What's on Sensei's mind?

  • Recognize, Avoid & Defend Anyone who has trained with me for very long has heard me talk about the concept of RAD (Recognize, Avoid & Defend). From a practical self defense point of view, this ...
    Posted May 19, 2013, 7:21 PM by Duane Sheely
  • What is wrong with everyone? In the military, we are trained to be remain vigilant at all times and to always be aware of our surroundings. We are trained to have situational awareness, to keep ...
    Posted Apr 27, 2013, 10:58 PM by Duane Sheely
  • You can't throw me, Captain! Each semester, the Women's Self Defense instructor at Utah Valley University asks my daughter, Stephanie, and me to teach self defense from our Jujitsu perspective to the women in ...
    Posted Apr 27, 2013, 9:44 PM by Duane Sheely
  • Stop beating yourself up! When I was in college studying Abnormal Psychology, I decided to take a College Algebra course. I took the class very seriously and, when the time came, prepared diligently for ...
    Posted Feb 18, 2013, 7:31 PM by Duane Sheely
  • Dangerous Men! The other day I was at the dojo working on the thermostat (yes, I'm the sensei and the maintenance man), and I decided to turn on the Open sign ...
    Posted Feb 4, 2013, 10:36 PM by Duane Sheely
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 13. View more »


Recognize, Avoid & Defend

posted May 18, 2013, 10:04 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated May 19, 2013, 7:21 PM ]

Anyone who has trained with me for very long has heard me talk about the concept of RAD (Recognize, Avoid & Defend). From a practical self defense point of view, this concept makes perfect sense, and since a primary focus of our Martial Arts school is to be able to defend ourselves and to avoid confrontation and danger, RAD is a great way to illustrate this point, especially for younger students.

Many Utah schools incorporate RadKIDS (Resist Aggression Defensively) into their curriculum in elementary school. The RadKIDS program is the largest child safety program of its kind in the nation and provides children with hope, options, and practical skills to recognize, avoid, and if necessary, escape or respond to potential danger.

While I applaud what the program offers, allow me to share a personal experience that takes this concept a step further.

My daughter, Melanie, (who is now 13) has studied DZR Jujitsu her entire life. When she was in first grade she participated in RadKIDS, and the parents were invited to attend the RadKIDS graduation ceremony. As part of the graduation ceremony, the children were given the opportunity to
show off what they had learned during the course. They brought in a man in a full-body protective suit to act as the adult aggressor. One by one, the children allowed the man to approach them and then grab them. The children then demonstrated a series of attacks designed to allow them to break contact and then inflict pain on the bad guy.
When it was little Melanie's turn to face the attacker, every time he attempted to
grab her, she simply ran around and didn't let him grab her. After several attempts to grab her, the bad guy in the full-body protective suit lost his balance and actually fell to the ground. Melanie then ran away as fast as she could. She didn't allow the bad guy to engage her. Melanie was the only graduate of the RadKIDS program to receive a standing ovation that day.
After the graduation ceremony, I asked Melanie why she didn't follow the rules and allow the man to grab her. She simply said, "Daddy, you told me not to let anyone grab me, and that way I won't have to try to escape."

What is wrong with everyone?

posted Apr 27, 2013, 9:55 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Apr 27, 2013, 10:58 PM ]

In the military, we are trained to be remain vigilant at all times and to always be aware of our surroundings. We are trained to have situational awareness, to keep our head on a swivel, to continually check our six, and to be a hard target.
A few years ago, midway through my third combat tour, I was walking from the Joint Operations Center on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, toward the dining facility to eat breakfast. While on the airfield, it was customary to salute any officer who
outranked you. Since there were military personnel from all branches of service , as well as a host of foreign coalition personnel and civilian contractors, it was often challenging to know who was required to salute whom. I was a captain at the time, so all enlisted personnel, noncommissioned 
officers, warranty officers, and commisioned officers up to the rank of first lieutenant were required to salute me.

On my way to breakfast that morning, I was saluted multiple times by the appropriate individuals. Then, for no apparent reason, a major saluted me. It took

me by surprise, but in an attempt to not embarrass him, I politely returned his salute, and kept walking. Then, for some reason, another major saluted me. I returned his salute, verbally greeted him, and kept walking. But when a third major saluted me, instead of simply returning his salute, I stopped and said

out loud, "What is wrong with everyone?"


Fearing I had grabbed some colonel's cover by mistake, I stopped, removed my patrol cap, and studied it in an attempt to try and figure out what was going on. The rank on the front was definitely captain rank, and my last name was on the back. This was definitely my hat. As I stood there, scratching my head, a colonel, who was apparently walking just a few steps behind me, passed me on the right and said, "Good morning, Captain Sheely, beautiful morning, isn't it?"

I guess things aren't always what they seem.

You can't throw me, Captain!

posted Feb 25, 2013, 4:13 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Apr 27, 2013, 9:44 PM ]

Each semester, the Women's Self Defense instructor at Utah Valley

University asks my daughter, Stephanie, and me to teach self defense from our
Jujitsu perspective to the women in his class. Tamara Applegarth has also accompanied us. The UVU instructor has a Karate background, so he readily welcomes our insight and perspective.


We have developed an appropriate curriculum over the years that has become very popular and applicable. We teach the women how to recognize a potential threat, the importance of avoiding that threat, and then what to do if avoiding the threat is unsuccessful.


During one particular class, I had just come from work, so I was wearing my Army Combat Uniform (ACU). I simply removed my Army uniform top and replaced it with my Jujitsu uniform (gi) top.


Toward the end of each class, Stephanie and I do what my good friend Willy and I would do whenever we accompanied Sensei Dennis Estes when he taught women's

self defense courses at high schools and other venues in the 1980s. That is, we would have the women line up and practice throwing us with a hip throw (Ogoshi). Now, since most of the women had never thrown anyone before, the falls that Willy and I had to take were often rather precarious and sometimes risky. But Willy and I were always willing to assume the risk of injury in favor of being thrown by cute high school girls.


OK, back to the story. While Stephanie and I were finishing up the women's self defense course at UVU, students from the next class started

trickling in. The class was a Karate class, and some of the students entered the room proudly wearing their Karate uniforms with their brand new yellow belts. One woman approached me and humbly asked if I would help her with a throw before her class started. She explained to me that she had taken Judo for awhile but just couldn't seem to get the hip throw to work on her boyfriend, who had also taken Judo, and who happened to be standing right next to her. She was an average-sized woman, but he was well over 6 feet tall and weighed at least 230 pounds. (And he shaved his beard and wore his hair like Wolverine from the X-Men.)
I asked her to demonstrate the throw on her boyfriend so I could watch and figure out how to help her. She attempted the throw, and sure enough, she wasn't able to throw him. So I asked her to throw me. Her technique was actually pretty good, and she successfully threw me to the ground. I had a pretty good idea what the problem was, but just to make sure, I asked her boyfriend if I could throw him. He agreed. As I off-balanced him and started to enter into the throw, he squatted, pushed his hips forward, and arched his back to resist the throw, and then he whispered in my ear, "You can't throw me, Captain."


The next thing he remembers was looking up at me from the mat with glazed eyes
and a locked diaphragm from getting thrown so fast and so hard that he got the wind knocked out of him. As I released my hold on him and stepped back in order to allow him to get up, I heard one of the woman exclaim, as she pointed to the spot he was standing before I threw him to the ground, "Oh my gosh, look! He just threw him right out of his socks!"
Sure enough, both of the boyfriend's socks remained on the mat exactly where they were before he erroneously informed me that I wasn't able to throw him. Without saying a word, I had just taught him the valuable lesson of the importance of being a good practice partner (uke).


Once he regained his composure and was able to speak again, he explained to me that he had recently been kicked out of the Army for something he chose not to disclose to me.

Stop beating yourself up!

posted Feb 16, 2013, 10:45 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Feb 18, 2013, 7:31 PM ]

When I was in college studying Abnormal Psychology, I decided to take a College
Algebra course. I took the class very seriously and, when the time came, prepared diligently for the final exam. I felt confident that I would do well, but I was still somewhat apprehensive. What if I hadn't focused my studies on the right things? What if I drew a blank during the exam? What if I forgot a formula or two? What if my instructor had overlooked a topic that would appear on the exam?

When it came time for the exam, I entered the testing center, sat down, took a deep breath, and began. It was a really hard exam, but there weren't any real surprises, and I was doing my best. All my studying was paying off. I struggled
with a few problems, but I worked through them and kept moving forward. To my surprise, there were two extra credit problems at the end of the exam. They were difficult and confusing, and I definitely hadn't prepared for them. One of the extra credit problems was worth two points, the other was worth three. The test was worth 100 points, so that meant the maximum possible score was 105. (My math skills were already paying off!)

As I slowly walked up to turn in my exam, I was going over the test in my mind, second guessing myself the whole way up. After a few minutes (which seemed like several hours) I received my test score. I received... 102?!?! How was this possible? I was absolutely devastated. I worked
so hard only to fall short of a perfect score.

I looked around, muttered a few choice words under my breath (that my mom
wouldn't have been proud of), and walked out of the testing center with my head down and my tail between my legs. Anyone watching would have thought I had received news that my dog had just been run over, or worse.

Stacy, my wife, worked in the Administration office at the college. We agreed that I would stop by her office and tell her how I'd done on the test. I tried to hide my disappointment from her, but she saw right through my facade.

Before I even opened my mouth, she asked, "What's wrong? How did you do on your final?"

"I missed a problem, but on the way to your office I figured out what I did wrong. I wish I could go back and retake the test right now, then I'd get that stupid problem right."

"So, what was your score? Why do you seem so upset?" she asked.

"Because I missed a problem. I only got 102 percent."

"Wait! You're upset because you only got 102 percent? What is your problem? Most people would be thrilled to receive 102 percent, and you're upset? Stop beating
yourself up. You did great! You just passed your College Algebra final!"

She was right, of course. I was being way too hard on myself. I worked hard and
prepared diligently, and I should have been happy and content because of what I had accomplished. Instead, I was beating myself up needlessly. Stacy set me straight and helped me to look at things from a different perspective. She helped
me get outside of the box. 
A good friend of mine, Army Captain David Calderwood, before entering the Navy in order to attend Medical School to become a doctor, told me, "You know what they call a medical student who graduates at the bottom of his class? . . . Doctor."

Now, I'm certainly not advocating that we should shoot for the minimum standard. On the contrary, we should aim high and work hard to achieve our goals. However, after we've done our best, after we've done all that we can do, after we've given it our all, we should hold our head high and let the chips fall where they may. If we happen to fall short, we should pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and commit to do better next time.

Dangerous Men!

posted Feb 3, 2013, 6:30 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Feb 4, 2013, 10:36 PM ]

The other day I was at the dojo working on the thermostat (yes, I'm the sensei and the maintenance man), and I decided to turn on the Open sign in case someone passing by was interested in studying Jujitsu. While I was working on the thermostat, an older gentlemen came in the dojo. I thought maybe he was going to ask me about classes for his grandchildren. Instead, he asked if I'd be interested in having my windows washed for $10. I politely turned down his offer and thought that would be the end of our conversation.
Before I could resume working on the thermostat, he asked, "What martial art do you teach, Comdo?"
"Comdo? I'm not familiar with Comdo. What's that?" I asked. What I really wanted to say was, "This is a Jujitsu school, just like the sign out front says." Well, he apparently didn't know what Comdo is either, because instead of answering, he quickly changed the subject. (As far as I can tell, Comdo is an organization whose mission is to further TaeKwonDo, a Korean martial art.) He asked if I knew two martial artist friends of his. He said, "Do you know [insert two Japanese-sounding names]?" I'm used to people asking me if I know their Army friends when they find out I'm in the Army, and their martial arts friends when they find out I study martial arts. Although it's rare that I know the person, I have on occasion known the person they're referring to.

Not really wanting to continue the conversation with the older gentlemen any longer than necessary, but not really knowing how to break it off without making it awkward, I asked, "Uh, where would I know them from? Are they... from around here?" I asked hesitantly, already knowing the answer.

He explained that they were "background fighters" in some Bruce Lee movies, and he said, "They are really dangerous men."
As an Army interrogator and Military Intelligence officer, I pick up on little details that help me vet the person I'm talking to and the credibility of their story. I said, "That's interesting, since Bruce Lee was Chinese and the names of the men you asked me about
are Japanese, and I don't think Comdo is Chinese or Japanese."

A very confused look came across his face as he repeated, "So... what martial art do you teach?"

I decided to take the opportunity to steer the conversation toward my philosophy on martial arts. "Just what made these two Japanese gentlemen dangerous?" I asked. He proudly replied, "Because of what they're capable of and the moves they know. They know how to beat people up. They're great martial artists. They're really dangerous men. I taught them how to golf, and they taught me some dangerous moves."

"I teach people how to not fight and why they shouldn't beat people up, and if these guys really are as good as you say they are, and if they were true martial artists, they wouldn't be dangerous at all," I replied. "I frequently rub shoulders with true martial arts masters, and I don't consider any of them dangerous. Fighting is generally the result of anger, and it requires two egos out of control. When we're angry, afraid, or filled with hate, we're usually not in control. The founder of our system, Master Okazaki, said that the primary purpose for the practice of our martial art is for the perfection of character."

Not knowing what to say, he simply said, "Well, they're old men now, so they're not dangerous anymore."

You're Choking Me!

posted Jan 26, 2013, 7:40 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Mar 8, 2013, 3:21 PM ]

The term "Tap Out" has become a very common term that is used in a variety of ways and in many different situations. In general terms, it means "to give up, to quit, or to submit." The Tap Out is normally a sign or indication of quitting or giving up due to pain or overwhelming pressure.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has made the term very popular. Tap Out is now even a popular brand of clothing. In Army Combatives (the current reference for what most people know as hand-to-hand combat) when your training partner has you in a chokehold or other submission hold, you tap your opponent two or three times with your hand when you are about to lose consciousness or when the pain is too great to continue. As soon as a competitor or a training partner becomes aware that their opponent is tapping out, they should immediately discontinue the submission technique that elicited the other person to tap out, in order to avoid further pain and/or injury.
Since many of the techniques we practice in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu are potentially dangerous if carried out to completion, we also routinely incorporate the Tap Out during training sessions. This allows us to safely and efficiently perform our techniques in the dojo, in preparation for possible real-world self-defense situations.

When I was coming up through the ranks as a teenager, my buddy Willy and I were constantly coming up with new and fun ways of testing each other's techniques and capabilities. On one such occasion, we were taking turns placing submission holds on each other to see if we could escape. This not only allowed us to practice escapes, but it also allowed us to practice our submission holding techniques. When it was my turn to perform the submission hold, I carefully and precisely placed a Hadaka Jime San (known in the MMA world as a Carotid Rear Naked Choke) on Willy. If performed correctly, the receiver of the choke begins to lose consciousness in a matter of a few short seconds. With my right arm wrapped around Willy's neck from the rear, I began the choke. Almost immediately, Willy reached up with his right hand and tapped on my right elbow with his fingertips. I was wearing an elbow pad because of a minor injury I had sustained a few days prior, so I thought Willy's taps were his way of acknowledging my elbow pad. I continued the choke. I then heard Willy say, "Choke me." I assumed that my choke was either placed incorrectly or that Willy wanted a real challenge in order to test his escaping skills. So I applied the choke even harder. As soon as Willy went limp and dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes, I realized there had apparently been a misunderstanding. With the help of a resuscitation technique known as Se Katsu, and after Willy had his wits about him enough to talk, we retraced our steps to find out what went wrong. You already know my side of the story. The following is Willy's recollection of the events:

I wrapped my right arm around Willy's neck from the rear and began the carotid choke. Almost immediately, sensing that he was about to lose consciousness, he reached up and "tapped out" on my right elbow with his fingertips indicating submission. He expected me to immediately release the choke. When I didn't let go, he forced out the garbled words, "You're choking me." Then, for some reason, I applied the choke even harder. The next thing he remembered was waking up to me slapping him on the back.

After comparing the two versions of the story, I have to admit that his is probably the more accurate of the two.

The Strangest Secret

posted Jan 6, 2013, 7:56 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Jan 26, 2013, 9:25 PM ]

I recently attended a Wellness preview at Professor Dennis Estes' home to learn
more about an incredible
business opportunity that he introduced me to.
After the Wellness preview, Dave Johnson, an extremely successful entrepreneur and leader
in the company, handed me a CD and highly recommended that I listen to it. He told me that it was an extraordinary recording by Earl Nightingale, the found
ing giant of an entire personal development industry. Naturally, I couldn't wait to listen to the audio recording. The name of the CD is The Strangest Secret - How to Live the Life You Desire.

As a child during the depression, Earl Nightingale desperately wanted to know why some people grew up to enjoy prosperity while others, like his own family, struggled merely to survive. He was convinced that someone, somewhere had the answer. Well, he found the answer. Earl produced a recording in 1956 of his findings when he was 35 years old. The message made such a positive impact that word of the recording spread like wildfire, and over a million copies were sold. Although Earl's message was originally recorded in the 1950s, it is as valuable and true today as it was back then.

In the recording, Earl quotes the noted west coast psychiatrist, David Harold Fink, MD, an outstanding medical doctor who outlined the following six steps that can help anyone realize success:

1. Set yourself a definite goal.

2. Quit running yourself down.

3. Stop thinking of all the reasons why you can not be successful, and instead

think of all the reasons why you can.

4. Trace your attitudes back through your childhood and try to discover where you first got the idea you couldn't be a success, if that's the way you've been thinking.

5. Change the image you have of yourself by writing out a description of the person you would like to be.

6. Act the part of the successful person you have decided to become.

In the words of Earl Nightingale, "Live this new way, and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you more riches than you may have dreamed existed...but what's more important, you'll have peace. You'll be in that wonderful minority who lead calm, cheerful , successful lives. Start today. You have nothing to lose, but you have a life to win."
Dave Johnson says, "Where you will be in five years depends on the books you read, the people you associate with, and what you listen to. It's been said that rich people have big libraries, and broke people have big television sets."

So, whether your goal is to become a successful entrepreneur, martial artist, student, stay-at-home-mom, or whatever, you can achieve it by following proven steps.

If you'd like to know more, or if you'd like to listen to Earl's insightful recording, email me at jujitsulehi@yahoo.com.

Positive, relevant training

posted Nov 30, 2012, 6:54 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Feb 18, 2013, 7:49 PM ]

In order to create a positive, relevant training environment in which my martial arts students can develop into the best martial artists they can be, I've drawn parallels between my experience as an entrepreneur and as a martial arts school head.

As many of you know, I've served in the military most of my life, but what you may not know is that I also build businesses and then teach other people how to be successful. I've created a worldwide distribution company, I manage and maintain apartment duplexes, I teach piano, I'm the sensei and school head of a Martial Arts Academy (Lehi Jujitsu/Yama no Onse Kan), I'm an independent Wellness consultant, and I'm currently building a translation company.

It's been my experience that the primary reason most people join a company, business, or organization is to make money, and the second most common reason they join is because of the "community" associated with it.
It's also been my experience that the primary reason most people leave a company, business, or organization is due to lack of communication or leadership, and the second most common reason they leave is due to lack of effective training.

So, if the above is true, what would incentivize someone to remain with a company, business, or organization? Surprisingly, it's the inverse of the reason they initially joined. The primary reason they stay is because they enjoy the "community" associated with the company, business or organization, and the second most common reason they stay is to make money.
Although this is especially true with my Wellness company, let's modify this a little and look at it in a martial arts setting.

The primary reason most people join a martial arts school is to become proficient in whatever it is that the particular school specializes in (self defense, competition, MMA, etc.), and the second most common reason they join is because of the "community" or camaraderie they feel when they associate with other martial artists.
One reason people leave is due to poor communication, leadership or effective one-on-one interaction with school heads, and another reason they leave is due to lack of effective, relevant training.

So, if we follow the above model, it stands to reason that the primary reason people would stay and continue to train is because they enjoy the camaraderie of their new martial arts "family" (ohana), and the second most common reason they would stay is to become proficient in the art.
At Lehi Jujitsu/Yama No Onse Kan, we follow the teachings of Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki, founder of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, which is one of the most widely taught styles of Jujitsu in the United States. Lehi Jujitsu is also a member of the
American Judo and Jujitsu Federation (AJJF), a national organization dedicated to the to the preservation and propagation of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.

We have a robust recognition program, rewarding students for good grades in school, for consistently following the dojo rules, and for dedicated training. We also have a
Student of the Month program. We maintain good communication with students and their families in person, via monthly newsletters and emails, on our website, and through social media. We also have a quarterly social for students and their families.
Click the following link to learn more about Lehi Jujitsu and Danzan Ryu:

Rolls and Falls

posted Nov 24, 2012, 12:07 AM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Mar 4, 2013, 4:56 PM ]

I started to learn how to roll and fall my very first day of training at Dennis Estes' Bushido Jutsu Kan.

YouTube Video


Nobody likes to fall, but sometimes gravity gets the best of us and we fall against our will. Learning how to roll and fall efficiently and safely, without getting hurt, is an integral part of Danzan Ryu Jujitsu. With proper instruction and sufficient practice, falling safely can become a natural habit that can be learned by almost anybody.


Although falling on hard ground almost always hurts, if we learn to fall correctly, we can minimize pain and avoid injury.


Professor Dennis Estes once told me how his ability to fall correctly helped him avoid serious injury. Over 20 years ago, while holding his baby daughter, Summer, Professor Estes slipped and fell. He said "it hurt like #@&%" but since he was proficient at falling, he was able to "sutemi" and land correctly, protecting himself and his baby from potentially serious injury.


I have personally avoided serious injury on several occasions due to my ability to fall correctly.


Although we all have a natural ability to protect ourselves, it can be beneficial to learn certain movements that become instinctive whenever we fall, whether of our own free will or against our will.


On the first day of training, new students in our dojo are instructed how to roll and fall without getting hurt. The basic idea is to fall as flat as possible in order to avoid concentration of impact on any one part of the body, such as the elbow or the heel.  We need to continually practice rolls and falls correctly in order to become proficient in them so that we lose our fear of falling.


Another crucial reason we spend so much time learning to fall is so we can learn to throw opponents correctly.
Click the following link to see Sensei Sheely performing key rolls and falls:

Yama No Onse Kan

posted Nov 2, 2012, 6:52 PM by Duane Sheely   [ updated Feb 4, 2013, 10:15 PM ]

Our Martial Art school located on historic Main Street in Lehi, Utah is known as
Lehi Jujitsu, but the official name of the school is "Yama No Onse Kan," which translates into English as "School of the Mountain Spring."

There is local history and tradition behind the Japanese word "yama," which means "mountain" in English.
In 1982, Dennis Estes and his father, Arthur Estes, opened a Jujitsu school named the Estes Bushido Jutsu Kan in Lehi, Utah. A year later, Arthur turned this school over to Dennis, and Arthur opened Yamanaka Kodenkan in Pleasant Grove, Utah. "Yamanaka" means "In the Mountains," and "Kodenkan" was the name of Master Okazaki's school, which means "School of the Ancient Tradition."


Dennis Estes' son, Jeremy, opened a Jujitsu school in American Fork, Utah in 2001 and named it "Yama no Shin Kan," which translates as "Spirit of the Mountain School."


The name of our school reflects the location of the school in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and for the nearby well-known hot springs. The word "spring" also makes reference to a time of growth and renewal; a source, origin, or beginning; and the elasticity and resiliency needed to study Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.


Sensei Jeanette Skaggs McGrath, one of Dennis Estes' students, is the school head of Yama Naka Jujitsu in Montana, and one of Sensei Jeremy Estes' students, John Morris, has opened a school named Yama no Daikaiju Kan in Lehi, Utah.

In addition to the above history, there are also techniques in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu containing the word "yama."
In the following video clip, Tom throws the bulldog with Maeyamakage (Front mountain shadow).

YouTube Video

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