Budokon: Extreme Yoga or Wimpy Martial Art?

Discussion in 'Articles' started by SifuPhil, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    budokon logo.jpg

    Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox do it; David Arquette did it while he was still married to Courtney. Chris Tucker and Amber Valletta swear by it.

    “It” is Budokon (“Way of the Spiritual Warrior”), an eclectic blend of martial arts training, yoga, nutritional advice and life coaching. The brain-child of Cameron Shayne, former bodyguard for Charlie Sheen and Shaun Penn, Budokon makes many high-sounding claims, but is it just the most recent incarnation of the feel-good workouts shamelessly marketed to deep-pocket celebs, or a truly unique exercise program?

    According to the Budokon website, Budokon is “an integral approach to the study of the universe and our relationship within it through the study of the Yogic, Martial, and Living arts.” Pretty high-sounding so far ...

    The site goes on to say that “Similar to the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga or Kung Fu, Budokon has its own six pillar system which makes a body of science and philosophy used as a moral code to provide a practical means of realizing the highest ideals in daily living. Rather than separating different areas of human knowledge Budokon integrates them together. Budokon studies the tree of life as a whole rather than limiting itself to one branch. This tree is a great organization of diverse elements yoked together by the unifying natural law. Budokon seeks to understand this law and teach its principles.

    Geez – and here I thought it was just some Yoga stretching and elementary MMA training thrown together. I mean, they have their own belt system (White, Red, Blue, Purple, Brown and Black), even though Shayne discarded his previously-earned belts in Taekwondo, Moo-Duk-Kwan, Okinawan Karate and Brazilian Jujutsu (!) and gave himself the title of “Kancho”.

    I will say this: if the training space shown in this demo video is truly Shayne's place, then he must be doing something right:

    The Six Pillars that the Budokon philosophy refers to include:
    1. Movement: includes Yoga, stand-up and ground martial techniques, the Budokon “Animal Series” and more.
    2. Thoughts: study of brain development, language, cognition and neurology. They cover a broad range of topics including belief systems, perception, critical thinking and ego state, showing up, (!?) standing in truth, ethics, and values.
    3. Emotions: “We learn how our personal story (our perception of our life up to now) guides our daily emotions towards bio-chemical relationships we develop within our bodies and our addictions to these states and feelings. We learn a process of thought watching that allows us to identify emotion as a bio-chemical release based on a perception of reality that is controllable by shifting our language, beliefs, and our personal stories.”
    4. Relationships: study of relationship emotions and communication techniques
    5. Environment: the “green” part of the curriculum, studies the student's relationship with the Earth and the minimizing of one's footprint on the world
    6. Nutrition: lessons on choosing the right food as well as seeing food as medicine

    Pretty ambitious stuff! Although it's all “good” I first of all wonder how Shayne has achieved his qualifications to teach all this, or does he farm out the teaching chores to subcontractors? Is this all just based upon his personal journey and experiences?

    And, if so, doesn't that begin to fit the definition of a “cult”?

    Shown: Blue Belt testing​

    I don't mean to cast the first stone – it's been done already – but I think that this is just another example of a wonderful exercise system, a pretty good (if Westernized) philosophy and a crappy martial art. Budokon hasn't been around long enough (created in 2004) to prove itself as anything other than a fad. In fact, if it's still going strong in 2024 I'll eat my words.

    But somehow I think it will be a dim and distant memory, fallen to some newer, more glitzy “program”. To these tired eyes it just looks like yoga and cardio-kickboxing, with a generous dollop of personal charisma thrown in. It's Richard Simmons for the hoi-polloi – the latest gimmick in the Land of Gimmickry.

    Maybe what Shayne needs is a well-known spokesperson. I wonder what Butterbean is doing these days …

    Body by Budokon​
    Dpendleton and Blade Maker like this.
  3. Mr.Bond

    Mr.Bond Big Ass Dog

    i own a few dvds mostly to get a workout at home..
    SifuPhil likes this.
  4. Ben

    Ben Master

    Aren't all group organisations under a single leader or firgurehead a "cult"? The only thing seperating any major religion from a cult is the amount of followers it has. Why is this any more a "cult" then Karate or TKD or any other Martial Art. We are all following the teachings and guidance of a system invented by either a singular or group of people that have organised themselves to create this system. As for his qualification to teach it, you mentioned he had several belts in several other styles. Isn't that experience enough qualification in itself? Especially because it's his own system. Who better qualified to teach then the person that invented it?
  5. UK-Student

    UK-Student Disciple

    Loads of martial arts instructors found their own styles every day. Some of them know what they are doing and some don't.

    I don't really see what makes this one a cult compared to all the others. That's a pretty strong allegation.
    DracosNest and Ben like this.
  6. UK-Student

    UK-Student Disciple

    I agree with Ben. Seems like an unfounded attack.
    Ben likes this.
  7. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Traditional martial arts don't qualify as cults because they are not based upon the personality of the founder; rather, they are based upon the techniques put forth by him. The fact that you might bow in class, recite a creed, etc. are incidental - those are just homages to tradition.

    True cults have several identifiers:
    1. People are put into physically- or emotionally-distressing situations. Well, most MA qualifies there ...
    2. All of their problems are reduced to one simple explanation. THAT doesn't happen in most MA schools.
    3. Students receive unconditional love and acceptance as long as they follow the rules. Again, not in most schools.
    4. They get a new identity within and as part of the group. OK, that's a lot of MA schools ...
    5. They are isolated from friends, family and other systems. Only systems in most MA schools, not friends or family.
    While I have not participated in a Budokon session under the tutelage of its founder, I have reported what I have discovered doing my research.

    Ben, the United States is technically under one person - the President. Are we then a cult? No, because there are other qualifiers that need to be met in order for that to be true. Martial arts are rarely "invented" by one person: they are the result of generations of change, additions, subtractions and modifications by others. They are not the cult of the individual - they are a group effort that follows a particular discipline whose origination was possibly conceived of by a single person, yes, but in its present state represents the input of many, many others.

    Do you follow your art because you trained with the founder and discovered that you were incomprehensibly drawn to his personality? I doubt it. But that's what these people are doing.

    As for his qualifications - he claims to have had belts. OK, anyone can claim that. I haven't researched enough to determine whether in fact he actually DID hold belts, or what levels he achieved. Anyone who thinks they've "mastered" FOUR different martial art styles is kidding themselves. And, if those belts represented such wonderful achievements, then I wonder how he could just blithely "discard" them.

    I get the impression this guy wants to be a Western Miracle Worker, a Calli Swami, an enlightened being who has gone beyond the mere martial arts world and wants to convey his vision of Nirvana to his students - for a price. I've seen too many of these types come and go to give much faith to this current incarnation.

    Look at the "About Our Founder" page on the website: he refers to himself as a Martial Arts Master and a Yoga Master. He went from white belt to 2nd degree black belt in 8 months in Yoshukai Karate ... BOOM, Master! He went to his first yoga class in 1996 ... gee, 15 years and BAM, he's a Master ...

    I'm sorry if you guys disagree with me, but I was totally involved in the martial and spiritual worlds when this guy was still just a gleam in his Daddy's eye and I would NEVER, EVER have the balls to call myself a Master. That alone, in my mind, tells me what this guy is about.
  8. Ben

    Ben Master

    Oh I don't completely disagree, just having a good old fashioned debate Sifu :)

    In answer to your question, I train in my art because I found it's doctrines offered me something that gave me a sense of goodness that nothing else had given me. And Master Gichin Funakoshi's words solidified that for me. And yes cults generally do work under one person's personality, rather then a following of their techniques. But how would these different techniques come about if not for different personalities? Is not each martial art that has been invented, the result of many different people having different ways of thinking a fight should be fought? Aren't people's techniques just an expansion of their fighting personality? I appreciate a good difference of opinion. Makes for good conversation :)
    SifuPhil likes this.
  9. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Oh, I know - it's just that the Italian in me gets going in a good debate and I get passionate and start talking with my hands. :D

    Hmmm ... now we're getting down to chicken and egg stuff, I think. ;) Does an art rely upon personality or technique? Both, I would imagine ... but which one is advertised for the present classes? Which is judged in kata? In tournaments? Which is described in a Wiki article (not that I hold Wiki in high esteem, but it IS the "go-to" for a lot of people seeking info on the arts)?

    With the exception of practitioners like you and me, which is emphasized the most in martial training? Which is given the lion's share of study time? Technique, not philosophy. Philosophy drives the technique, true, but you can still have the technique after discarding the philosophy.

    George Dillman's style, Ryukyu Kempo Karate, I would label the same way I've labeled Budokon - as being cultish. Not because of the techniques, but because of the representation of those techniques by Dillman himself. He imbues them with magic, his students gather round to defend his views at any given opportunity, and they spurn outsiders.

    Here's part of a comment on a Budokon seminar run by Shayne himself -


    And, I'll be darned, they go on to say -

    Straight from the horse's mouth ...

    Yeah, THAT'S enlightened ...

    All quotes from here.
    Ben and Dpendleton like this.
  10. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    Now THIS is martial yoga!

    Ben likes this.
  11. Mr.Bond

    Mr.Bond Big Ass Dog

    I am the master of my own domain...
    SifuPhil likes this.
  12. Dpendleton

    Dpendleton Warrior Monk

    Cult hipster crap.
    freakshowcrow and Pedro like this.
  13. Gone

    Gone Guest

    Who is butterbean?
  14. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    He was a K-1 / PRIDE fighter, weighs around 420 pounds and was quite popular for a while on the circuit.
  15. Japa19

    Japa19 Initiate

    While is true that Cameron Shayne speaks his mind with "no filter" it is also true that he challenges himself and others to practice non-judgement and non-attachment. He challenges his students to think about the rules and dogmas they follow, including Budokon. He made several t-shirts saying "F**k Budokon" and "F**k Cameron Shayne" that illustrate exactly this - non-attachment to the concepts themselves. Several times I heard him admitting his own mistakes and admitting that himself is still practicing, still learning since the mindful practice, the challenge to live in the present, the non-attachment etc are a continuous practice and way of living. The only reason I'm sharing this with you all is so that you don't stay focused on a couple of out-of-context sentences that are written in the comments and that are the result of SifuPhil's experience with Budokon yoga. Also I can't help but ask - the fact that yoga instructors travel together to attend a workshop to learn Budokon yoga from the guy who invented it as a "cult"? Is it the fact that they want to learn from the person who invented it or the fact that they travel together? I'm confused about that.

    I understand this article is what it is - your opinion. But trying to "label" things as "cult" is simply your need to get to a conclusion about something you experienced in your life. There's nothing wrong with that. What is more questionable is why do you need to justify it so much to others to the point of writing quotes from one workshop you attended? You can simply suggest the readers to go and try it by themselves and make their own opinions of it.

    Regarding your article - by the title I was expecting to discover your point of view on how the martial arts taught in Budokon practice can indeed be classified as martial arts. Instead you focus on Shayne and not on the practice himself. If you can exclude all the things he says and all his attitude towards others (which are his own, just like I'm shy he's out there, just like I don't say cocky things he does, those are personality traits, behaviours people have for whatever reason) how is the martial arts part of Budokon? Do you consider them to be an art form, a way of self-expression? Do you consider they are suitable to fight and self-defense? These were the opinions I was expecting from this article when I read the title.

    Some people just get into our nerves so much that is hard to be unbiased. I get that.
    Daniel Wise likes this.
  16. SifuPhil

    SifuPhil Lucky Cat Is Lucky

    "Have expectations and you will be disappointed".
    ~Master Shayne, while having a new member sign the contract
    Japa19 likes this.
  17. Japa19

    Japa19 Initiate

    There ya go! I'll live though!
    SifuPhil likes this.
  18. freakshowcrow


    Butterbean! I haven't thought about him in epochs man!
  19. freakshowcrow


    Also Budokon is that live Cheap Trick album isn't it?

    heh heh heh
  20. Dale

    Dale Scholar of the martial arts

    We can debate for a very long time in weather or not it's a cult or is just nothing new. but the fact remains that is the main test for martial arts, can the practitioners defend themselves. I just want to see some sparring, and yes I know that it is not sparring is not real fighting, but it can show the basis of how someone would do.


    What do you guys think. I'm kinda on the fence, looks like kickboxing with almost no hands, and almost no grappling or ground fighting (although a little).

  21. Daniel Wise

    Daniel Wise Initiate

    I can speak to this topic, from recent experience. About when I turned 35, my body seemed to start really falling apart. . I really got into Zen Meditation, and started practicing yoga. I found this really started to improve my martial arts in ways I did not anticipate.
    They when I turned 40, at the insistence of my yoga teacher, I took a year long teacher training. So I finished that, and was kind of wondering what to do. What does a 40 year old, life long fighter and martial artist and new hatha yoga instructor do? Then I discover Budokon. I studied up for quite a while before I decided to go to one of the Budokon Yoga teacher 50 hour training last October.
    Here are some observations.
    1. Cameron is an extremely skilled and competent martial artist. I had a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu shirt on the first day I arrived, and Cameron and some of his students asked if I would like to roll with them that evening. (Of course). Let me tell you this, they have excellent ground game, it was super enjoyable.
    2. The Pillars and philosophy in this system are sound.
    3. The Physical movements are physiologically sound, and useful.

    I spent 24 hours a day for 6 days living in the Budokon house in Miami Beach, with Cameron, a few of his students, and the other 11 yoga teachers who came for the program.

    Cameron tends to speak his mind, and does not hold any punches. Is that style for everyone? Obviously not. Is everyone a fit for every style? No.

    For a pretty hardened, 40 year old guy with some life experience, I found the whole experience refreshing. I really do not need sugar coating. Also note, there were only 2 other males in the group of student/teachers. All of the females took to the style.

    And most importantly, is it worth investing my time and energy into?

    For me, I will say yes. I will practice that style, and even teach the Primary Yoga Series.

    After all, there really is nothing New. Everything is recycled. Constant evolution.
    cameron shayne likes this.

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