I first met James Houston when I decided to start learning karate in my mid-20s, living in a small, southwestern Virginia town along the New River. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for karate, only that it seemed like there was a good blend of experience, and I knew that I wouldn’t be the only one who had no idea what he was doing. We began each class with what is known as the Dojo Kun, five statements spoken aloud, each beginning with the number ‘one’, presumably to indicate equal importance. It went like this:
One. To seek to attain perfection of character.
One. To live with politeness and discipline.
One. To honor the code of ethical behavior.
One. To strive for excellence through efforts.
One. To refrain from impetuous conduct.
It was really what drew me in, initially, the idea that this morality code was primary, just as much, if not more important, than the physical conditioning and fighting. More Miyagi Do as opposed to Cobra Kai, you might say. In the two years that I studied with James, I not only was in the best physical shape of my life, I had more focus and intention with how I wanted to pursue life.
As the years went by, I stayed connected with James, and saw that he became very involved in film and television, beginning with stunt coordinating, working as an extra in films, and eventually producing and starring in his own television shows, namely ‘Stars, Stunts, Action’, where James and his crew meets and chats with some pretty cool people (Danny Trejo, Lou Ferrigno, Martin Kove – Speaking of Cobra Kai) while demonstrating and explaining some of Hollywood’s greatest stunts, and ‘Culture Shock‘, where he accompanies Rich Manley around the world bridging culture gaps with magic and illusion.. Both of these shows can be currently seen on Tubi and Apple TV. There’s a new project in the works too, ‘Fallen Cards’, but there’s not much he can say about that yet… So make it one of your Google Alerts!
So as much fun as it would be to chat with him about all this, it occurred to me that while martial arts encompasses many traditions of fighting and physicality, it also does contain the word “Arts”, which got me thinking, how does this work together? It was a great chat and I think you’ll enjoy it.
See the trailer for Stars, Stunts, Action and Culture Shock:
Also new today is some new music to open the show. Big thanks to Spencer Ayscue who helped put that all together. You’ll hear more of his music during the episode, some from his backyard with just him and a guitar, and some from his latest recording with his band, Migrant Birds. Find them on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube, as well as other places (including Spencer’s personal YouTube channel.)
Thanks all, it’s good to be back around, and I’m excited to be bringing back some great conversations to share with you.