Sergeant Tony's Blog

BEING THERE — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 1/30/2013

Wednesday, Jan. 30th 2013 3:41 PM

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. He was saying “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 familiar.

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.

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. 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. I miss those “oar days” … of focusing on being quiet in the moment … and being nothing … in the moment.

— 30 —

Successful People vs. Unsuccessful People

• Keep a “to do” project list
• Embrace change
• Exude joy
• Share information and data
• Talk about ideas
• Read everyday
• Give other people credit for their victories
• Have a sense of gratitude
• Compliment others
• Forgive others
• Accept responsibilities for their failures
• Keep a journal
• Want others to succeed
• Keep a “to be” list
• Set goals and develop life plans
• Continuously learn
• Operate from a transformational perspective

• Exude anger
• Horde information and data
• Talk about people
• Fly by the seat of their pants
• Fear change
• Watch TV everyday
• Take all of the credit for their victories
• Have a sense of entitlement
• Criticize others
• Hold a grudge
• Blame others for their own failures
• Say they keep a journal but really don’t
• Think they know it all
• Operate from a transactional perspective
• Secretly hope that others fail
• Don’t know what they want to be
• Never set goals




Interested? There is a half marathon here in Memphis in April, one in Nashville, and one in Louisville. (Let me know if you hear of others in late April.)

Are you new to half marathoning? You can come and try it out at no charge and no obligation.

If you can cover 3 miles in under 36 minutes, you can train with me and be a Buffalo Runner, even if you’ve never run a 5K! (Don’t believe me? Talk to Michelle Moss!)

Contact me if you have any questions! Cost is only $75 for active duty Boot Campers and $125 for non-boot campers for the three-month training.

We’ll meet at 7:30am on Sunday, February 3, in front of the Visitor’s Center at Shelby Farms. This second training run will be 1hr 20min.

Sunday will be our intended running day, weather permitting. That is, if the forecast calls for clear skies on Saturday, but rain on Sunday, we’ll run on Saturday.





Anytime the “Feels like” temperature on The Weather Channel – I’ll be using the TWC app for iPhone — drops to 30 or below, we’ll go inside. The 0530 and 0645 classes use the “blue gym” on those days. During basketball season, the evening class will use the exercise room off the main gym.

If the Memphis City Schools close for ice or snow, we will also stand down. If they start, but then dismiss classes early, the evening class will stand down.



What you get out of the workouts is determined by you.

How much do you work? How much effort you put into trying to do all of the repetitions with proper form and how much weight you’re using will determine what you get out of each workout.

It’s time for you to go up in weights … that’s what I’m thinking!






When you check-in on Facebook, be sure to check-in on our OFFICIAL PAGE. That would be “USMC Fitness Boot Camp” and it has my picture on the page and boot camp is two words. The other pages are those that other people created without looking for the OFFICIAL PAGE and are duplicates. Those pages refer to us, but aren’t the authorized page.

Thanks, all!



Members of the Sub-7 Club are Boot Campers who’ve run the mile in under 7 minutes under my observation and timing.

Congratulations to the following members of the Sub Seven Club:

Lance Corporal Lee Chase,
Staff Sergeant Patrick Moore,
Staff Sergeant Rob Johnston,
Sergeant Andrew Stolnicki,
Lance Corporal Chris McLelland,
Gunnery Sergeant Bart Thomas,
First Sergeant Matt Green,
Staff Sergeant Dory Sellers,
Master Sergeant John Winford,
Sergeant Major Andrew Forsdick
and Gunnery Sergeant Henry Kenworthy.



Your rank insignia t-shirts look AWESOME on you! (Don’t forget to wear yours EVERY WEDNESDAY AND/OR THURSDAY, T-SHIRT DAY!

And please go to

And enter your boot camp anniversary date. If that information is already there and correct, you’re good to go.

Every Wednesday is our Official BOOT CAMP T-SHIRT DAY! You can wear your rank insignia shirt anytime you‘d like, of course, but always every Wednesday!

The Rank Structure of the Quarterdeck:

Under 6 months is a Private
Six months to 1 year is a Private First Class.

Over 1 year is a Lance Corporal
– Amber Jackson 4/2011
– Sherri Thompson 4/2011
– Carrie Schule 5/2011
– Mary Bauer 6/2011
– Robin Scott 3/2011
– Chris McLelland 3/2011
– Courtney Phillips 2/2011
– Randal Rhea 4/2011
– Cindy King 4/2011
– Bevan Lee 5/2011
– Melissa Thompson 5/2011
– Wayne Henderson 1/2011
– Michelle Moss 5/2011
– Lee Chase 7/2011
– JD Dombroski 8/2011
– Lindsey Stanfill 9/2011
– ShaWanda Upshaw 10/2011
– Tara Ingram 11/2011
– Pam Torres – meritoriously promoted 12/2012
– Tait Keller 12/2012
– Kitty Keller 12/2012

Over 2 years is a Corporal
– Emily Melonas 6/2010
– Cecelia DeLacy 2/2010
– Beth Mills 5/2010
– Ashley Hofeditz 4/2010
– Anne Marie Wyatt 4/2010
– Jenni Harris 8/2010
– Tim Romanow 8/2010
– Ashley McClure 8/2010
– Wendy Shea 4/2008*
– Jeremy Harris 1/2009*
– Falana Scott 7/2010
– Paul Bauer 11/2010

Over 3 years is a Sergeant
– Teresa Faulk 6/2009
– Meg Cannon 3/2009
– Cameron Mosley 11/2009
– Karen Massey 11/2009
– Paul Tronsor 3/2009
– Jessie Flanders 1/2009
– Andrew Stolnicki 1/2009
– Jonathan Phillips 10/2008
– Ben Killerlain 1/2009
– Sarah Vickers 8/2009
– Shena Clemons 10/2008
– Robert Hunt 8/2009
– Albo Carruthers 8/2008
– Kim Wamble 8/2008*
– Scott Plunkett 10/2008

Over 4 years is a Staff Sergeant
– Buddy Daves 5/2008
– Anne Mead 2/2005*
– Dory Sellers 6/2006*
– Patrick Moore 9/2008
– Oscar Adams 3/2008
– Anne Kenworthy 8/2008
– Alan Schaeffer 4/2008
– Rob Johnston 4/2008
– Patty Dougherty 3/2008

Over 5 years is a Gunnery Sergeant
– Mike Ryan 5/2006*
– Leslie Garey 6/2007
– Henry Kenworthy 5/2007
– Michelle Dunn 3/2007
– Frank Jemison /2007
– Bart Thomas /2007
– Matt Prince /2007
– Beth Rehrig 7/2007
– George Rose /2007

Over 6 years is a Master Sergeant
– John Winford 2/2006
– Kay Ryan 10/2006
– Megan Warr 8/2006
– Leesa Jensen 5/2006
– Rob Norcross 8/2006
– Mike Barta 6/2005*
– Anne Emmerth 6/2005*
– Jeff Lee 1/2006
– Ralph Braden 9/2006

Over 7 years is a First Sergeant
– Kay Shelton 1/2006
– Louis Glazer 3/2005
– Scot Bearup 10/2005
– Matt Green 5/2005
– Gary Thompson 10/2005

Over 8 years is a Sergeant Major
– Melissa Moore 2/2005
– Hank Brown 3/2004
– Andrew Forsdick 9/2004
– Teri Trotter 4/2004

Over 9 years is a Warrant Officer 1
– David Townsend 1/2004
– Amy Singer 9/2003
– Peter Pettit 5/2003
– John Whittemore 1/2003
– Buddy Flinn 7/2003

Over 10 years is a Chief Warrant Officer 2
– Pat McGhee 1/2003

* broken time



We should be!


You should totally do that!



If you set up an automatic payment at your bank (Boot Camp mailing address is 4888 Southern, Memphis 38117) you can subtract $10 off your fee! That’s right, instead of $75, you can pay $65!

(This is not an automatic bank draft that I set up with a voided check. This an automatic payment that you yourself set up.)



0530 Monday through Friday
(First and second Tuesday of the month are M-16 Workouts at CUMC. Third and fourth Tuesdays are Mt. Fuji Workouts at the U of M)

0645 M-F

5:30 PM: Monday through Friday.



First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)

Here’s how the discount works!

It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!

For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, (there are fake boot camps out there) you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!

You can take up to $20 off for any given month!

Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.


You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.

So log on and start getting your discounts now!



Remember that when one of your family or friends joins the program at full price because of your recruiting efforts, YOU get a free month of Boot Camp!



Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery.

You can also go to



A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.

For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.


Q. How can I get up in the morning on a consistent basis?
A. Contrary to what many think, I am NOT a morning person. I have to be “dynamited” out of the bed! Here are some tips to help you get going in the morning:
1. Use two alarm clocks. I have a snooze alarm that starts going off several minutes before I intend to get up. Then I have a “Last Call” alarm clock that is located across the room. This alarm clock is set to go off when I MUST get up.
2. Once the last call alarm goes off, the bed become OFF LIMITS! Get moving!
3. Get out of bed, turn off the alarm clock, and start turning on lights all through the house. Turn on the TV.
4. Lay out your clothes the night before. Don’t go wandering around the house in the morning trying to find your left shoe and your favorite shorts. So, have things ready the night before.

What would you do if money was not an issue, fear was not a factor, and failure was not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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