Sergeant Tony's Blog

Archive for June, 2009

THE OAR — Newsletter for 6/24/09

Jun. 24th 2009

Takahashi Sensei was my martial arts instructor and a Buddhist Monk.

When I met him I lived in a small town, small by Japanese standards,
called Owariasahishi.

Takahashi Sensei, about 68 years old when I met him, was also the Abbot
of the Buddhist monastery that was practically next door to me. I had
to walk past the monastery everyday to get to the subway station. He
was often standing in front of the temple in the morning alone or with
other monks and I always bowed to them as I passed.

One day as I walked by, Takahashi Sensei (his name unknown to me at the
time) looked at me as we exchanged bows and said, “Guudo Mahnengu!”

I’d lived in Japan for several years by that time and knew that that
was his attempt at an English greeting. That was “good morning.” I
smiled and said good morning. That made me smile inside because I would
sometimes go for days and not speak a word of English. It felt warm and

Usually Takahashi Sensei’s hands were hidden in his robes as I walked
by and bowed. But about a week after that first “Guudo Mahnengu!” he
took his hand out and waved and smiled. This was very unusual and very
touching. I did the same.

This went on for another week. A bow and a “Guudo Mahnengu!” followed
by a wave and a smile.

One morning I finally walked up to him and bowed and said “Good
morning, Sensei. I look forward to seeing you every morning.”
And he said, “Oh … uh … my … Engrish … not … so … good.” So I
switched languages and we carried on a very warm conversation. And from
that day forward we became friends. Actually more than just friends. I
would consider him a father figure in time.

Two or three days a week I came home for lunch. I never saw the monks
at lunch time in front of the temple. But one day Takahashi Sensei was
there waiting for me. He asked if I would like to participate in a
lunch time meditation. I thanked him and said maybe someday, but I was
very busy. Truth is, I was a bit afraid of what went on in that temple
and within the secret chambers of the monastery.

He kept asking … and I kept putting him off … until finally one day
I agreed. That was a mistake.

When I followed Takahashi Sensei into the large meditation room, I
found regular people and monks quietly sitting in a large rectangle on
the polished wooden floor. There were about 30 or so people in all. If
you saw “The Last Samurai” there was a temple scene in the movie that
looked much like that room. Large, open, airy, old … polished
spotless dark wooden floors, the faint smell of incense in the air and
the distant sounds of wind chimes. The temple bell struck at about 1
minute intervals.

All of the people had their eyes closed in meditation. But one of the
senior monks was not meditating. He was slowly walking around the room,
robes flowing, as he moved effortlessly … holding an object in his
hands that looked like a long, narrow, thin oar. He carried it at “port
arms” like a soldier would run with a rifle. The monk moved gracefully
and deliberately around the room.

What was this?

Then the monk stopped in front of one person, a man who looked to be
about my age, wearing a shirt and tie, no shoes of course. The monk
slowly took the “oar” and laid it on top of the man’s right shoulder.
It looked like the monk was “knighting” the man. “I dub you Sir

And then, in a flash, the monk raised the oar up and struck the man on
the shoulder! It happened so fast that it seemed like I might have only
imagined it. Then the monk laid the oar back on the same shoulder in
the same “knighting” motion. And then removed the oar from the man’s
shoulder and moved back and away from the man, who never showed any
pain or any reaction and never opened his eyes.


The monk continued to walk slowly around the room. A few minutes later
the same thing happened. But this time it happened to a housewife I
recognized from the neighborhood. Mrs. Yamada. I knew her well. She was
so sweet! And that bastard monk smacked her too! But she likewise
didn’t react.

MY shoulder hurt for both of them! I knew it had to hurt. I HEARD the
sound it made. It reminded me of being in school and getting a “swat”
from the principal. Well, IF I had ever gotten a swat, that is.

My first meditation was observation only. The session came to an end
when the senior monk with the oar moved to the center of the room and
tapped his oar to the floor three times. Everyone stood up. The monk
thanked them for sharing that time together with him and wished them
well. Everyone bowed to the monk and he bowed to them. Then they all
moved quietly out of the meditation room.

Takahashi Sensei explained what I’d just seen. Zen is a practice of
living in the moment and being nothing. Impossible to explain in a
single sentence or a single book. But those who meditate must be in the
moment and be nothing in the moment. The monk with the oar examined
each person closely, their breathing, their posture, their facial
expressions, their body movements, even the smallest twitching of their
closed eyelids. Everything, including the perceived energy of the
person, was observed.

If the monk sensed that the person was “not in the moment,” that they
were distracted, that they were thinking about the cares of their life,
or their plans, or their job, or anything else … they got the oar.

I joined the class!

I apparently like abuse! I started going 3 times a week. I even went
sometimes on the weekends too. I joined the martial arts club at the
monastery, attending evening workouts 3 times a week.

In the beginning of my meditation … I got the oar. I got the oar a
lot. The first time it was from Takahashi Sensei himself. I felt like I
had been beaten by my loving father. It hurt my feelings as much as it
hurt my shoulder. I got the oar so often that I had bruises on my
shoulders. But within a few months I was seldom struck. I had learned
to meditate.

Leaving Japan was very hard for me. I’d been there 10 years and had
often thought that I’d always live there. But circumstances brought me
back to the States. One of the hardest things I had to do was to say
goodbye to Takahashi Sensei. I had grown to love him dearly. When we
bowed to one another for the last time … I bowed as low as I could
… showing him my deepest respect and honor … and not wanting to
stand upright, ending the bow and my life under his instruction
forever. I had tears in my eyes when I stood up … and so did he.

“Tony san, you are a human being” Takahashi Sensei told me one day
after we had become friends, “you are not a human doing. Be … then
doing will come easily.”

I have moved far away from being still. Being. I’m often not still
enough. I’m sometimes too active for my own good. My senses get
overloaded and over stimulated by so many things to see and do. To hear
and watch. I miss those “oar days” … of focusing on being quiet in
the moment … and being nothing … in the moment.

Be still.



Have a student who’d like to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for the
summer? Special discounted program for summer student recruits! Email
me for details



Tomorrow, Thursday, June 25 at 0530! Meet at the U of M in front of the
parking garage on Zach Curlin! No 0530 class at CUMC tomorrow.



1. Natalie Williams (Boot Camper) looking for a Marketing/ Event
Coordinating or Advertising job. Has a degree in Marketing Management
and has several years of experience. Please contact
with any leads or job opportunities.

2. Eric Flanders (Boot Camper): Fleet Feet Sports “Running Shoes,
Apparel and Gear”, 901-761-0078. Sgt. Tony’s running store. The store
has moved from Erin Way Shopping Center and is now next door to the new
Panera Bread!

3. Dr. John Whittemore (Boot Camper) Germantown Dental Group,
901-754-0540. Sgt. Tony’s dentist.


JULY 4th

This year, the 4th of July falls on a Saturday. Since many of you will
have Friday off, we will have our holiday work schedule on Friday the
3rd. So only one workout at 0700 on Friday 3 July.


To your continued good health and fitness!


Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
4888 Southern
Memphis, TN 38117

Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

5 ADJECTIVES — Newsletter for 6/18/09

Jun. 18th 2009

If you’re on Facebook you probably have some of the same kinds of friends that I do. On Monday their status updates are full of negative and downer talk.

(If you’re NOT on Facebook, a “status update” is a way for you to tell your friends something about your day or your life. Some people update their status once a day or once a week and others update their status every 10 minutes! “I’m in line at Kroger.” and then ten minutes later, “I’m driving home from Kroger.” Oh boy! And then other people give you something of what their life is like on that particular day. “Such and such is enjoying this beautiful day here at Hilton Head.”)

The Negative Nancies who whine about Monday have just a few things they seem to be passionate about.

They can’t wait to leave work.
They can’t wait for Friday to come.
They need a vacation.
They love _____________ ! (fill in the blank with wine or margaritas)
They’re tired.

A lot of their status updates are just whining and complaining. Most, but not all of these people, are twenty something single women who seem to be confused by their “singleness.” They can’t understand why guys aren’t beating a path to their door. Not all of them are twenty something women. Some are in their thirties and forties. Most are women.

I have started clicking on the “show me less about this person” button just so I don’t have to be reminded that it’s Monday and that it sucks. I mean, seriously … who wants to read that?

Whining and complaining are HUGE downers!

One of my female friends is going to go out on a date with a guy she’s really not that into. But she’s going to give the guy a chance. She asked me for some advice on how to sort of “cool his jets” if there isn’t any chemistry on the date. I suggested several things to do, including “dominate the conversation with endless boring details about stuff and do a lot of whining and complaining, and telling of ‘woe is me’ stories.” That ought to extinguish any possible spark that might exist. Any guy who’d ask for a second date after a full night of that crap is desperate beyond measure.

On the other hand, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, more appealing and more attractive and more winsome than people with a passion for life! A lust for life!

Mark Sanborn wrote a book called The Fred Factor. The subtitle is “How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.” Maybe you’ve read it. It’s a fabulous little book!

The “Fred” of this book is Fred Shea. Mr. Shea isn’t Mark Sanborn’s doctor, pastor, counselor, attorney, or priest. Fred is his mailman. But Fred isn’t your average mail carrier. Mailman Fred knows the people on his route like ministers know their congregations.

Fred knows each family by name. He knows the kids, the dogs, and the cars that belong in the neighborhood. He knows when people on his route are ill, when they are celebrating, when they are mourning. He pays attention. He engages those folks in conversation. He is passionate about his life and his work. He has turned the simple act of bringing mail to a house into a vehicle for kindness, friendship, compassion, and caring.

Who would have thought that a mail carrier would be the subject of a national bestseller about passion? With almost 2 million copies sold!

It’s doubtful that many of the people on Fred’s route knew too much about Fred himself. Of course they discovered things about him after the book came out. What this means is that Fred talked to the people about them and their lives. He took an interest in the other person and paid attention when the other person spoke.

The point is passion! The goal is passion for EVERYDAY, not just Friday. Not just for the weekend! Our daily mission statement must be to live THAT day successfully … with passion. To live THIS day with joy and gladness. A day designed to put more positive things out into the world than negative ones. A day planned to put a smile on another’s face for no other reason than to see another person smile.

Here’s your homework. It’s a multi-part assignment.

Part One: Write down the five adjectives that YOU believe best describes your personality. Which five adjectives would you choose to describe yourself? Don’t bother with physical descriptions. Focus instead on the personality attributes and character qualities that you believe best describes the real you. This is what you believe YOU bring to the table.

Part Two: Read that list.

Part Three: Write down the five adjectives that you would LIKE to describe you.This is what you wish you brought to the table.

Part Four: Share these two lists. Enlist the help of a friend or family member who will be honest and frank with you. Ask their opinion. Then ask them to help you live more according to the list of adjectives that describe your idealized self. And give them permission to kick you in the seat of the pants when you act contrary to the you that YOU want to be!

I think it’s interesting that Facebook is called face book. What is the “face” that you show to the world? When you leave the company of another, what are the “take aways” that person will take from their time spent with you?

Are you a Fred?



Please keep Teri Trotter and Tawnette Baker in your thoughts and prayers.



This is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class and will follow the same routine as the 0830 class!

The 0830 is currently on hiatus for the summer.



Have a student who’d like to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for the summer? Special discounted program for summer student recruits! Email me for details!



Next Thursday! The fourth Thursday, June 25 at 0530! Meet at the U of M in front of the parking garage on Zach Curlin!


What are your 5 adjectives?

To your continued good health and fitness!


Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding

4888 Southern Ave

Memphis, TN 38117


Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Weekly Newsletter | No Comments »

RICK’S COOKIE CORNER — Newsletter for 6/10/09

Jun. 10th 2009

I used to be a super-hero. I possessed a super power. It’s true.

I didn’t have a cool suit with a cape or anything. And quite frankly, my powers were a little limited. Let me tell you about those super powers and how I used them for evil. (I didn’t say that I was a good guy with super powers. I was more villain than good guy.)

From the time I was about 6 years old until I was about 12 I had super-conducting-quantum-physics-like-hearing. Unfortunately it was selective hearing. For example, I seldom heard the teacher when she assigned homework. I was practically deaf when my mother would tell me to come in from playing. (Do kids still go outside to play?) And it was impossible for me to hear my dad tell me to clean up my room.

But I could hear the ice cream man when he was miles away! My super hearing was far superior to that of my friends in the neighborhood. I could hear the ice cream man leaving the ice cream plant over in the next county! Heck, I could hear him leave his house!!

I was the neighborhood early warning system. If I was outside I would be able to give everyone plenty of time to go beg for popsicle money from their parents before the ice cream man arrived in our neighborhood.

This made me a hero to my friends. But a “bad influence” according to their cheap-no-fun-stick-in-the-mud-parents.

Anyway, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Even now! Right!?? I mean, WHO doesn’t like ice cream? Especially in summertime!

I get asked a lot of questions about nutrition and weight loss. I rather think the people who ask me these questions already know the answer. I doubt that we suffer in this country for lack of knowledge about those subjects. We just lack the self discipline.

“So, Tony … do YOU eat ice cream?”

“Yes, I do!”

I don’t eat ice cream everyday. Maybe not even once a week. Probably once a month maybe … unless I’m out with friends who are “bad influences.” (You know who you are, you Disney geeks! Love ya, mean it!) I was also lead astray by someone who often tempted me with “Skinny Cows!” (They’re pretty yummy!)

I drink a beer or two now and again. I eat chocolate on occasion! I really like pizza at Old Venice! (You’re welcome Stacey Crenshaw!) I love me some Huey burgers too. And D’bos has the best hot wings in Memphis, but Hooter’s has better … scenery! And Gibson’s Donuts, Muddy’s Bake Shop, Rick’s Cookie Corner, Ben & Jerry’s, and Baskin Robbins are ALL the Devil … and waaaaaay too close to my house … and I go to all of them … on occasion.

On occasion.

In moderation.

“Avoid extremes,” my grandfather told me. “All things in moderation … including moderation,” he added.

I give myself permission to eat all of those things. And THAT takes away the power of those “forbidden fruits” to make me freak out and binge.

Eat sensibly.
Make good choices.
Make healthy choices.
Read labels.
Eat smaller portions.
Indulge yourself occasionally.
Never forget that weight loss is a simple math equation. Calories consumed verses calories used.

It ain’t rocket surgery! 😉

OK, I gotta go … I hear the ice cream man!



The following Boot Campers cranked it up a notch last weekend! Congratulations guys!!!

Harbor Town 5K
Anna Haug
Angela Haug
John Winford
Holly Spraker

CATS Sprint Triathlon in Conway, AR
David Caffey



Today’s Big Three are:

1. Dr. Amy Moffatt (Boot Camper!!!) MobileVet Memphis — bringing the clinic to you! A fully equipped clinic on wheels for wellness care, routine surgeries, dentistry, bloodwork and more. She has been practicing veterinary medicine in Memphis since 2002 and went mobile in November 2008. Evening and weekend appointments available. $10 off your first trip fee if you mention Boot Camp! 901-569-3683

2. Will Levy (Boot Camper) Oak Hall — Special Promotion: Buy one, get the second at half price SALE! Call Will or go into the store and let him help you get something awesome for spring! 6150 Poplar Ave # 146
Memphis, TN 38119 (901) 761-3580

3. Art Johnson (Boot Camper — on leave) — Savvy Spirit — personalized, high quality, but simple brochure-style web site design.



Many of you have seen Teri Trotter — in treatment for breast cancer — AT BOOT CAMP!!! She and Brad were at the evening class on Monday night. She’s doing great! Her camo do rag was a very nice touch! You rock Teri!! And you too … a little bit, Brad!

Tawnette Baker had heart surgery this morning. I got a text message from her husband, Don, just a bit ago and he said that the surgery went well!! Hang in there T-Bone!



This is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class and will follow the same routine as the 0830 class!

The 0830 is currently on hiatus for the summer.



Have a student who’d like to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for the summer? Special discounted program for summer student recruits! Email me for details!



Next Thursday! The third and fourth Thursday, June 18 and June 25 at 0530! Meet at the U of M in front of the parking garage on Zach Curlin!


Tomorrow, do better.

To your continued good health and fitness!


Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
4888 Southern Ave
Memphis, TN 38117

Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Amen. — Newsletter for 6/3/09

Jun. 3rd 2009

As a high school teacher I attended a lot of graduation exercises. Commencement speeches, usually delivered by some successful and/or famous person, are notorious for following a certain formula.

1. Congratulate the graduates.
2. Commend them for their hard work.
3. Challenge them with the need for their contribution to our country.
4. Motivate them with a success story.
5. Now, go out there and attack the hill!!!

Or variations on those themes. The speeches are expected to be motivating and positive.

The valedictorian’s speeches also follow a formula. I think they all download the same speech from “ Their formula looks like this:

1. High school is finally over, can you believe it?
2. We’ve worked really hard.
3. We’ve come a long way.
4. The future belongs to us.
5. Let’s go have fun!

The downloaded speech probably comes with a video that teaches them how to deliver that speech in a high pitched voice, in an octave range only heard by dogs and cats.

None of the guest speakers ever say things like, “HEY, YOU THERE!” pointing at some dufuss kid texting his stoner buddy during the ceremony, “repeat after me, ‘would you like fries with that, sir?'”

And you never see the valedictorian point at the marginal student/ marginal football player/over indulged spoiled kid — acting too cool for the ceremony — and say “Hey Bonehead! You just peaked! The rest of your life will be spent retelling the past three years over beers at the local watering hole with your loser buddies!”

Wouldn’t it be fun if the speeches actually had that kind of entertainment and shock value? OK, well, maybe that’s just entertaining to me. But I’d pay good money to attend some of those graduations!

This year I attended three graduation commencement exercises.

One of those commencement exercises featured two Ludlow graduates. My son, Matthew, and my daughter, Missy, both graduated from the U of M in the same ceremony. No, I was NOT proud!

The guest speaker, a U of M alum, was Don Hutson, a motivational speaker and author of nine books, including “The One Minute Entrepreneur” which he co-authored with Dr. Ken Blanchard. As he was being introduced, I was already preparing my mind for what I was predicting the speaker would say. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything too interesting. (“Thinkers. Dreamers. Sleepers. zzzzzzzz)

I was wrong. (These are times when I really really LOVE being wrong!!)

Mr. Hutson was awesome! He sort of followed the formula but not really. He included elements of the formula, but expanded them with illustrations and really interesting applications.

I want to share two of the things that he said. They’re actually quotes from other people in his life. He quoted his son and his wife.

One day Mr. Hutson was at home sitting in his chair reading. His son happened to be walking by and stopped in front of his dad, stood there for a minute and said, “Dad, are you alright?” Yes, he was alright. “Dad, are you happy?” Yes, he was happy. To which the son said, “Well then, why don’t you notify your face!?!”

Hutson said that he became instantly aware of the scowl on his face. He was struck by the fact that he makes his living giving motivating speeches and writing motivating books, but at home he didn’t seem very motivated. At that instant he purposed to keep his face informed of his abiding happiness.

Mr. Hutson’s wife was responsible for the other thing that I thought was good. She accused her husband of “Reverse Paranoia.”

“What is reverse paranoia?” he asked.
She said, “You think the world is out to help you!”

What an awesome thing to be accused of! The world is out to help you! He expects people to be agents of good things in his life. He thinks good things will happen. He believes in his heart that good things will happen.

Isn’t it funny how the people who expect the world to screw them … seem to be getting what they expect? And those who seem to have a reverse paranoia view of the world seem to walk through doors of opportunity, opened by others, towards things that nurture their life and give them happiness.

One year, the Valedictorian of the high school where I taught, was a Vietnamese-American boy. He gave one of the most remarkable speeches that I’d ever heard. I sat there in the faculty section, warm tears running down my face, fighting back the full blown sobs that I felt deep inside. He had been one of my favorite students and I loved him dearly. He was humble, generous, kind, respectful, and full of joy!

In his speech, our Valedictorian told of his escape from Vietnam with his family. An escape that involved floating down a polluted river as a little boy, holding on to logs and bamboo shoots, trying to avoid being captured by the North Vietnamese who were trying to find them. His mother and four of his siblings made an unbelievable and daring escape, eventually making their way to an overcrowded boat that took them from Vietnam in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs. His father had been captured in the escape and was presumed dead.

When our Valedictorian and his family arrived in America they had nothing. Absolutely nothing. His father was never heard from. But they managed to carve out a life for themselves, eventually settling in Memphis. Every member of his family worked. In addition to maintaining a 4.4 GPA in the honor’s program, our Valedictorian also worked 30 hours a week in a Vietnamese restaurant, washing dishes and mopping floors.

Just before our Valedictorian stood up to speak, I heard someone behind me — some parent or some guest — say, “Why is it always some ‘Chink-kid’?” I imagined this guy, this moron, believed the world was out to screw him. And I hoped that it was doing just that. Everyday. In every way. Some “Chink Kid?” I hoped that his kid was the one who had just peaked.

Our Valedictorian is now a medical resident who hopes to work at St. Jude someday.

“The world is what you make of it.” he said in his speech. And he ought to know.

And all the people said, “Amen.”



1. Melissa Dixon (Boot Camper, BNI): Affordable Moving “Local and Long Distance Moving”, 901-388-3313

2. Taylor Taylor (Boot Camper) Summer Junior Tennis Camps at the Racquet Club Memphis taught by Taylor, a USPTA Professional, 901-765-4404.

3. Dr. Carl “Buddy” Flinn (Boot Camper), Peepers Optical 773 Estate Pl, Memphis. 901-681-4045. Specializing In Pediatric Eyewear, Pediatric Ophthalmology & Adult Strabismus. Sergeant Tony’s eye doc!



If you got this newsletter today, Wednesday, June 3, BUT YOU DID NOT GET IT LAST WEEK ON WEDNESDAY, would you please email me and let me know?

Cathy Graham and I are working to get rid of the bugs and hope that we are close to getting things right. So if you didn’t get last week’s newsletter on Wednesday, but you DID get it today, June 3. Shoot me an email real quick and let me know. Thank you so much!


0645 AND 0830 CLASS NEWS!

The 0645 class is up and runnin’!! This is a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class.

The 0830 class is on hiatus for the summer.



The evening class meets at CUMC (Christ United Methodist Church) on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Tuesday we meet at St. Mary’s track. St. Mary’s is located at Perkins and Walnut Grove. If you go east on Poplar from CUMC, turn left at the new Walgreen’s. The track is just down the street on the left.

The Friday Evening Class meets at 5:30, instead of 5:45!



Have a student who’d like to join USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for the summer? Special discounted program for summer student recruits! Email me for details!



Boot Camper Eric Flanders and his crew have relocated Fleet Feet Sports — USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP’S OFFICIAL Running Store — even closer to us now! You will find them next to the new Panera Bread at Poplar and Grove Park!

Congratulations Eric and Robin!

Go by and say hello and take a look at the new Fleet Feet Sports!


The world is what you make of it!

To your continued good health and fitness,


Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
4888 Southern Ave
Memphis, TN 38117

Posted by Tony Ludlow | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Like us on Facebook

Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust