Tom Callahan Tom Callahan is a corporate fitness coach and consultant. Fri, 22 May 2020 20:44:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tom Callahan 32 32 The WHY, HOW, and SPIRIT of Training Fri, 22 May 2020 20:44:23 +0000 Written by Shihan Tom Callahan 

The average karate-ka or martial artist here in the States goes to a dojo 2-3 times per week for 1- 1.5 hours per session.

Basically 3—5 hours per week. Let’s call it an average of 4 hours. That is out of a total of 168 hours IN A FULL WEEK.

So, 168 hours in a week…factor in your sleeping, so basically 112 awake hours per week, training 4 hours per week is 3.57% of your time spent training. Keep it simple…. 3.5 %. Of course, we have work and some of us have family so that is also factored in.

BUT…I hope you see my point. The fact remains that only 3.5% of your time is spent training. Thats it. (For most of you).  Many of us claim karate is my life!!! I devote my life to karate ! Yelling it so everyone hears. 3.5% of your time.

Let’s talk about BUDO and the Martial Arts and what this all really means for us.

Training in a BUDO art has different meanings to different people but let’s break it down a bit. Let’s break it down:

BUDO– “The Martial Way” BU coming from the word BUSHI meaning warrior, but the full word BUDO coming from the word BUSHIDO the way of the Samurai….that “WAY” being living by a code of ethics or virtues. BUDO was the expression and psychology, if you will, of BUSHIDO with the loose definition of BUDO to end conflict as evidenced by the anagram fo 2 swords crossing.

BUDO as I say, comes out of the BUSHIDO virtues that include:

Justice: making decisions for the right reasons

Courage: courage to do the right thing, and not always what the popular or easy thing is

Benevolence: Meaning that if you have to fight, you are fighting for the right reason and that you show mercy at the right time

Respect: Respect in all things. Life, one’s elders, and other people’s belief systems

Honesty: Being honest breeds trust and respect

Honor: The warrior tries to be honorable in all actions and deeds. This was a highly thought of aspiration

Loyalty: Loyalty was incredibly important. They treated each other like family. Loyalty also breeds trust and of course they needed to trust each other on the battlefield and off.

Martial: Of course comes from Military. There is a certain way things are done. Aspire for perfection in every movement and in every thing you do. Whether it is making your bed to washing dishes or to delivering a work assignment. Whether it is in your KATA or in your speech. MOST importantly striving for perfection of ones CHARACTER. Character alludes back to the 7 virtues of BUSHIDO. When you look at these virtues and put them all together what does it add up to? It adds up to ones CHARACTER. This is the Martial way.

ART: Why is what we do an art? What is the definition of art?

The dictionary defines art as : A skill acquired by experience, study, or observation, or a production or expression of aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

For me art is simply something that you MUST do out of love for that expression of skill and beauty. It is something you do as OFTEN AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! You can’t help it. You love it so much.

So when I look at Martial Arts and then more specifically BUDO Karate, I think of all of these things. It is not a hobby, it is not a sport, although there is certainly a sporting aspect to it.

SO when I see 3.5% on average the amount someone is training, then I have to question do you REALLY love what you are doing? It is affecting your character. Are you trying your very best to improve your character and live up to these ideals? Are you seeing the BIG picture of your training or are you looking at it myopically as a way to win a trophy, to show off to your friends or to just get strong?

Mas Oyama said: Karate is Budo and if Budo is removed from Karate it is nothing more than sport karate, show karate, or even fashion karate-the idea of training merely to be fashionable.

So please, reflect on this. Question yourself. Ask yourself; WHY DO I TRAIN, and AM I TRAINING ENOUGH? The answer to the 2nd question is almost assuredly NO. The beauty is, the more you train the more you fall in love with it, and the more you will appreciate the ART part. The more you train in the martial way, the more you will genuinely become a BUDO Karate-Ka encompassing all these aforementioned virtues thus achieving the ULTIMATE TRUTH; improving your character and “knowing yourself.”

I would like you to accept this lesson and have you reflect on WHY you train, How much you train, and the SPIRIT in which you train.


You can look to others for inspiration but don’t rely on others for inspiration.

Thank you


]]> 1
BUDO Teaching Philosophy Thu, 07 May 2020 00:55:00 +0000 To be a good teacher, one has to be of the mindset of a student. The teacher needs to recall viscerally what he/she was feeling as a young rank. As the teacher looks out onto his students he/she needs to look at the entire class, and also simultaneously look at each individual. No two students are alike and each of the students needs and natural abilities are different. This can create an obvious dilemma for the teacher.

In Kyokushin we follow a set of basics (Kihon) regardless of the aforementioned, and are practiced by everyone from beginner to expert. Typically it will take the average person 2-3 months to get comfortable with this warm up (Kihon). As a young rank, this is maybe the most difficult and least enjoyable part of the journey. The teacher must be sensitive to this and be patient as he/she asks the student to be. This patience must be a two way street.

Being a karate instructor is more than showing a student how to punch, kick and defend. The teacher must FIRST and foremost understand WHY the student is even in the class ! Each student has unique needs. It is imperative for the teacher to care enough to discover that reason…so, in many ways it is a journey for both teacher and student.

There is a basic conundrum in this of course. HOW do you teach to a class with the Kyokushin spirit and teach to a group but ALSO be sensitive to each individual? The answer is you are not only teaching these students in class. As many teachers experience, students often times look at you as a father or mother figure and someone they feel they can confide in. There is an element of trust that is engendered and this responsibility MUST be taken with the utmost care. Every teacher deals with this in their own manner.
“The benefit from the intense training is developing one’s character”

My PERSONAL approach is to take the time to listen and to advise in areas of life that do not involve punching or kicking but in fact DO deal with BUDO…the way of the warrior. Life is difficult and what the student learns in class must be applicable to one’s daily life. We call this Osu no Seishin or Osu no shinobu. Never give up or persevere at all times as a “warrior” does. My approach to teaching Kyokushin is to instill a sense of confidence and provide the necessary tools including the “never give up” mentality for their daily lives.
The residual benefit from the intense and sometimes severe training is the ability to defend one’s self and loved ones, while maintaining a healthy mind body and spirit. We are helping to build character.


]]> 0
Impact Of The Pandemic On The Music And Entertainment Industry Tue, 31 Mar 2020 15:38:21 +0000 One of the first casualties of the pandemic is the music and entertainment industry; concerts and events are canceled for the foreseeable future, putting tens of thousands of artists and behind-the-scenes music pros immediately out of work. What’s the future hold for the music and event business?

The Big Time Talker Podcast asks Tom Callahan, who for the past three decades has served as a Music Business Executive from Boston to LA, Japan to South America, Europe to Asia and to Boulder Colorado, where he currently resides as a consultant for music and media companies, a mentor to start-up companies, and a world-renowned Budo martial arts instructor.

Click HERE to listen to the full podcast.

]]> 0
HONORING ONE’S WORD Sun, 29 Mar 2020 19:31:57 +0000 Here’s a sneak peek excerpt from Tom’s new book “Corporate Fitness”


How do you feel when you do not honor your word?  Does it gnaw at you? It should.  Is there a guilty feeling? Most likely.

All of us have in the past, or maybe even today, not honored our word and did not do what we said we would. When discussing overall character, honoring one’s word is a pillar, so you need to acknowledge that this is something to be taken seriously.  Honoring your word should become a habit. Do so, and it will change your life.

When you do as you say, you earn trust, you show respect, and you develop integrity; all pillars of character.

Honoring one’s word is thus, fundamental to who you are, and speaks directly to one’s character. By repeating this habit, you also honor yourself, and by doing so, residually enhance your self-esteem. This self esteem, and being aware of your personal integrity, all leads to a healthier and more positive life which becomes elemental to all your interactions.

What happens when you don’t honor your word?  You begin to feel self loathing, guilt, and over time a loss of trust amongst your friends, business associates, and family.  This will negatively effect every aspect of your life. TRUST, is an important aspect of living in a civilized society.  You can either be a positive force or a negative one.  You can either contribute to a more trusting and honorable society, or one of decay and anarchy.

Let’s flip this notion. I am sure you have been on the receiving end of someone not honoring their word to you….I know I have, and quite a number of times I might add.  Sometimes it can be just a minor yet annoying insult, like someone not showing up for a meeting or forgetting about an engagement.  Other times it can be more serious, such as someone not honoring a contract or an agreed upon arrangement in a business circumstance.  Of course, this type of character flaw has more severe and financial consequences.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could live by the old maxim “your word is your bond?”   Let’s bring that back, starting with yourself.  Lead by example. Honor your word, and it
will change your life for the better.

~Tom Callahan

]]> 0
The Way of Budo with Renshi Shihan Tom Callahan Tue, 24 Mar 2020 23:06:47 +0000 In this episode of “Beyond the Fight,” Shihan Tom Callahan shares his roots in Martial Arts and philosophies behind Kyokushin Karate, by helping us understand the way of Budo.

Click HERE to listen to the full interview with Andrew Michael and Shihan Tom Callahan.

]]> 0
How New Ideas & Technology Are Re-defining The Music Industry, With Tom Callahan Fri, 22 Nov 2019 01:23:06 +0000 Tom shares a belief and vision to redefine the value of music and how it is discovered. Tom expresses the importance of staying up to date in the music industry with new ideas & technology. Discover valuable information, and resources on this episode of Music Business Connection featuring guest: Tom Callahan

]]> 2
Social Music Talk with Tom Callahan and Alex Cosper Sat, 02 Nov 2019 23:11:53 +0000 Thank you Alex Cosper for inviting to be your guest on your Social Music Talk podcast.  I enjoyed it!  Click HERE to hear the whole interview.



]]> 1
Budo vs. Sport/Competition Karate Mon, 16 Sep 2019 21:13:10 +0000

Here we are in 2019, a society obsessed with winning at all costs. When our individual values and self worth are based upon the mindset of winning and losing, we have missed the point of our training. One of the primary differences between traditional martial arts and other sports such as football, baseball or basketball is the latter were invented as a game and for entertainment purposes. Martial Arts began with the primary purpose of military protection and survival. The difference in a sporting event is the loser still gets to go home. In old school martial arts in the days of the Samurai, the loser dies. There is ONLY a winner.

So here we are turning an activity designed for life or death situations into a sport where techniques preventing DEATH are not allowed. There is a different mindset while training between the two.

My intent in this article is to distinguish the differences between Budo Karate VS Sport Karate and to enlighten the reader of the genesis and philosophy of the two. I want to stress however, this is only my opinion.

What is BUDO and how does it apply to Karate?

Budo is a philosophy of life that stresses “Perfection of Character” as the ultimate goal. It roughly translates to “ending conflict”. The anagram character is two swords crossed signifying the stopping of conflict. Developing the BUDO spirit can be attained through proper martial arts training, however, it is not all punching and kicking as many may think. Your “character” defines you by your compassion, empathy, and concern for others in the world. It is a philosophy that embraces and informs all aspects of your life, not only when you are training in the dojo. The Budo-Ka understands that the training is the catalyst for a way of life. These values should also be taught inside the dojo. Sadly, this education is lacking as the sporting aspect has evolved.

In the days of the Samurai, they trained with a specific intent, knowing that when they fight, it is life or death. The late 1880’s was the beginning of the Meiji Restoration period and the samurai were literally banned from practicing their deadly art. This was the beginning of BUDO. The Samurai who already lived by an informal code of ethics called Bushido, which included values such as honesty, courage, respect, self-sacrifice, self-control, compliance with duty, and loyalty, now applied these values to the art of “self improvement” (read: Character). They became pacifists after living near to death their entire lives. They studied Confucianism and Buddhism as well, giving them a spiritual awareness ( Mind Body Spirit). The Samurai adhered to the mentality of training hard with a life or death mindset, which kept them focused and present. They applied the same discipline to all endeavors. The Bushido code and self discipline was taken out of the dojo and applied into mainstream life. Simply stated, they led by example. Training in BUDO karate therefore is a way of life. As one strives for self improvement and perfection of character, we must also adhere to the Bushido code of ethics.

Competition/ Extreme Karate

There are many organizations that now do “Competition / Extreme Karate” The events that look like they are doing gymnastics with elaborate flips and burning nunchakus, swords etc. Does one still have to practice hard with self discipline to be very good? Of course ! Is it BUDO Karate?… No, not in the traditional and historical sense. It is solely a competition for entertainment and a trophy. This is no different than playing any other sport. The purpose is to showcase ones skills and to be awarded a trophy. Back in the Samurai days your trophy was your life. Again, a different mindset.

In true Budo there is no external enemy or opponent. True Budo is to become one with the universe, not train to become powerful or to throw down some opponent. Rather we train in hopes of being of some use, however small our role may be, in the task of bringing peace to mankind around the world.
Morihei Ueshiba

Because a Budo-ka is unlikely to have to fight for his life, why train with the intensity of life or death? You must train with 100% focus to gain the most from your training as if your life depends on it (It may someday). Why the paradox of violence and peace? You train for potential violence yet understand the dangers of having this ability, thus fostering peace. Who is the opponent? The opponent is YOU, and the struggle is internal. Overcoming your internal demons and the desire for self improvement is the constant battle. THIS, is the essence of BUDO…. You are your #1 “enemy”. In BUDO we strive to overcome these internal conflicts through the rigorous training. One should be mindful of the Bushido code and then begin to realize who we truly are, as we continue to improve ourselves daily. An example of a karate style that embodies BUDO, is Kyokushin. Kyokushin means The Ultimate Truth. The Ultimate Truth is knowing yourself.

A quote from Mas Oyama, considered one of the greatest martial artists of all time:
“Karate that has discarded Budo has no substance. It is nothing more than a barbaric method of fighting or a promotional tool for the purpose of profit. No matter how popular it becomes, it is meaningless.”

In addition to the competition and extreme karate, “point karate” is also sport and not BUDO, but for me, more closely related. Some individuals of these styles may in fact practice BUDO, but it is not inherent or required for the sport, and from what I have seen inside and outside their dojo’s most are not aware of this concept and philosophy.

Scoring a “point” on an opponent without actually damaging him/her is pure sport. Again, this is about scoring points in an imagined conflict, inflicting imagined damage to WIN a competition. Are these competitors interested in the deeper meaning of the training, the history of the Samurai, or indeed interested in anything beyond winning a trophy? Perhaps. Is perfection of character the primary purpose of their training?Perhaps. If not, they are not training in a BUDO art, which is in fact the essence of martial arts and what I am attempting to distinguish in this article.

Budo Karate is a mindset. It is a lifelong journey that includes a philosophy of life coupled with one’s character development. When training in a BUDO dojo, observing proper etiquette is also paramount. How a student bows, the strict adherence to the Senpai/Kohai (Senior/Junior) relationship, and the way in which one speaks and comports his/herself, and many other rules of conduct contribute to this art. Of course, there can be and is a sporting aspect to even BUDO karate, but the reasons for competitions are different. Indeed when a Budo-Ka earns a victory there is humility and respect that accompanies it, with no demonstrative elation, thus acknowledging and respecting one’s opponent. In the Samurai days there was no joy in winning. The goal is simply not to lose. In BUDO karate one doesn’t train FOR competitions as a primary objective. In the sporting world, this is their goal and their primary objective. Their practice is focused on the next tournament. In my observations in the sport world, there doesn’t seem to be a depth to the technique, in terms of knowledge and bunkai (application). It merely works for the specific event, and designed to score a point. If there is NO full contact as in BUDO Karate, how does one even know whether or not the technique truly works? The judges and referees are guessing that the strike would injure the opponent. The premise of it being called Karate (other martial arts as well) is a misnomer given its genesis. More importantly, as stated above, if the sole purpose of training is to win a competition, then it is not in line with idea of BUDO, which is always full contact. and

This article is not intended to disparage NON Budo training. It is to enlighten and to distinguish between BUDO Karate and sport/extreme competition karate, as much of karate today has devolved from a serious art form that is full contact, that places one’s character above all else, to a sport for entertainment value, and arguably driven by ego. One can certainly have the BUDO spirit and be a sport /competition karate practitioner, but sadly in today’s day and age the competition has become the motivation for the practitioner and it has become wildly popular. To me, they are missing the most important and elemental precepts of martial arts.

These are only my opinions being expressed as this topic has come up many times in recent martial arts conversations.

Thank you for reading.

Shihan Tom Callahan
5th dan Kyokushin-Kan
USA Chairman/ International Secretary

]]> 4