July 19, 2012

The Wisdom of Disaster: Martial Arts as a Spiritual Path. ~ Ryan C. Lane

Ever since I was a boy growing up in Nashville, TN, I was searching for a particular brand of spirituality that fit my particular needs.

Surprisingly, not much has changed since I was about seven years old.

The question it took me decades to formulate was:

How can I honor the greater spiritual mystery through acts of serving mankind with my body, mind and spirit?

These were the intentions of those I looked up to at the time of my youth (Yoda, Luke Skywalker, etc), so it made sense to dedicate my life in a similar fashion.

Ultimately, this seemingly unrealistic sense of direction has arisen as my path, over and over again, leading me to my current place in life as a psychotherapist and a teacher of contemplative martial arts. I teach Satorido Kempo, which translates roughly as “The Way of Awakening through Martial Arts.”

Satorido Kempo is my teacher’s offering to the world, and an important part of the answer to my question. How I found the path of my life, however, arose in the most unexpected way.

Starting the path was a convergence for me. First of all, I met my teacher, Steve, when I was a directionless college grad, still working at the same old hotel I had worked in as an undergraduate and desperately trying to find my place in the world.

In my training with Steve, he helped me set the tone for a beautiful and adventurous life full of obscure and mysterious movement practices and martial arts from Eastern Asia all based on learning about myself, learning about the world and finding that core of peace we all carry around with us.

Then, a month into my training with Steve, the wake-up call of my path became undeniably loud when my mother passed away. She was 52, I was 23, and her death was a complete shock. Life had given me a choice: allow myself to be overtaken with the sadness of grief, or actively mourn my mother’s loss and honor her presence by choosing what I love, over and over again.

I poured myself into the lessons and the martial forms offered by Steve with the passion of my grief, and chose to re-engage in a relationship with my therapist. With the insight I was having about my life, important questions naturally began to arise.

Where was I headed? What did I want to do with all this wisdom and experience? I felt I was living the life of the dragon-conquering Jedi-in-training I’d always dreamt of, and wondered what I could do with this.

Having dinner with a dear friend, I jokingly asked the question, “Can’t I be a hero? Where do I sign up for that?”

Two weeks later, in an answer to my unintentional prayer, I was caught in a flash flood on a Kansas highway where I helped save several people’s lives. So, I guess the lesson is to be careful what you ask for during dinner. Amidst what became known as the Jacob’s Creek flood, amidst disaster and death, my path was a bright light amidst darkness. I could help people.

My training and, more specifically, Steve’s teachings about trusting myself, carried me away from my friends and family to Boulder, where I finished graduate school for psychotherapy, and I’ve been helping people find their way out of proverbial floods ever since.

During my time in Boulder, Steve continued to teach and challenge me from afar by telling me I was ready to begin teaching. Eventually, everything Steve taught me was formalized in Satorido Kempo. What I offer as a teacher is a class full of heart, support and care. All levels and styles are welcome and, in fact encouraged to train together.

And this is my path, awoken by the loud voices of disaster, and trusting my heart to know where it needs to go.


Ryan Carter Lane is a psychotherapist and martial arts teacher in Boulder, CO, slowly dancing his way across the U.S.A. from Tennessee, to Kansas to Colorado. He teaches at the amazingly diverse and warm hearted “A Place to B Studios” and lives his life based on the wisdom of his heart while formulating a way to include ‘Ninja/Jedi/Werewolf’ on his resume. To learn more about Satorido Kempo, check out http://satoridokempo.weebly.com/.


Editor: Thaddeus Haas

Like elephant spirituality on Facebook

Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant journal  |  Contribution: 1,375,490