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Kihon Happo during 2011
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From Redmond, Washington
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It’s a new year and time to study kihon happo.

Predictably, different schools of thought will line up to declare for this or that position, body mechanics, angle, or technique that captures Soke’s interpretation of kihon happo for 2011.

However, today I’m thinking about kihon happo not as it applies as a theme for 2011 but for how kihon happo applied to me during 2001/2002 when New York suffered the terror attacks of 9/11. You can bet that later this year the mythology---and a lot of bullshit---surrounding 9/11 is going to be laid on thick. However, during January 2011, today’s New Yorkers and New York alumni like me have a little space to remember it without the noise of mainstream media and politics.

In 2001, I had my 4th Dan but it didn’t really matter because my head was elsewhere. I trained regularish. I practiced kihon happo because I was supposed to. But I also had a software company. I had staff, technology, deals, cash-----all the rainments of a successful businessman. My partners and I had built what was going to be a hot mobile JAVA start-up with all the money and face that entailed. I was even the resident office ninja, which added a certain cachet when dropped in the right conversations ☺. Ninja entrepreneur and all that.

Then the world collapsed---at least our little part of it in Manhattan. Paradoxically, the day of the actual attack turned out to be easier to survive than four months afterward when we needed to close down a dream. Rather than a sudden catastrophic loss, I watched the bank account drain away, made phone calls to customers that led nowhere, understood the reticence of other companies and business partners to commit. In other words, I had time to taste the whole stinking mess come at me like that feeling of time slowing down just before the impact of a car crash. You know 100% it’s going to happen and there’s not damn thing you can do about it.

In February 2002, we pulled the plug. I had to fire people and then fire myself. A fortune of money, sweat and sustained work gone---just like that. I got appropriately drunk, slept, sobered up then went about the business of starting life over---wife and young children in tow, the vast majority of all the money I’d ever earned gone, and no immediate prospects. All business was hunkered down. Nobody knew me anymore and nobody cared. That’s the reality of New York when you’re on the dark side of luck.

Over time, it seeped in slowly that starting over wouldn’t be like what you saw in the movies. It was going to be a hard, long slog with no victory ceremony. At those points, a lot of people start making compromises. In fact, the terror attacks gave many of us priceless ammunition for saying why we gave up something important, or the reason we drank, or any number of excuses for checking out.

And in that moment, I realized that circumstances hadn’t taken away my ability to train in budo. Only I could do that. I could practice my punch or ukemi or kamae. No force on earth except me could stop me from doing that. I found Josh Polier’s Benevolent Heart Dojo in Brooklyn’s DUMBO area, called him up and started going regularly. It made absolutely ZERO business sense and ended up being one of the best things I ever did.

Training….just training, no real thoughts about it, just doing kihon happo and letting the world turn a few clicks, that was the basic plan. Those days added up, one movement at a time to become the thread, the faint chalk marks that led me out of that cave during 2002.

It’s taken more years to climb back and even now, almost a decade later, my bank account isn’t what it once was. But I’m a far richer man. Business even looks better for 2011.

Kihon Happo?

Basics?

Yeah, sure, they’re damn important to your taijutsu. There’s never a time when you can’t find new layers to peel back to improve.

But speaking for myself, I can summarize in a single phrase the essence of kihon happo and what it gave me when I needed it most:

THE GUTS TO LIVE….


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Happy New Year everyone. I wish all of the buyu making up this community good health, happiness and training during the coming year.

Thanks Shawn.



Posted on: 2011/1/2 6:10
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John du Pre Gauntt

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Re: Kihon Happo during 2011
村長 :: Sonchou
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From Chiba, Japan
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John,

Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu - Happy New Year!

Thanks so much for sharing that part of your story. I found it very inspiring, and in some small way felt that I could relate to some parts.

I'm glad you're part of the community here.

Best wishes for 2011,

Shawn

Posted on: 2011/1/2 10:49
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Re: Kihon Happo during 2011
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From San Salvador, El Salvador
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Wow thank you very much for sharing such intimate information.

Truly inspirational.

Posted on: 2011/1/2 14:03
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DIEGO F. GONZALEZ ARGUMEDO
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Re: Kihon Happo during 2011
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Very good story, and an awesome way to live your life!

Posted on: 2011/1/2 15:07
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Re: Kihon Happo during 2011
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Sounds very familiar, John, as I'm sure it will to many others. Thank you for sharing this.

Posted on: 2011/1/3 14:35
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Dale Seago
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