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Mr. Michael Staples is a well-respected authority on Chinese martial arts, with several books to his credit. He's written about and studied Kung fu, White Crane and other styles with some of the American pioneers.
...but Ron is like a ballet dancer. He's just snipping things left and right, he's not getting hit at all. He's being carried into unique angles. At one point he just kind of pops up in the air and flips around with the back of his head and just smacks Steve in the forehead.
We've been fortunate enough to have a number of guests on the show that have talked about the early days of martial arts in America. Today's guest brings us that perspective on the Chinese martial arts and his early days training in California. We hear several times how Mr. Michael Staples life was altered dramatically, and seemingly by forces beyond understanding. What you hear in today's episode is the story of someone who was destined to be the martial artist they became.
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Zen in the Martial Arts is a classic martial art book written by Joe Hyams. It was recently selected as the #1 martial arts book by guests of this show.
You can read our post on the Top Ten Martial Arts Books as selected by our guests.
It’s time for episode 146 of whistlekick Martial Arts radio, and we’re going to talk about an amazing book that has come up in conversation a lot on this show – Zen in the Martial Arts. Not a reader? You should still stick around because this isn’t a book review.
Let me introduce myself. I'm whistlekick’s founder but I’m better known as your host on this show. My name is Jeremy Lesniak. whistlekick makes the best sparring gear you can get as well as some great apparel and accessories for practitioners and fans of traditional martial arts. I'd like to welcome all of you new listeners and thank everyone that’s come back.
All our past episodes, show notes, and some other good stuff is at whistlekickmartialartsradio.com. From that site, you can sign up for our newsletter, and I hope you do because we offer exclusive content to subscribers, discounts and it's the only place to find out about upcoming guests.
Today’s episode has a full transcript available on the website.
Zen in the Martial Arts, for all of the impact it has had on several generations of martial artists, is short. It’s 140 pages of a small book, and it’s not small font. That might make you think that it’s incomplete, or otherwise lacking, but that isn’t the case.
Reviews for the book continue nearly 40 years later, and on the popular book review sites, the poorest rating I could find was 4.1 out of 5. Amazon, which is known for having the most reviews, shows it as 4.6 of 5.
There are 28 chapters, each one with a title that seems ripped from a classic kung fu movie – Empty your cup, Active Inactvitiy, Extend Your Ki. The chapters are short, most around 5 or 6 pages, and begin with a relevant photo. Most end with a bit of wisdom, like this one: “Life unfolds on a great sheet called Time, and once finished it is gone forever.”
The book discusses some great names from our history, including Ed Parker & Bruce Lee. The chapters tell stories from the author’s time training.
Joe Hyams, while beloved by martial artists for the book he wrote, was not best known as a martial artist or martial arts author. He was a writer, sure, but primarily a celebrity writer. During his career, he wrote or co-wrote books on Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and Chuck Norris.
He studied martial arts for more than 50 years. Beginning with fencing and then, through an introduction by music composer Bronislau Kaper, met Ed Parker. He became one of Parker’s first private students, then soon after, one of his first black belts.
He trained privately with Bruce Lee for two years and introduced him to Hollywood. Hyams was a big piece of Bruce Lee’s start in films. It’s hard to believe that as big of an impact as this book has had, Joe Hyams’ contributions to the martial arts community, via Bruce Lee, were so much greater.
He died in 2008 at age 85.
Most martial arts books are about martial arts or some metaphysical subject. Often times they’re written by people who really know martial arts, but aren’t so good at writing.
Mr. Hyams was a writer and a skilled one at that. He wrote newspaper columns, books, movie scripts… Clearly a varied and masterful writer.
He was also very good at conveying his point simply, something that the very best martial artists seem able to do. This book is 140 pages because Mr. Hyams didn’t need more.
While it has a tremendous amount of martial arts content, it’s not a book exclusively for martial artists. According to Melissa Hyams, his wife at the time he passed in 2008, said the book “isn't really about martial arts. It's about life and philosophy, and how to turn a negative into a positive, how to defuse a situation by the way you handle it. That's what he'll most be remembered for."
To illustrate this, I’ll read to you one of the shortest chapters, “Anger without Action,” which is just over one page:
I don’t remember when my Mother first picked up the book. I have vague memories of it being a gift, and it was likely a gift to her. She started training in 1985, so I’d guess it was in our home between 1985 and 1987. I would have been between 6 and 8, which seems about right.
It was always out. Sometimes on the coffee table, sometimes in the bathroom. It was the first nonchildren's book I read and it’s certainly the book I read most. I’d guess I’ve read it all the way through a dozen times.
It was the bits of wisdom that struck me most. I memorized them before I understood most of them, and as I grew up, life and martial arts showed me what these parables meant. “When you seek it, you cannot find it,” “The angry man will defeat himself in battle as well as in life,” and other sayings had a tremendous influence on me.
In fact, as I think back on my life and my time in the martial arts, behind my instructors and my Mother, this book was the third most influential element.
The copy I have now sits on my bookshelf, unread. Which is ironic and something I plan to change. I think it will end up in the same place in my home that it did when I was a child.
Have you, like many of our guests, read this classic? It’s still available in new copies, and it’s pretty inexpensive. You can find used copies for a few dollars, digital copies or audiobook versions if that’s your think. If you haven’t read it, you should.
I want to know what you think, and you can post your thoughts in the comments at the website - You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram – just search whistlekick. Or, just leave us a comment on the show notes page at whistlekickMartialArtsRadio.com
If you want to be a guest on the show or maybe you have an idea for a show topic, go ahead and fill out the form on the website. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can stay up on everything we do. You can learn more about our products at whistlekick.com
That’s all for today. Until next time, Train hard, smile and have a great day.
Mr. Kevin Galloway is a passionate martial arts instructor, school owner and tournament promoter. His stories show an immense dedication to the arts and his students.
You can tell a real black belt. They don't get too excited, they don't get too low, don't get too high. But what they have is the confidence to resolve any conflict, up until, "I'm just going to walk away."
Way back on Episode 31 we had the chance to hear from a good friend of the show, Mr. Cory Rose. Since then he's been every bit as good of a friend, and today's guest comes from that friendship. Mr. Kevin Galloway is a longtime practitioner of both karate and taekwondo, now operating a school and hosting a competition in Oklahoma.
Mr. Galloway opens up about life, his family, his students and what makes a good instructor. The stories range from the emotional to the humorous, and you'll probably find yourself laughing along - and maybe even tearing up.
Today we're announcing a brand new colorway for our gear - Horizon. This is our first colorway using our exclusive UniqueDip color process, which guarantees that every single piece of gear is a little different from the rest, just as you are. Horizon is a slick blue and white blend that is sure to be a hit. Read more at the official announcement, here. Check it out, or the rest of our colors, at whistlekick.com
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Conversation and Strategies on Handling Challenging Martial Arts Students - Adults & Children
Today's episode is completely off the cuff - no notes, no transcript no guest - just host Jeremy giving you his thoughts on handling challenging individuals in your martial arts school. These tips apply whether you're an instructor, school owner or student. Thanks for listening.
Mrs. April Pettengill is an ITF Taekwondo practitioner & school owner from Northern Vermont who started training later in life.
The whole idea that you learn in martial arts, that you have integrity, and you do what you have to do and take responsibility for that, that...that's a big deal.
Mrs. April Pettengill is not our typical guest. While she's a passionate martial artist, like everyone that comes on the show, she's not a lifelong practitioner. In her own words, she came to taekwondo later in life and originally didn't think it was for her. As time passed she realized that she'd found her calling, eventually taking over her instructor's school. She now teaches adults and children and seems to enjoy every minute of it.
Today's product of note is our super-comfy sweatpants - Cloud9. Check 'em out!
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It’s time for episode 142 of whistlekick Martial Arts radio, and we’re going to profile a man who’s come up in several conversations over the last few months, James Mitose.
Let me introduce myself. I'm whistlekick’s founder but I’m better known as your host on this show. My name is Jeremy Lesniak. whistlekick makes the best sparring gear you can buy as well as some great apparel and accessories for practitioners and fans of traditional martial arts. I'd like to welcome all of you new listeners and thank everyone that’s come back.
All our past episodes, show notes, and some other good stuff is at whistlekickmartialartsradio.com. From that site, you can sign up for our newsletter, and I hope you do because we offer exclusive content to subscribers, discounts and it's the only place to find out about upcoming guests. Today’s episode has a full transcript and some old photos of our subject.
For transcript, photos, show notes & more, please visit:
Grandmaster Rick Alemany is a prominent figure in the world of American Kenpo Karate.
"I just set a goal that I wanted to be the best that I could be."
It was from the efforts of two past guests that we get to hear from Grandmaster Rick Alemany today. Both Professor Brannon Beliso and Mr. Daniel Hartz coordinated with each other and with our guest. They then reached out to us to coordinate it. Personally, I'm glad they did, because I truly enjoyed my conversations with him. Prior to the episode recording, I had a few calls with him, to coordinate schedule and talk about the show. Each time I came away feeling that this man is someone special, and someone I was honored to speak with. I hope that you enjoy hearing what he says and that your reaction is as positive.
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...That doesn’t mean the training of weapons is only for practical purposes, but for this episode, we are going to limit the conversation to that. We’re actually going to restrict our conversation to non-obvious self-defense tools, which excludes firearms, stun guns and pepper sprays. While these are great tools, and I carry two of the three often, they’re definitely weapons. It’s hard to claim otherwise, which makes them a bit less appropriate for a martial arts conversation.
For a full transcript, photos & show notes, please visit: http://www.whistlekickmartialartsradio.com/episode-140-self-defense-tools/