concerns. My father knew someone who was a karate teacher and asked for feedback. The overall consensus was that it would be too much for me to handle. My mother’s fear was that all of the work the doctor put into giving me the ability to walk would all be for nothing if I got hurt.
However, the desire to practice martial arts kept growing as I got older. My sister would eventually date and marry and later divorce a guy who had a red belt in a Korean style of martial arts. He had recently moved back from Georgia and was looking for a new place to practice. I was 17 at the time finishing my sophomore year in high school and I had found out that there was a karate class down the road from where I lived. My sister came to the house and picked me up. She wanted to check out the class for her soon to be ex-husband and I wanted to see if I could do it.
The hardest part was walking through the door. I was scared and excited. Luckily someone who knew me recognized me at the door and brought me into the gym. I was introduced to the instructors. They lined me up and I got to train with the rest of the class. Karate class was more than I had imagined. I was hooked and I loved it.
That first class when I went to check it out, I was walking with a walker. Even with all of the operations and physical therapy I still couldn’t walk more than 10 feet without assistance. Karate became my physical therapy. I was doing something I thought was interesting. It didn’t feel like the grueling painful therapy sessions I remembered having to go through as a child. I was standing for 2 hours practicing blocks, punches, kicks, and learning to step forward and backward while doing all 3 techniques. Eventually, my legs gained the strength I needed to walk without a walker. My classmates would help me stretch out my legs and do a variety of exercises to help me increase my mobility. Granted, there were nights after class I hurt all over but it was a good type of hurt. The pain I felt was nothing like the pain I remembered as a child. This was pain that was brought on through a sense of accomplishment.
After a year of practicing karate, I ended up taking a trip to see my doctor in Maryland. This was not your ordinary orthopedic doctor. This particular doctor specialized in helping people with dwarfism live as much of a normal life as they could. While I was at my appointment, I showed the doctor the kicks I was practicing and all of the techniques I could do. He was delighted. All of the operations he had done on my hips, knees, and feet were paying off. Around that same time frame, my mother came to karate class to pick me up. She watched as I worked out and sparred with my fellow classmates. She realized what type of impact karate had on me and how it helped me in life. Her fears were wrong. By the time I was in 12th grade I didn’t need any assistance to walk. I wasn’t injuring myself as she feared, but I was improving myself.
The pain of accomplishment will always feel better than the pain of incapacitation. So do not take your legs for granted. Go out there and throw that kick. One of these days you may not be able to.
During our recent Vietnam trip we noticed that some of the temples we visited had an incredible smell. We weren't really sure what it was until we finally asked someone since it smelled so damn good! That was the first time we've ever heard about Agarwood. We learned about how it is naturally created, how it is used, and we WANTED SOME!!!
What is Agarwood?
It is an exotic, expensive, and highly sought-after wood that possesses some truly unique properties. Agarwood only comes to life when the Southeast Asian Aquilaria tree is attacked by a very specific type of mold. The Aquilaria tree then produces an immune response to the attack, which yields a dark, aromatic resin. It is this rare resin which is used in incense, perfumes, and colognes due to its tranquil aromatics. It is sometimes even referred to as “The Wood of God.”
Top grade Agarwood is one of the most expensive raw materials in the world and will easily sell for over $2000/kg. It is often used in Buddhist temples where Monks burn Agarwood to achieve the highest states of consciousness during meditation and prayer. This might sound crazy, but when you smell Agarwood for the first time, you will understand why!
The oil contained in Agarwood is psychoactive and has many benefits:
- Calms the mind & relaxes the body
- Enhances clarity & awareness
- Relieves the mind of negative thoughts
- Promotes emotional healing
- Is a natural aphrodisiac
- Stimulates Chi & awakens the body from within
Agarwood is not only burned, but also turned into Necklaces and Bracelets also know as Mala, or Prayer Beads. This allows the wearer to enjoy the properties of Agarwood wherever they are:
What Does Agarwood Smell Like?
It is actually a very unique smell that is complex, yet pleasing. Some notes that help describe the aroma include: Warm, woody, sweet, balsamic, musty, spicy, deep, vanilla, honey.
Hard to Get
After getting ripped off twice in Vietnam (being sold fake Agarwood,) we made it our mission to locate an actual Agarwood farmer and go directly to the source. After some serious digging, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! We found a certified producer that is licensed to export, and locked down a production line.
Each Agarwood Mala contains 108 beads with the main bead laser engraved. Now you might be thinking, why 108? Seems like an odd number. But, as it turns out, 108 shows up in nature, and martial arts, a lot!
The Significance of 108
- The diameter of the Sun multiplied by 108 equals the distance between Sun and Earth
- The diameter of the Moon multiplied by 108 equals the distance between Earth and Moon
- The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth
- There are 108 pressure points in the body
- In Karate, particularly the Gōjū-ryū discipline, the ultimate Gōjū-ryū kata, Suparinpei, literally translates to 108
- The 108 moves of the Yang Taijiquan long form and 108 moves in the Wing Chun wooden dummy form, taught by Yip Man
- The Eagle Claw Kung Fu style has a form known as the 108 Locking Hand Techniques
We have seen suspicious Agarwood bracelets sell online for well over $100USD, even as high as $400USD. And, we have read countless stories of people being sold fake Agarwood online since there is no way to verify its origin. Well, since we went straight to the source, we are able to verify authenticity and vouch for its awesomeness. And since we are going direct, we are able to offer up a top quality, certified pure, branded Agarwood Mala for $59USD, free shipping.
We are currently designing gen-2 of the hood-gi and we want your feedback!
Give us your thoughts, and we will send you a promo code for 20% off when we launch the new version this fall