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A Spiritual Warrior's Tradition: KHY

by Karma Palden Sherab

Scene one: The hall is dead quiet. With his back to the kamaiza (a Japanese alter literally translated to the 'seat of gods') and facing his students the teacher or sensei sits upon a meditation cushion with his legs in half lotus; his students face him in a similar manner. In each of their left hands is a mala, a Buddhist rosary of 108 beads. Together they recite “Om Mani Padme Hum”, Tibetan mantra which raises the energy within the room as well as each person- invoking the powerful and benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig (Kwan Yin in Chinese), the embodiment of compassion. They do this once for each bead on their mala. Then under the careful guidance of their teacher gently press designated spots (shiatsu or acupressure) on their body to manifest a healing flow of energy throughout their bodies. Once this is completed they move into a typical yoga posture or two- designated to potentiate the shiatsu points just hit. Once this has been completed they rise and perform gentle stationary qigong (energy cultivation) exercises, again to balance and maintain the harmony of the body. Finally they sit again, looking deep into their very souls in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Divine that resides within.

Scene two: The group has come together because one of their own has asked them to help with some deep seated issues that are greatly affecting his health. Men and women of the group start early in the morning by coming together in a circle as they take corn meal and/or tobacco and listen closely as nearby saplings call to them to come so they may also help. Each member listens closely as he or she walks toward a sapling calling to them. The sapling let’s them know it will gladly give up its life to aide in helping the one. The two-legged says a prayer or blessing for the life of the tree and offers the corn meal or tobacco in a sacred way. The tree is then cut down and carried back to the meeting place. In time a lodge is erected with its door facing the east. The lodge is covered with blankets and tarps so that it is dark inside. On the inside, at the center a hole has been dug to hold the grandmothers during the ceremony. The soil removed to create this hole is just outside the lodge entrance creating a new mound or turtle mound where the participants lay personal objects for the Creator to bless during the ceremony. A fire has been built to heat the grandmothers red hot, and a ceremony has been done to ask for the fires help in heating the rocks. One person remains outside to tend the fire and care for the grandmothers and the rest disrobe and enter the lodge in a sacred manner. They enter, one by one, to help and support the one who has asked for help. The leader of the ceremony sits quietly and opens the lodge calling to the four directions. Then the Fire-keeper is called to bring in the first of the grandmothers. This is done four times. During each round prayers for healing, singing, and release occurs. During this time of intense heat and prayer some see visions of people, totems, or guides that are there to assist in healing, while some release emotional and sometime physical pains that have troubled them. Once the lodge ceremony is completed they all emerge from the darkness of the womb and are reborn into the world. The circle and bonds they have formed is permanent and can never be broken.

Scene three: Men and women are paired off. They wear black pajama like pants and a tied jacket top. Their wear a satin white sash tied around their waste. They are barefoot. They listen intently as their instructor demonstrates with a senior student how to avoid contact and how to escape a punch being directed toward their face. The students then practice back and forth. The instructor then demonstrates how to gently resolve conflict of an individual who continues to pursue aggression towards them by manipulating their joints with precise timing and light touch, setting the person gently on the ground without harming themselves or the attacker. The instructor then moves on to his senior students. They quickly do a short qigong set, cultivating energy. The senior student then charges full force with a punch to the teachers heart, the teacher once again with impeccable timing moves his center-line just enough to be missed by the attack as he gingerly taps the opponent and discharges controlled, but raw energy into the attackers body knocking him back eight feet or so. The attacker has difficulty grasping his breath as he picks himself up off the ground.

Scene four: A group of people are lying on the ground under a great oak, the shade of the mammoth tree protects them from the blistering of the sun. Their eyes are closed but if you were to look at them closely there is much rapid eye movement occurring under their lids. A hand drum is being struck by one of the members. The beat is like that of the heart, the Earth Mother’s heart. This trance-like rhythm helps ground and centers the participants, quickly reducing stress, freeing the mind of chatter, energizing the body and creating unity within the group. This beat carries on for 15 or so minutes. When the drum stops each member shares their journey to the underworld and the teaching that they received from their animal totems.

Out of the four scenarios just shared with you which one(s) would you assume belong to a martial arts group? Many of you might hear the words “martial arts” and instantly think of brutality with fancy aerobatic kicks and exotic weaponry. And if that is what you equate to the martial arts scene three, though gentler than that, is how you might have answered the question. When in reality all four circumstances are common place in the spiritual martial art of Kosho Hoho Yooga or KHY. In fact, though toted as a martial art, KHY is more of a spiritual practice in the Warrior Traditions than a karate, MMA, or tae kwon do. It is a complete art.

Really, what KHY is, is a warrior monk art that would make any neo-pagan, Buddhist to Witch, happy. Kosho Hoho Yooga or “Old Pine Tree Method of Unity and Self-discipline” has lineage to the ancient Japanese sohei or warrior monks. The lineage itself is traced to Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist Priest of the Rinzai Zen sect around 1235 AD. Over the following generations there have been many branches off of this tree: Kosho Ryu Kempo and Kosho Shorei Ryu being just two significant branches. One of the latest buds of the branch is KHY.

KHY developed from a life pursuit of knowledge of the Warrior Path by a NH native, Christopher Bashaw. As a teen Bashaw was interested in metaphysical studies and was mentored by the occasional witch that would share their teaching with him. Bashaw, raise a Roman Catholic, was always interested in learning about other spiritual traditions. Over time he was formally educated receiving a Masters in Religion and Doctorates in Divinity. Informally he trained with those he considered masters in the field in shamanic studies like Mike Denmeade of Vt, and Paul Belleau of NH. He learned herbal lore via his Bachelors in Naturology as well hands on training. He then mastered energy work initially learning Therapeutic Touch at a conference with founder Dolores Krieger PhD, RN ; then mastering Reiki, Healing Touch as well as many more energy healing modalities. His healing already had a start since graduating nursing school as a RN in 1984 and practicing in the field full time since. Over time Bashaw took his vows and became a Buddhist Lay Priest practicing Universal Buddhism. Over time not only did he seek and find a spiritual side of the warrior, he also created a series of sub-systems that begin to give birth to KHY.

As a warrior he joined the Army Reserve as a nurse for 14 years in a Combat Support Hospital; he also walked into to a dojo (martial arts school) in Keene, NH where he met Rick Wilmott, renshi and began to study the martial arts. Bashaw and Wilmott remain as close as brothers, as they constantly strive to bring about True Self-defense, the respecting and understanding of the principles of nature which includes but is not limited to physical movement, psychology, and metaphysical manipulation of energy. For one who wholeheartedly believes this and practices it will have learned true self-defense beyond that of any hard style martial art.

It was in 1999 that a name was given to this new spiritual, healing warrior’s art; it was then that KHY evolved. Since its formal culmination KHY has produce eleven to the rank of black belt or sensei. One a 74 year young house wife and retired nurse, another a single mother, while another a grandfather of three, and one other a school teacher. Each with the skills and attributes a warrior possess called Budo or “Way of the Warrior”; trustworthiness, loyalty, valor, honor, docile yet power-full, humble, and skillful yet un-boastful.

Bashaw states, “These individuals are not only skillful internal martial artists, but they are also skillful healers. They come from all walks of life, all religious traditions. What they see over time through our practices in shamanism, Shugendo Yoga©, Warrior Tantra©, Koshonic Body Stress Release©, KHY tai chi and qigong, Kokoro Ryu Reiki©, self-defense and philosophy is to look for the similarities in all things. Once we find those similarities we see no differences and so conflict is resolved. This is truly the desired result of Kosho Hoho Yooga.”

One might not think such a stance in the martial arts is macho enough to be respected. And although there are some who ridicule a traditional warriors approach to the arts which includes spiritual growth as well as maximizing ones healing potential, KHY has made itself known in the martial industry. KHY has been featured in Shinobi No Mono Magazine (dedicated to the Art of Ninjutsu), Combat Warrior E-Magazine, and Martial Arts Expert Magazine (the largest martial arts magazine in Canada). As well as being recognized by the World Yoga Hall of Fame, World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame, and World Karate Union Hall of Fame. The World Martial Arts Hall of Fame not only inducted Bashaw but recognized him with the titles of Professor and Soke (Founder and Family Head) as well as presenting him with a hatchidan or eight degree black belt and a PhD in the Martial Arts. And when inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame he was recognized as “Founder of the Year”. Plus the Budo Ryu and Kuroshinobi Ryu are two other martial arts organizations which acknowledge and support KHY as well. Furthermore Bashaw and Wilmott also founded WaShin International (http://www.thewashin.org) an organization dedicated to the Warrior Spirit were all systems and individuals can come together and share thei martial traditions such as Hoshin Ryu, and Sansei Isshinryu Karate as well as yoga traditions like Zen Yoga. And if that weren’t enough Bashaw has recently published his book entitled “Warrior Tantra”on the spiritual prac tice of a warrior’s connection to the soul, and soon will be releasing another book, “Shinobi” Modern Ninjutsu Pioneers” which features many modern ninjutsu masters such as Frank Dux and Masaaki Hatsumi.

Bashaw now leaves the NH seacoast occasionally to share the teaching of KHY and its subsets to those who wish to study deeper and meaningful aspects of the Warrior Path. He has been from Canada to the Caribbean sharing those mystical, magikal aspects of the Warrior Arts. Bashaw also takes on students who travel from a variety of traditions to study and learn KHY at his base in NH. KHY is proof that magik, health, and martial skill can survive the past into the 21st century. For those who wish to learn more on KHY they can log onto http://www.freewebs.com/kosho_hoho_yooga to learn more or email him at master_tenbu@yahoo.com subject KHY.

About the author: Karma Palden Sherab is a practitioner of KHY and its subarts as well as a freelance writer on the subject.

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