Monday, December 08, 2014



On November 15 & 16 Sara Gerhard Snell and Susan Adams - of Two Cranes Institute - received their certifications to be authorized facilitators of The Samurai Game®.

Two Cranes Institute, a 501(c)3 non profit organization,provides educational programs for children, teens and adults.  All programs promote nonviolence and cultivate peaceful solutions to conflict.

The Institute's objective is to build resilient communities by providing strategies for compassionate leadership and empowerment within the Puget Sound community and beyond. The Institute focuses on schools, community organizations and at-risk groups, and serves as a resource for training and educational materials that promote healthy living awareness, cultivate interpersonal skills for conflict resolution and catalyze efforts to accelerate positive societal change.

Susan directs the Leadership Education Programs and can be contacted at  Sara is Youth Program Director and can be contacted  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Does It Mean - To Learn?

What Does It Mean - To Learn?
  by Lance Giroux

What does it mean - To Learn?
Depending on the circumstances, it's really up to you.
But then again, what does it mean - to Learn?

About this I believe Robert Frost had some insight when he penned:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

Some years ago my aikido sensei, Richard Strozzi-Heckler, mentioned his being at a program that ended with participants articulating what they had learned.  A New Guinea fellow responded, "I'm not sure.  Where I come from we have a saying, 'Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.'"

Again - what does it mean - To Learn?

I've just returned from a whirlwind six-week adventure.  From Oct 13 to Oct 17, it was my fortune to again work with Grayson James - supporting three candidates in training become certified facilitators of  The Samurai Game® (TSG) - Francisco Szasz and Pablo Ramirez Bellini of Mexico, and Cynthia Wu of Hong Kong.  Oct 18-20 saw me in Oklahoma City to deliver TSG for Devon Energy Corporation.  Then on to Wichita Falls, Texas, for a three-day visit with my mom and sister and nephew.  Oct 28 to Nov 2 had me traveling to The Hague, Netherlands, to support Lawrence Warry as we facilitated TSG.  From there it was Krakow, Poland for a business meeting and a few days of fun and aikido training with Pawel Olesiak and Pawel Bernas.  That stop was immediately followed by a week in Samara, Russia with TSG.  Finally (Nov 10) home in time to re-pack and head out for Seattle (Nov 13-17) in support of Two Cranes Institute.

If you were to ask, "What did you learn in all of that?" I'd have to reply that I'm not so sure yet.  It's swirling still inside me.  But definitely there was a lot to experience and absorb these past six weeks. 

Here's one thing - the similarity of people. I've written about this before; and yes, it's cliché.  But really, regardless of spoken languages and nationalities and geographies and politics, the people I encountered were strikingly similar.  Their wants and needs were basically the same.  In them I saw a marked desire to live, move and express free from control and coercion.  At every stop along the way, there were desires to laugh openly.  People showed a need to feel as deeply as they wished, accompanied by a desire to be respected no matter what.

Here's another - there are differences in perspectives.  Regardless of similarities, people are shaped differently by life.  The spoken language, a sense of nationalism, geography, the printed and broadcast word (i.e. stories in the news), these create environments that shape human responses - especially responses to control or change or conflict.  As we landed in Samara a lot of folks were up and out of their seats well before the plane had even reached the taxi ramp.  The standard announcements were there, "Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated until the plane has come to a complete stop."  But so what?  On the other hand, the landing in Seattle was marked by everyone sitting calmly the way to the gate, and then everyone remained seated and waited while folks in front of them stood, retrieved bags and quietly walked off.

Everyone wanted to get off the planes.  They just had different ways of going about it - often shaped by outside influences, many of the influences forgotten ... except by the body.

On November 8th I sat in my Samara hotel (The Patio) and watched BBC news - the Berlin Wall, the day's incursions into the Ukraine and Vladimir Putin.  A Facebook friend of mine from Tyumen, Russia, texted me, "Good evening!  Worried about the lack of understanding between our two countries.  Want peace."  I wrote back, "Yes, I want peace also."  She replied, "(heart)".

Again, I consider Robert Frost as he continues:

There where it is we do not need the wall:
[My neighbor] is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? 

What does it mean - To Learn - and how is learning made possible?
Be present.  Relax. 
Invest in the now. 
Be open to the notion that learning is always a possibility. 
Suspend judgments - all of them.  Be curious. 
Act with courage, enough to return into inquiry - no matter what. 
Never stop asking.  Listen for the multitude of responses. 
Notice what you hear.  Feel all of the responses. 
Observe the self in response to the responses. 

On November 10th I spent a few hours in the Lufthansa Lounge in Moscow's DME airport waiting a flight to Munich, writing and watching TV.  What was showing?  The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  For me it was a surreal recalling of nightly news episodes beginning with when I was 11 years old.  The CBS, NBC, ABC reports (the only TV networks at that time) with images (only black & white) and voices (heavy and weathered) of Chet, David and Walter (Huntley, Brinkley, Cronkite).  I recalled the reports of shootings when people would attempt to scramble over the Berlin Wall. The images - bodies hanging from barbed wire and surrounding voices (muffled).

As with November 8, it was surreal sitting there in Moscow and looking at a flat screen plasma color TV.   On this November day some young model-ish commentator (not reporter) commented (not reported) about "The Wall's Coming Down" a quarter century ago.

When I was in my twenties and a "Cold War soldier", all Russians were "the enemy'.  Being in Moscow was an impossibility.  But a few November days ago, I stood inside an old Soviet schoolhouse in Samara ... darkened halls, wooden floors, steam radiator heating.  There I listened to a young college teacher talk about the absurdity of politicians (regardless of nationality) who must garner or maintain power with armed might.  He said, "And for what reason?"  His wondering - "Why not wage peace?"   This man's father could well have been "my enemy" when I was a "Cold War soldier".

One more time - Robert Frost:

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say 'Elves' to [my neighbor],
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. 

What Does It Mean - To Learn?

© Lance Giroux, November 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nov 10, 2014. Define “surreal”. 
Having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic.
As in: Being born 1950 in an isolated desert town (Ray) of 1500, a “village” by today’s standards; no longer in existence, having been replaced by gigantic hole in the ground – and knowing that to show this to your children (rather grandchildren) you have to stand and point to a spot in the air “where the hospital used to be”; yet living today in mega cities: Hong Kong, Mexico DF, Shanghai and with frequent visits to Amsterdam, Krakow, and other smaller spots. 
As in: Sitting (right now) in Moscow’s DME airport lounge today waiting a flight to Munich - and recalling nightly news of CBS, NBC, ABC (the only TV networks) with images (black & white) and voices (weathered) of Chet, David and Walter (Huntley, Brinkley, Cronkite) - as they report this afternoon’s shooting of someone attempting to scramble over the Berlin wall; body dangles from barbed wire; more images (black & white) and voices (muffled). Then, looking across the room at flat screen plasma TV as some young model-ish commentator (not reporter) comments (not reports) about The Wall’s “coming down” some 25 years ago today.
As in: Standing in an old Soviet school house (two days ago) with darkened halls, wooden floors and steam/radiator heating - listing to a young man, college teacher, talk about the absurdity of politicians who must garner power with armed might “and for what reason?” rather than wage peace; this man who’s father could well have been “my enemy” when I was a Cold War soldier.
As in: Watching TV (again flat screen plasma) as broadcast on BBC last night into my small Togliatty (Russian “Federation”) hostel room – the image (color) and voice (gruff) of Mikhail (Gorbachev) now old (weathered beyond Chet) warning possibilities of a New Cold War. 
Define “surreal”. Nov 10, 2014.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great News About "Mastery"

  by Lance Giroux

July 27.  Scottsdale AZ.  Spent the afternoon with Emily Fraim, George Leonard's daughter and Trustee of the Leonard Family Trust.  Surprise!  She handed me two copies of George's book Mastery.  So?  They're written in Chinese.  Wow!  She followed that gift with, "I think it's also now being printed other languages too." Double wow.  (More about that next time.)

Mastery, now in Chinese (simplified); thank you Sterling Lord - George's publishing agent who continues to serve the Trust, owners of the copyrights to all George's written works, including his scripted simulation many readers here have personally encountered: The Samurai Game® (TSG).

While George and Annie, his wife, were alive I pushed them to have Mastery published in languages beyond English and German, especially Chinese.  To me it seemed natural and paramount, having walked neighborhood parks these past years, morning and night throughout PR China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and SE Asia to witness thousands of people engaged in embodied mindfulness practices - tai chi, walking meditations, sword work, breath work, etc.  These practices directly reflect what Mastery brings to the surface and promotes. 

Think "people": 1.35 billion in PR China, add 618 million in SE Asia, plus 24 million in Taiwan, and another 7 million in Honk Kong.  That's a big bunch of folks.  Even if only a small percentage of them were to have the opportunity to gain from this book, that small percentage is significant.  Mastery has never gone out of print and has never been absent from brick and mortar bookstores since it was first published in 1991.  Twenty-three years in continuous publication is an exceptionally long time for a paperback of this nature.

A special smile to Keith Bentz, who, to my knowledge, was the first individual to legally produce The Samurai Game® (TSG) in Hong Kong and Taipei - and with that effort the work of George Leonard was introduced into the greater Asia region.

Legally deliver?  Yes.  Why say this, because illegal TSG knock-offs have sprung up throughout Asia, Mexico, and elsewhere - even in the USA.  Read my blog about shenanigans of this type.  In this regard Mastery in Chinese is again great news; and a definite boon to the legacy of George Leonard.  Those who read Mastery, even if they attended a rip-off, will make the connections for themselves.  People are smart.  They know the difference between what's real and what's fake.  Sad though, given TSG revolves around a code of honor - Bushido in Japansese / Wushitao in Chinese / The Way of the Warriorin English / Camino del Guerrero in Spanish.

Large populations are now being served with TSG, and stand to benefit with Mastery.  Twenty-one of the current sixty-some authorized facilitators live along an arc that stretches from Chengdu, China to Taipei to Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and then continues south to Brisbane, Australia.  Having Mastery available in both English and Chinese allows for a significant impact.  Think "lessons learned and lessons applied".  Who gains?  Families, companies, universities, elementary schools, training organizations.

Mastery. The Samurai Game®.  Yin.  Yang.  Connection.  One body.  It doesn't matter the starting gate; all one needs to do is step on the path.  Read Mastery and you deepen an intellectual understanding of what is expressed through TSG.  Participate in TSG and you vault into action to embody what is articulated through Mastery.  

Mastery has been promoted in every TSG event that I've been involved with throughout Asia and SE Asia over these past eleven years.  People ask, "When can we get it in our language?"  Now they can. 

Same thing is true multiple time zones away.  The word is spreading in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla and on.  The demand continues.  Inquiries for TSG andMastery are now coming from Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina - thanks to diligence and unselfishness of some really good people, e.g. Jenaro Pleigo of Mexico City and the others living in Mexico who have followed his footsteps.

Back to Asia.  Caroline Su wanted to get Masterytranslated to Chinese so bad she began hammering me about it every time I traveled to Taipei.  Likewise, Lyric Chan of PR China.  A few months ago, when he visited Petaluma for facilitator training, what did he grill us for to compliment his work?  Mastery.  Was it Caroline or was it Lyric who lit the final fuse that eventually burned a path to light a fire under some publisher in the region.  We don't yet know, and that doesn't matter.  What matters: it has happened.

Hopefully Sterling Lord's efforts will expand to translations in other languages, and assist the expansion of George's work through TSG now underway in Russia; well launched and spreading thanks to Konstantin Volzhan and Marina Klimova.  Numerous TSG's have been conducted in Tyumen, Moscow, and Rostov-on-Don over the past year.  This November I go to Samara.  A journey continues. 

Knock on a door long enough, it opens.  
A good and important thing, and something worth sharing.
Mastery.  Published in Chinese. 
J  是好消息(This is GREAT news)

© Lance Giroux, August 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014


The Misuse of The Samurai Game®
In An Industry That Wasn’t Intended To Be An Industry

This posting addresses things from my back yard, the world of experiential seminars, particularly The Samurai Game® (TSG), a simulation created and scripted by George Leonard in 1977, and holding US copyright #TXu1-626-797.

The mid-1960’s ushered in an enticing renaissance of thought and transformation. The term that describes the period was actually coined by George Leonard as The Human Potential Movement (HPM).  As editor for Look Magazine he swept across the US interviewing psychiatrists and philosophers to research human potential.  The research showed consensus: human beings use less than 10% of their mental capacities.

By the early 1970’s four seminar organizations - EST, PSI, LifeSpring and Actualizations – sprung up and began spreading HPM ideals: present mindedness, self-awareness, self-reflection, deep listening, relaxation, focused concentration, the power of the imagination, monism, techniques for tapping altered states of consciousness, win-win philosophies, the intuition, the need for making and keeping agreements, renewal … all in the name of successful living.  All would be spun off by seminar leaders or students to form scores of like organizations around the world. Some were obvious copycats; others appeared to be different.  Many became larger and more affluent than their parent companies.  The “spinning off” continues. 

George Leonard first called his simulation of 1977 “The Samurai War Game”.  Later he dropped “war” from the title.  My guess: the word “war” would more dissuade than persuade participant involvement.  Factually TSG doesn’t promote war.  It awakens people to the cost and waste of habitual conflict, with war being the supreme example.  It encourages and promotes peaceful resolution to conflict.  George understood conflict and its ramifications: he fought in WWII and the Korean War; he practiced and taught Aikido and wrote extensively about it; as a journalist he went undercover to reveal the discontent, bigotry and hatred alive in America as the US Civil Rights Movement unfolded; he trekked the Iron Curtain to chronicle its impact as a divided Europe formed.  I believe that even his genes held an understanding.  He was a direct descendent of Aaron Burr, Revolutionary War figure and 3rd Vice President of the United States, made most famous by a pistol duel with Alexander Hamilton that left Burr alive and Hamilton dead.

EST, PSI, and LifeSpring found value in TSG and used it.  (As for Actualizations, I don’t know.)  EST signed production agreements in 1980 and included it in their “6 Day Course”.  PSI started using authorized TSG facilitators in 1991, including George himself, within the “Men’s Leadership Seminar” (MLS).  LifeSpring’s founder engaged George to deliver TSG at an internal corporate retreat arranged for seminar leaders (termed “trainers”) and company execs to foster personal growth.

Everyone knew TSG belonged to George.  He was a renowned author, journalist and editor.  He scripted the simulation – complete with preparations, guidelines, participant roles, etc.  His works are protected by copyright.  His background as a musician and with theater (Mountain Play Theater, Marin County) further grounded him in protections afforded to performances.  Moreover, all certified facilitators had/have to sign production agreements and pay royalties.

So far, so good? 
Well, for the most part, except that some seminar leaders and participants have taken TSG and with it have wandered afoul.  It didn’t happen overnight.  Shenanigans rarely do.  Like the Boiling Frog anecdote, unethical behaviors take root slowly: a wink here, a nod there, a “borrowing” without much thought about doing the right thing.  As the founder of PSI used to say, “The human mind can justify anything.”  After awhile errant behavior can become the norm, all with the appearance of permissibility and acceptability.  Integrity is pushed aside.  No one is the wiser, that is, until the shenanigans are revealed. 

What TSG’s authorized facilitators have been doing is great and well spoken to all over the world – far surpassing George Leonard’s original imaginings.  TSG is centered on the ancient Japanese code, Bushido, which extols virtues of service, honor, truthfulness, vigilance, valor, compassion, responsibility, accountability and courage.  Literally translated Bushido means “The Way of The Warrior”.  Consistent with the growing drumbeat of HPM, TSG was (and is) a great educational simulation.

Principles, like anything, take practice to embody and habitualize. Bushido isn’t rocket science.  Theft is not good Bushido.  Leaving open the door of your house does not make legal the actions of a passerby who walks inside to steal whatever he or she can find.  But the argument goes that leaving your door open can trigger the temptations.  Laziness, greed, and crafty ways of cutting corners are motivators and lucrative paths for some to do business.  People will say, “Oh that’s just the way business is.”  Really?  NO!  Some businessmen and businesswomen act without regard for ethic, but it’s NOT just the way business is.  There is NOTHING inherent in business that gives permission to unethical behavior.  Permissions like this are learned. They stem from tendencies and motivators.  Individuals are responsible for their actions.  We weaken the fiber of good business when we excuse bad behavior with that’s just the way business is. The formula called take, use, deny and profit becomes normal when people allow it to go un-checked.

Cutting to the chase. 
Some seminar leaders have been and are using, producing and facilitating TSG without permission.  And they are trying to get away with it.  When caught, most of them have denied what they’ve been doing, OR they’ve said, “Well, I’m not doing TSG.  I’m doing something else”.  But under examination we’ve found to the contrary. They changed some character names and added a few minor activities, and slapped on a different product name … and then claim it be “theirs”. [NOTE: copyright law protects all derivatives of an author’s work].  How does that modern interpretation from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (Act II, Scene II) go - A rose by any other name is still a rose???  Hmmm.

Some regions in the world are prone to copyright knockoffs.  Word is that regions in Asia and south of the US border are “the wild west” when it comes to pirating intellectual property.  OK?  Nope … not OK.   Consider seminar leaders who once worked for the aforementioned organizations and knew that their parent companies, the public, corporate and university clients would not stand for plagiarism.  Why?  Because such activity undercuts and destroys the foundations of trust.  What’s the point of having a big sign plastered above your seminar stage so as to promote honest self-reflection by students regarding responsibilities in life – a sign that touts “What Am I Pretending Not To Know?” – if the seminar leader is not going to apply the sign and its standard to himself? 

In all fairness there are a lot of seminar leaders living abroad who hold firm to integrity and who engage rightly with TSG.  Many live in Poland, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Egypt, Russia, the UK, the Netherlands, Mexico and elsewhere.  They should be applauded.  So it’s not a regional thing.  Shenanigans happen here in the USA too.

A sad example.  James Arthur Ray - 2009. 
News outlets across America rushed to report Mr. Ray’s ill-fated program at Angel Valley Ranch near in Sedona, Arizona.  (See The Wall Street Journal) On October 8, 2009, three people died during a sweat lodge activity being led by Mr. Ray at his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat.  In prior years he starred on The Larry King Show (2006) and on The Oprah Windfrey Show (2007).  He was touted to be a kind of “spiritual guru”.   Did the “news industry” do their diligence, their homework?  Or was Mr. Ray good for the shows that really don’t address the news.  Did those attending his seminars do their diligence, their homework prior to attending?  Who stopped to think, “What am I getting into?”, or “What are this guy’s credentials?”   OR do people rush to partake of whatever is on the menu of the next “best” fad?   At “Spiritual Warrior” a sweat lodge experience was a major part of the program. Where was the training?  Where was the consideration given to cultural boundaries and sensitivities of Native American traditions?  Ray was never trained or authorized to use Dr. Stanislav Graf’s “Holotropic Breathwork”; but at “Spiritual Warrior” Ray used Graf’s work.  Where was the training?  Where were the permissions from Graf?  At “Spritual Warrior” Ray had been leading “the samurai game” for years, in fact a direct rip from TSG.  We didn’t know.  He never applied for training and was never certified to lead it.  We found out because a former “Spiritual Warrior” attendee boldly contacted us following the death of her friend that resulted from the October 8, 2009 sweat lodge activity.  She wanted to inform us that Ray’s activities included “the samurai game” and wondered if we knew. 

CNN streamed live online the courtroom drama of Mr. Ray’s wrongful homicide trial.  For weeks testimony was heard real-time around the globe.  As the trial started the jury never knew that Mr. Ray misused a Lakota tradition, but they knew he had used a sweat lodge experience.  The jury didn’t know he wasn’t trained in or approved to use Stan Graf’s material, but they knew he did strange breathing exercises.  The jury weren’t told the facts about facilitator training and copyright and certification involved with TSG, nor about the sound body of research and years of martial art training that form its foundations, but they knew Mr. Ray was doing “the samurai game”.  Testimony was given about its details (as morphed by him) and went on for days.

Lakota Native Americans were offended and appalled at the shadow cast on their traditions and religious practices by "The Spiritual Warrior" retreat.  They took Ray’s sweat lodge activities to be disrespectful of sacred rituals and customs.  According to some it broke laws and treaties between their Nation and the USA, and represented a bastardization of their religion.  They filed suite in federal court. 

Recent examples. 
In the mid-west USA a seminar company owner/facilitator (formerly a seminar leader for one of the three seminar organizations mentioned at the beginning of this article) has been conducting a thinly disguised modification of TSG.  We received notice about this in November 2011.  In 2013 he received a Cease & Desist letter when confirming reports from two prior attendees of his knockoffs that he led in Russia told us face-to-face (after attending a real TSG program) that he was doing “the exactly the same thing as TSG except using Native American theme and Native America participant names”.   Reports came from Spain that he had been doing it there as well.  The fellow blew off our C & D.  Then he was caught soliciting someone online after she had inquired where to find someone who could lead "The Samurai Game" in his neck of the woods; he said he could and he would.  Once confronted with his blatant claim he seemed to change his tune.  But to date his feet continue to drag when it comes to making good on promises to change his knockoff.

Now reports from numerous folks in Asia show that a colleague of his (again a former seminar leader from one of the three seminar organizations mentioned above) is also delivering an unauthorized TSG derivative veiled in a Native American theme - in Hong Kong and the China region.  Wow!

What’s with these guys?  What happened to their integrity and their understanding of respect?  Those two words are major topics in their seminars, aren’t they?  And what’s the deal with their regard for cultures different from theirs (i.e. the Lakota and other Native American Tribes) who hold rich traditions?  Do they think someone can just take stuff and do whatever they want with it?  Do they think integrity matters little to the audiences who attend their courses, and the volunteer staffs and the interns (future leaders) in training?  Do they think people will remain silent? Do they think people only involve themselves in this kind of work solely for money?  If so, they had better think again. 

At what point and for what price does one sell out on his or her integrity? 
Sometimes the courts of informed public opinion can more strongly influence outcomes than courts occupied by lawyers and juries.  The time is fast approaching for naming names.  Beyond reputation, we own very little in this life.

Watch out for shenanigans as The Human Potential Movement continues its slide into being just a Seminar Industry - an industry never intended to be.  Watch out for knock offs of The Samurai Game®.  If you find any TSG knockoffs let us know, and if you're brave enough, let the fakes know that you have done so.  We can be located along with the certified TSG facilitators here.  These are the only people authorized to facilitate and if necessary modify TSG – for valid reasons (safety and cultural/political sensitivity).

The power of any concept - including notions of doing the right thing – isn’t realized until action is taken. Action is required to transform a concept into a practice.  Then, and only then, can any concept make a difference.

Stay Alert!  Pay Attention!  Take Action!

© Lance Giroux, September 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Matt Brannagan in Service   

Matt Brannagan- 2013 Marathon 
Matt Brannagan and I met in 2003 as a result of his request to host The Samurai Game® for me to facilitate in the Sierra Foothills - this for a men's group he was part of. Shortly thereafter he deployed for military service in Iraq as a member of the National Guard. He was part of an infantry unit responsible for improvised explosive device (IED) detection and removal. We stayed in touch throughout his deployment; and immediately on his return we met for breakfast in Fairfield, California. He said he wanted to support the work I'm doing and offered to help me create a monthly e-newsletter and a blog site. Everything provided here at The Ronin Post, has been brought to you over the years by Matt Brannagan.

Before he deployed Matt had been studying for his Masters Degree in Psychology. He continued his study while deployed and completed his degree when he returned. He is now as Ph.D. candidate. Seeking to understand and better himself he entered a powerful program, The Hoffman Process ... and subsequently decided to undertake the long trek to become a facilitator of the Process, able to deliver for The Hoffman Institute. The long trek, well undertaken and completed, now has him actively delivering the Process.

Matt is married and lives in North Hollywood, California. He is a quiet man. He is certified to facilitate The Samurai Game®, and will be delivering one soon in New York City. He recently agreed to become an Allied Ronin Associate - though in actuality he truly has always been one. He understands integrity, service and commitment to his core. He remains a member of the Army National Guard, donning his uniform periodically throughout each year, and is now an E-8 First Sergeant of an Infantry Headquarters Company.

Last year Matt ran a marathon in support of Hoffman Institute's youth-at-risk programs. This year he is running a half marathon (along with a team) for the same purpose. I want to support him in that, and I ask you to contribute financially here to his efforts. This month's issue of The Ronin Post is dedicated to Matt's appeal. Read on -

It has been a year now since I ran my first marathon, raising over $10,000 for the Hoffman Institute's Youth Programs.  The money raised last year helped to allow 20 at-risk youth and mentors from New York, San Jose, and Phoenix to come together for a wonderful week of healing and growth. Additionally it helped support the training of an additional facilitator who will enable the training to grow in the future, reaching even more teens.

This year, I have set a new goal.  I am running a half-marathon in Marin County to raise money for three great initiatives: 1) Hoffman Youth Programs, 2) Hoffman Teacher Training, and 3) Hoffman Scholarship Fund.

The great news is that I have a team of runners and walkers joining me for the half-marathon, 5K or 10K.  If you are interested in joining the team let me know, and I will help you get registered.

The three initiatives I am raising money for are ones I have benefited greatly from. Over the past 4 years I have worked very closely in the development and delivery of a variety of programs which have helped dozens of teens and mentors to cultivate the tools necessary to overcome the difficulties of issues such as inner city violence, gangs, teen parenthood, incarceration and to improve overall academic success. 

I wouldn't have had that opportunity had I not been afforded to participate in an amazing teacher program that allowed me to grow as a facilitator for both adults and youth.  Additionally, I likely never would have participated in the process myself had I not been the recipient of a generous scholarship.

I am very proud to be involved with such a great organization, but as a 501(c)3 organization we rely on the generosity of donors to grow and make an impact on even more teens. Please follow the link here if you would like to contribute, or help me spread the word about this effort (feel free to forward at will).

Thank you for your support, Matt

© Lance Giroux, March 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Man At The Sliding Wood Door

Richard Strozzi-Heckler, PhD

Every story starts somewhere - this one starts in the middle.

Before I tell it, I want you to know that this month's article is an overt, straight up call to action. Go to Amazon and order Richard Strozzi-Heckler's newly released book The Art of Somatic Coaching. It doesn't matter what your profession is. Order and read it right away.

This non-fiction journey lays a foundation of purposeful study, understanding, insight and action. With the kind work I've been doing for forty years you know a suggestion like this isn't made lightly. This piece well assists anyone who has ever attended a personal growth course offered by one of the many seminar companies - e.g. est, LifeSpring, PSI, Actualizations, Landmark, Klemmer & Associates, AsiaWorks, WorldWorks, Challenge-U, Top Human, MexWorks, WorldWorks Mexico, LeadMex, Spiral of Success, etc., etc. The Art of Somatic Coaching completes something that some of these companies never attended to or only marginally noted or only recently have begun to study. Richard sent an advance copy at my request. I've taken the time to read the entire work. It is an honor, almost an obligation, to strongly advise you to do likewise.

If you are a coach and have ever coached OR trained someone; OR if you have ever been coached by someone; OR if you have ever used a consultant to forward your business or personal life ... then I say - ORDER and READ THIS BOOK. The same holds true if you have children or have worked with children. Does this endorsement need to be more strongly made?

December's Ronin Post article "Taxi Ride" (about PTSD and Tom Osborn and aikido and what I saw in Russia, etc.) created an unexpected flurry of replies. Good! We need to take action when it comes to attending to the impact (large and small) that past events and social environments have on our lives - at home, at work, in communities and nations. In "Taxi Ride" I related a story of someone who had been invited to attend an advisory meeting of high government officials charged with the responsibility of military actions in Afghanistan.

An earlier Ronin Post article (October 2013) related to a reflection about someone who has contributed greatly to my life. Those who train aikido with me know the "who and where" referred to in those first paragraphs of October Reverie: Surrendering Enough to Commit. As for everyone else, I was content to leave that an unanswered question on purpose.  But some things later require explanation and expansion. That time is now, again on purpose. Both articles, December's and October's, referred to someone without naming him.

The small barn referenced in October's article is a somewhat magical place midst pasture and grape vines, a martial arts school: Two Rock Aikido Dojo. The word "dojo" translates directly to "way place". This is the "way place" where I've regularly studied and trained for the past thirteen years. I often visit other dojos around the US and in foreign countries. No complaints regarding any of them. But there's nothing quite like Two Rock Aikido dojo.

As for the "who" of both articles -- October and December -- the "fellow in charge", the man standing by the sliding wood door, the man who occasionally includes poetry into our aikido practice? The man who was heading off to a meeting with high ranking US officials? This man is Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D. Richard is "Sensei", dojo cho, i.e. the school's chief instructor. He is my sensei and has been since I first stepped on the mat in 2000. Our affiliation began years long prior to my aikido practice. First he was a colleague. Then he became a confidant; and finally, a treasured friend.

Were it not for Richard, I would not have seriously questioned the path I was on prior to our beginning to know each other. Moreover, I would not have taken bold action to step onto a new path of life, a path that I intend to continue for as long as I live.  

There is more. Most of my friends and acquaintances know how important is the connection I had with George Leonard. But many of them don't know that were it not for Richard I probably would not have encountered George, or if by chance I had, I might not have been ready for the kind of listening and momentum needed to make that encounter take root and flourish - opening a door for thousands of people to benefit in a unique way.

My George Leonard encounter initiated two opportunities. The first was the opportunity to witness a live demonstration of aikido. From this sprung an appreciation for what Richard was up to, and the potential that he and his work could have for the world. By observing George and his co-demonstrator (Charlotte Hatch of Mill Valley, CA) work, it was clear to me that something much larger than a martial art was being played out. The organization I had been part of at that time was largely unaware of and, in my opinion, disinterested in the implications of what was then described as "a mind-body connection." Today, the world well knows of Richard's research and work, its form now being referred to as Somatic Coaching & Training. (Again - a reminder - order and read his book)

The second opportunity that the George Leonard encounter provided: it opened a door for me, a method if you will, of engaging others whereby I could (and still do) travel the world to give, explore and validate for myself what George (and Richard) had set out to communicate and accomplish.  What they were both up to then, and what Richard remains actively and sincerely committed to, was a powerfully peaceful, yet equally energetic, schooling in ways of being and action. This has purpose: accomplish constructive outcomes for individuals, communities, regions, nations and the world.

Viewed collectively, the approach that Richard and George took is vastly distinct and different from the motivational talking heads and quick-fix break-through seminar companies of then and now. Not that I want to fault those companies. After all, in many respects they help open human beings to the possibilities of having better futures.

George Leonard passed away four years ago. To this day his work and Richard's work remain distinct from these companies. Their work was NOT and is NOT about instant anything. Rather, they were and are about honest growth, deep study and prolonged practice for the long haul. Their work truly addresses the concerns and connections of physical, emotional, familial, organizational and global health and wellbeing.

It's now been twenty-nine years since I first met Richard, twenty-two since I first encountered George. The countries I've now traveled number seventeen. The nationalities assembled into meeting spaces I've worked now exceed 125 - people coming from all continents except Antarctica. Many of these people have gone on to work on themselves as well as recommend a sincere study in the work these two men have inspired.

So, for the sake clarity, disclosure and acknowledgement, I thought it wise to explain, give thanks and expand on the October and December articles so you would know.

Here are two requests. The first relates to The Samurai Game®, which I assume you know to be the above referenced vehicle provided me by George Leonard. The second is with respect to the work of Richard Strozzi-Heckler.

1. The Samurai Game®.
As of this month the simulation can now be legally produced and directed by almost 60 people scattered across fourteen countries. These facilitators have been trained and certified in the safe and ethical production of The Samurai Game® performances. My request: let folks know about it. It is available for individuals, teams, organizations and schools. Tell others how to find the information and the names of those persons authorized to produce it by visiting And, if you would like, come participate again. Its performance is always new ... fresh ... alive!

2. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, PhD., Founder of Strozzi Institute.
He and his organization continue to make a profound and constructive impact in the world - ranging from the individual level to a level that impacts geopolitics and peaceful resolution to real world conflict. Richard's work is soundly researched and grounded. It has withstood the scrutiny of academics and leaders upon whose words and works lives have hung in the balance.

In the world of effectiveness training there are thousands of people who refer to themselves as "trainers", "coaches" and "consultants". Some are sincere and quite good. Some are kind of OK. But many of them, in my opinion, don't deserve even a moment of consideration. Why would I say this? Because a lot of "coaches" have only taken time to memorize a few scripts and from there they have gone on to set up websites and enrollment tools. But they engage in no sincere life-long practice themselves. They do little or no self-integration, and some are not committed to sincere service. At best they could be described as "want-a-be". Sadly, some are world-class charlatans feeding off the needs of others solely for the purpose of satisfying a bank account or fame. Some have ripped off other people's work and called it their own. And, so that you know, some have ripped off George Leonard's simulation The Samurai Game®. The bulk of these folks don't study much. They practice even less. They are a sad and disappointing representation to what could otherwise have been a grand and honorable undertaking.

BUT - If you are interested in "the real deal" - in seeking self exploration and growth, in moving yourself and/or your organization (or in advising others who want to do so) onto a long-term path of practiced embodied learning and effectiveness for action, then at a minimum explore Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D., and his organization.

Richard is sincere. His standards are high. His work is exemplary.  

When I met him I thought, "What a masterful student of life this guy is!" What I've noticed over the years is that he remains that. And because he remains a masterful student, he has become a masterful teacher and leader.

Begin your research here.

Engage with him and Strozzi Institute here.

Do either and you will find something healthy, something satisfactory.

So - as a minimum - go to Amazon today and order The Art of Somatic Coaching, authored by The Man At The Sliding Wood Door.

© Lance Giroux, January 2014