When Yoga Meets & Marries Martial Arts.




Recently, at the Yoga Journal Conference in San Diego, I saw Cameron Shayne demonstrate the fluid style of Budokon®Yoga.

He was flying through the air and his movements were very smooth and harmonic. I was intrigued and I had to find out more. I had heard of Budokon, but Cameron’s expression proved to me that I had no idea what this type of yoga was. So, I took a class and decided to interview the founder of Budokon®Yoga.


S: In simple terms, what is Budokon?

KCS: I have been asked this so many times that I blindly began to write, without regard to the real question, the answer that helps communicate the brand’s identity.

I have quite honestly stopped truly listening to this question. Can that be answered by one man? There was a time when I would say yes, I could answer that question. Now I can only say what it is for me:

How it shows up for me and I for it. Some days it is my burden and my pain. Some days it is my greatest joy and the love of my life. It is my mirror, my creator and my destroyer. One moment, it steals from me the joy and simplicity of ignorance, and another it reveals the depths of my capacity to love and forgive.

In simple terms, Budokon is my chosen way of organizing the chaos that is called ‘humanity’ so that I feel a little safer in this unpredictable journey.

It is many different things for many people and I am having to learn to accept this like a parent who’s child is growing up and demanding their own autonomy.

The more I cling to what I want it to be, the less it becomes so. I have fought and wrestled with its identity for eight years so that it will have strong legs to stand on when I’m gone.

The core values that I have instilled in it are the very values that I work every day, to uphold and sustain within myself. So, to answer your question of What is Budokon? I cannot say it is any one thing for any one person.

I can share with you my original intention for it and simply have faith that its holds to those values.


Budokon—the concept—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.

Budokon has six pillars which make up a body of science and philosophy used as a moral code to provide a practical means of realizing the highest ideals in daily living.

Instead of 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 a unifying law (dharma). Budokon seeks to understand this law and teach its principles.

Budokon, the University, is an institute for higher learning where these principles are studied.

Within this institute there are three schools that train people to teach or to simply become educated in one or more of the following fields of arts and sciences:

Budokon®Yoga, Budokon®Martial Arts and Budokon®Life Coaching.


S: Which training came first, yoga or martial arts?

KCS: I first began studying martial arts and meditation at the age of 12.

I was fascinated with the mystical expression of martial arts at a very early age. I was, as a child and to this day, deeply affected, on a visceral level, when I see a person meditating.

It reminds me of the spaces in between. The silence between the notes.

I can meditate for hours, though I do very little these days in the form of sitting. Meditation in itself can become addictive.

These days I simply practice my yoga and martial arts as moving meditations, as the demands of running a business, parenting, learning, and loving leave me less time to sit.

When I grow old I will return to it, and if I die before I grow old, then I will go with a smile back to the silence between the notes. Meditation is my first love and I seek her in the all things I do.

I found yoga at the age of 25 through one of my beautiful friends and teachers Cindy Lee, in New York in the late 90s. I was and I still am attracted to the physical and psychological challenges that postural yoga practice offers.

Yoga is so many things for so many different people. For some, a religion and a connection with Universal Truth, for others a release and place to channel pain. This is what makes yoga such a magical expression of the human experience.

My most profound yogic experience came through Saul David Raye. I have never told this story but I remember so vividly my first yoga class feeling vulnerable and uncertain, even embarrassed for not knowing what I was doing.

He came to me and with the most beautiful energy adjusted me over and over as if saying, you’re going to get this.

This was so meaningful because I was this country boy from a southern culture where men weren’t safe to be vulnerable. I had limited exposure to anything really, much less men connecting with other men in a way that I can only describe as intimate, personal and yet still masculine.

This one yoga class, this one yoga teacher transmitted to me a love and lesson that shaped my life in many ways to come.


S: Why did you feel the need to marry the two?

KCS: Like any relationship these two individual practices create something even more potent when united, rather than divided. Each naturally fills in gaps left by the other when either one is asked to give more than it was designed to give.

What I mean by this is simply that all things have limitations. Yoga and martial arts are no exceptions.

Understanding a thing’s limitations gives us true insight into its true possibilities, which, in turn, allows for us to ask from it what we know it can give and forgive it for that which it cannot.

Postural yoga is limited in regard to creating an athletic individual. It can and does certainly support athletes, but does not create them.

This is a blind spot for many modern yogis who believe postural yoga is in fact an athletic practice and are frustrated when they discover that they are in fact stronger. Yet their strength is still not integrated like an athlete’s is.

Also, the message of modern yoga is rooted in the process of surrendering and honoring limitations. This soft energy is essential, yet if practiced without the counterbalance of firm perseverance there is unbalance.

On the other hand, most martial arts systems create superb athletes, but do not address tissue and skeletal injury prevention through slow postural alignment.

Tai Chi and Ki Gong from the Kung Fu lineage are the closest traditional systems to create that effect.

Martial arts in the modern context also places little to no focus on the act of surrender. Martial arts, by its nature, is focused on the will to overcome and push forward.

This is beautiful and essential to the human character and it can create an unevenness within an individual who has yet to learn the benefits of surrendering control and allowing for what is to simply be.


S: Where did it originate and who started it?

KCS: I created Budokon while living in Malibu, CA where I was working in the film business as a fight scene choreographer and body guard. I lost respect for the ethics of the entertainment business as an institute and began to transition to teaching martial arts, yoga, and life coaching privately.

Because I had been in the business most of my clients were female actors like Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Meg Ryan along with top Olympic athletes like Kerri Walsh.

Two significant students to the developmental process were the actress from The Thomas Crown Affair, Renee Russo, and her husband, The Bourne Legacy writer, Dan Gilroy.

It was through them I developed much of the therapeutic concepts. Renee has massive scoliosis and Dan had two knee replacements, which, in the most ingenious way, forced me to create techniques that would benefit their individual anatomies.

Because of them and my Olympic athlete students, the Budokon®Yoga style is entirely focused on joint strengthening, specifically the spine, by asking the tissue surrounding the skeleton to move in kinetic chains like the locomotion of a snake.

Because of my earliest students, our style is completely focused on circular transitions rather than the linear style of most Hatha yoga.

The fact is that static posture alone doesn’t feel good for everyone’s anatomy and simply doesn’t create integrated strength like you would see in an ape.

One might challenge this statement by asking why we need the strength of an ape. The answer is simply that we are evolved apes whose populous is largely satisfied with limited expression of their full physical capacity.

The potential power can only be actualized by asking the body to engage in natural movement patterns that our bodies were designed for such as jumping, climbing, swimming, crawling, etc.

These simply can’t be created through static posture.


S: Is it franchised?

KCS: The model for the Budokon®University is to create teachers that do in fact have their own Budokon®Academies. Rather than being bought, our Academies are earned.

After becoming a Budokon blue belt or above, the teacher may become inspired and qualified to open an Academy.

I support that but do not ask a franchise fee for that, as it is a benefit to everyone when Budokon is made available to a new community.


S: Are there Budokon studios throughout the country/world?

KCS: Yes. We have Academies or teachers in the U.S., Japan, Norway, Spain, London, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and Budapest.

The best way to study with us is our Budokon®University. This program was created for normal people with challenging schedules to participate in three-day retreat style weekends.

Each weekend counts towards there desired goals of certification or simply personal evolution.

We have an extensive online video library that supports the students regardless of  where they are located.


S: Who is the typical Budokon practitioner?

KCS: Someone who is a type-A personality. A producer-creator type. Our students are highly self-motivated and typically role models with in their own communities.

This is for the simple fact that the students that attend the Budokon®University are expected to live and breathe the school motto:

The way I do anything is the way I do everything.

This ethic is central to our teaching environment throughout all three schools within the University.


S: Do you have to have a strong yoga practice in order to practice Budokon?

KCS: You need to have an intermediate practice to take a typical  Budokon®Yoga primary series class.

If you enroll as a student of the Budokon®University you can be a complete novice to yoga or martial arts because the University student enters at a white belt (beginners level).

S: Who should (not) practice Budokon?

KCS: Our style of yoga, martial arts, and life-coaching is ideal for driven and disciplined people. We expect the highest level of performance from our students because we teach at the highest level.

You cannot buy your black belt, your way into our university, or a yoga teaching certificate. These accreditations are earned based on performance, attitude, and mastery of curriculum. We co-create extraordinary practitioners and teachers.

Unfortunately, this is not the industry standard because so many yoga studios depend on teacher training revenue to keep the doors open, thereby graduating practically anyone who pays and attends the program.

This is causing a massive disparage in the caliber of yoga teachers being produced these days. A black belt and a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification are both loosing credibility in today’s desperate economy.


S: Tell me about the levels.

KCS: The levels within the Budokon®Martial Arts School are white, red, blue, purple, brown and black belt.


Within the Budokon®Yoga school you can join our 300 hour teacher training course if you are a 200 hour teacher of any other posture based style. Or you can enter our 200 hour yoga program and learn to teach Budokon-style yoga from scratch.

Our final and possibly our most  important school is the Budokon®Life Coaching school where we take anyone and everyone through our unique life coaching model.

This program is very popular with yoga and fitness teachers who desire to add life coaching to their tool box.


S: How does one become a teacher?

KCS: By going to www.budokon.com and clicking on our Budokon teacher training overview, which explains in detail how to find the right course for you.


S: What is the biggest misconception about the practice?

KCS: That we are not yogic because we integrate martial arts, or that we are not martial artists because we integrate yoga.

What surprises people who come into our system is that the Budokon®Yoga teachers at 200 hours look like 500+ hour teachers, and our Budokon®Martial Artists can fight at a high level.

We have students from black belts to highly skilled yoga teachers and they all equally struggle to meet our standards.


S: What does Kancho mean?

KCS: In Japanese this word is both a title and health procedure. When pronounced a certain way it means ‘colon flush,’ or literally to wash out the shit. This meaning I find particularly appropriate for my teaching style.

In reference to martial arts, the title means director of an institute. I was given this title by the Budokon®Academy in Tokyo. Of course they did not communicate it could change meaning with slightly different pronunciation.

This was found out later by a confused student who searched it on Wikipedia, which ironically lists only the health procedure. It makes for a great story and lots of awkward moments for curious Budokon students who Google “kancho.” I love the irony.


S: I recently took my first Budokon class and was blown away by the fluidity and spirituality of the class. Can you speak about that?

KCS: This could be the most unexpected yet common experience for new students. Our practice is both physically and spiritually circular.

We have all met yogis who can behave like the most boxed in person on earth. They practice in a box, moving linearly for hours within a box like space. This can be incredibly valuable for someone who needs the structure, and incredibly limiting for someone who needs to get out of the box.

In the spiritual sense, it is fundamentally about faith. Faith is an abstract concept which requires out-of-the-box thinking. Most of faith is paradoxical, meaning that as soon as you think you have an understanding or grasp of it it slips away.

This is why the Buddhists have the saying: if you see the Buddha on the road, kill him. 

This is the metaphoric road to enlightenment. As soon as you experience that moment of awakening (the Buddha) you desire to hold desperately to it, which ironically forces it away, simply because enlightenment is letting go of control.

Philosophically speaking, Budokon-style yoga is not special or unique. It is rather integrated into the practice in such a way that feels practical and authentic.


S: I’ve heard it through the grapevine that you choreographed a major motion picture. Can you tell us about that?

KCS: I was Charlie Sheen’s private body guard for for a period of time. That is, in itself, another story.

While with Charles, I meet a young, up and coming comedian named Chris Tucker of the cult movie Friday. Chris and Charles had just finished a film project called Money Talks.

We became fast friends and started hanging out. Chris, knowing I was a martial arts expert, asked if I had heard of this guy named Jackie Chan.

Laughing, I answered Yes, he’s only the biggest action star in Asia. Chris then asked if I thought he should co-star with him in an action film.

After looking at the script and further conversation we decided he would take the film and have me act as his trainer and fight scene choreographer.

I ended up writing some of the memorable lines from the action scenes and getting the extraordinary opportunity of working with Jackie Chan on Rush Hour 1 and 2.


S: And how about any other self promotional, bragging rights, things that you’ve done (wink).

KCS: There are many moments and things that seem like accomplishments for me, but they all seem so trivial when I think about what I am most proud of.

What I am most proud of is being a father and learning to love selflessly. I am proud of being a fighter in life and love, and for keeping my heart open regardless of the pain that I create in order to stay awake.

I am proud that I refuse to be less than what I am capable of being under any circumstances.

I am proud that I am learning not to be so proud.




 To find out more about Kancho Cameron Shayne and his Budokon Workshops, visit Budokon University and check out the events section. 







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Cameron Shayne

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