How to obtain what you want

  • By Martin ACTON
  • 30 Jun, 2017
If I took you for a coffee, sat you down and asked you “What do you want in life?” I bet I would get one of two answers, the first would be a confused look, and you would tell me you did not know! The other answer would be that you wanted a good job, nice title, a car, money in the bank and a decent place to live.
Let’s take a closer look at the second answer above. If I could wave a magic stick and “Hey presto your wish is granted”. How long would you be happy for? A week, a month a year? The problem is these things come and go and soon we are unhappy again. Why?
Having those things are wonderful, but what you really want is the feeling that those things generate within you. Inner peace, contentment and gratitude.

In society, we define success by the things we have rather than by the people we’ve become. Rather that measuring our progress by how many lives we are influencing. We gauge it by how much money we are making, how fast we are getting promoted and how many latest gadgets we own. Is it any wonder people are so miserable?

There is nothing wrong with having nice things. I love being surrounded by beautiful things. The furniture in my dojo is top quality. I love wearing good stylish clothes and driving a nice reliable car. I made a commitment to myself about a year ago and that is to go through life first-class. I want to be rich! This starts with a feeling of being rich, then I will become rich. How do I know? I did the same thing when I started Aikido. I wanted to be the best of the best so I spent time, money and a lot of effort being with the Top Masters in Japan and learning from them. I am one of the highest level instructors in the world!
I am not saying this to brag just that when I put my mind to doing something, I do it or die trying.

Everyone should have a beautiful life. This is the purpose of life, to grow to maturity and become Master over the material world. However, I have never let my possessions define me. You will run into trouble when you let what you have form the basis of who you are and your identity in the world. Because if you lose those things you loose yourself. Do not become a slave to things. Make the most of life every day. Who you are becoming is far more important than what you own.

The impact you are having on your teammates, customers and loved ones by the positive example you model is far more important than the money you make. If your focus is on making money, then your focus is off doing great work! This is the very thing that will make you more money.

If you really want to be extraordinary, focus on becoming an extraordinary person!
It is not possible to grow your interior world and not see a corresponding growth in your exterior world. So make working on yourself job number one. As you awaken your true nature within and become a more confident, creative and a world class person, your interactions with others cannot help but get to a whole new level of greatness.

You have a natural inner leader within that will show you how to find your true nature. All you have to do is make your relationship with it stronger each day. When you were a child you knew your true nature. You were awake to the call of your life to make a mark, to realise big things and live life as a glorious adventure. Now is the time to get back in touch with your natural inner leader. Leading from the inside out, so that your bigness can be seen is the DNA of all enduring excellence. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton Sensei

Martin Acton's Aikido Institute

By Martin ACTON 14 Nov, 2017
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will –
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can win the prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he CAN. Anonymous

I love this poem and I hope it inspires you and touches your heart as deeply as it touches and inspires me.

This week I met a young man that came to check out my guided meditation class. He was really angry and suffering. After the session, we had a chance to talk privately in my office. He was angry because he had just lost his mother. I asked if she had been ill for a long time. He said she was the healthiest person he knew, she never got sick, not even a cold. A couple of weeks ago she went to the doctor just for a checkup. A few days later the doctor called her to come back for the results. He sat her down and without even looking at her told her that she had a week to live. Of course, this news was shocking and the poor woman didn't even question his opinion, she accepted it 100% unconditionally. Within three days of hearing this news, she was dead.
This shows how powerful a thought or a belief can be. I know another man that was very successful in life, he was rich, well educated and at the same time suffered from poor health. One day he had a heart attack and the doctor in the hospital told him that they were sending him home to die. There was nothing they could do for him. He should not even blow his nose or bend over to tie his shoe because the simplest act could kill him. Now, this also way very shocking news. The big difference was how the man responded.
He was a physicist and when he got home he started experimenting using his mind. He thought about all the years he had spent studying, gathering information, chasing money, playing with women and he asked himself what good is all the knowledge in the world if it can’t save him?
He started to reflect on his life deeply and the times he was most happy. He discovered that having sex with lots of women did not make him happy. Making boatloads of money did not fill the emptiness inside. He found that in his life he was most happy when he was giving love to others. Not taking it. So he delved deeper and discovered that by suppressing his emotions he had made himself ill. The next step was to look at how to restore his health. He discovered the releasing technique. He found a secret that no one knew before, that behind our emotions are three roots, the desire for approval, the desire for control and the desire to be safe. By releasing his wants he was able to get to a level of imperturbability. His health improved 100%. He never saw a doctor again for 40 years. he went on to make even more money by helping people learn his secret. And he wanted for nothing and everything just fell into his lap.

So the lesson I want to share with you this week is to be aware and careful about what thoughts and beliefs you are holding onto. Whatever you believe you will find evidence that it is true. I have many wealthy acquaintances and when I talked to them about how they became wealthy, they all believe money comes easily and naturally to them. I also come from a blue-collar working-class background. My father thinks money is the source of all evil. That it is hard to make money, and if you are rich you must have ripped someone off. Consequently, he has no money.

I know many people who are lonely and can’t find a suitable partner. They believe all the good men are taken, married. Many men I know think women are good for sex only. Then these same men complain that they have no one to love them. I have women friends who love and adore their husbands completely and they believe their husbands feel the same way about them, and they do. I have men friends that would never have sex with anyone but their wives and they are really happy and secure in their marriages.

Many people come to me and they are afraid of taking tests.
When I ask why? It is because they believe they are going to fail and that others will see them as being failures.

I have students that have PhDs, Mater degrees. I have taught brain surgeons, lawyers, judges. These people believe they can learn easily. They love to study, take tests, and strive to grow and improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

One group of friends and acquaintances are very pessimistic, negative and unhappy. The other group feels optimistic, hopeful and are thankful for what they have.

There are no wrong beliefs whatever you believe is true for you because your beliefs are based on your education and life experiences. So I do not wish to change anyone's beliefs. I am open to all opinions. The way I look at thoughts, opinions and beliefs is by asking myself: “Is this thought, opinion, or belief resourceful or not?” If it is I accept it and apply it to my own. If it is not, I respect that it is what another person has found to be true and I let it go. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton Sensei
By Martin ACTON 07 Nov, 2017
Fear can have a paralyzing effect on your life. You feel unclear, restricted and helpless.
When we persist in thoughts of fear, we actually create a very powerful energy force, and consequently, we attract the very thing we fear. People then ask how can I deal with this fear? You created it, so you can let it go. How? By recognizing your fear and all feelings are simply just a form of energy. You don’t have to judge the emotions as being good or bad with your intellect. You just close your eyes, put your head down towards your chest or stomach, invite the feeling up into your stomach or chest, feel the energy. Imagine there is a door or window in your stomach, open it and imagine the energy flowing out. Let it go. Give it your permission to leave. It wants to leave. It is not good for your body to keep this energy inside. Wait until it is gone then close the window or door. Next, give yourself approval and you will feel great. I do this every day and I know it works.

Some people suggest you ask yourself “Why am I feeling afraid?” This can produce more negative results and send you deeper into a negative state. When you throw out the garbage you don’t pick through it and try to figure out if this is smelling bad or rotting. Why is this so dirty? You just throw the garbage out. When you feel afraid, angry, sad, etc, you are focusing on what you don’t want. You are having give and take with the thought and it is attracting similar thoughts, this results in you feeling bad. I hope this makes sense. If you can understand this process then you have the power and ability to feel fantastic every single day! You never have to have another bad day in your life! Impossible you say? I say if you are prepared to take your mind off autopilot and focus it on the things you want and practice this technique you will feel much better. If I am wrong what do you have to lose, maybe an hour of your time? but if what I say works then you are going to be much better off, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Dan (not his real name) came to a guided meditation class I was teaching a few months ago. He was so stressed out, aggressive and angry during the session. No matter what I said it just made him feel worse. He fell into a state of deep depression and remained there for about three weeks. Every day he sat in a depression having give and take with all the bad things going on in his life, the country and the world. He lost hope and started drinking every day, this did not help, in fact, it only made things worse. Three weeks is a really long time for someone to be in this state. His friends tried to reach out to him but he just either ignored them or told them he was fine. Now Dan was very fortunate he had a strong wife and she does not take any nonsense. After three weeks she blew up and told Dan “Either get your shit together or I want a divorce! I am not putting up with this poor me crap anymore”. She tore into him and told him that if he wanted to die then do it quickly. Why wait and make others suffer? She shocked and scared the depression right out of him. I asked her if she was afraid that dealing with Dan the way she did may have pushed him to commit suicide? She looked me straight in the eye and said “He just needed a kick in the butt to see things in perspective. Which did he want more his wife and children or to feel sorry for himself and make all our lives hell? If he has chosen to remain in that state his wife would have taken his kids and left him. This was not an idle threat. She said treating him with kindness was sweet love and that was not what he needed. He needed tough love and that is what a real partner needs to be able to give sometimes.
Dan got up the next morning got cleaned up, went to work, and within a couple of days, he was back to his normal, positive, and motivated self.

Many successful men have a good woman in their lives. If we are fortunate enough to have such a woman we need to let her know how precious she is. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton Sensei 
By Martin ACTON 01 Nov, 2017
When love is felt for your enemy, it makes the enemy impotent, and powerless to hurt you. If the enemy persists in trying to hurt you, he/she will only hurt himself/herself.
Two negatives do not produce a positive. If you hate me and I respond with hate. The result will just be more hostility, division and prolonged animosity. So how should we deal with a so-called “enemy”? I say love the person! Don’t hurt, maim or kill the person. The word I want to drive home is the “enemy” is a PERSON! He /she has hopes, needs and wants just like you and me. What do all of us want? To be loved, understood and respected.

Love is not an emotion! So what is love? It is energy in motion. People say to me I hate such and such a person. When I say “Love the person”, most people react like “Are you mad? I just told you I hate him/her! How can you ask me to love him/her?”
We have strange ideas about love. In the relative world, we say “I love you”. As long as you do what I want. When you stop doing what I want, We say “I don’t like you anymore.” “I hate you.” “I wish you were dead!” “Get away from me.” In the relative world, we hang on to or fence in the other person. Human love does not want to share with others but rather wants its own personal satisfaction. Genuine, real and authentic love wants to share its love and the more it is shared the happier it is. There is no longing, wanting or demanding in genuine love because longing, wanting or demanding is separation. When we feel separated, isolated, detached we are lonely. We become nervous, irritable and defensive.
Real authentic love is oneness. It does not allow separation. It is impossible to love one and hate another. When we do that we are not loving. The other person is doing something for us, that is human love. When you love someone because he/she is doing something nice for you, that is human love. True love is unconditional. In true love, you love the person who opposes you. When we are truly loving we love everyone equally. This is the highest level of maturity a person can grow to. But this is why we are here, to grow, to mature, to be able to love unconditionally.

When you think a thought, you send out energy. If I think a bad thought towards you, you can feel it. You may not understand it, but you will not feel good towards me. If I think a good thought towards you, you will feel much better being with me. If I send loving thoughts to you, you will want to spend more time with me because you feel so good when we are together. Most people mistake ego approval for love. Because it is not genuine love it is not satisfying. Therefore we continuously need and demand it. This only produces frustration, anger and hostility.

Authentic love is the cohesive force of the Universe. It is attracting, incorporating, and constructive. It affects anything, everything and everyone it is applied to. Governments cannot right the world, but when enough individuals wake up to being genuine love then the world can, will and must change. Where is this genuine love? It is found inside you at your core being. When you release, extend and give out the energy of true love you impact everything in the most positive way. This is how we should be living every day.

I will share a story to try and make this clearer.

Akihiro was 15 years old when I met him. One day I was on my way home from teaching Aikido at a high school club in Fuchinobe, I noticed this young man coming towards me. He was bleeding and looked like he had been in a fight. As he came up to me, I asked him if he was alright? He replied yes. I asked him if I could give him some dressings for his cuts. He accepted my offer. As I got the first aid kit from my bag we started to talk. He explained a group of students from another school had fought with him at the train station. Akihiro was a nice young man but he had a lot of anger inside. He was going home to get a knife and he was going back to the station to kill the students that had attacked him. I took my time dressing his wounds and listened to him talking about getting revenge. How much he wanted to take the life of these students. He would kill them slowly, painfully and extend their suffering as long as possible. When I finished tending to his cuts, he thanked me for my kindness. I asked him if I could go with him to his home to get the knife. He asked why? I told him I wanted to make sure he got home safely and then I would be going to the station myself and if he was going to kill these students then that was something I wanted to see for the experience. He gave me the ok to go home with him. As we walked he asked me questions about where I was from? What was I doing in Japan? When I told him the work I was doing teaching Aikido this really got his attention. He asked me if I had ever killed anyone? I told him I hadn’t and that was something I never wanted to do. But you are teaching a martial art. The purpose is to kill, maim, and destroy the enemy. He said. I explained that was the initial objective when people created martial arts but Aikido is more evolved. We teach how to control ourselves, others and the situations we find ourselves in. We know because of our practising the martial art techniques how to deal with knives, guns and other weapons but our aim is to save life not take it, unless we have no other alternative. And we always have other alternatives. We got to his apartment there was no one home. I asked if he lived with his family? He lived with his father, his mother had died three years ago and his father worked a lot. They hardly ever saw each other because their schedules were so different. The father came home late and left early.

Akihiro ran inside to the kitchen and grabbed a large kitchen knife. I asked if he could give me a glass of water? It was a hot summer day. He gave it to me and I drank it slowly. As I drank it I asked him if he killed the students how this would affect his father? He had not thought about this. If the police catch you, which they will, you will be taken away from your father and not permitted to see him. Your life as you know it will be changed forever and once you cross this line there is no going back. You will have to live with the consequences of your actions for the rest of your life. Your ancestors and descendants will be ashamed of you for killing these young immature boys. You are about to create a lot of bad karma. My words started to get through to his rational, logical, and sensible mind. What would you do if you were me? He asked. Which is stronger your love for your father or your hate for these boys? He put his head down in shame, embarrassment and humiliation and started to cry. I hate these boys. I want them to die! But I love my father more. What can I do? I gave him three options: 1. Kill the boys, 2. Go to the police and report them for attacking you. 3. Forgive them, send them positive energy and let the experience go.
He was a smart young man and I taught him how to do the third option. Akihiro put the knife back and we spent time dealing with the negative emotions letting them go and replacing them with self-approval, and other positive states that proved helpful. He became very peaceful, calm and happy. As I left he asked if I would teach him Aikido. I agreed and he came to my classes at my dojo in Nakayama. The boys who attacked Akihiro were caught by the police and were arrested. They now have criminal records. Akihiro is growing up into a fine young man. Last year he got engaged and married a beautiful girl from Nagoya and they are having a baby soon. His life turned out much better than it would have if he had taken the knife to the station. Revenge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Who dies first? You do. Giving love when others hurt us is very difficult but if we go through the difficulty the Universe will bless us with good things.Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Acton shihan
By Martin ACTON 26 Oct, 2017
The words we speak determine how we feel. The language you choose shapes how you perceive reality. Your vocabulary brings meaning into your life. World class people are the most high spirited people you will ever meet. How they talk reflects their devotion to being an uplifter and elevator of human beings. When they face setbacks you never hear them say “Oh I have a problem!” They call it “an opportunity to create something even greater.”
What results from their positive language is a set of positive sensations within them that supports them to play victor instead of a victim in this seemingly difficult situation.
When world-class people are given information about an upset client, they don’t label the information as “bad news”, rather they label it “a challenge that will help us grow.”
Instead of using negative words, they prefer winning words that inspire those around them to focus on possibilities and keep their heads focused on the goals.The words you use influence the life you live. Choose them wisely.

Kaori was a Japanese high school student that really impressed me from the moment I met her. She had a sparkle of life in her eyes and an excitement for life that was infectious. You could not be around Kaori and not feel fantastic. No matter what she did or said she put herself into everything 100%.
I first met her at one of my Aikido club lessons in Fuchinobe high school. She came up to me and informed me how excited she was to have the opportunity to practice Aikido with me as her instructor. She would do whatever I asked her to and if something was hard and I asked her if she could do it, she always replied with a smile, “This is challenging me at the moment, but please give me some more time and I will get this down!” I would check on her a little later and she would have the technique down. Kaori was a really hardworking, focused and sincere young lady.
One day she was practising for her 3rd kyu grading and her partner got really upset. The other girl started shouting at Kaori and said something that I did not understand but I could tell by Kaori’s expression that it cut Kaori very deeply. I separated the girls and told them to come to my office after practice and we would sort this problem out.

After the lesson, I returned to the office and a few minutes later the upset girl came in. She was really angry I asked her what the problem was? She said she hated Kaori because she never messes up and there is nothing she cannot do if she wants to. This made the other girl angry, jealous and to feel insecure. I asked the girl was this Kaori’s problem or some internal issue that the girl would have to resolve? The girl had no idea how to answer because her anger was blinding her to see reason. So I asked her to go home that night and meditate on this and that tomorrow we would talk some more. She left and Kaori came in. This was the first time I ever saw Kaori upset. She asked me to forgive her but that she had only been doing what I had told her to. She did not know why the other girl was so upset and why she said such a nasty thing.

I told her that we all have demons that we face when we are trying to improve, to grow and become our genuine self. The girl had an experience with one of her demons and that it will take some time and education to help her. This frightened Kaori because she had never thought something like this would happen. We talked for some time and she could see that learning Aikido is not just a physical activity like playing soccer or some other sport, but that it involved a spiritual and mental side to it. She realized that she had triggered something in another person and that was something she would like to learn more about so that she could help others on a deeper level. This really inspired Kaori to study Aikido more.
The following day the other girl came to me and informed me that she had been up all night and still had not found the answer to this problem. We decided to do a guided meditation together and we would work on this after school that day. After my last lesson, we met in the hallway and went to the Japanese garden. This is a special traditional garden with miniature idealized landscapes designed for contemplation and meditation. I had prepared a script to guide the girl to find the answer within. After one hour I finished the guided meditation and asked the girl for some feedback. She was very happy with what she had discovered about her lack of confidence, jealousy and anger. She asked if I could work with her on these issues to resolve them? I agreed on the condition that she had to apologize to Kaori for the nasty remark she had made. She agreed. The next day Kaori came to me and thanked me for helping the girl. The girl had apologized to Kaori and now they were better friends than before.
I worked with the other girl for about 6 months every day after school and she was able to release the anger, insecurity and jealous feelings, she also learnt how to deal with problems on a more mature level instead of reacting, hitting out and blaming others she was able to face the problem and realized it was her problem and by taking responsibility for it she could fix it. Both girls grew closer and became best friends. They graduated high school and decided they wanted to become professional Aikido Instructors so they moved to the headquarters in Tokyo and became live in students. Both girls are now world-class instructors and I am proud of both of them I did not give the name of the other girl because I do not want to embarrass or cause her to lose face. Until next time, I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 17 Oct, 2017
To deal with aggression and difficult people is not easy. Aikido teaches us to develop a positive consciousness. When someone is becoming agitated, confrontational and getting up in your face, what are you going to do?

How you think and deal with your thoughts is very important in Aikido. Everything begins with one thought. The more you have give & take with that thought the more it will lead you to a good or bad result.

How do you extend a positive mental attitude? This is a very popular question that Instructors get asked all the time.
You can do it many ways:
When you are very cheerful. We say you must be extending positive energy.
When you feel healthy. Oh, you must be extending positive energy.
When you are really motivated to do something. You are extending positive.

From another point of view. Some people look at it as energy flowing through a person when the person performs an activity, exercise or technique.
When you think a positive or negative thought you are extending energy. If you think negatively towards someone, yet at the same time smile at the person pretending to like him or her, the person knows your real thoughts because the person can feel the energy you are sending to him or her. So in reality, you are only fooling yourself. It is smarter to honestly let the person know there is a problem and to see if there is a way to resolve it together.

One day my Master Tamura Sensei came to me and asked me to teach a 21-day intensive Aikido course to a group of businessmen. I agreed and the lessons were to be taught at their company facilities. I prepared for the lessons and left to begin teaching the course. It was about a 3-hour train ride from my home. That meant I would either travel 6 hours a day or I could stay at the company for the duration of the course. I decided to stay at the company.
The first day the lessons started most of the businessmen were keen to study. However, there was one manager that took an instant dislike to me because I was teaching Aikido in Japan and I was not Japanese. The first thing out of his mouth to me was a derogative question full of contempt “How can you teach Aikido to us? You are a foreigner!” He used a bad word to describe a foreigner. I smiled and explained my credentials and how I was Tamura Sensei’s private student, etc. He folded his arms and told me loudly he did not give a blah blah blah about my credentials or experience I should not be teaching Aikido as I was NOT Japanese. I offered to leave but the other students apologized and pleaded with me to stay and teach the course. They convinced me that they would follow the curriculum and do what I asked them to. The manager said to “I have to be here because my company wants me here but I am not doing anything for you!”
The class started everyone bowed in, except the manager. He sat with his back to me, showing his disdain and contempt for me.
Every day for two weeks he would do what he could to embarrass, criticize and to prove his point that I was unqualified to teach Aikido. This one day he really pushed my button and I called Tamura Sensei and asked if he would replace me. Tamura Sensei was the kindest, loving, and most giving person I have ever met. After listening to my complaints and “poor me” story, he told me that I needed to stay and complete the course. This manager was a great blessing to show me my limitations and when I could accept him and love him then I would gain the victory.
I meditated on the problem and what I discovered was that I was extending negative energy back at this manager and justifying it in my head, that he was a racist. If I did not change my thinking and the way I responded to him then this would scar me for life. I needed to send him my approval regardless of what he said or did. I would extend my energy more positively. How did I do this?
He would hiss at me and tell me I was stupid. In my head, I said, “I love you”.
He would say
“Your Aikido sucks!” In my head, I said, “I love you”.
“I have a Karate friend that will kick your butt” “I love you”.
“I will see to it that you never teach here again!” “I love you”.
“You will not be paid your transportation fees”. “I love you”.
I felt responding this way protected me from any negative energy coming at me. I felt great inside, calm, confident, peaceful and fully in control of the situation.

After the 21-day class was completed he came and bowed deeply to me and apologized for the way he has acted and how badly he had treated me. He explained that he had hated foreign people because in the second world war an American had raped and killed his grandmother and he wanted revenge. He took his revenge on me. But he felt I had responded every time to his attacks only with positive energy. He respected my internal strength and commitment to walking the Aikido path. We connected heart to heart and all the animosity was gone. I thanked him for his honesty, apologized for the wrong that had been done to his family by the soldier and hoped we could train again in the future. we parted as good friends.

After I got back to Tamura Sensei’s dojo, Tamura Sensei took me out for a special dinner to thank me for doing the course. I was given an envelope and informed that the manager from the company had instructed Tamura Sensei to give it to me. There was 100,000 Japanese yen inside. It was a thank you present. The manager gave me the highest recommendation he could and promised to secure the contract with Tamura Sensei so that we would be the only Aikido group to teach at his company and its promotions. This was really a big contract. Tamura Sensei was very happy. Inside I felt very fortunate to have this experience.

I share this hoping that it will help you to deal with difficult people in the same way. Everyone responds to love. By giving the person approval the situation will improve for the better. Test it and see for yourself. Until next time, I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 10 Oct, 2017
Everyone has stuff going on in their lives. We like our stuff, we cling to it and identify it as being part of us, it is my stuff. What do I mean by stuff? I mean things that we don’t like, things we complain about, things that upset us. You say you don’t like your stuff? Really? Well if you don’t like your stuff why are you clinging to it, suppressing it and carrying it around with you like a bag of garbage?

I have worked on a world level since I was 16. I have worked in England, the U.S.A and Japan for long periods of time and not just going for a holiday for a week or two. This has taught me people are the same all over. The only difference is the language we speak and the colour of our skin. Our thoughts, feelings and actions are the same. We are all human beings trying to get through life as best we can, trying to deal with what life throws at us and we are all into figuring things out in our heads.

I was thinking about what I should share in this blog today and I remembered an important lesson I learnt in America. In 1987,  I was  27 and was living and working in L.A. California. I lived in a bad neighbourhood in Huntington Drive. At that time there were two gangs fighting the Crips and the Bloods.

The Crips are mainly an African-American gang. They were started in L.A. in 1969 by two men called Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. The Crips are one of the biggest and violent gangs in America. They have about 30,000 to about 35,000 members. They are engaged in murders, drug dealing, robberies and lots of other criminal pursuits. They are recognized by the use of the colour blue in their clothing.

The Bloods are made up of mostly but not exclusively African Americans. This gang was also started in Los Angeles. They wear red in their clothes and they have special gang symbols and hand gestures that they are identified by.

At the time there were a lot of drive-by shootings going on in L.A. by these gangs and it was becoming more and more like a war zone. I wanted to help try and solve the problem by offering the young people another option. Instead of joining a gang to turn their focus to sports and education. I wanted to use basketball, boxing and several other sports and educational programs to motivate the young ones to set goals to develop themselves into leaders. A good way to reach the young people was through the churches in the area I thought. So I put my ideas down on paper and set out with my proposal to meet the various church leaders in the area.

The response I received at first was that I was cute being from Ireland and a nice novelty. After they saw that I was serious about trying to assist they started coming up with the “ Yeah but … ” responses. It turned out these leaders were more interested in talking about the problems than actually doing anything to solve them. The other response was I was too young to understand the complexity of the problems. Having grown up in Northern Ireland in the troubles, I did not see things their way. It was clear that the solution was not going to come from these churches.

Next, I reached out to the grassroots leadership the community activists and shared my proposal with them. They were interested and thought it was a good idea but the problem came to lack of funding. I was an outsider and they did not know me from Adam. I told them that I would set up fundraising programs to support the program but I would need their members to assist in the fundraising campaigns. They wanted money but not the additional responsibility or making it. Lastly, I approached schools in the area and offered to start after-school programs to help the young people. I again was rejected because it was too dangerous to bring children from the different parts of the city into a local school. If one was shot or beaten up the schools would be held responsible.

I looked at the situation and realized this was not my fight. It was time to let it go and let things play out as they would. Soon after I left America and went to Japan to get on with my life. At that time I did not have the skills, experience and knowledge I have today. Aikido and living in Japan taught me the skills I need to help people and that is what I am doing every day.

The lesson this taught me was that you cannot help people to change or solve problems until they are open and ready to change. Even then most people will resist change because of fear, being comfortable with their problems and having bad habits for a long time. The sad thing is we don’t have to suffer!. We have the knowledge, the technology and the skills to be happy peaceful and successful, but until we come to the point of being sick and tired of being comfortable yet miserable, things will just stay the same. I hope this can help you see that when you focus on problems all you get is more problems. When you let it go and focus on what you want you have the power inside to create the life you want. Problems or solutions, which do you choose to give your energy, attention and focus to today? Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 03 Oct, 2017
What others think about you is none of your business. The most important thing is what you think of you. So much time, energy, and life are wasted worrying about others opinions, wanting to be liked by others, needing to please others.
Real mastery and bonafide leadership are all about ascending above social approval and getting to self-approval. No matter how many people tell you that you are great it will not give you the security you are seeking. Because people change on a dime, one minute you are like a god the next instant they hate the sight of you, ignore you, or abandon you. Social approval is fickle, unpredictable, and utterly fragile.
Look at historical people through social approval eyes and see if what I am saying is true. When the world is telling you that you are wonderful, be careful because then you are heading down the wrong track. When the world tells you that you are bad then you know you are doing good.
Respect yourself. Live by your values, be authentic, run your own race and build your dreams. Be true to yourself. At the end of the day, you may have messed up or may have been successful, either way, you walked your walk and learnt the lessons of the day. That is how a master and authentic leader walks.

Seiji was a young man that wanted everyone to like him. He would do anything for anyone as long as they gave him approval. In elementary school, he was always the class clown. He made people laugh, but not always with him, a lot of the time people were actually laughing at him. In high school, he tried to buy friends. If you spent time with him he would give you presents, buy you things and he constantly tried to impress and please others. When he let someone down he felt terrible. Of course, a lot of people avoided Seiji because they did not want to be indebted to him. A few not so high-level people took advantage of him and took him for all he had. Leaving him alone, abandoned and rejected.
One day I met Seiji as I was giving out flyers for my classes at the train station. He came up and asked if he could help me? I accepted his offer and we gave out the remaining flyers. After that, I took him for a coffee and a chat.

He asked me about Aikido and what I was doing in Japan teaching a Japanese martial art? Why was I not teaching English? That would be a much smarter way to earn the money he said. I answered his questions and tried to explain that I love Japanese culture and Aikido is one of the best things Japan has to offer to the world. It teaches self-control, respect for oneself and others and builds harmony and peace. Suddenly he started to cry and became very upset. Why do people not like me? He asked. I am so lonely. I don’t know what to do with my life? Maybe it would be better if I just died. We were sitting in a coffee shop and people were starting to look and it felt uncomfortable. So I suggested Seiji come back to the dojo with me and I would try to help him.

When we got to my office I took him and we meditated for some time. This helped calm him and to clear his thoughts. He was then more open to what I had to say. I asked him what he wanted most in life? He replied to be liked by others. It felt good when people liked him. But when he could not make them laugh anymore or when his money was gone, so were the friends. I explained that his problem was that he was seeking social approval too much and no one can give him the approval he seeks because he was looking for it in the wrong place. This got his attention. When we want approval it means we lack it. This feels very bad. So we have to choose which is better to want approval or to have approval. Of course, he said to have approval. The problem is people don’t know how to obtain the approval they seek. Consequently, they run after external things, money power, position, etc. We need to stop. To take time, and look inside for the approval.
I told him to do the following exercise. Close your eyes, put your head down and focus on your stomach or your chest. If you feel bad, in your imagination open up a door in your stomach or chest and let the energy out. It feels good to let the energy out because it is not good for your body, and it wants to leave. When the energy is gone, close the door. The Universe does not like a vacuum.
So please imagine a white pearl in a dark room on a black table. This pear is giving out light, warmth and love. This pearl is located in your centre. In your imagination let the light, warmth and love expand out to your stomach, down your legs, into your feet and into each of your toes. It feels so good there is nothing to compare it to. The light, warmth and love expands to your chest, shoulders and slowly down both arms into your hands and into each finger. You are feeling ecstatic. every atom, molecule and particle is feeling alive, healthy and wholesome and it feels incredible. It is so hard to put it into words, it feels that good. The feeling expands into your head and you are in Nirvana, Heaven or some other really beautiful place everyone wants to go to. Give yourself more, more and more approval. Have an approval bath. Once you are overflowing then nothing or no one can bother you. You don’t want or need anything. You can then give your approval to others and watch as they suddenly change. This is what everyone wants, needs and is hoping to find.
When we finished Seiji was converted and he begged me to let him join my dojo. I could not beat him away with a stick. He was so resolute in his determination to walk the path. He grew into a very mature man. He became a therapist and counsellor. His practice is growing more successful every year. Life is good. You just take it one day at a time.
We are all searching for something. Peace of mind, security, etc. I hope something of Seiji’s story can touch you and help you get through life a little easier. Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 26 Sep, 2017
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.

What happens when you make a goal, decide to do something you have never done before or to go to a new place where you don’t know anyone? Listen to your body it has a special message for you. Can you feel it? That knot in your stomach or chest that feels bad. Go ahead and invite it up and just stay with the feeling for a while and observe it. This feeling does not feel good, does it?

Most people deal with bad feelings in three ways: they express, suppress or escape.
Here is an example of expressing or venting. A person meets a friend and complains, shouts or cries and dumps the feeling on the other person. This alters the feeling into action and may even give some short-term relief. It will not eradicate the feeling, it merely relieves the pressure for now. The person listening may really want to help, but it does not feel pleasant spending time with someone who is verbally throwing up on you. This can lead to further distress when the guilt kicks in and we regret saying what we did, or the way we behaved.
To suppress or hide is the most common and most detrimental thing a person can do with the feeling. When you push a feeling down the result is that it causes the repressed energy to build up leading to stress. Eventually, you are driven automatically to act in ways that you don’t like, and would not do if you were not being driven by the feelings. Eventually, these suppressed feelings will sabotage you by taking their toll on your emotional and physical health.

We try to cope or escape the bad feelings by watching TV, going out, having a drink, smoking, exercising, playing music – something and anything to get away from that disquieting, perturbing and vexing feeling. However, the feeling does not go away. you still have it. It has just gone underground and it is sabotaging you even though you may not be aware of it.

Today I would like to offer another alternative to dealing with negative emotions. Just do nothing. Sit and stay still and remain quiet for a couple of minutes. Focus on your breath, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth slowly. Do this several times and you will calm down and feel better.
Our feelings and thoughts are well-wired together. Everything starts with a thought. How do you know you are thinking wrong thoughts? You feel bad. You have let a bad thought into your head and have chosen to have give and take with it. The more give and take you have with the thought the worse you feel. The opposite is also true. If you have a good thought and have give and take with it. you will feel great.
I would like to share a story about a student of mine and how she changed.

Junko was an office clerk for an insurance company in Tokyo. She liked to analyze everything to see the problems in life and was always very serious, grumpy and miserable. She kept her feelings suppressed and dealt with people only on an intellectual level. A real hard worker. She was always first into the office in the mornings and one of the last to leave a night. In her head, she was honest and hardworking and always busy.
Every time there was a meeting others would talk about the positive things happening with clients, how things were improving and the goals previously set were being achieved. Then it would come to Junko’s turn to speak and she would just shoot out problem after problem after problem. By the time she finished everyone would feel like they just wanted to run away and have a shower.

One day there was a meeting scheduled for 7 pm. Junko had been in the office from 6:30 am, and all day she had a migraine headache. She pushed on past the pain but it grew worse as the day went by. When she entered the meeting she was hardly able to stand and actually collapsed. Everyone rushed to help her. She was taken to the nearest hospital and it turned out that she had a stroke. The doctors worked on her for 20 hours straight they had one problem after another. Eventually, they finished and had given the best service they could. Now it would be up to Juko and fate to decide what would happen next. Junko fell into a coma and stayed there for 6 months. Her family supported her every day coming sitting and talking to her. Eventually, she came out of the coma, but she had lost the ability to use her left arm and leg. She would have to give up work and stay home. This news and situation drove Junko into a state of heavy depression. She just wanted to die. Her mother was a very strong woman and she told Junko that she was not prepared to let Junko just lie down and die.
“You can overcome this situation it is just going to take time and effort, but you can do this!”

Junko returned home depressed and spent all her time in her room. Her mother made sure she had lots of positive influences surrounding her and filling her head. She brought freshly cut flowers every day. Bought Junko’s favourite foods etc. Everyday Junko had the poor me thinking going on, and she felt terrible.

Eventually, a travelling monk came to the house and he was very powerful in everything he did. His walk, talk, gestures and his laugh. No one could resist his positive influence.He was like a modern-day Buddha. He came into Junko’s room, bowed to her, and asked her how long was she planning to stay here in this situation? This shocked her because she had the “victim mentality” that there was nothing she or anyone else could do. She said she didn’t understand what the monk was asking. He scolded her strongly for being weak and informed her that he was going take her to his temple and within a year she would be back to normal. She made several excuses for not going, but the monk had made up his mind. there was no negotiating. He left and made arrangements for Junko to come to his temple within three days.

The monk made a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for training Junko. This was made up of meditation, physical therapy, massage and purification of mind and body. She would sit in a cold river and clean her mind of all impurities for an hour a day. On weekends she was taken to a waterfall and she sat under the waterfall for two hours. After a month she started to feel better. After 6 months she could walk and use her arm a little. Junko changed her thinking and became open to what the monk was teaching her. Within a year Junko was fully recovered and was like a new person. Completely changed internally and externally. She laughed and played with the monk, made friends with everyone she met and shared her experience with anyone who was down. She returned home met a man fell in love got married and lives now in Kawasaki.

She came to my dojo and wanted Aikido lessons with me. She became one of the top instructors in Kanagawa. Tough love saved Junko. However, she dug down deep, deep, deep inside and found that the resource she needed was inside. She learnt how to let go of things to extend positive energy and to let whatever happens be ok. Every day she spends time externally doing nothing. But internally she is dealing with the things that have been suppressed for years, loving them and letting them go. When you meet Junko you feel so peaceful, calm and that she understands everything about you, without you having to say a word. The love that she extends is so unconditional no one likes to say goodbye to her. You also have this power within. Why not take the time and discover the genuine you?
“All you need is to go inside and find the power within. Solutions are not found externally”
Until next time I wish you peace love and success. Martin Sensei
By Martin ACTON 19 Sep, 2017
Everyone has twenty-four hours in a day. You have the power to make today something that you regret or something you can be proud of. Everything starts with a thought. The thought leads to a feeling and a feeling is followed by an action.
Own the day! Today you are going to make today count in everything that you think, say, and do. When you walk into a room you are going to brighten that room. People are going to gasp when they see you because they will feel your powerful positive presence. Today you are reaching for brilliance stand for excellence and love everything that is in your life, the good, bad and the ugly.

You are not merely wanting to be the best at what you do. People will consider you world class when you give your all, holding nothing back, stay true to your dreams and pursue your ideals.
Nothing may happen for a while. That is just how things appear. Everything matters every choice, decision and conclusion matters. The world turns at its own pace, not man's pace. Be patient. Believe. What you desire is coming to you if you hold tight and don’t waver. A Master stone cutter chips away at a large piece of a stone day in and day out. He devotes himself, invests his whole mind body and spirit into the job and finally with one last blow he is finished. Before his eyes out of the stone stands a beautiful world-class work of art. Michael Angelo’s “David”.
Have the courage to present your gifts with all your being. By giving to the maximum of your ability this will yield spectacular rewards. Today is the best time to be the best you.

Sumiko was a 30-year-old brain surgeon in Tokyo and she joined my dojo in Yokohama, Japan. She was one of the best students I have ever taught. She moved so gracefully like a little doll. Absolutely fantastic at whatever she put her hand to. When I showed her a technique, she would watch it from several perspectives, after that she would make notes, then go on to experiment with the technique playing with it using all her physical power (number 1), going to try it with no concentration or power at all (number 2) and then unifying her mind and body focusing on doing it exactly as I had shown her. 10 times out of 10 times she would nail it perfectly. Sumiko was so driven to make the most out of every day.

I asked her why she did what she did? She told me that nothing came easy for her in life, that whatever she wanted she had to work really hard at it because she was instinctively lazy and uncoordinated. When she was little she did badly in school because she could not focus on what was being taught. No one could help her and she was bullied by other students in her class because she was slower than them. One day a monk came and talked to her class and he inspired her to make each day a day to be proud of. Regardless of what others said or did, we all have the ability to make today better than yesterday.

From that talk, Sumiko decided to take her weakness and turn it into a strength. She paid more attention to what she was being taught, she asked questions and experimented with everything. Soon she developed a love for learning, growing and improving. She went on to graduate from medical school being the top student not only in her class but in the whole year.

She paid the price for success and when it came she enjoyed it fully. She lives every day being world class at everything she does. Sets the bar at its highest and lives at a level that few in the world will attain. Lives in a movie star house, she drives the top level automobiles, wears only top-level brand name clothing. Helps everyone she meets and never thinks she is better than anyone. When she sees someone struggling she is the first to go to that person and assists the person. Everyone loves Sumiko because she is the real genuine deal. Every day she starts the day with the thought “Today is another chance to excel and to be so good that when I put my head down to sleep tonight I can say that I lived that day fully and I am proud of it”. Until next time, I wish you peace love and success. Martin Acton sensei
By Martin ACTON 12 Sep, 2017
When you go after a goal, it is important to enjoy the process not just focus on attaining the desired result. The journey offers you far more value and as many rewards as getting to your destination. How come? Because it is the journey to your ideals that moulds your character, offers you opportunities to realize your potential, and tests you to see how committed you are to succeeding. The journey teaches you, transforms you, and stirs up the genius within you. You discover and develop the qualities of greatness such as courage, tenaciousness, resilience, compassion and understanding. Reaching the destination or goal feels fantastic. However, it doesn’t bring you the same sustained gifts that the journey does.
The next time you feel impatient, frustrated or hopeless on your path to the personal and professional life you want, keep in mind that exactly where you are might just be the best place you could possibly be. Also maybe the journey is better than the destination.
It is important when going after a goal, to never lose sight of the integrity of the journey .”
Andy Garcia the actor.
Makoto was a 23-year-old business man that came and joined my dojo in Yokohama, Japan. He really had the fire in his belly to get promoted as quickly as he could. His thinking was that if he attained the black belt position he would be peaceful, contented and happy. He trained hard every day. When he was shown a technique or a move he would practice it 10,000 times until he could not get it wrong. He got through the grades up to 2nd kyu and he hit a wall. The harder he practised the worse the techniques became. Eventually, none of the techniques worked and he was growing more and more frustrated. One day he came to me in tears and said “Martin Shihan,  I can’t do this anymore! No matter how hard I try or how many times I try I just can’t get this to work. Can you please help me?” Makoto was a hard working, honest, and sincere man that helped others every day, so I told him I could help him but only if he was willing to apply what I told him to do. Of course, he said he would do anything.
I asked him if he enjoyed the process of learning Aikido and he said he did, that he always felt much better after coming to the dojo. I asked him what he got out of his practice sessions, was it just a feeling of getting another move down? He said honestly it was, and his goal was to learn more techniques than any of his friends knew. He wanted to become the top martial artist in the world that could not be defeated. I asked him that if he achieved this goal how would that change his life? He had a grand picture in his head of being  a movie star with fancy cars, a big house with a swimming pool, fans admiring him and beautiful women throwing themselves at him. He would have more money than he would be able to spend and all his problems would be solved. I smiled and asked him to remember me when he achieved his dreams.
But in order to get there, he would have to get past the 2nd kyu grading. The way to do this was probably one of the most difficult tasks he had ever faced in his life. It required him to do less not more. To feel his partner’s Ki and lead it softly, lightly and gently with a clear purpose. Makoto was a young buck and he loved doing things with physical power. This is the way men do things in the relative world. I told him he was doing Aikido in a way similar to a beginner driving a car. the beginner wants to go fast but can’t control the car so the person has to learn how to use the accelerator. Makoto had to learn to take his foot off the accelerator and slow things down. He had to learn to enjoy the journey and not just focus on being the best martial artist in the world. Because even if he attained this goal it would be a shallow achievement.
He had deeper issues that he needed to work on mentally such as his desires for approval, wanting to control everything and wanting to be safe. I worked with him on these issues and he grew a lot in the year that followed. eventually, he got his black belt and continued his studies. But the point he came to was that it was ok for him not to be the best martial artist in the world he still was the best Makoto in all of history and never has there been or ever will be another Makoto like him. Internally he found his real self and the external things he had been chasing ceased to be so important to him. He still wants those things and is still working to achieve them but he has his priorities in order and his Aikido is world class level. I hope you can get something from this article to help you.Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei
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