The Eagle and The Arrow


An Eagle was soaring high in the sky when an archer took aim and let his arrow fly. Mortally wounded the Eagle looked at the shaft that had pierced
his heart. To his great dismay, he realized the fletching on the arrow was his own feathers. “It is a double grief to me,” he exclaimed, “that I should perish by an arrow feathered from my own wings.”

~ Aesop Fable




How often do we supply our enemies with the means of our own destruction?



Thank you for reading.

J. R Lowe

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Red Belt Challenge: Final Note


Some of you may ask whatever happened to the Red Belt Challenge I started this past February? Did I knock my red belt test out of the park?

Unfortunately, I was not able to make my red belt test due to some extenuating circumstances.

A week later, while training with some excellent gentlemen about to take their black belt test, my left elbow was hyperextended.

After a visit to the doctor, he told me I had torn ligaments. On the bright side, no broken arm. He advised six weeks of healing before going back to training.

Six weeks of no training (again) is hard. Last weekend we made the trip to our home dojo so my husband could make up his final stripe (thank you Sensei Jeremiah) before black belt testing. With my arm in a sling (they made wear it – probably a good idea) I was able to get some training.

Sensei Stefano was generous enough to show variations in techniques using only one hand. In two hours, I gain more understanding of movement and capabilities than in the previous month of training; and I had practiced a lot.

Even though my doctor advised me not to train for six weeks, I feel it is vital to explore (in a safe manner of course) techniques and strategies when you are injured. An attack is less likely to come when you appear strong and more likely to happen when you look like a victim.

I am learning that even in an injured state you are only as much a victim as you let yourself be.

The idea is to move smarter not harder.

Is this the end of my Red Belt Challenge? Have I tested out of red belt? No. I will keep working, training and climbing stairs. However, I will not be reporting my daily advancements. My next test will be at the beginning of May. There is no rush. It will happen at the right time.

I want to give a quick message to my Senseis. Thank you for all your support and protection on my journey to becoming part of the Bujinkan. Most importantly thank you for understanding that sometimes we need protection from ourselves. In the future, I can only hope to do as much for someone as you have done for me.

Train Safe



Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Red Belt Challenge: Day 17



Synopsis of the Day:

It was a productive stair day. I made my goal of 600 steps a day. The weather has turned cold and snowy. Extra miles added to my day was not practical. However, I made up for it when I arrived home.

My husband had the mats out, so I hit the free weights until my arms were quaking jello. Then I rounded out the workout session with stretching and yoga.

Here is how the day breaks down:

  • Backpack 30 lbs
  • Climbed 628 stair steps (with pack on)
  • Walked 3.10 miles (with pack on)
  • Fasted for 18 1/2 hours
  • 1-hour upper body strength training and yoga



If you know a person is working hard to get fit, let them know if you see a difference. Just a few words are great positive reinforcement.

My husband does not give out compliments very often so when he does it means something.

When I came home and changed into my workout attire, my husband stopped for a moment. He said he could see a difference; my legs were thinning down. I replied it must be all the stairs. He came back with, “Well whatever you are doing it is working.”

That little statement made a big difference. It spurred me on to workout harder.

We effect those around us. A few kind words can make a significant impact in someone’s journey.

Keep it real. Keep it simple.




Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Red Belt Challenge: Day 16

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Synopsis of the Past Two Days

It was a light day where stairs and miles are concerned. However, I balanced out the day with a 24 hour fast which went better than I thought.

The reason I mention this is I have not intermittent-fasted more than 19 hours while at school. I figured that with all the commuting, carrying a heavy pack for at least a couple of miles every day would be too much.

I think I was wrong in my presumption. Only one way to know for sure. Test it.


Here is how the day breaks down:

  • Backpack 25 lbs
  • Climbed 498 stair steps (with pack on)
  • Walked 3.00 miles (with pack on)
  • Fasted for 24 hours
  • 1 hour Taijutsu training



This morning while waiting for the boat to ferry me over to the mainland I was miserable. It was cold and clear, well below freezing. Bundled up in a sweater and heavy fleece I was shivering.

Then the most magnificent dawn colored the sky vibrant oranges, pinks and yellows. All of a sudden, I did not feel as cold. It was at this moment; a thought struck me.


Everything in nature is balanced. We are part of life and should be loyal to the natural balance within ourselves.

It seems that in today’s society we want everything right now. We were raised that way from instant noodles to emails.

Do I want to be physically fit right now? Yeah, I do, and yet it does not work that way. It is a process, a journey, a retraining of my body and mind.


Ask yourself, does instant or nearly instant gratification equal better?


I have a sneaking suspicion that in most cases it does not.


The old axiom “Anything of value takes hard work and time” applies here.




Sweat, tears, and bruises can create something beautiful. Suddenly, it was worth it.






Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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Red Belt Challenge: Weekend 2



Weekend Synopsis:

It was a good weekend. We got into intense Taijutsu training. I even got a fat lip. My husband and I tend to train hard together. Frequently, we walk away with bruises as was the case this weekend.

One of the great moments of this weekend was practicing defense against a sword attack.

Always open to playing around with techniques, I sidestepped into a vertical sword attack, jabbed my elbow into my husband’s face guard, then slid my hand in between his on the handle as I rotated my body away from him, snatching the sword out of his hand.

The dumbfounded look on his face was priceless which was quickly replaced by excited eyes and “How did you do that?”

Have you ever had one of those fantastic moments in training when everything works?



Soke Masaaki Hatsumi

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi continually encourages us to play with our training. So, we played.

We spent the following 40 minutes playing with the move. It was a lot of fun, almost as if we were back in our Home Dojo.

I got in a little bit of walking and some weight lifting. I used 8 lb weights until my upper body was jello. It felt good.


Weekend break down:

  • Walked 3 miles (without pack)
  • 500 steps (without pack)
  • Stretched/Yoga both days
  • Practiced sword drills and ukemi
  • 2 hours weight training
  • 5 hours Taijutsu training
  • Fasted twenty-four hours on Sunday



We kept our home dojo set up this weekend.

It was motivating to work out the next morning. Usually, we set out our mats first which takes a solid 15 to 20 minutes. It means we have to want our work out. I have to admit there were times when we put off our training until the next day out of sheer laziness.

Leaving the mats out helped curb our lazy streak.


How do you curb your lazy streak?




Thank you for reading.

J. R. Lowe

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