Category Archives: goals

Sepia Blue Sisters

Sepia Blue Sisters
Sepia Blue Sisters

I have been away from this blog for a few months due to my insane work and writing schedule. That has since calmed down a bit and so I will be posting regularly.

Its been an amazing few weeks. I had an incredible summer.  I have also taken on training seriously. I realized that a healthy body facilitates a healthy mind which means I can write more.

500lb deadlift
500lb deadlift


That’s me doing a 500 lb dead-lift and making the only face possible when lifting that much-we call it a squat face lol.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Sepia Blue series and it has been a blast to write. Book Two(cover above) will be released this month and the story is twisting in some unexpected and surprising ways. By the time you read this-Sepia Blue Sisters will be available. Grab a copy and let me know what you think.

I’ll be releasing some new content soon. I have a new kind of story rolling around in my head and I would like to bounce some ideas here, before I pursue them elsewhere. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.  I truly hope you have had a pleasant and exciting summer.

Keep reading!





Writers Write II


This one is going to piss a few of you off.

I made peace with that. Understand that this is MY OPINION and you are welcome to disagree with me. Hell you can even completely ignore this entire post. That is your prerogative. Still here? Good. Strap in and lets go. If this one raises your hackles or if you feel the need to illuminate me on the error of my ways…I direct you to the comment section below.

There is no such thing as writer’s block.

Barring depression and or anxiety which are real things and can stand in the way of your writing (and if you suffer from these I strongly urge you to seek medical help) the other reasons that writers come up with to attribute to writer’s block sound like so many excuses.

For every ‘reason’ out there that has stopped a writer, there are countless others who have had the same(or worse) setbacks and have continued to write. It’s time we let go of the crutches and get to walking on our own.

Take ownership of your writing. Stop ascribing near mythical properties to these challenges in your life.

Not enough time? Reevaluate how you spend yours.

Demanding Job? Do what needs to be done then get to writing.

Family responsibilities? Meet your responsibilities and then get to writing.

Death of a loved one? Grieve, grieve some more. Remember that you are still alive and choose life. Use your writing as a catharsis if you must, but get back to it.

Lost your desire? Remember why you started writing in the first place… and then start again.

Dont fall into this trap. Dont make excuses. Dont put it off.

Develop the discipline to see it through and FINISH WHAT YOU START.


<rant over>

I’ll leave you with a quote that sums this up for me.

“Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
― Robert McKee

Writers Write.

Comments are open if you so feel the need.


Write It


On my window sill beside my desk I have no less than ten books on writing your first novel. This is not including the numerous articles I have on my hard drives. Included in this list are  a few must haves –  Larry Brooks Story Engineering ,Story Physics, and Story Fix, Strunk and White- Elements of Style travels with me everywhere. so does Stephen King-On Writing. The others while good reads- (and think about this, being a writer reading about writing has to be the epitome of procrastination) did not really further my writing or prompt me to write any faster. Now don’t misunderstand, I am all for learning and honing our craft of word smithing. Many times that takes reading and learning and studying. However the best way I have found to get better at writing is-writing. So why do I have more than ten books on writing staring at me everyday?  Well I bought those books before my first book was published and it was really a way to feel like I was progressing in my book without actually having to write. In other words it was busy work, but not real work not writing. Very similar to shifting those papers around from one side of the desk to another but not really doing anything about them.

So here is my advice: Just write it- already.
You want to become better as a writer you have to write, a lot.
You want to become a published writer? It wont happen just thinking about it, only you can write your story.
By all means hone your craft, learn as much as possible. Read the books on writing, get the style guides. Just understand that at the end of the day none of that can replace your voice on a page.


Make Time to Unplug

be still
be still

We live in a era of connectivity. Never before our time has communicating been so easy. I can on my phone, get the weather, check my email, call someone across the planet, schedule my day, surf the web, play a game, send a multiple texts and do this all before breakfast. We have arrived at a point where if we leave our homes without our devices we feel distraught and in many cases return to pick up said device. I remember the time when a cell phone was a luxury, now a smartphone is a necessity. Or is it? Continue reading Make Time to Unplug

Do you ever teach?

Those who cant do teach. That is the prevailing thought, especially in the sports world. This is not the case in the martial arts world however. This came to mind when I was recently asked by a parent upon my entering the dojo, “Do you ever teach class?” It was fair question, most people prefer to get taught by what they consider the highest ranked student of the school. When I am in a the dojo I am teaching whether I am in the class or not. I occasionally meet with each instructor before class to discuss what needs to be covered in the class and with whom.

Then I realized it goes further than that. In the same manner I am constantly learning the same applies to my teaching. I am always teaching. It is not something I just do at certain times of my week, but rather a state of being student/teacher is a natural way for me. I was not disturbed by the question. Our school has grown to the

point that there are students who have not seen me teach their class. I do however  make it a point to try and visit every class at some point during the month. When we started at the location we are now, I did teach every class since I was the only instructor there were no other options. But as time passed and the school has grown we now have several instructors and many more training to become instructors. One of my driving philosophies in having a dojo was the furtherance of our style. Continue reading Do you ever teach?

How important is rank?

Due to other time constraints I haven’t written in some time I will maintain this as a bi weekly blog until I can devote more time to posting here. Thank you for following!

This post is going to make a few of you upset. Feel free to comment below.

The rank you possess is artificial.

It doesn’t tell me who you are as  human being and it doesn’t inform me as to your level of skill. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things either. If the prognosis is you have six months to live-your first thought is unlikely to be “But I’m a black belt!”
If your child is in danger, your rank isn’t (or shouldn’t be) at the forefront of your mind. Your rank is not a determining factor if you get assaulted. No would be criminal is going to ask you your rank at gun or knife-point (it may actually work to your detriment).

In fact outside of the microcosmic world that is your dojo, your rank is virtually irrelevant. This is evidenced by the differing of opinion in what a rank means among styles and occasionally even within the same style but differing schools. I know this may be news to some I have to confess it took me a long time to learn. Continue reading How important is rank?

Why the dojo is not a gym

 Its January so let me wish you a Happy New Year. This is the time of year where many people rededicate themselves to physical fitness. It is the time of New Years resolutions.
In our school January is the month of Kagami Biraki, the start of a new year. We usher it in with hard training and pushing ourselves past our perceived limits.Cultivating new energy for a new year.

Its very similar to what is happening in many gyms at this time of the year.. The dojo however is not a gym. Let me share my thoughts and show some of the similarities and then I will explain the differences. In both locations the purpose is to go and stress the body. You can work hard in both the gym and dojo.  Both places are designed to transform your body. Both require a commitment on your part. Both can be social settings and both produce results.
On the surface they seem interchangeable as if one is just an expression of the other. It would be a mistake to think so.
Let me explain the differences between the two.

A dojo is a sacred space.
This is the definition of sacred in the context of something that is worthy of spiritual respect or devotion, not in the context of any of the worlds religions. When you enter a dojo you respect the space because of what it symbolizes in your life. When you enter a gym, at least when I enter one there is no sense of the sacred demonstrated by me or that I can witness by the members of the facility.

A dojo is a place of transformation.
You will be transformed in a gym. If you are consistent and train with regularity your body will change. In a dojo the transformation runs deeper. When you train in a dojo you are faced with who you are at your core. The transformation takes place on an incremental level, subtly. You wont always be aware of it occurring, but it is happening.  You will experience the outward of transformation of your body like in a gym, but you will also experience an inward transformation. Your entire demeanor will change, you will acquire patience, with yourself , with others and with the process of growth. You learn to embrace the journey as opposed to being focused on the destination. This is a very different mindset from being in a gym where the goal is what matters.

Training in a dojo requires hard work
Training in a dojo is hard. It requires a level of commitment not usually seen in a gym. You must be willing to push yourself beyond what you think your limits are on a consistent basis. This is not to negate the hard work required in a gym, however the hard work required in a dojo transcends the physical and enters the spiritual. You are not only working on your body but your entire being as a whole, spirit mind and body are impacted.

Ego has no place in a dojo
There is no room for your ego in a dojo. It only serves as an obstacle to learning. You cant bring your ego into a dojo and expect to progress because it will constantly remind you of what the other people in the class are doing how much better you are or how much worse you are than those around you. It seems to be quite the opposite in a gym where ego gets fed on a regular basis. I can lift more than the next person, my body looks better and so on.

The dojo is a community
You may be a regular at a gym and even have training partners which make the training in a gym easier. When you commit to training in a dojo you become part of a community, a family. You learn not just be concerned about yourself but about the journey of your fellow classmates. The social setting in a gym is one of isolation in most cases. In a dojo your are on an individual path as well. The difference being that you are connected to those that came before you and after you. The sense of connectivity is what creates a dojo family. We have all walked the same path some have started before others, but we are still on the same path.
In a dojo you come just the way you are and are accepted. There is no ideal you need to measure up to. The only limits that exist are the ones you impose. The only comparison that exists is when you compare to yourself of the past. Each person in the dojo serves each other. We spur each other on when our energy wanes. When we think of quitting we reach out and extend a hand to help you continue.

Though they may be similar but, a dojo and a gym are not the same. They each serve a purpose and it depends on what you seek in your life and in your training that will determine where you invest your time and energy.

strong spirit-strong mind- strong body
Sensei Orlando

P.S. I wanted to share with all of you that I just released my latest book and you can find it HERE. It was a pleasure to write and I hope you enjoy it as well. If you do pick it up please leave a review.

Who do you face in the Dojo?

The Forge

I recently had a conversation with one of my senior students. It reminded me that we are all walking the same path, the only difference is our location on the path. We were discussing what happens when our training is neglected. How difficult it can become to return the dojo because we perceive there will be judgement or we don’t measure up to a certain standard.

When I suggested to the student that all that needs to be done is showing up at the dojo and training, I was subjected to the reasons why this was difficult. Let me know if this sounds familiar: “I’m out of shape.” “I have other commitments.” “What will the other students say, I’m a senior and wont last the class.” “I’m embarrassed.” 

There were a few others, but I’m sure you get the idea. When I suggested the student just show up and train, the defiance arose within the student. I was subsequently told, “I cant believe I’m being defiant with you.”
I had to laugh (and I did) because this student thought the defiance was being directed at me when in reality it was being directed inward. I told the student that my position as a teacher is to stand in and for the potential contained in each person. The same way it was done for me when I began. My teachers did not see the awkward student who couldn’t perform techniques correctly, but rather the student I would become if I dedicated myself to the training and practice.

My own version of the above went this way:
I had reached shodan( first degree black) and I told my then sensei, who is still my present day sensei, I think I need to take a break. I had trained hard for four years and felt I deserved a break after getting to black belt. His response still resonates with me today. He said “At shodan, you are just starting. This isn’t the time to take a break, this is the time to train harder than you have before.” I didn’t want to hear that. Not only did I not want to hear that, I couldnt hear it at the time.
What I wanted to hear was ” You’re right, you have trained incredibly hard these past four years, why don’t you take some time off and relax?”

I walked away from that conversation, frustrated and angry. Determined to do what I wanted to do. I took off two years from training. For two years I didnt train. I didnt visit a dojo, practice kata or engage in any activity that could be considered martial. Two years later I started visiting my sensei, who when he first saw me made me feel like two days had passed not two years. His first question was, “When are you coming to train?” 

My responses were very similar to what the student told me. I needed to get in shape, I’m a senior and what will the juniors think of me, I don’t wan to embarrass you (this one is by far the most destructive-Ill get to it later), My techniques are rusty, I don’t even remember half of them. And so on went my reasons. He listened patiently and waited for me to finish. “Just come to class.” was his response. And I did and haven’t stopped since-over 22 years later.

Where do these responses come from? Why do we say these things went confronted with a situation like this? The easy answer is fear. We make commitments and excuses to cover our fear. I made sure I was so busy during those two years that any time I had would be occupied doing something else. Its a ploy to mask fear. The other answer is ego or saving face.

We remember where we were and are loathe to return to a state where we may not look as good, to be a beginner again. That is ego driven thinking. The comment about not wanting to embarrass my sensei is destructive because not only does it play to my ego, but it implies that his ego is as inflated as mine.

You have heard me say many times in the past that the dojo is a forge. It burns off impurities and you leave the dross of your character, techniques and spirit on the dojo floor. However a forge is only useful if you enter it. You must place the metal INSIDE the forge. The same way you have to ENTER the dojo.

The dojo is also a mirror, because the only person you face when you are on that floor is yourself. Its the you from last class, the you from last month, last year. You are always facing yourself on the dojo floor. There is always something to be polished, some technique that can be performed better. That is the ongoing state of the dojo and the student-regardless of rank.
The next time you step on the floor, it doesn’t matter where you are, remember that the greatest challenge lies within.

Face Yourself
One final note:
Thank you for following this blog.

I’m currently working on several book projects and so will take the holidays to restructure my new year schedule, train, and spend time with the family.

This will be my last post of the year.
Thank you all for the follows and the comments.
I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!

A return to basics

January is our month of Kagami Baraki. For those unfamiliar with the concept it comes from the Japanese tradition of celebrating weddings, opening days or any event worthy of being celebrated. In a dojo it is usually the start of a new year and it is marked by a day of intense training where everyone comes together to train and sweat together. Our school is slightly different in that we celebrate the entire month of January as our month of Kagami Biraki. Everyone knows the classes are harder, more intense and are comprised of mostly basics-lots and lots of basics.

When I first received my shodan ( first degree) I figured this was it. Now I would finally learn the secret techniques, now all the black belt knowledge would be unveiled, imparting upon me a kind of super human ability to execute my techniques! I walked into my first black belt class full of expectation, I was  ready. Imagine my surprise when the next two hours of training was spent doing basic punches, kicks, and blocks. We even went back and did our first white belt kata over and over. Surely this was a fluke maybe it was just a way to get  the new black belts used to the idea of a black belt class? Next class was more of the same and the class after that and so on. This is not to say that I did not learn advanced techniques, I did.  However  those advanced techniques were usually made up of basic techniques executed in a different way or several basic techniques joined to make one advance technique.

And so our emphasis this month is a return to the basics. We always stress our foundations but this month especially so. In returning to our foundations we can learn several things. We can see how far we have progressed and how far we still have to go. We can deepen our understanding of the art we have chosen to study by looking at its foundation and deconstructing techniques and kata. We can learn the functionality of what we do, why does it work and how. All this comes from going back to the basics. I also learned one other thing, that the higher the rank the more time you spend with basics, its quite the circle that is indicative of the arts we study. You train long and hard, invest many years, tears, blood and sweat-so you can be perpetual beginner.

As an aside, the photo is a picture of Morio Higaonna’s hands. Anyone who trains for any length of time runs into his name and his influence on goju-ryu. Look him up.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando

The strength not to use strength

We live in a culture of strength. Everywhere you look strength is lauded. Its in our societal thought space  “Only the strong survive”  is an unspoken accepted “truth.” In this month of resolutions most of the ads are geared towards get fit, get healthy. Underlying that is… be strong.  I am reminded of the ads in the comic books when I was younger. Where Charles Atlas would help the 98lb weakling become a paragon of strength. No I’m not really that old but I used to collect very old comics.

We have a tendency to shun weakness, real or perceived.
 So the real question is- What is strength? Webster states that strength is:the quality or state of being strong, capacity for exertion or endurance, the power to resist force, power of resisting attack. Is this really strength? 

In the dojo there are several manifestations of strength. The strength to crank out numerous push ups is one. The strength to hit the makiwara over and over never wavering is another. How about the strength to come to class when every cell in your body is telling you to stay home? The strength to face that senior who is going to hit you. The strength to face that junior you have to hit? The strength to drill kata over and over until it is hardwired into your body and you are physically and mentally exhausted. These may not be the socially accepted definitions of strength but they are examples of it nonetheless.

You see its not all about physical strength. What happens when you become older and physical strength is no longer a factor? Or when you are the senior (in age and rank) facing that 18-20 yr old at the height of his physical prowess? It is as these times that we must have the strength not to use strength.  For while being physically strong is certainly an asset, In training it is not the goal but rather a side effect.

The strength that is required in the dojo is more holistic. You need to be strong in every aspect of your being not just physically. I have faced behemoths that towered over me and handled them with relative ease because of their dependency on physical strength. Likewise I have faced my Shihan who weighs in at about 128 lbs and stands an entire five feet two inches and have been dismantled by him on a regular basis. So its not the physicality of strength. Mental fortitude is as important as physical strength. Precise techniques give that physical strength a vehicle for expression. Spiritual strength underlies it all.

So the next time you view someone as weak, take a moment to truly evaluate if that person is weak. If it is in the dojo it may be that they are so strong that they appear to be weak, for only the truly strong can be gentle.  
Outside the dojo the same applies. Those who are truly strong may not appear to be so at first glance- look again.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando