Coach Mikki and Friends

Rising from Adversity: Sensei John's Journey of Martial Arts, Dance, and Youth Empowerment - S4E6

February 22, 2024 Coach Mikki Season 4 Episode 7
Coach Mikki and Friends
Rising from Adversity: Sensei John's Journey of Martial Arts, Dance, and Youth Empowerment - S4E6
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This is the inspirational story of Sensei John Mirrione's founder of Harmony Power. story. From a childhood scarred by bullying and homelessness to becoming a martial arts maestro and an ambassador for change, his tale is a masterclass in transformation and tenacity.  We unravel the threads of his life that weave a rich tapestry of overcoming adversity and championing integrity. His thirty-year tenure in Manhattan's martial arts scene is a testament to the impact that resilience and effective pedagogy can have on personal growth.

Then we shift gears and glide into the rhythm of a story where defeat on the dance floor spins into a national triumph. Sensei John's narrative dances through the corridors of the military, where his unique blend of martial arts and dance movements brought solace and entertainment to his fellow service members. It's a testament to the transformative power of embracing one's passions, and a reminder of how the pursuit of dreams knows no bounds—even when they begin with two left feet.

Wrapping up, we spotlight the pulse of Sensei John's mission: the Harmony Power initiative. This movement is more than a fight against bullying—it's a catalyst for youth empowerment that has resonated from local pavements to the halls of New York City's public schools. Our discussion reveals how fostering a culture of recognition and self-expression can sculpt a more compassionate and emboldened generation. If you're connected to an educational institution or know young minds in need of inspiration, this episode is an invitation to explore how Sensei John's work could be the missing piece in nurturing our future leaders.

Contact Sensei John MIrrione - https://harmonypowernow.org

We look forward to seeing you succeed! - www.KeepOnSharing.com - Code - KOS

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Speaker 1:

Hey, I'm Coach Mickey and I'm so glad that you've joined us and this is your first time joining us. Come on in and make yourself comfortable. For those of you that join us on a regular basis, I am so glad that you do, and thank you so much for always reaching out to my guests. They love hearing from you and I really appreciate all your comments, your questions and your suggestions of some of the people that have on. It has been so much fun having a lot of you reach out to me through all my social media and letting me know how you have actually connected with a lot of my guests, and today is no different. I met this guest.

Speaker 1:

I was at an event in Atlantic City and, for many of you that have heard my other podcast and know me personally, I was at a lot of a martial arts event and I was just what is no different. However, going to these events is not only fun for me, because I love seeing the talent and the people and the upcoming martial artists, but it is the people that I get to meet that have been trailblazers throughout the martial arts, that have made such a huge difference in the community with what they do and who they are. And this martial artist, this person, this individual just stands out way above and beyond someone that I have had an opportunity and a pleasure to meet and I am so excited and I'm going to tell you a little bit about him because if I went to his whole bio, we would never get through the podcast with him. He has been an advocate about bullying, he has been in the Air Force, he has been in theater, he has been working with Deepak Chopra, he's been on the radio, he has just been a huge advocate and I'm excited to have him. He is the founder of Harmony Power.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for joining us, sensei John. Mariam, how are you?

Speaker 2:

Pleasure to meet you, pleasure to meet you in Atlantic City and then, of course, do this podcast with you. It's a great honor.

Speaker 1:

So I'm going to let you jump right in with what you have done, because when I looked at your bio and how you've gotten started and then you've taken this whole journey with what's happened to you, not only in your life, but what you've incorporated and how many people you have helped, it is just amazing. I mean I don't use that word lightly, but you really have done an incredible amount of things that have helped so many people.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'll tell you there's lots to share and I'll just start with as an opener. I'm the founder of Harmony Power, like you said, harmony Power Foundation. I'm the founder of Harmony by Karate as well. Harmony by Karate is a school that I have in Manhattan, the Upper West Side. I've had it for 30 years full time, which in Manhattan, if you have anything for five years, it's kind of like a big deal because it's a highly competitive environment.

Speaker 2:

But I've spent a lot of time learning how to compete with myself and the key is to work on yourself this is what a lot of people will realize and to live in the best integrity that you know how and to teach that. That's really what it's about and that's what keeps anything. If you're trying to achieve something in the long term, that's really the way to do it. And to keep things simple we're not breaking boards and doing back flips and doing all the flashy stuff. So I don't market the flash. I market simple things that anybody can learn how to do. It's like learning how to swim you learn a few strokes and you spend your lifetime trying to make that better. So I take that approach, which I find to be. I think I'm unique that way and I've had some amazing mentors.

Speaker 2:

So I'll start with my childhood. I was bullied severely from the age of eight to the age of 17. Like you know, basically anything you could think about I experienced and I was a victim then. But I'm not a victim of any of that now, just so that when I was listening in. That's not how I view it. The trauma for me was my power, and every time I want to achieve something, I tap into the trauma. The trauma is a beautiful thing. It's not just like oh, that happened to me, poor me, I don't know. To me it's more about what do you do with it, right? So some people take the trauma and they want to go hurt people. Others want to help. I take it to the other. I want to just help. I want to do big things, but such incredible trauma has happened to me that it's like, wow, I live to tell that story, right?

Speaker 2:

But the beginning of the trauma was actually being on the streets with my mother. I spent a few years homeless with my mom and she had her own struggles, which I keep that private because you know, just to respect her At least. Now I just feel that it's enough to know that a three-year-old an age of three and six and a half I was on the streets and I didn't learn the alphabet. I was like six and a half because I was not getting schooled and we were in and out of homes. Like being homeless doesn't mean you're in a cardboard box. It means you're not in a certain place for a long enough time to call it a home, or you're on a floor without furniture, right, you're cold, or you're not eating and you're excited because the food truck is outside, you're going to get a banana and some container of milk and that's your excitement. So that's the kind of life I had for a few years. And then I had weekends where my mother would drop me off with my grandparent who married my grandmother. He was Puerto Rican, so I was kind of. He was very nurturing, very loving, and it was kind of like a saving grace in that process while my father was fighting to gain custody and he would get me a couple of weeks. But it was kind of like there was that battle and eventually he was able to get me, which resulted in other traumas of bullying living in Brooklyn, and the first bullying incident happened when a boy took my head and slammed it into the curb to the blood coming, came in the back of my head and my stepmother came out with a broomstick, just like out of a movie. But that's the truth. She came out screaming. We were retiring one day Crazy.

Speaker 2:

And that was the beginning of my martial arts journey. My dad was already training with the Japanese, so he came over from Japan. He was training with the best of the best at that time and he was only a yellow belt. But he was a street fighter, was learning karate, and he's like look, I'm going to put, we're going to make a heavy bag because we didn't have much money and he kind of created a can, took a canvas bag, stuffed whatever he could into the bag. I was hitting that every day and I had a certain ritual. He'd have me do push-ups and set-ups and punching the bag kicking, and that was my drill. And that same bully that hit my head in the curb. I had to deal with that same bully again and he wanted to fight on glass. Eight years old, fighting on glass. Because he wanted to fight. I was like okay, and I hit the bully as hard as I could, as fast as I could to the face and I didn't stop and he literally just fell on top of me because he just got hit so many times and I thought he was going to beat me up. He just got up and walked away and that was how I dealt with it. It was violence met violence. Now that should work. Then I don't believe in that, even though I went through that. That comes later in my story. So the bullying happened throughout the years.

Speaker 2:

I dealt with some trauma where I'll give you another bullying. I was 17. And somebody who was big enough to wrestle, towered over me, would bully me, wrestle me to the ground, and I was doing martial arts. I was just so terrified of this large person subduing me and slapping me and calling me names and treating me terribly. So one day, you know we're amongst peers and he's like I want to fight you. You do trauma, fight you. I'm like I'm thinking of a fight every day. Every day you take me to the ground and I'm like crying for help. But he wanted to make a public display of the fact that he's beating up a martial arts person. So my dad said when they do that, he's wearing glasses. He's telling me to take the glasses off and now he's got one hand. So he took the glasses off and I hit him so hard and so fast as I could, chasing down a hallway like a lunatic, because I was so terrified of this person, fell down a whole flight of stairs. That was the end of that bullying, you know. So these are stories that I dealt with, like I, you know, I've been knocked out, being bullied where you get hit in the body or like you lift it and you're thrown into a wall you block out. That happened to me twice. You know, in these fights and well, fights where you know you're, you know, fighting someone and they hit them so much that there's they're literally soaked in blood because they're so awful and I had to hit them down much to get them down to the ground, and you know. But that became the past.

Speaker 2:

One state Someone knew I wasn't going to take it and I was. I had that element of like standing up and being a little crazy to meet the crazy People started being nice and then I got involved in dancing, which I wanted to learn, and I was terrible at it, like I had no rhythm. I was like that stereotype. Well, here's another white guy trying to dance like that stereotype that people talk about. Yeah, I was that guy. I couldn't hear the beat, I don't know what I was doing, but when I watched my Filipino friend jump up in the air and drop into a split and spit around and pop block dance and the girls were screaming, I'm like, yeah, I'm going to be him. I just didn't know how he was going to get there. So I was watching every type of. I was watching star search and dance fee roller shows are on back then, just imitating what I could see. Learn a little bit from that guy. All of a sudden I started to put moves together because I would use my martial arts with that kicking and that kind of fun stuff. So I ended up going to a nightclub in the city and I started picking up moves there and I was like the only person with light skin walking into this place where there's Hispanic and African Americans just dancing.

Speaker 2:

There's a way Madonna was discovered called the fun house, and I had fun in the fun house and then created an act, went to Vegas to visit my mom. We had rekindled ties. She over the years she stayed in touch. She sent me gifts and I would see her like once or twice a year. But then I was getting old enough to get on a plane to go see her and I showed her this dance act and she says we got to get you in a competition. I said where's our visit? Top one in Vegas. I want to put you in a competition. So I went with our brother to this competition, stuck me into a club, underaged, and it took second place in the whole city in this big competition and I realized that I had something special and I continued to cultivate that, doing talent shows and doing things of that nature.

Speaker 2:

But I was a Bob Hope fan, I loved Elvis Presley and they were military entertainers and I said I want to do that. I want to join the military, become an Air Force Entertainer. I had gotten so good at it. And so when I went into my recruiter, I said I want to sign up because I want to become an Air Force Entertainer. He looked at me and he goes you want to be an entertainer, are you kidding me? And he stopped and goes well, we have it. But you have to be like it's like the special forces of entertainment. You have to be spectacular, otherwise there's just no, I don't know how good you are, but I understand that you've got to win multiple levels of competition to go on a tour around the country. I said I'm going to do that. I said, where's the paper? I want to sign up. Literally I signed up because with an intention. I didn't care what job I took, I wasn't even thinking about that. I'm like I'm going to be that guy traveling the country.

Speaker 2:

And so I get in there and I'm in basic training and the drill sergeant, three o'clock in the morning, of staying in attention, the drill sergeant comes up to me and goes Airman, he goes what job are you here for? I said, sir, I want to be an Air Force Entertainer. Sir, now, this is an African American in the South. He was mad. He's like get in my office. He starts screaming at me in the office. He said you're going to, I'm giving you an order to dance right now. Three o'clock in the morning, just him and I. He brings a boom box, puts it on his desk, hits the button. I jump in the air. I spin around, dropping the split, doing spinning kicks, doing a flip, whatever things I was. I was just he's like clicks the button goes. Well, all right. He said what you got to do. You want to be, because you're going to have to win at base level and command level and you're going to go to worldwide. You got to win all these competitions. You got to win first place. They only take second place winners and it's a worldwide competition. But you have to enter that to even have that opportunity. I said, yes, sir. He says get back on your, get back into to your duties.

Speaker 2:

The next day it comes out with the boom box route. It's in Texas, san Antonio, hot as can be, while standing in tension for like I don't know, for hours, just stand there sweating. It comes out, the boom box, puts it on the ground, holds my name to come front and center the dance for the troops, out of nowhere, no warm up, no preparation. Yes, sir, I get out there, do the dance. And they're all the soldiers can't? They're not supposed to laugh, otherwise they get screamed at. So they were trying not to laugh, to hold in their breath, and I'm just pop locking, doing all this crazy stuff. And then he's like, tells me, yells to stop and get back in line, and that was the beginning.

Speaker 2:

Then, by a week later, we're in basic training and I'm on a bus. This is where I was kind of like, kind of a rule break, a rule breaker when it came for the right reasons, right. So I see a sign. It said break dance competition on the same base Lackland FWARTS base. Now you have a side that's active duty they're not basic training and then you have the side who's getting the training. I was on the basic training side. We had a shave bald and so I'm on the bus and I look at the sign on the other side.

Speaker 2:

I said to the guy next. I said I'm going to go compete there. He's what are you talking about? We're in basic training. You're going to get locked up. You're going to be peeling potatoes. You're going to be in prison. I said I'm going to go over there. I said listen.

Speaker 2:

I said during our break time, the competition is the exact time of our break. We have a 5 pm break. They let us out to go outside. I'm going to run across the base, compete and come back. He said you're crazy. I said it's okay, you don't have to come. I said I'm going to go. So I I leave and he comes with me. I turn around and he said where you going. He said I'm coming with this when you coming with me. So if you go across the base, I get there and the competition already started, put my name in and you're spinning on their heads and doing all this crazy stuff. So I ended up getting out there, I went first place and then I run back to the other side, never got caught, never gotten trouble, and that was what happened. Yeah, I love it. It was really was extraordinary, and it happened just like exactly what I'm telling. The story is exactly how I lived it out. I get back, I Went, I went base level Competition. I got letters from generals command.

Speaker 2:

I had like a fan following of people who ran the. They ran the base. The high ranks would follow me around wherever I would perform. We here go watch John and it followed me. And then I ended up moving going to Louisiana, barksdale, louisiana and I competed there one first place. I beat out this, these ballet dancer and this Michael Jackson Invitated. They were terrific, but I was better, you know, and I was able to move forward.

Speaker 2:

Then I ended up on a national tour and I went to maybe, maybe about 13 states and they like, roll out the red carpet and you're just performing for families or you're performing for Generals and kernels and it was just like a. So you're celebrity, they people give no autographs and that cut that was. It was just great fun to do that. And we had to learn. We had to go through three days of training for it when you had another drill sergeant a woman will come in and scream at you. For three days we're allowed to sleep, drink coffee, soda in the middle of the night and to stay awake. And that was the training to get on that tour, that amazing tour, and have that experience. So I get out of the Well before I get out of the Air Force.

Speaker 2:

I saw this show called showtime at the Apollo with Sinbad and I told my friend this I want to go on that show. And he said they, my African American friends, said there's no way they're gonna let you in there, you won't get on the stage. So he talked about. He said they're gonna hate you just because you're white. He said you don't even get that chance. I said I said now I'm gonna go there. I saw I I drove from Fort Smith, new Hampshire, to Harlem in New York City and I went to the Black Music Theater and I get on this line to go into the theater and, sure enough, they wouldn't let me in. People kept cutting me so I realized that wasn't in a safe situation. It was getting dark out, so I took my radio, my boombox, got in my car, drove back to the military base six hours they said see, we told you. Why did you do that? That was there, was. So I got to see my family because my family's in New York.

Speaker 2:

So I got to see my family in that trip. But I was mad and I was mad for a full year. I was just couldn't as I got out of military and they advised me. And they advised, I said the advisors. I said look, should I stay in the military or should I get out? He said If I had your dance shoes, I get out. Is it, john? You're good, get out.

Speaker 2:

Went back to the Apollo and they'd line. They did the same thing again, except this time I took my boombox and I cut the line. I went right to the front, I put it down, risked my life. You're all looking at me, everybody's angry. I thought I was gonna get out. Though I got it. They're alive. And I put it down and the head of this event was called Ralph. His name is Ralph Cooper senior. He was the founder of amateur night, the Apollo. He says who are you? And I said John Murion, why are you here? I said I came here to dance and he said get it over with. So I click the button and I get up and I'm doing my whole thing and you know, and there it's starting to stand up. The crowd in the room starts to stand up and they're screaming and they're yelling and they're loving it. And then the music stops and everyone's saying go, go, go. They want me to keep dancing. There was no music and they're just clapping just to see me move. So Ralph Cooper, senior, said sit down. So I sat down and he said you're gonna go on showtime at the Apollo. So I went on. When I went on showtime to power the first round, they get on the stage, had my radio Walking across the stage and they go crazy loving the footwork. As soon as I turned toward the audience they see my other face. Oh, what's he doing on stage right? And Then they start booing and cheering, booing and sure. And then Sandman comes in, pulls me off the stage. That was I got pulled off for the first time.

Speaker 2:

Well, some time passed, I, you know, moved to New Jersey and I kept training. I was gonna go back to the Apollo again. That was my mission to go in there, went auditioned again and I got on the stage. When I got on the stage, this time I they started the music before I got on stage, almost like to to hurt my act. But what I did was they did spinning kicks Like like a helicopter across the stage. I did one, two, three, four and I turn around, dropped into a split and stood up and I looked at them and they went whoa. And they just stood up and then I started moving my hips and the woman is screaming and then the men are going crazy and everybody's just like, and Then I walked off the stage.

Speaker 2:

I didn't finish the act. I literally stopped what I was doing. I walked off. I was, I was in tears and the producer comes over. He said why you leave? He was the producer's van he's. Why did you walk off? It's because they loved me. I did it. He said we're gonna put you on showtime at the Apollo, which was a televised event, was seen all over the world. So then I came when I did showtime, I went out there and this time I did the act and it was just booze and cheers and it was like a struggle with the crowd Doing the same act, but it was just. They just struggled with me. And then I went on.

Speaker 2:

I came a fourth time a year later I created an act where it was glowing in the dark because I was the dancer. I was the choreographer and dancer for club MTV with downtown, julie Brown. I did 72 episodes. I would listen for that at the same time as I'm going back to the Apollo for the fourth time. So this act called neon city, where you see New York City in the background, all glowing in the dark. I come out there with this baseball cap and this fluorescent outfit. That's in a time where neon became the colors. I was the guy that brought that to MTV the colors. And then all of a sudden it was all over the world and but I, the Apollo, went crazy and at the very end the house lights went on. Then they saw I wasn't, they saw my color skin. They were like booing and cheering again. But I still did it and I and I still prove that there are those who loved me, I didn't care, and those those I have still have those issues. But it was a beautiful experience because it led to harmony power later on, where you know, I and also my martial arts career.

Speaker 2:

I, there was, I was teaching while I was dancing. I was teaching martial arts and, aside private lessons, I was teaching for capital records in Manhattan I was. I had schools like these little satellites. I was teaching and I brought martial arts to the vertical clubs, all the vertical clubs in New York. I was the first to pioneer that. I was lucky to Work with all these celebrities that were in a place called. It was a vertical club on the east side and it was an incredible that was all happening at the same time.

Speaker 2:

I was, I was doing this whole dance excursion and and being adventurous, and then I was competing in martial arts as well and winning lots of competitions, mostly in forms. I was a forms competitor and I've gotten as far as winning second place worldwide in fighting. We had no great divisions, it was full contact. So I was a second place fighter Without a weight class, and that was good enough for me. You know, I still have my body at 59 or well, my I don't Haven't replaced anything yet feel great. But my other accolade that I'm known for is Reebok. I was a Reebok gym. Reebok sports club gym Was a famous gym in New York that opened up and they were looking for one athlete worldwide and they interviewed the gold medalist.

Speaker 2:

They interviewed everyone they could find. They wanted one teacher and it was a leadership driven program. They wanted somebody who was going to teach the leaders of New York City and the celebrities and I was the first interview and interview 200 to Get that one deal, that one contract. And after the fifth year they gave me two locations and I became a partner With that gym and then I consolidated back to the one location and I was stated for 20 years in total full-time With my dojo. They closed shop and then I moved to 81st and Broadway where I'm at now almost 10 years. So I've had a long stretch in Manhattan with that and you know it's been a remarkable career.

Speaker 2:

And so, with all of that success and Seeing the the bullying crisis in America, while I was doing my martial arts, while I was doing my dance it was it was hard for me to know my success and and the joy that I had and See what was going on in the country. Every time I'd watch something but trigger a trauma for me and say I'm like I can't watch this and do nothing. So I I hired a publicist and I traveled the United States out of my own pocket into the worst neighborhoods, going into the schools to see what was going on. And it was. It was extraordinary because I've learned that the system was set up where when kids would do something wrong, they were suspended, they were expelled, they went to jail. That seemed to be what they do in most systems. They had very few things in place to recognize children for the good they did. Like me, when I achieved in my past, like with dancing and wash, all those achievements built my character. That was my way out of the bully, my way to stand up for myself, my way to love myself. And they knew that they needed something like what I experienced and have the opportunity in the schools, because the schools were not giving that. Only a few, for the academics would get rewards or those athletes, those in the middle, just kind of left out.

Speaker 2:

And I started the campaign in 2010. And that led to getting a lot of media attention again on all the networks throughout the country. As you mentioned before, I did the show with Deepak Chopra on bullying. His brother was there, sanjeev, who was the head dean for Harvard Medical School. He immediately joined my board of directors for my charity for Harmony Power. In fact, harmony Power was set up by AIG and Verizon because they were represented from those corporations that saw this as a real solution Not a viable one, but like a real solution, because when you're recognizing children for the good they're doing through their gifts and passions, and you're doing it in mass volume. That's what changes the world. In one particular city in New Jersey, elizabeth not only adopted Harmony Power, they made it a mandate for the whole city 28,000 children where one out of three get the award for doing good.

Speaker 2:

So when I go into these events it's like watching a concert. It's like I walk in, it's happening, and then I might be the added bonus where they ask me to tell the speech or something or they want to see me perform, and I get them all riled up and excited. But literally, if there's a one hour event, I'm five minutes and that's what's happened Whereas I was in Brooklyn recently. I also have a contract now with New York City Public Schools. I'm actually the leadership resource for anti-bullying for all the schools in the five boroughs. That took me six years to get that contract, and so I went to two assemblies. I was the show I had to like, because you have to stop the ground up again. But they recognized. Maybe they recognized 15% of their population instead of one third, which I was thrilled with, and they got the Harmony Power Awards. They wanted more of my talk, my history, and they wanted to see some video clips.

Speaker 2:

And then at the end the kids pushed me to still show my dance and I'm like I don't really do that. Yeah, I do a little bit, you know, but I practice every week. And they went crazy. These kids went from, like this is inner city middle schoolers. They went from, like when is this guy going to stop talking? You know, even though they like some of the things I was saying, we want to see him dance. And they all liked the Apollo. The kids went crazy, you know, and it was just I was excited.

Speaker 2:

I'm like why I was saying to my wife I can't believe that I could still get inner city kids that are middle schools on their feet, like they're so critical, like you have to be really good to capture them.

Speaker 2:

And they not only did I capture them, but they come up wanting my autograph, wanting to shake my head, wanting to take a picture, because I know, in a small way I touched their heart, because when they see that I'm that guy, it's not just a history, I'm in the now, living it, doing it, showing them what's possible with their bodies and their mind and their spirit. That's why Henry Power is the real solution to bullying, the bullying crisis. We see it when you see mass shootings. It's these kids that are left out that grow up and they're angry because nobody paid attention. And in my know you to pay attention to me? I don't exist. Why should you? That's their mindset. So it doesn't take a crazy person, it takes a person who's left out to a point where their life doesn't matter anymore.

Speaker 2:

And this is why I feel that it's critical that the leadership of the school systems pay very close attention and that they adopt this as their way, not because it's my way. It's not my way. The kids own it. The kids want it and give the kids what they want. They want it, they want. Look, the system is like they have 33 days to change the world and kids are doing things that they want to do and they're getting a Harmony Power Award on the 33rd day Universal Harmony Day for what they do. Right, because it's their thing, they own it. It's not about me or the system, it's their system, and when they own it, they love it and they feel valued and they believe in themselves and therefore there's a whole lot less chance to be a victim, whole lot less chance to be a bully, because if that's the new culture, the new way of working with the youth, we have a great future in front of us.

Speaker 1:

So tell me what the program involves, Because working with the kids, you're saying that they're doing it their way. So when you go in and work with these schools, what do these programs actually incorporate so they can actually get these awards? But also it's making this huge change in these kids' lives.

Speaker 2:

Well, they're doing what I do. They get on stage, except they're singing, they're dancing. They have artwork plastered across the walls with peace, love, kindness, respect. They're expressing who they are. They're doing rap music, they're doing poetry. There's no end to what they can do to express. It's the way they express to each other, but they're doing it in a positive way and they're sharing it to each other and they're being recognized for coming out of their shell and being who they are. Some express pain. They come up there and they're angry about the world and they're expressing it because no one listened, but now everybody's listening. So therefore they're more likely to be positive in the long run and the grades go up because now they love school, they love being in school, because now they matter. People are paying attention to them, so it's a win-win situation.

Speaker 2:

Anyone who doesn't do it is foolish, truly, if they don't adopt a system. Look and quote what you want 100 Power is a nice name, and I can roll this out in an hour or two with any city, because I've got it down pat. I just overcome stupid objections, like people say. Well, I don't understand why we have to recognize the children. We already have this program. I said no. Are you recognizing the 70% that are being ignored? Probably not. That's the issue. So it's more about convincing the administration. There's a lot of great teachers and great people out there doing great things, but if it was so great, we would have kids out there torturing each other, hurting themselves and each other the way that we do more than we've ever seen. So if they're hurting each other in the masses and they're shooting each other, we have to do something that is recognizing the masses in a very profound way. Every year you have to give them a month out of that school year, like launch into the year that way, and you watch the difference throughout the year.

Speaker 2:

It's like look, I had somebody come over to my house to replace my washer and dryer. This is about three weeks ago. I said where do you live? He said Elizabeth, new Jersey. He said oh yes, my program is mandated in that city. What is that? He said how many power do you stop? He goes, wait a second. He says my daughter has your certificate on my refrigerator. It's been up there for months. What is that piece of paper mean to that child?

Speaker 1:

It makes a difference, makes a huge difference, it's a huge difference, right?

Speaker 2:

These are the most sensitive years to a child. So any recognition that says that they matter, they exist, they're good at something If they're just kind to people to get an award. There's something good in everyone. There's something good in the worst of children.

Speaker 2:

Look, I went to Chicago when I was on my tour, right. So I got put in a room with the most challenging kids, but the ones that they call bullies. Of course I had to get tough with them because I can't go in there with fear, and had them all be quiet, sit down and just listen. Then I got to know each name. Then I had these kids come help me and I said look, there's a big reward if you help me. They set up a stage. They followed me. So the reward was I gave them the whole front row of the 70 assembly. When they saw what I did for that assembly and the media showed up. It was a big to do. I gave them attention. They wouldn't leave. Everyone left. These kids stayed. I said why are you guys not leaving? They said we just love hearing you talk. They don't want to go.

Speaker 1:

That's because you make them feel important and that's what every kid wants, regardless of age or whatever their background is. Like you said, they want to feel like they make a difference, like they're significant, and your program brings that to the table. And I wish I could take the clone and just drop you all over the world, because it's needed so badly. And you and I talked off air a couple of days ago we were collaborating to do the podcast and I said it is such a huge responsibility as a parent, but also as a teacher, as a coach, everybody that works with kids. They're completely missing it. Knowing that making a difference in a child's life is a huge responsibility, and recognizing every single one of them and not just, like you said, the chosen few that may be good at something or doing something on their own. It's the ones that need you to take them under their wing and let them know that they matter. And I love that you take your program and you utilize this and you're teaching this in places that really need it the most.

Speaker 2:

They need it everywhere, even in the richest communities. Where I know of a city in New Jersey, they put swastikas up everywhere, attacking Jews. They're attacking races of people because kids don't feel the love in themselves. This is why they're doing that. They're looking for attention. Again, it's negative attention. I'll tell you this other story. I get choked up when I have so many stories in my head. There was a picture sent to me and the boy was hugging the teacher and he was crying. And why was he crying? Because he got the Harmony Power Award. Why did he get the Harmony Power Award? Because his behavior got better in school. So they recognized that.

Speaker 2:

Imagine this child who is a troublemaker. He starts fights, he's violent, he got better and he's crying. So we have to stop pointing the finger at money. I'm tired of hearing about money as an excuse. I'm tired of people pointing at the administrators. They can do it right in their classroom.

Speaker 2:

What principle is going to say I don't want you to give awards out for kids that are behaving well. Make it your own piece of paper. Don't tell me that that's against anybody's rules, that you need an approval to recognize the good in a child. I'm just saying if you give them something to do within the classroom activities. That's positive, maybe stuff they're already doing and you give them a month of focus where they're interacting about it in some small way. When you pay attention to it, it's a big thing to them. You just said, here's a piece of paper. They're not going to feel anything. But if you give them something to focus on just a little bit each day or each week, and at the end of the month it's about how it's presented and the love that you're expressing to them is the love they're going to feel about who they are.

Speaker 1:

I think it also teaches other kids too, the ones that are always the superstars or they excel at everything. But to see somebody else get recognized for something, that is so important that it's not always what you do that's to excel at, but it's also to do to be kind and recognize other people that may not have those skills. I'm looking at it from an athletic point of view because I've worked, as you know, I do football and I see the superstars that come through. But then my heart has always been with the kids that didn't work, the starters that weren't the first runners, because they were there to practice every single day. They were giving 110% just because they didn't excel, they didn't.

Speaker 1:

It didn't minimize who they were or what their abilities or what their value was part of that team. It's no different than in school. It's like who they are as a person. Everybody's got value, everybody's unique. I always tell them I said you know, be yourself, because everybody else is taken. I know you. Just you are unique and you have a unique talent. You just have to let it just shine through you and I can see. Through your harmony you give that ability for everybody, in every place and every situation, to be able to be recognized above and beyond, to see what their true values are, to shine through.

Speaker 2:

You know and here's the thing with it I have to teach children, which is most important, and this is for adults too. Look, I'm good at what I do. There's so much better than me. There's no end to what's better than me. I watch that these kids are doing today. It's I'm a joke, but kids have blown away when they see me because I'm so loving and passionate about it and I'm good enough for them to understand that I can do it and it's about me doing it that makes them feel connected. Not that I'm so great that they haven't seen. No, not at all. I'll be 59 years old. I'm not doing front flips anymore.

Speaker 2:

There's certain things that I have to draw lines on, but the love that I have for me doing what I do is just that's it. So it doesn't matter what the child does or what the picture they draw looks like, or the song you're singing or rapping or whatever it might be. It's that expression of them being who they want to be. Look, in this life I tell, even when I teach my martial arts doing what you love to do with those you love to do it with. It's all about that. You know and we know to be kind and respectful. But you need respect first, to respect what we don't understand. And then kindness is an act of love, showing levels of kindness. If we have the two, we have everything. We have to have that for ourselves first, and that's why Hami Pao is so important. We have to be respectful to who we are kind to ourselves before we can express it elsewhere.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of the anti-bully programs are very reactive. This happens to you do this, this and that, be kind, be respectful. But if you don't have the self-part, you're just going to fake it, even though faking it you can fake it to your make it. That can make you feel good too. But to really do the inner work is to teach somebody to be you. You be you because nobody can do that but you. And that's the big nucleus, the big missing piece in the anti-bullying crisis that we're in. Well, the bullying crisis, I should say that's what's missing in the mass shootings. They've got more reactive measures, more like gun control laws. Look, I'm a military person. I don't think somebody should have a military weaponry in ever. You're going to be in the military and you should have a background check. I believe in the basics of that.

Speaker 2:

But the cause of a child, looking for something to hurt people. That needs to be dealt with more so than anything else, and that's why harm power is. It's the real solution. It's that idea. Think about it. We're doing it in the homes, right? So we don't hit our kids, or we go across the lines where people are hitting their kids, screaming at them whatever they're doing, which is terrible, right, people cross those lines.

Speaker 2:

I grew up there. I was in a Italian household that was like you need to just hit your kid, you bragged about it. Kids children were seen, not hurt. That's the culture we come from. Now. It's like you sit and have a conversation. You actually listen. I spent a lot of time listening to what I've ever done, and that's what the new generation wants. They want to be heard, not be people doling out all the spirit and intimidation.

Speaker 2:

That old school leadership doesn't work. We look at it in our politics, right. Look at who's trying to like. Forget about what political party you're in.

Speaker 2:

If people are using fear and intimidation or putting down other people, other leaders, as a way to get ahead, we know is not good. You can't trust people who do that if that's their methodology, if you're doing that with your children as parents using fear and intimidation. It doesn't work. They go to school and those kids do. Fear and intimidation become bullies. We can't have bullying leaders in the home, in the schools, in our society and in the corporate world the corporate bullying. It's a whole other craziness that people go to work and they're miserable going to work because the way that's that old paradigm that is struggling to be phased out on a worldwide scale, not just our society, I mean.

Speaker 2:

I'm thinking poverty power needs to be over the world. That I know just from bullying. That is a crisis everywhere right now. It's not just the US phenomenon. It's actually worse in other places. I go to Japan. It's worse because these are kids that are. They're just struggling to express who they are, let alone being their passion. You get awarded for it. That's just not even. It's a lot of emotional suppression. I love you.

Speaker 1:

Unfortunately, as you said, there's things that are happening worldwide. I could spend hours with you because you are so insightful and you've got so much positive things to share. I've got to have you back on. We can go on and do some more, because I really know that you've got so much more valuable information, but up until then, how can they reach you? As everybody knows, the information will be down in the description, so you can reach out to Fence John, but also you'll be embedded into the podcast if you're listening on any of the platforms that this is going to be on. But just give a shout out real quick. So where can they find you, just so we can hear it within the podcast.

Speaker 2:

Well for the charities, harmitypowernoworg. So I welcome people to reach out to me. Let's bring it to your city in a big way. That's a given. You want to change the world? Contact me, we'll do it together. Number one, number two harmiebycaraticom. That's my core base in Manhattan. If you want to contact me that way, that's a possibility as well. But I want to thank you for being on this wonderful podcast.

Speaker 1:

Well, I thank you for being here and it has been such a seriously such a gift to have you on and share your information and your story. What you're doing is just I don't know. There's no words to put on. I think it's just a feeling when you come across or you meet somebody like you. This information needs to be shared, not just where you are locally, but, I think, globally, and I definitely would like to have you back and share some more information. But thank you so much. I love what you're doing. You are an amazing person. Let's come back. I want you to come back.

Speaker 2:

I appreciate it. It was a pleasure and honor to be on your show. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1:

I will see you soon. Hey guys, again, please reach out to Sensei John. I really feel as though, if you have got a connection or somebody you know and I know many of you listen and have got kids in school or any other programs this could be something amazing to incorporate where you're at, even if it's just to reach out to Sensei John and say, hey, how can I do this? I think this is something that really needs to be done, especially with our youth and the programs that are happening now. Why not just fit one more program into what's happening that can do really really good? Until then, remember, the most courageous thing you can do is be yourself. I will look forward to seeing you. Until then, see ya.

Survival and Triumph Through Trauma
From Dance Competitions to National Tours
Empowering Youth Through Harmony Power
Recognizing Children's Value Through Expression
Incorporating Youth Programs With Sensei John