The end of December is the traditional time for resolutions. In this spirit I am providing 12 resolutions, one for each month of the new year, that I put forward to my students, colleagues and fellow Budoka. Though they are written for the martial arts environment, these principles may be applied to one’s larger life. I wish you all the very best in your training.

Dr. Henderson, Shihan

  1. January: Re-Commitment: In starting the New Year it is time to recommit yourself to your Budo training. However, it is important to understand that as a serious martial artist we MUST recommit ourselves to our study every day. Each day in the new year from January through the end of December I challenge each of you when waking up each day to recommit yourself to your training. See each new day as an opportunity to push your training and find something new. Practice something everyday even if you do not go to the dojo. Do something at home even for 15 minutes. When in the dojo listen to your teacher, really listen to your teacher, be attentive. Do not just sleepwalk through your classes. If you are going to be there, then BE there.
  2. February: Expectations: Do not expect rewards. Buddhists tell us that disappointment comes from unfulfilled expectations and that we cause ourselves pain by holding expectations that ultimately do not come to pass. Try as best you can not to hold unrealistic expectations of yourself and of others that will only bring disappointment. See the world for what it is and not for an illusion. Unwarranted expectations are a road to unhappiness. Moreover, in your Budo training do not expect reward. Train for the love of your art and the rewards will come. Be patient and move through your training in a decisive and dedicated manner. Without expectations your lessons will be mastered quicker, you will be a greater success and you will find greater happiness in your study.
  3. March: Honor: Honor your art, honor your Sensei, honor your colleagues, honor yourself. Honoring your study, those around you and yourself is a challenge for everyone and something we must always keep in the forefront of our thoughts. It is important to realize that many have come before and that they have dedicated their lives to preserving the art, the very art that you are studying. Your Sensei is a living example of this and it is right to honor them. They teach with a level of selflessness that should be recognized and respected. The role of the teacher is a sacred position often undervalued in today’s society where acquiring something is fast and easy. Martial arts are not this way. Do not be tricked by this modern view and see the true value in your art. Honoring yourself means not to be too hard on yourself. Recognize that you bring your efforts, emotions, intellect and spirit to your Budo training. Often we are our worst enemy. We are too hard on ourselves and we prevent ourselves from creating a positive environment in which to learn. If you are always feeling that you are not good enough then it will be so. So honor yourself by keeping a positive attitude and remind yourself of the sacred nature of your training.
  4. April: Train The Body: No matter the age we should train our body. The martial arts is a physical pursuit and you must keep the body strong. A strong body is the basis of all martial arts training and you must take the time to keep up your physical fitness. Without the foundation of a strong physical body the higher benefits of the martial arts can not be acquired. Of course, as you age the body will deteriorate and illness will happen. Training the body means to work with the body you have. If you have challenges work around them. Respect your challenges. Do not try to be someone else. Be the best that YOU can be. Push your own limitations in a way that YOU will make progress.
  5. May: Educate The Mind: The first aspect of Budo training is physical. The second aspect of Budo training is mental. With a strong body you can now go about training the mind and the intellect. Training the mind and the intellect means to go out and investigate your art. Try to learn as much as possible about it. Read books. Investigate with other senior teachers. In particular, learn the history of your art. Learn where your art came from. Learn what other systems your founder learned. Broaden your appreciation for the world of martial arts in general and not just your own art. Try to understand how your martial arts training fits into the world and how it gives direction to your actions and your life.
  6. June: Polish The Spirit: The first aspect of Budo training is physical. The second aspect of Budo training is mental. The third aspect of martial arts is the spirit. This is the most difficult aspect for martial arts practitioners to understand and internalize. With a strong physical regime, the proper intellectual attitude and with years of training the Budoka will come to see how the martial arts provide a deep foundation for all aspects of life. With this understanding a new refinement to your art will become apparent. With this realization a new responsibility is also opened up. The responsibility to safeguard and to continually polish your spirit to be the very best you can be will become an overriding imperative. Many martial artists do not reach this stage of their training or they fall back from this stage at some point. It requires unswerving dedication, continual re-commitment, and a great deal of honesty as to one’s own effort. Do not hold illusions about your training and be honest with yourself, see your effort for what it truly is and commit yourself to continually improve. Between two opponents if the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects are equal the spirit will determine the winner. This is how important the requirement to continually polish the spirit is. Make sure that you reflect on this principle.
  7. July: Follow The Way of the Sword: For many Budoka the way of the sword is not their way. They see themselves as practicing Karatedo, Judo, Aikido, Kendo, Taekwondo or another “do”. There are two aspects to following the way of the sword. The first is that all martial artists must realize that all martial arts are derived from sword art. And so you MUST investigate and learn the principles of the sword in order to improve your empty hand techniques. This means not just playing around with the sword and learning a few techniques. You must dedicate yourself to learning a sword style. Learning a sword style will bring us to the second aspect: the way of the sword. Once you have started to learn the sword along with your experience in empty hand you will realize that the level of exactitude and seriousness of sword training is typically greater than that of empty hand. Or, we can say that it is different. There is less room for error, shall we say. We also say that sword art is unforgiving. That is, some mistakes either physical, mental or spiritual that in the empty hand arts would not be critical are so in sword art. A slight falter can mean death not just injury. With this new appreciation you can come back to your empty hand art and elevate it to a new level of training. Moreover, you will see a new level of honesty pervade your training that will only move you onto new understanding.
  8. August: Do Not Show Fear: We hear this a lot in the martial arts. It has several meanings. The first meaning is obvious and relates to not showing the enemy any fear and remaining steadfast in the face of opposition. However, the deeper meaning is not to show fear in or to oneself. As you mature in the martial arts and with the right level of honesty along with the requirement of rededicating yourself,  continual improvement will become the over-riding imperative. You will not need a Sensei to tell you this. The art will speak directly to you and in a very frank way. This can be difficult at first because there is a level of responsibility that we must accept when we hear the art speaking to us and requesting us to seek continual improvement, “Kaisen”. Will you choose to listen and react positively or will you choose to ignore and make excuses for yourself. This will be in many ways the ancient practitioners speaking directly to your character and asking you if you are able to follow the true path. Only you can answer this request.
  9. September: Always Remain Positive: Life is difficult. Only death is easy! Understanding this is the first aspect we must recognize in order to lead a happy life. Once we realize that life is difficult and can not be always good, then we must make a decision as to how we wish to face life and the difficulties and trials that will no doubt arrive. The attitude that you strike in life will be the major determinant  as to whether you are a success in your pursuits or not. Do not fall prey to doubt and self-doubt, remain positive, reinforce yourself, and understand that you have all the necessary attributes to be a success. Surround yourself with positive people and stay away from naysayers. It is simply a matter of doing. Always remember that it is not that you can’t, it is that you choose not to. Everything is a choice and you must recognize that you are the one making the choice, the responsibility remains with you. Life does not choose for you, you choose how you will react.
  10. October: Always Be Persistent: Being persistent in your goals is one of the top characteristics you must cultivate. Do not be hot and cold in life and do not let adversity push you away from achieving your goals. As we said, adversity will come so you should see it as a test. Do not give up. There is a saying in Judo “Seven times fall down, eight times get up”. Imagine a Judoka who would get discouraged each time they were thrown. They would not last long. You must truly keep this saying close to heart and reflect on its meaning for yourself. We have all heard the stories of great thinkers and inventors that when faced with innumerable failures they kept on going until they were successes. Failure will come. So choose to face it with an unwavering spirit.
  11. November: Remain Humble: Humility means to understand your own situation in respect to others. Humility is often the virtue that is most abused, especially in the modern world where being forceful towards others and getting what you believe to “deserve” is an admired trait. Humility is intricately related to self-honesty. Without self-honesty you can not cultivate the virtue of humility. For the martial arts humility comes in understanding your rank and place in the organization. More subtly it is the understanding that we do not achieve anything of our own. All knowledge, skill and understanding is acquired and built on the shoulders of others and we must recognize this to be so. We must see that even when we give 100% of our effort and energy this is only possible due to the assistance and help of others. So honor the other people in your life that help to make your success a reality, be honest with yourself and others as to your own contribution and you will be able to cultivate a humble nature.
  12. December: Gratitude And Giving Thanks For Your Study: It is most important that we do not forget to give thanks each time we train. Many schools ritualize this in the form of bowing or by thanking each participant at the close of each class. When you think about it, it takes a lot for even one training session to take place. If you are a class of 20 individuals then the schedules of 20 people must intersect in order for the class to take place. And this ignores all the past connections that had to happen in order for the present to transpire. Think about the many classes of your teacher and his teacher that had to happen to make yours possible. There is a long history of events that had to happen for your simple class on any given day to take place. When keeping in mind all that has gone before us and the effort of others that has been made to keep the art alive we must really recognize the special nature of it. So, as you train keep in mind how lucky you are to have been given the opportunity to train. Always remember that your teacher will not always be there, one day they will be gone. Your classmates will not always be there, one day they will be gone. Each class is a special mix of individuals, a special time and place for you to perfect your art. See it as unique and remain thankful that we are given the opportunity for continued growth and personal development.

Always Question

Henderson-Sword-Profile-150In the martial arts it is essential for you to question. Like other endeavors in life do not simply accept what someone tells you, question it. When you learn a kata or some other form or technique understand that it was/is one person’s or one system’s interpretation and that means “an interpretation” or “one specific interpretation”. There are other interpretations as well that are valid. In the martial arts we all walk our own road, find the road that is yours, but to do so you will have to develop critical reasoning of what you are doing. At that point, the martial arts will be your driving force. Before that you are just renting it from someone else.  – Dr. Henderson

That’s were you go wrong. Parroting what others say, copying what others do, this is what fails you. You alone must do it. You must grasp what’s being conveyed and make it your own through your own understanding….Your problem is that you never want to think for yourself, you just want to be taught; this is why you haven’t developed the habit of thinking for yourself…Don’t just swallow what anyone says. You must have your own ideas. You must judge the merits of anything for yourself….Never unquestioningly accept whatever anyone says as the truth. To do so is dangerous because it will make you lose the desire to generate your own ideas. Even when you learn from another, you must engage in critical thinking to develop it further.” Tatsuo Kimura – “Transparent Power, A Secret Teaching Revealed” p.134

Transparent Power

Shihan Henderson Visits Kanzendo Dojo

On Saturday, November 30th, 2013 Shihan Henderson visited both the class for children and Adults at the Kanzendo dojo in Montreal, Quebec. A good time was had by all. Many thanks to Sensei Joel Neves Briard and Sensei Alain Briard of Kanzendo. Shihan Henderson looks forward to another visit in the new year.


The Adult Class



The Children’s Class



Sensei Joel Neves Briard Demonstrating Punching Form To The Children



Sensei Alain Briard Demonstrating Punching Form To The Children



The Children Listening Attentively !

More Strong Women – 21st WTF

Amazing Performance At 21st WKF

New Shihan Promotions

High level promotions are always an important event and it is with great pleasure and pride that The International Budo Institute announces that Dr. Donald Oxford York, Shihan has been promoted to 6th Dan and that Shihan Darren Hunter has been promoted to 5th Dan in the International Budo Institute. The presentation was made in March-2013 at the famous Tri-Star gym in Montreal, Canada by Dr. Henderson, Shihan in front of many of Shihan York’s and Shihan Hunter’s colleagues and students. Many demonstrations were completed as a tribute to the  dedication to Budo of both Shihans. We look forward to their continued efforts and their drive in pushing the mandate of the International Budo Institute forward.

Group Photo

Group Photo


Dr. Donald York, Shihan

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The History Of Martial Arts In Canada

A documentary trailer on the history of martial arts in Canada.

Man Demonstrates Tremendous Spirit of Transformation

An important lesson for all Budoka. The warrior spirit manifest itself in many ways. When someone tells you that you can’t do it, they usually mean they can’t do it. Dig deep and persevere!

Kumite Sai No Bo (Extended Form)

Shihan Dan Hayes and Shihan Milana demonstrate Sai No Bo Kumite in extended form at the 18th Island Budokai Tournament. We thank them for the link and video demonstration.

Shihan Hisataka Demonstrating Kicking Form

Below you may find a video of Shihan Masayuki Hisataka Chief Instructor of the Kenkokan School of Shorinjiryu demonstrating kicking form. We thank Sensei Paul Jackman for the video link.