The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai

Episode #164: Readings from Zen in the Martial Arts, Ninjutsu History and Tradition, and The Thirteenth Hour – the Kiai

Today, we’re taking a short break from 80s movies to talk about something found in many martial arts – the shout.  In Japanese, it’s called a kiai (kihap in Korean). The character making up the term make the most sense in traditional Chinese characters (qi4 he2 – although I’m not sure if that term is actually used in Chinese martial arts or in Chinese at all):


On the left, the topmost radical is used for “steam” or “gas” usually.  The star shaped character underneath is the character for rice.  So the steam coming off cooking rice is essentially “energy” or “spirit” and a whole host of other more esoteric things, though in the practical sense, if one thinks of rice being the lifeblood of an agrarian region like ancient China, it makes sense that food = energy.  The character on the right means “together.”  The roof like part of the character is very similar to the character for person.  The one below is “one” and the box on the bottom is the character for “mouth.”  Though I’m not sure it’s explained this way, I think of it as “person or people with one mouth” – i.e. “people expressing one voice” (Chinese doesn’t necessarily have to distinguish between 1 person and many).   Notice there isn’t actually anything about shouting, though that’s how it’s often used practically.

So there are two readings from two martial arts books that discuss this idea of tapping into the universal energy that binds living things: Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams and Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Masaaki Hatsumi.  We end with a section from The Thirteenth Hour where the main character uses this idea in two separate ways, one defensively, one offensively.

In a way, this episode may be prep for next week’s (likely) episode on Big Trouble in Little China.  The podcast now has a page on Facebook, so head over there and to Instagram to check out some scenes from the film over the next few weeks.


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hourplaylist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!



The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #96: Visualization for Healing

Episode #96: Zen Visualization for Healing and Learning + New Synth Track Preview

Today’s podcast about focusing the power of the mind to help heal injuries goes out to Ryan, a friend of mine who sustained an unexpected injury.  Hope it helps (at the very least, it can’t hurt!)  Get well soon!

We talked about zen in archery back in episode #62 and a year ago back in episode #44.   As before, we’ll be reading from a chapter in the book, Zen in the Martial Arts, by Joe Hyams:

Image result for zen in martial arts

Click on the picture of the book above to find a copy of your own.

If you’re at all interested in martial arts or philosophy (or both), I’d highly recommend reading it.  I first read it when I was introduced to martial arts at age 13.  There was a lot I didn’t understand or only understood partially at the time but have found that with each re-reading, I take away a new lesson.

The chapter I’m reading from today is about using positive visualization to make changes in your life: i.e. not letting negative thinking get the better of you, maintaining a positive outlook while injured, or learning something new.  It’s important to remember that before our bodies can do something, our brains must plan it out first.  It may happen unconsciously, but the body does do what the brain sees first!  Sounds simple (and it is – though that does not necessarily mean easy), but that’s zen for you.

In case you don’t have access to the book, here are a few snippets from the chapter:

The version of the book I have has black and white photographs accompanying the chapters.  For this chapter, there’s a flame, probably to accompany Bruce Lee’s idea of imagining negative thoughts burning up in his mind.

And since today was all about fire and focus, we’ll end with the first half of a new song I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks called “Ember.”  I wrote it years ago and have been trying to rework it into a synthesizer track for the sequel to Long Ago Not So Far Away (which, coincidentally, you can now find for streaming off Spotify).  It’s been a slow going process (as these things often are), but so far, I’m pretty happy with the way it’s been going.  It’s about growing up, which involves a certain amount of questioning who you are and what you believe.  But it’s also about believing in yourself and not losing the fire that drives your passion.  In the words of Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid 3), “Daniel-san, focus!  … Best karate still inside!”

Join the mailing list for an upcoming EP with “Ember” and number of new tracks!

As always, thanks for listening!

Glowing ember photo courtesy of Anastasia Zhenina.



  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast, a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour, and access to retro 80s soundtrack!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and@the13thhr.ost for your random postings on ninjas, martial arts, archery, flips, breakdancing, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Listen to Long Ago Not So Far Away, the Thirteenth Hour soundtrack online at:  Join the mailing list for a digital free copy.  You can also get it on CD or tape.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #44: Zen

Episode #44: Zen Practice, Martial Arts, and Everyday Life

Today’s podcast is all about Zen.

Zen, a philosophy that carries much ado and marketing buzz, really can be summed up in one simple idea – being present right where you are now.  It’s obviously easier said than done, but certain activities naturally lend themselves to discovering this state of no-mind easier than others, martial arts being one such avenue.

George Lucas incorporated these ideas into the character of Yoda (essentially a Zen master in a galaxy far, far away) in his teachings of the Force and the way of the Jedi to a young Luke Skywalker, so that’s an easy way to think some of the ideas behind Zen if you’re familiar with the films but not Zen.

This synth Yoda-Zen montage clip is from a fellow bandcamper, melodysheep.  You can listen to the full song here and check out the rest of his work at

But you don’t have to travel far to find Zen and its applications in daily life.  This episode focuses on a few segments from the book Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams:

There’s an excerpt on being present in the moment, accepting your limitations and using them to your advantage, and deep breathing, a gateway to meditative practices.

For years, I’ve found aspects of tai chi practice helpful as a kind of moving mediation.  I like this particular video since it’s so easy to follow along with, as the movements are reversed for the viewer so you don’t have to mentally adjust left and right in your mind to match what the instructor is saying (a common issue with learn by video):

Scott Cole: Discover Tai Chi AM/PM Workouts

Click for an excerpt

Aspects of Zen were behind this particular passage in The Thirteenth Hour, where Logan eventually does the counterintuitive and, after centering himself, relaxes instead of struggling to get out a magic spell that makes him immobile.

No, I won’t give up …

logan ground rm.jpg

I summoned all my energy and with a shout that rang in my ears long after it had faded, I slowly scooped myself off the stone floor. I fell back immediately. I tried again and managed a short stumble to the wall. I clung to it for support. Tears and bad words. You didn’t give up. Good. Now relax. Relax your muscles. They screamed in protest, as did I, with them. Boy, I must have been a sorry sight – sputtering and crying, unshaven and haggard, malodorous and malnourished – but in my own dystonic way, I managed to lurch along, bit by stumbling bit …

… My arms and legs still seemed incredibly heavy, like lead. I could have made better ground running in quicksand. But by concentrating on relaxing my cramping muscles, I had broken the spell, and with every step I took, the life that I had almost given up flowed back into my veins.

Now that you have a sense of what Zen is, how have you encountered it in your life?  Leave your comments below, and we can  discuss in a future episode.

As always, thanks for listening!


  • QR code email signup Signup for the mailing list for a free special edition podcast and a demo copy of The Thirteenth Hour!
  • Follow The Thirteenth Hour’s instagram pages: @the13thhr and @the13thhr.ost for your daily weekday dose of ninjas, martial arts bits, archery, flips, breakdancing action figures, fantasy art, 80s music, movies, and occasional pictures or songs from The Thirteenth Hour books.
  • Website:
  • Book trailer:
  • Interested in reading and reviewing The Thirteenth Hour for a free book?  Just email me at for more details!