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

1 comment:

SamuraiGuy said...

Thanks Lance for another great post. I have pre-ordered my copy of the book - can't wait to read it!