Budokon, More Than Just an A-List Workout?

Like many fads, popular workouts often trickle down to the masses after the Hollywood elite take them up. The latest buzzword is Budokon. Courtney Cox Arquette, Chris Tucker, and Amber Valleta have all raved about it; throw in a few Olympic gold medalists and you’ve got an A-list workout that just might have staying power. Founder Cameron Shayne calls Budokon a practice designed to “create balance and permanent change.” Try out Budokon to decide if this mind-body routine is this week’s trippy trend or something to keep in your rotation.

A former bodyguard for actors like Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn, Shayne began his lifelong relationship with fitness at the age of 12, when he started studying the traditional Korean art of MooDuKwon. This led to years of work in Olympic-grade Tae Kwon Do and later Okinawan Karate-do (which involves using weapons as props), Brazilian jujitsu, meditation and hatha yoga. It wasn't long before Shayne earned a black belt in his pursuits—a ranking he has since shed in favor of the title "Kancho," the designation of a Budokon master. While living in Los Angeles, Shayne became a private fitness teacher: "Not a trainer in a gym," he clarifies, "but a teacher who led my students on a journey." At this time, around 1999, he developed both his celebrity following and his signature workout.

Integrating yoga, martial arts, meditation and elements of holistic living, Budokon (Japanese for "way of the spiritual warrior") is a full-service practice dedicated to creating both a healthy body and sound mind. As Shayne explains it, we all break down into four "bodies": emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual. "The fitness industry is fragmented," he continues, "so most practices only address one part of you. Or they are so targeted to one thing—to helping someone lose weight, bulk up, run faster, whatever—that they forget everything else." Shayne created Budokon to "retrain people to think about movement."

Much of the practice is about finding a center between expansion and contraction, stillness and movement, and the inner and outer worlds. Sessions are designed to address both the yin and yang of our bodies and minds: The yin is addressed by the yogic elements—typically fast-paced Ashtanga poses—which emphasize alignment, stillness and control of our internal energy, while martial arts techniques take care of the yang. Though the hour-long sessions vary based on the teacher—and, Shayne stresses, based on what the student is putting into it—most open with a specific series of movements. These include poses with names like "Rolling Wave," and "Slow-Motion Mountain Climber." The resulting workout is low-impact but high-intensity, big on tone, strength, power and endurance, and applicable to students of all fitness levels and with all fitness goals.

According to Shayne, one of the main differences between Budokon and yoga is that while yoga makes you strong in a neutral position, Budokon creates strength in an expanded position as well. Budokon allows for proper movement and alignment while your body is as engaged "as if you had a 200-pound person on your back," says Shayne. He conjures an image of a column: "Alone, it has perfect posture. But add a ceiling, and then the column's objective and intention have changed. Now it has to have perfect posture while serving a purpose. A flagpole," he adds, "is standing straight, but isn't required to hold anything up!"

Another big component for Shayne is self-awareness. "Clients will sometimes ask 'Can I do this?' or 'Am I doing this right?'" he relates. "But my answer is, 'Trust Yourself.' You know more about your body than anyone else, so pay attention. Most trainers love to tell you that they know what's best for you, but I say that I am here to tell you what's structurally sound. But that you are your own architect. Stop looking for outside answers—look inside yourself."

This tough love applies to his star clients, as well. "My students are strong, capable and challenging—not full of ego," he explains. "The ones that flourish have spirit and are willing to look at themselves and work hard." He recommends his lower-profile clients to do the same—and reject all the celebrity worship. "There should be no person on the planet that you emulate except yourself," he stresses. "And actually," he laughs, "Budokon should be much easier for those of us who aren't famous, since we have a much clearer concept of reality! If this can thrive in a shallow place like Hollywood, if these people can set aside their egos—then it works."

Budokon classes are available at Shayne's center in Los Angeles, as well as with certified teachers across the country; see www.budokon.com for a teacher list, which is constantly growing. Basic workouts are also available on DVD, and a five-belt instructional series is in the works.

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