I recently had the opportunity to drive out to the Detroit area and the privilege of meeting Sifu Robert Brown and his assistant, Jeri Donahue. What’s so special about these two? Well, they run what is likely the largest and most successful adult martial arts program in the country. Incidentally, it happens to be a Chinese system based on the same basic fighting principles as our Ba Gua Zhang.
The whole school treated your Shifu like royalty. I was amazed at how open and helpful Sifu Brown is – a rare site in an industry crowded by egos and secrecy.
Not only is Sifu Brown open, but his teaching is having a profound effect on the lives of his students. He is teaching the true essence of martial arts practice. He is teaching his students what I have believed in and practiced for 20 years: that the martial arts is a vehicle to reach higher states of consciousness and results in leading a better and more fulfilling life outside of the school.
We will soon be bringing his creation into our program. It is called, “Lessons in Mindfulness.” I think it is a brilliant program and I’m certain you will agree.
On the very first page of “Zen in the Martial arts” by Joe Hyams he states, “A dojo (practice hall) is a miniature cosmos where we make contact with ourselves-our fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits. It is an arena of confined conflict where we confront an opponent who is not an opponent but rather a partner who is engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully…”
Essentially, Lessons in Mindfulness builds on this concept and presents you with a clear plan to follow. This helps to accelerate the process of reaping the deepest benefits of your training.
Monthly you will have a topic to study and an activity to complete. It takes little time, however, the positive habits and focus that it will bring to your training and your life is profound.
I’m very excited about this new direction for our school. I’m grateful for the new relationship I have with this wonderful teacher and friend-a true asset to a frequently troubled and misunderstood industry.
Originally published August, 2003 under the title “A New Friendship”