November 17, 2013
The first time I heard Jack tell this story at a seminar more than a dozen years ago, I got chills. I was sitting in a room packed with other like-minded folks - Budoka, just trying to find their way within this often inscrutable martial art.
The physical stuff he showed that day would change fundamentally the way I approached training. He introduced a new concept to the lexicon: Space. "See the space," Jack kept saying, "Look for the space," as he maneuvered effortlessly to toss or lock up an Uke. At the time, I could not see this "tactical space." I don't think I even knew exactly what I was looking for. Nowadays, many people take this "space" concept and the refinement it brought to training for granted. I will always remember, Jack is whom I learned it from.
This story is the other fundamental I learned from Jack that day. It's a tale of his mentor, Dr. Robert Humphrey, and of his adventures in oversea diplomacy. It's a good story, a parable really, and one worth repeating. It is best told among Buyu during a break in training. If told well, with conviction and sincerity, it can (and has been) profoundly moving. The reason? It speaks to the relevance in ... well, just about everything.
Dr. Humphrey used to tell this story overseas to an auditorium of a 1000 GIs at a time, usually to a standing ovation. He told it to help them relate (and hopefully respect) their host-national neighbors just a little bit more. And from the reports it generated, it normally worked. It works because it lays bare a simple truth, one we don't often even think about. A truth so intrinsic to us we often take it for granted, like the beating of our heart, or the oxygen-rich redness of our blood.
Dr. Humphrey is no longer with us and Jack obviously can't tell this story to everyone, so the video was shot in Chicago and meant to chronicle the tale. Now, watching a video of him telling it will never replace the ennobling and "group ethic" calibration I experienced that first time I heard it from him (and just about every other time too). The story says far more than it actually tells.
Please enjoy it and best of all, share it.
Written by James Morganelli