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Hanshi Returns To His Renowned Central Park Dojo

I continue to keep myself in condition for any martialist situation.Recently, I revisited my old haunts in central Park in New York and did some brief improvisational routines via various martial arts weapon including sai, stick, knife, and bokken. Feel free to comment.

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The Living Tao – Stanza One

The true way is unknown and so is the untrue way

There are no names to understand It

Creation does not care that It is the source of creation

Emanating as some thing It is not without nourishment

Mysteries are revealed

Become Its way

Attain Its perfection

Do not use words to describe Its no-thing-ness

The three are the same but distinct

One is the Body

One is the Heart

One is the Mind

To understand It as One is the most you can do

It is the path to higher and lesser knowledge

Man cannot know that which is unknowable. At best, he can only suggest a meaning according to his own personal needs. There are no titles he can give to even his own ideas of what this profound truth is except words that still cannot explain Its essence. It cannot be known through an address and cannot be known through no-address. It does not need man’s recognition. It forever sustains Itself. The source of creation is not concerned that It is the source of creation. If It were concerned with Itself, then It would interfere with Itself. If It interfered with Itself, It would be impure and, therefore, would never be perfect. This perfect source of perfect creation must come from a perfect source of perfect creation—from the infinite to the finite—back and forth into the no-thing-ness of the conscious universe, Itself.

When we get out of our own way and permit Infinite Wisdom to express Itself through us, it is because we have decided to permit the Spirit of the Thing Itself to dominate us for Its own good and our perfection. This is done through acceptance of “It.” The only way we can understand what is happening to us is by inventing words to describe ourselves to ourselves. Then, we may continue to interact with others until we pass through Yin and Yang, cease being what we thought we were, and simply become ourselves. Otherwise, we must become hermits and not have intercourse with anyone. Otherwise, we will be considered mad and have to leave our places.

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Developing One’s Own Martial Arts System and Style

Developing One’s Own Martial Arts System and Style

Hanshi Stephen F Kaufman

Master and Founder of Hebi-Ryu Budo – School of the Snake

Developing one’s own system and style does not simply suggest that anyone who thinks they have practiced for a period of time is capable or qualified to create a “style.” To many, this is a confusing issue. It entails certain ideas and responsibilities that the majority of practitioners generally do not understand. After all, what is a style?

Style is a very personalized approach to a specific set of expressions in any given art. It does not mean because you have developed certain movements or combinations of technique that you are the creator of a “style.” It involves thorough investigation of the ideas presented to you by previous teachers and masters to enable you to propel the art to the next level of functionality and respectability: the art—not you! In most cases, people, regardless of supposed rank, tend to think that if they change a particular move, or two or sixteen, they have created a style. As well, if you take what you have learned and proceed to call it by a different name, even though honoring your predecessors, you are only creating a school with your name and not an actual style or system. Additionally, it is not enough to theorize on how things should be done, but rather, they must be field tested in real situations. The creative aspect involves much soul searching and the constant examination of your motives. It is not an ego trip, and in no way can it be indicative of self-aggrandizement. In finality, there is no such thing as a “style,” but rather an extension of functionality through intention.

Here is how my Hebi-Ryu came to be. After considerable searching for a higher understanding of what I was actually practicing, when I returned to New York upon discharge from the USAF, where I was an instructor, I found no one who was truly capable of teaching karate to a more than perfunctorily level. Keep in mind that this was in 1960. What followed in my quest was a constant meeting with other well-known sensei who had the same situation. There were variations of Shotokan, Ishinryu, Moo Duk Kwan, Shorinryu, Kung Fu, Kempo, etc. What we practiced was called karate, not martial arts. The only way we could determine if something was workable was to actually “throw down” with each other. Now, this is an acknowledged and verifiable fact. As well, there was no one who could extend their own selflessness by being able to examine the value of what they were teaching. The only way to do it was with actual contests. We called them pick-up fights, and many people got hurt and did damage to others as well. Mostly everyone, but not all, saw kata as being ineffective. There was other use for karate, with the exception of throwing punches and kicks and winning fights.

I soon realized there had to be more to it than simple physicality. I will not belabor the reader with the trials and tribulations that accompanied my personal search; I determined that the general approach of teaching the art was in need of serious revamping as to the reasoning for it to be studied. In no way is this meant to denigrate the traditions from whence they came. Self-defense aspects were never an issue, because in confrontations, variations of non-classical judo, ju-jitsu, military hand-to-hand and basic street fighting techniques were used. We didn’t study jo or bo, but we did know how to use a stick, a bat, or a garbage can cover. We also knew about nunchuks, but they were made illegal to carry. Those that tried to use kata moves were usually knocked on their ass. Then, of course, Hollywood got into it and completely destroyed the budo mentality with the exploitation of martial arts “performers.”

At the time of my searching, I had no idea that I was developing a system or a style. I was trying to free myself from the restrictions that encompassed my sense of self with regards to karate. That it did develop is evidenced in the manner in which I live the life I do. It is the primary reason I was able to interpret Musashi’s Book of Five Rings to the extent that anyone can understand it regardless of his or her profession, and it is the world’s best-selling interpretation.

Having now been in the martial arts for more than sixty years, I find that I still may have things to learn, but certainly not in the same way that most younger students do, age and experience notwithstanding, and it is to what I have devoted my life. Whether I chose this life, or this life chose me is not the question. The fact remains that this is what I do, and I make no excuses for it; rather, I am very thankful for the direction my life has taken—even with all of the heartbreak, failures, and victories.

If you are capable of taking yourself and your “way” to a higher level, then it will show in your actions and not in your braggadocio. And, no, I don’t recommend it as a life-style, unless you are capable of having profound revelations that include throwing your guts up, interminable frustration, questioning your sanity, and being able to overcome with intelligence and fortitude the acceptance of perfection to the extent you can conceive of it.

If you are of the mind to do at most of the above, then go ahead and claim your style, but first come to terms with your motivations. They must be of a higher ideal and not construed as a commercial endeavor. Understand that when you take this responsibility, many people will not understand what you are trying to accomplish. As well, your own visions will begin to change via your intellect and perceptions of everything.

Hanshi Stephen F. Kaufman

New York, 2020

For more info on Hanshi Stephen Kaufman, visit www.hanshi.com


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I was recently a guest speaker on a Zoom videocast, having been approached by the coordinator of the online networking group. He asked if I would speak on a number of subjects, which he and his associates were familiar with, including my manner of presentation. One associate was supposedly connected to a major studio reportedly in process of doing a film on The Art of War. I was to speak on The Book of Five Rings, Self-Revealization Acceptance®, and The Art of War. There would be about 25 – 35 attendees, who, I was told, were anticipating my appearance and had certain questions regarding the subject matter. After the initial “Hi, who are you, where are you, what is a hanshi …,” I got down to business: 15 minute general intro, 30 – 40 minute presentation on specifics, and a 15 minute Q & A.

The next day, I contacted the coordinator and asked about the response, having been somewhat surprised that he didn’t call me. The text response from him was unbelievable. To say the least, I was amazed and stunned, considering who the audience was supposed to be. Wow! I had intimidated the audience by being ‘too deep,’ and they could not grasp my message. Too deep? When I talk to elementary school kids and others, perhaps some having difficulty with the concepts, when questioned, I readily explain with more clarity. I have very rarely encountered such pathetic criticism in my more than 60 years of teaching and presenting my work.

Then came the bombshell. I gave examples of who might understand The Art of War and be able to use it intelligently to advantage to further a cause. I mentioned a few people, including Trump. I did not praise him, nor did I say anything pro or con. The coordinator then reports that eleven of the audience immediately dropped out of the Zoomcast at the mention of Trump’s name. He was very upset and would get back to me in a few days with more information. After 5 days, not having heard from him, I gave him a call and left a message, which he did not return. I reminded him that I was teaching The Art of War, and according to his request, did not hold anything back. A normal audience response would be something to the effect of how would they be able to use the same principles for their own advantage rather than run away and look for a ‘safe space’. Subsequently, I learned that the audience was mostly non-conservative and millennial.

Too deep? Terror at the mention of a name? I realize we are living in most precarious times, with the younger generations unable to come to terms with personal responsibility or the self-esteem required to make a place of importance for themselves. Anything that causes them to think for themselves or goes against their opinion is apparently not in their agenda, as they blindly follow those who promise to deliver unredeemable promissory notes. Unfortunately, as the NWO begins to levy its new-age consciousness, it will be more and more difficult for the younger generations to come to terms with any form of reality that threatens their Eloi mentality.

My generation will eventually expire, and so it is meaningless to berate the young for their obvious inability to come to terms with the reality of what they look forward to melting into. The time we are living in is ultra-superficial, all-surface and, in my view, apparently with hardly any substance whatsoever. Consider social distancing: just another form of social conditioning that follows the same non-committal path as texting, though on a physical level to further rend the soul from intimate human contact. Add to that pending 5G mind control, face recognition, forced vaccinations and nanochip implanting.

Hey, kids, go enjoy your “playdate” and remember to keep your distance and not touch each other. We know if you are behaving, or you are not, and Santa knows if you are naughty or nice.


©Stephen F. Kaufman 2020

For info on the author and to purchase books, visit http://www.hanshi.com

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Zen and Transmission of Mind – Part II

What is Mind?

Reasoning and logic are intellectual processes that require types of study to permit the student access to different forms of thinking. This has to do with words: the most mysterious form of communications known. What a word means is not usually the intent with which it is used. Very few people know what people are saying because they, themselves, don’t know what they mean.

The ideas of Zen are very plain and easy to understand if you see the incredulity in doing so. For example, if I ask you to explain how you breathe in and out without thinking, you would tell me that it is a natural thing and that you don’t even have to think about it. On the other hand, you might give me a complete medical analysis, which would perhaps answer the question but be boring as hell. I imagine that if we had to think about breathing in and out, we would all be dead.

The idea of Mind takes into consideration any definition you might care to give it. God, Eternity, the Unknown, all are good if you care to have some word to describe it. It is essential that you understand what was before there was nothing, which by definition could not possibly exist. This is tricky, but consider the beginning of time, which can’t be done, but let’s try anyway. In the beginning there was not even a void. The idea of a void would suggest a thing. That is erroneous. Before the Big Bang, what was there? Zippo! Not even the idea of itself. That is the pure state of beingness that permits Mind to exist as unfettered. At that level of understanding, you are enlightened because you don’t have to be. You simply are—or are not.

Concepts of “because” also create hardship in trying to understand the relevance of your own creation. You are a “thing,” or you are not a “thing.” The situations you find yourself in are based on your trying to define your own reason for existence, which is the only thing you can do, being that you are in a finite condition. You have a body, and your body needs to be cared for in any manner you desire. “I am a rich man because I have worked very hard to acquire wealth. It is what I have always wanted.” “I love my husband because he treats me so fine.” How about, “I’m rich!” “I love!” without the conditional postulations. And, not after the fact, one way or another, but as the fact.

“It” (used to describe the thing itself) functions based on an acceptance of knowingness, not as a conditional suggestion to me to be that which I may only hope and wish for. Wishing and hoping is another story altogether—very negative concepts.

It is the self that creates the environment, and to suggest that nihilism or self-nullification would be the way to free yourself and to live a life of sloth is not the answer, nor is eating rice gruel and begging for sustenance while despising the “haves.”

Mind has neither form nor appearance. It does not belong to categories of things that exist or do not exist. It is inconceivable to understand on any level the existence of anything prior to existence. The ideas of mysticism throughout the ages have always brought with it the concept of determining the indeterminate. That’s the beauty of relegating to ourselves the concept of God. If it can’t be explained, it has to be God. God as an idea creates the need within to seek for It without knowing what we are looking for. This is the start of the inevitable quest to understand the unknown and also carries with it the basis for duality: good, bad, right, wrong, yin, yang. The true premise of reality, though, is that there is no such thing as yin and yang, which is not to suggest that yin and yang do not exist.

Zen is the universe—the whole universe—including alternates and multiples, every flower and stone. However, it goes much deeper than that. The Way as an explainable thing cannot be the way at all. The thing that is named is not the thing itself but only words we use to identify it. The virtue of the Way is only a means for us to use in our actions and thoughts. The idea of Zen is not to be confused with Zen itself. It is a notion arising from the intellect that proceeds to bring us to the next higher level of understanding from that previously understood. It is not meant as a direction in a traveling sense, but rather as an approach/non-approach to a higher truth based on our own morality. Understanding comes through language, which is not to be construed as the use of words. It is intuitive language that I speak of, which although it does not use words, is clearly understood by those wishing to do so. This is based on personal choice and is not confusing when thoughtfully considered.


Stephen F. Kaufman has studied Asian philosophy for more than 60 years. He is ranked as “Hanshi,” the highest rank attainable in the martial arts and has taught Zen meditation classes for many years. To learn more about Mr. Kaufman and to purchase his books, visit http://www.hanshi.com and follow his author blog at http://hanshibooks.wordpress.com

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Zen and Transmission of Mind – Part I

Having studied Zen for many years, I have come to understand that there is really nothing to understand, especially the concepts of ‘mind/no-mind’ or ‘thing/no-thing.’ Once past the intellectual aspects of Zen, it is discovered that it is the most freeing reality you will ever encounter and is the basis of all mental acumen relative to the higher beingness of the One. And, even though at times I would like to unload my head with all of it, there remains nothing to boggle the mind except for the unintelligible parameters that try to intellectually explain the matter; so, I have stopped doing that as well, except for this treatise that I use to explain the virtues or non-virtues of Zen, with or without.

Huang Po, the sage Chinese Ch’an (Zen) master known in Japanese as Obaku, has been known to create intense misunderstandings for students by leaving them in a state of abject mentality and causing them to think that they have to perform obligatory actions, follow specific rites, etc. that he speaks of as ridiculous to try to do. Zen, of course, only seeks to Zen.

Regardless, there is still a major misunderstanding of what Zen actually is and is not. Pop Zen is indeed Zen, but it is not what Zen is, and so it, too, is misleading. Titles like ‘Zen and the Art of Whatever’ are merely quaint notions and create the confusion that lead people to think that nihilism and total unattachment should be learned as detachment is the answer. That, too, is Zen, but that is not what Zen is, either. It is easy to see why incredible mental blocks develop when trying to understand Zen by using one’s so-called mind, which claims by its own suggestions that it is not the way to understand it being that there is nothing to understand.

It is not my intention to talk of Zen in circular sentences. I speak directly to myself when I write, and in such manner am able to explain it to anyone if they will but accept the idea that they are already enlightened and need not concern themselves with the life they think they are living, which is an illusion, allusion, or delusion, in the best of cases. This is especially true when attempted mastery of a given discipline is realized as a mere time filler.

The philosophical writings of major Zen proponents may seem hip to many readers who wish to grasp a “cool” knowledge of Zen. Zen thanks you and laughs at the same time. Many writers and teachers have attempted to explain the concepts and have been quite successful at doing so ,either intellectually or by example. I do the same thing, but I connect them to today’s world in easily understood relationships. Not that they didn’t, but more so that I do for myself, which can also be construed as ridiculous. I don’t use Zen Buddhist terminology but explain the ideas and principles in-depth so that you, the reader, will have no questions and realize that you are already enlightened, though there is really no need for enlightenment, either. You will not have to meditate on the ideas presented, but you should cogitate on them. Should you truly desire to understand what Zen is all about, then you must accept at the outset that you already do. Zen is a lot of fun, especially if you don’t take it seriously. On the other hand, if you don’t take it seriously, it is more fun.

Question: “Are you a Zen master?”
Sensei: “Yes, I am!”

Question: “Are you a true Zen master?”
Sensei: “Yes, I am!”

Question: “Can you explain what Zen is?”
Sensei: “Yes, I can!”

Question: “Will you?”
Sensei: “Yes, I will!”

Question: “When?”
Sensei: “I just did.”

Stephen F. Kaufman has studied Asian philosophy for more than 60 years. He is ranked as “Hanshi,” the highest rank attainable in the martial arts and has taught Zen meditation classes for many years. To learn more about Mr. Kaufman and to purchase his books, visit http://www.hanshi.com and follow his author blog at http://hanshibooks.wordpress.com

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The Correct Use of Hands During Any Approach – From the Martialist Teachings of Hanshi Kaufman

The Correct Use of Hands During Any Approach

There is a proper way to hold your hands out when receiving an offering or giving one. When shaking hands, the grip should be firm and relaxed, at the same time. This applies to handling weapons or documents or gifts. Make sure not to squeeze or put too much pressure on an object, so as not to lose control of its benefit. Hold any device or tool with resolve and in a manner that will permit change of direction when necessary. Hands should always be clean and fingernails manicured so that when you offer something to someone, whether an attack with a weapon or when empty-handed, it can be done in a manner that is not offensive to the person or group being approached.

Never push anything into someone’s face unless it is essential action to make the kill—in any form. Use the index and middle finger for support, with the thumb on top, and in this manner direct your intentions with authority. It is the same as when holding a sword and being prepared to strike or offering a document to be read or signed. The attitude of relaxed, yet firm hands, is also reflected through bodily intentions, while at the same time sustaining confidence. Do not wave your hands in fruitless gestures; instead, use them to emphasize certain points. Any other action indicates a weak and limited resolve. When encountering strong objections, physical or mental, and if you are not poised for action, the possibility exists that what is being offered can be dropped, and loss of control of a situation, even if it is only momentary, is all an astute enemy needs to gain the advantage, and it will then be necessary to restructure your focus in order to regain control. That may be difficult to accomplish with quickness because of the need to make extra moves that will interfere with resolved intent.

In negotiations, as in anything else, the hands must be ready to make definitive moves towards whatever is needed. Not following this method indicates an inability to focus with complete conviction. When your hands are firm and relaxed, there will be no problem redirecting the enemy’s attention, and he will be easily diverted, if necessary.

©Hanshi Wisdom Press 2020

For more info on Hanshi Kaufman, visit http://hanshi.com

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The Invalidation of Ancient Wisdom: Why It Must Lose Its Relevance and Functionality

All ancient wisdom as of, and in our ‘now,’ has been functional, viable, and right (largely considered common sense) in its proper moralistic existential time and place. However, as we evolve into the future ‘now,’ it is archaic, and presumptuously theoretically proven valid ‘now,’ but will fail in viability in the times to come. Such is the way of cosmic consciousness as evolution goes. Moralistic existentialism and the apparent lack of intellectual clarity and cogency of thought is reason for the misunderstandings of fate and/or free will, based on the idea that everything is predestined, including abstract choice. That makes sense when considered in the light of what has gone before will determine what is, in time, to pass, while on the other hand, personal self-aggrandizement insists on suggestions of free will.

Aleatory byproducts of original intention, a paradigm complete and unfathomable in our immediate present, does not exist, though in ‘Its’ time, will clarify Itself. Original intention must reveal absolute causation, albeit through a mundane, though genuine leap in consciousness that demands unification of principle, without which it will lose its own relevance and cease to exist in our limited perspectives. That would presumably go against original intention; It creates to expand and not to destroy, an idea made plausible by observing the expansion of thought pronounced as multiple universes through faculty reasons of observable dimensional nuances.

Those shy of expansive mindedness will refute this postulate because of limited intellectual foresight and fear of the subjective and objective unknowns. Karma thus becomes irrelevant unless the continued need for individual guilt of being prevails. Self-ordination, in this light, suggests a sense of egocentric creationism that empowers a person to believe in controlling the conditions required for self-identity at the cost of all things connected to a presumed authoritarian figure.

As taught by the great sage, Nachash Ha’Kodesh, “Pay no attention to meaningless things, such as words of wisdom.”

©2020 Stephen F. Kaufman writing as KA_ufmaznand Hanshi Wisdom Press™

For more info on the author, visit http://www.hanshi.com

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The Art of Stickfighting Self-Defense Book

Completely revised The Art of Stickfighting Self-Defense is now available on Amazon and Hanshi.com.  Also available on Amazon Kindle.

This straight-forward book illustrates the proper method for anyone who wants to learn the basics of self- defense with a walking stick, cane, or umbrella. These everyday implements are legal to carry and can be wielded just as effectively as a Japanese bo, a wooden staff, or a Brooklyn baseball bat. You will learn how to select a “stick,” grip it correctly, and apply simple but effective self-defense techniques against a variety of attacks. The Art of Stick Fighting Self-Defense is your road map to mastering this path of self-defense. 

To learn more about Hanshi Stephen Kaufman, visit www.hanshi.com

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Personal Safety and Self-Defense Seminars

For more info about the author, visit http://www.hanshi.com

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Bookstore Author Event

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