Transcript for Episode 26 – Mr. Stephen K. Hayes


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up guys this is such an interesting

episode with mr. Steven Hayes and we

really just get into the strata of how

brought ninjutsu into the West really

cool really interesting story quite

honored to have mr. Hayes lend us his

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the human experience is entering the

shadows of ego as we explore ninjutsu

with my guest mr. Steven Hayes mr. Hayes

thank you so much for being here sir

it’s an honor it’s great to be here so

mr. Hayes if you could briefly tell our

audience who you are and what you do for

those that don’t already know that would

help to preface this conversation well

in a nutshell in the 1970s I went to

Japan to find the last training hall of

the ninja this is before there were

turtles or anything else like that you

know and I was the first American to

become actual disciple of the Grand

Master there and for several decades I

stayed in Japan went back and forth from

America it was a very different martial

art from the 1980s the idea of being a

protector as opposed to being a champion

somebody who fights for his own name a

very different and I developed from

mid-1990s a modern version of the ninja

fighting art I call it talking doll and

I’ve been promoting that since the

mid-1990s and here we are 20 years later

I was inducted into the black belt hall

of fame in 1985 I’ll get the martial art

industry association Lifetime

Achievement Award this July wrapping up

a career here very interesting i’d like

to get more into I mean black belt

magazine calls you a legend one of the

most 10 influential martial arts masters

alive in the world today if you could

just kind

go into more story about how you got to

Japan and met Natsume sensei I think

that would be interesting well um got to

travel back you know almost 40 years to

a time when hatsumi sensei was a

relatively young guy in his early 40s

his teacher takamatsu sensei had just

died takamatsu was the guy from the

1800s um he witnessed a lot of radical

change in Japanese culture I went

through the war and had found in hatsumi

sensei a worthy heir and so he had just

finished transmitting all of this

ancient cryptic lore and had died in his

80s I arrived on the scene there were 15

people training in the dojo at that time

you know it’s kind of funny to think now

when you look at all thousands of

thousands of people around the world

involved in this but there were 15

people and I was the non-japanese and I

was amazed that they allowed me to train

they were very welcoming brought me

right into the training hall training

was brutal very very rough rougher than

I was used to later I found out you know

I was so honored that they would allow

me to train with them years later my

what my japanese wife was talking with

one of the Japanese seniors and you know

she had expressed

that you know I was honored that they

had accepted me and he looks at her and

he says all he says is that what he

thought happened she said what do you

mean oh no we thought he was a big guy

from America we try all the techniques

out on him he’d get sick of us after

about a week and want to go back home

and we could continue on where their

training he just never went home so I

was I guess supposed to be discouraged

but you know what i learned there was so

different from anything I had

encountered in the US and it just

steeped my desire no matter how rough or

discouraging it was I was determined

that i was going to learn this i was

going to get this i was gonna be the the

ninja martial art yeah yeah very very

interesting in your book i’m not sure

which one uh there I think I mean didn’t

you write to me sensei and there was

kind of no reply and you just showed up

in Japan haha yeah this is you know way

before the internet or emails or

anything like that and I managed to find

an address I just sent a letter to

masaaki hatsumi in notice city and I

sent several letters actually running

three didn’t get any reply um but it

just you know I was obsessed I had to do

it and I got there and they were very

welcoming um for the you know for the

reasons I just went into and I said well

didn’t you get a letter from me oh yeah

yeah we got three letters from you

nah Asuma sensei said he knew you were

coming over so there was no need to

reply Wow ok so i guess i was that

obvious in my determination to to get it

or he knew psychically that you know

this was going to be an important

relationship for the ninja martial art

I’ll never know I’ll never know yeah

very very intriguing with that story why

why do you think ninja 2 has survived

for so many thousand years I think it’s

a couple thousand years well um that’s a

really good question obviously political

situations in Japan of the 1500s the

1600s you know no longer exists this

isn’t an underground resistance movement

but you know modern times there are

different very different but equally

perplexing difficult times you know

people have so much more than they’ve

ever had before and yet it seems that

you know people aren’t so happy they

have plenty of free time and certainly

the Internet has allowed people to be in

touch with each other and yet you know

there’s there’s a lot of discord and so

when we look at what ninjutsu really is

it really is not a martial art as such

that’s just one aspect of it it really

is about how to fit in

how to adjust oneself so that we don’t

make a target out of ourselves people

don’t notice us as much as say you would

notice a MMA champion or somebody like

that and so as the ages go by different

challenges arise for human beings and

there’s something that’s timeless about

this ninjutsu that causes it to continue

to change its form a little bit and be

very be very valid to study in the

different different times since world

war two what do you think what do you

think it is about ninjutsu that makes it

so different than other martial arts

well I can say pretty quickly um you

know a lot of in the West in the West

anyway a lot of martial arts are set up

really on a sport model two people go

into a ring and you know the better man

wins and this guy who comes in second

place you know he vows to train harder

and he’ll get another chance and

ninjutsu is so old that it goes back to

an older time an older age where you

either one there was no second place you

know you were killed or maimed and and

it was used as a way to preserve peace

to encourage peace the summer I warlords

were you know vying with each other for

power and the ninja could subtly

persuade these people

peace was was was was better and so to

this day the reliance on rescuing other

people um and escaping just defend and

then disappear makes ninjutsu a very

different kind of a martial art than one

where a 28 year old champion at the

height of his you know physical prowess

is temporarily the guy that everybody

celebrates yeah um I mean this might be

a little bit of a controversial question

you can elect to not answer it if you

want but what was what happened between

the Bujinkan system and the the toe

Shindo cyst I mean there was kind of a

split where you decided to open the

quest centers and move away from natsume

sense his teachings what caused that

well what happened over the years the

1970s until the early 2000s I wrote a

series of books that are still available

to this day and it made Dineen jitsu

quite famous so there weren’t 15 people

studying for very long uh everybody

wanted to everybody wanted to be Steven

Hayes you know they all wanted to be the

guy and when you can’t be the guy I’m

the guy you have to create a new role

but people wanted to have that old days

kind of a situation so that was going on

there were a lot of people that didn’t

particularly like me you know they were

tried to criticize the way I handled the

early days of publicity and so forth

they wanted to be important so that was

one aspect another aspect was that

hatsumi sensei was changing and he was

adjusting the art to fit what Japan was

looking for what Europeans were looking

for it wasn’t the same art that I had

studied in the 1970s it became kind of

like a abstract art strange funny kind

of situations how would you defend

against guy with 26 foot bows you know

things that would never happen in real

life they were just fun to explore but I

was not ready to go there I really

believed in the way we had trained

originally so finally there were some

individuals that were so obsessed you

know really with me and my role they

wanted to all cause a little trouble and

so I fine I felt I had gotten my start I

had 30 years of training with Hudson me

sensei it was time to take the ninja

martial art and really make it

appropriate for an American base hmm

okay fair enough thank you so much for

answering that what do you think is the

most esoteric thing that you’ve learned

about ninjutsu would be in all of your

years of training well the way I use the

word esoteric it means something that is

not obvious it could even be explained

to somebody

and there’s is not going to get it it’s

a truth that exists but without certain

experiences nobody’s going to understand

that truth so I would say the most

esoteric thing that I’ve learned is the

reality behind why ninjutsu exists the

the subtle way in which the training

effects changes a person and again I’m

going back to my 1970s training that way

you can’t stay in this martial art and

just get stronger you have to change as

a human being as you’re learning these

lessons and that changes were not always

easy changes were very heartbreaking

sometimes but those were necessary in

order to develop a kind of warrior

wisdom at the end of the path hmm why do

you feel like there are I mean you don’t

really see any ninjas in combat arena

such as the UFC and other fighting

stages why do you think that is well you

know the Brazilian jiu-jitsu rulebook is

pages after pages of all of these rules

and PFC the same thing you can’t attack

the groin you can’t attack hinge joints

they’re all is so-called no-holds-barred

but there’s an extremely small window of

applicability and so athletes train how

to fit into that window and overcome

somebody else and it’s just not what

we’re interested in doing

I’m 66 years old you know what if I had

to fight some 28 year old who has 50

pounds of muscle on me I still have to

win by submitting myself to these rules

and attitude MMA is big business now I

mean mega big business and so they play

two people against each other and you

know one steals the other guys belt and

they’re about to get into a fight on the

stage and you know it’s all planned a

big business this is philosophically at

great odds with real ninjutsu where what

we’re trying to do is confuse an

opponent into not seeing us as an

opponent can you can you get into some

of the differences between toe Shindo

and the Bujinkan systems well one of the

things that is different is the way that

people attack bujinkan attacking method

is kind of a standard from an old age

where people had very short limbs and a

long body you know genetically the

Japanese of 300 years ago 400 years ago

and so a lot of that all of the attacks

are initiated with a right foot moving

forward and a right hand striking so see

if you know the listeners can picture

that right foot and right hand going

forward at the same time nobody fights

like that today nobody fights like that

they project the left foot forward and

throw a left hand or a right hand and so

that was the first thing that we changed

we made the attack

is more like what an individual is going

to experience in the real world of

attacks today the second thing that’s

very different is in ancient Japan ninja

would get into a fighting situation very

rarely and it was almost always an

escape how to escape so there were

certain kind of spirit training we could

say that was just unnecessary in those

days everybody knew each day you go out

we’ve got the possibility of physical

run in today a lot of people don’t

really know what violence looks like so

we have to teach them what violence

looks like how it sounds there are

certain things that people say when

they’re trying to confuse a victim and

so there’s a heavy reliance on verbal

combat as well as the more realistic

attacking method so that’s just the

beginning that’s the beginning of what

of what pushing dolly is how it’s

different from the Bujinkan method you

know I saw I saw you on the Discovery

Channel and your kind of tasked to go in

there and kind of take this guy’s hat

off or something and which I found very

interesting but how what do you think

the best way to defuse violence would be

or is oh wow that’s a very broad

question are we talking about violence

among strangers violence among angry

people all violence among people to know

each other take quite a long time to

answer that so I think the best thing to

say you know where we start in is trying

to understand where this other person is

coming from you know somebody

be they got a bad day bad lifetime you

know and they’re just mouthy and saying

stuff that they shouldn’t and it’s

offensive and we need to put a stop to

this well is to the law doesn’t allow us

to punish people for saying things no

matter what they say if they’re just

talking we can’t stop them from talking

that’s the way the law is if a black

belt in ninja martial art poaching

though were to physically go over and

stop somebody from talking oh gee yep

you’d be arrested and understanding

where a person is coming from so

somebody’s you know shooting his mouth

off you know I might say something oh

man not you’re the third person I’ve

hacked off today and I’m getting in

everybody’s way let me just get out of

here I get in the truck I’m taking on if

you get in your truck you go your way

I’m apologize to you I’m sorry whoa

that’s kind of a strange way a slightly

humorous gives the guy away out his save

face my friend knows I just say that

guy’s life and you know so that is I

would say you know the beginning

understanding where this person is

coming from and then fitting in allowing

ourselves to fit in to that exchange is

there is there a personal way that you

deal with injuries because I know that

with training there’s usually a lot of

kind of wear and tear injuries that come

about from that well there’s not really

that much um we’re much safer than

basketball can we lose a lot more people

to basketball leagues and we do martial

arts I think because it’s so dangerous

that when people are training they’re

totally aware of how far to take

something you know for themselves for

their

training partner you know where’s with

basketball or skateboarding or something

else you know they might be injury prone

a person has another challenge oh I’m

going to make this ramp I’m going to

dunk this basket things that you

distract away from how dangerous the

activity is I guess we really don’t have

that many injuries in our training so

how do you think this this training toe

Shindo can improve your everyday life

well we start with the most scary

possibility known to human being and

that is what if I weren’t alive you know

what if this person had their way and

I’m gone and there are all kinds of

considerations you know maybe this

person is just too big how do I fit in

there maybe it’s not worth fighting how

do i get myself away and out of there

without making a target for myself maybe

because the talker is not the problem

the problem is his cousin over there

who’s real quiet who’s just going to

sneak up behind you and hit you over the

head it demands absolute a complete

attention and I think that in our busy

times you know busy lives you know that

feels good it feels zen-like you know

many is the time will be training along

it was they okay well we’re done for the

night and people do a double-take they

look at the clock they can’t believe

that 45 minutes has gone by there that

rapidly involved in physical training

the mental training trying to get better

letting go of bad habit

trying to pick up a new good at it I

think that’s really the key to you know

how this works why it works why people

continue to train for years and years

what what can you say I know you’ve been

training for many years but what can you

say has been the most difficult lesson

that you’ve had to learn through your

training well physically when I started

back in the 1970s you know I was in my

20s I was very used to a kind of

aggressive style of movement charging

forward and knocking limbs out of the

way and hitting and that’s just totally

the opposite of the ninja way of winning

we engage the limbs we let the person

think they’re winning for a half a

second we fit in and that took me a lot

of years I would get it and then under a

test or whatever I would you know be

thrown a loop and go back to the old way

just standing there trying to slug my

way out and these guys had become

phantoms and that but yes I think that

was probably that the toughest thing you

know and it was good that i had the

teacher that i had asuma-sensei is a

very different person for me very

different person and that’s good if

you’re studying with a person who’s

exactly like you it’ll just reinforce

your bad habits um so I had to learn new

ways of doing things and sometimes I

wondered if he was kidding me you know

this can’t be real but I’ll just go

along with it and sure enough it turned

out you know that’s one of the aspects

of growth

that I experienced in there okay well I

mean you’re you’re credited with being a

Buddhist and it seems like serendipity

is major famine you you have to be the

most lucky person in the universe just

because you were a security adviser for

the Dali Lama how how did that occur how

did that happen well I had visited with

the Dalai Lama in 1986 when I was in

India and just as you say very lucky

very lucky he had a brother who lived

just a few hours away from me back in

the US he was the first one to escape

Tibet to 1951 and he had worked as a

professor at Indiana University so I

went over to see his brother and you

know find out a few more things from him

and that vary so 86 87 the Dalai Lama

came to Indiana to see his brother

brought all these monks with him and so

I got to see him again there and he

remembered me it was a very amazing

memory that he has he remembered me and

then 88 I got to see him again 89 I was

in Los Angeles at a conference where he

was and they announced that he had won

nobel peace prize and immediately the

sleepy little california coastal campus

just went wild reporters and people

showing up people who didn’t even you

know think about the Dalai Lama take him

seriously suddenly were pouring in and

by then I had gotten to know the the

Dalai Lama’s family and

good to know his political staff and so

I jumped in and helped them with some

security security at this little sleepy

California University was you know some

old old duffer with a time key walking

around you know Leo they had no security

at all really and so after that he was

coming to ohio and the staff had by then

gotten to know who i was and asked if i

would help with the ohio visit and then

it just went on and on from there

whenever he would visit the US and be in

the Midwest I would organize a team that

lasted until Oh 1999 that’s when the

federal government got involved we just

we couldn’t keep doing this with you

know volunteer work and finally talked

the federal government into supplying

State Department dignitary protection

team and so like 70 guys would show up

and three bomb sniffing dogs and you

know intelligence briefings every

morning at that point I can I mean they

were only protecting the Dalai Lama and

I mean there were a lot of people at the

events that you know needed security and

so I continued as a liaison officer kind

of working with the State Department and

even played the role of the MC a couple

of times to introduce him to the to the

crowd as the years went by yeah I’m too

old to be a bodyguard now they have guys

one-third my age you know yeah wow wow

very very interesting mr. Hayes I I do

really appreciate your time and you have

to be one of the most interesting people

that I’ve gotten a chance to read about

and here

out is there is there a place that

people can find out more about your work

yeah the best place probably is the web

Stephen quejes you just write that out

like one giant word ste phe my is

Stephen quejes dot-com and that gives

them a way to find out about my training

school here in Ohio find out about our

we have a massive library of techniques

that are online now people can subscribe

and basic lessons to intermediate

lessons to some pretty exotic techniques

some of the weapons some of the psychic

you could call it psychic type of work

that we do all available online so

Stephen quejes calm would be the best

place to go just to check it out perfect

we will make sure that we link that in

the comments section below mr. Hayes

thank you so much for being here this is

the human experience my name is Xavier

we’re going to get out of here thank you

so much for listening

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