Budokon: The Way of the Warrior Spirit

Budokon: Interesting word. Broken down, Bu (warrior) – Do (way) – Kon  (soul) translates loosely to “the way of the warrior spirit.” At first glance, (as say, in the photo above), Budokon can appear as any other yoga class. When I arrived at Daniel Wise’s yoga studio, housed in the second story of athletic training facility Mississippi Elite, as a practicing yogi the set up was familiar – yoga mats, standard liability waiver, a soft unobtrusive playlist setting the tone for an active class. Aside from the astroturf flooring, all signs pointed to a typical yoga flow experience. But you know that saying about assumptions, right?

Enter Daniel Wise. Former competitive powerlifter and lifelong martial artist, Wise is not the stereotypical yogi. And thus, Budokon is not what one would stereotypically encounter with a yoga class. Though based on traditional hatha yoga (asana yoga, or the physical movement of the body through poses), Budokon has a distinctly martial arts influence that is noticeable as soon as the studio door closes. We began the class in a hybrid martial arts and yogic way – with a focus on breath and an acknowledgement on our instructor with a bow. As we began to move through familiar poses, there was a large instructional emphasis on the thoughtful and functional transitions between postures rather than just the alignment of the postures themselves.

As we progressed further through the series, which features seven distinct sections designed to improve mobility, agility, flexibility and strength, the idea of the class being a ‘mixed movement’ practice began to resonate. The yogic aspect of breathe was a constant as we flowed through poses (the name Budokon making even more sense after performing my 10th ‘warrior’ based posture), but other elements surfaced that further clarified this was not just a yoga practice. The inclusion of artful blocking passes, movements based on preparing for attacking one’s imaginary enemy,  energetically rolling from a reclined position to balancing on one leg, and even sequences involving plyometric exercises based on animal movements peppered the cardiovascularly- challenging class.

Budokon’s creator, Cameron Shayne, explains Budokon was created for people who wanted to explore greater physical possibilities than are typically found in a hatha practice. While being a yogi, martial artist or athlete is not required to benefit from the strength and stamina building movements, those who do already engage in one (or all!) of these activities will benefit from this 75-minute practice.

Winding down with the seventh sequence,  full of spinal twists and much needed IT band stretches, the reward of an icy lavender scented wash cloth as we made our way to everyone’s favorite yoga posture – Savanasna (or corpse pose).

Much like the method of yoga I am certified in, every Budokon class features the same sequence of postures done in the same order, allowing one to familiarize themselves with not just the postures but the intentional movements between them. And while Wise certainly challenges participants to discover their inner warrior (did I mention we perform the practice in a heated room? Yep, there’s that.), the pace of the class is often dictated by the participants, so all levels are welcome. 

If the warrior way may not be the direction for you, Wise also offers a range of other classes, including six-week series classes geared towards beginners, men and even hand-balancing fundamental workshops. You can see which of his classes best fits your mantra at his website:  www.danielwise.net.

Photo by Amy Goalen

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