Budokon: the new craze

Yoga. Meditation. Martial arts. Put them together with movie star endorsement for a US craze that is now being launched here

Jonathan Thompson
Sunday 12 March 2006 01:00

Jennifer Aniston credited it with helping her through the collapse of her marriage to Brad Pitt. Courteney Cox praised it for restoring her model figure after giving birth - and one US athlete claimed it was responsible for her Olympic gold.

Now Budokon, the Hollywood-endorsed health and fitness craze sweeping across the United States, is poised to take hold in Britain.

The discipline - a fusion of yoga, martial arts and meditation - is inspired by the centuries-old training systems of Buddhist monks. Essentially, it offers an emotional, physical and spiritual work out.

Described as an "art form" as much as an exercise regime, Budokon has attracted an army of celebrity acolytes, including Rene Russo, Charlie Sheen, Meg Ryan and Sex and the City's Kristin Davis, as well as former Friends stars Cox and Aniston.

Now Cameron Shayne, Budokon's "Kancho", or creator, plans to launch the discipline in Britain. He will hold a fortnight of master classes in April, training instructors from gyms across the country.

Speaking from his headquarters in Los Angeles, Mr Shayne, 34, described the discipline as "a complete mind, body and spirit experience". He said that people "are excited about this in a similar manner to the way they felt when judo first appeared".

Budokon, an amalgam of three Japanese words, translates as "spiritual way of the warrior". It combines the speed and action of ju-jitsu-inspired fighting moves with the reflection of meditation. A diet high in raw vegetables is also recommended.

A typical Budokon workout begins with a five-minute meditation, followed by 20 minutes of yoga. The session then switches into 20 minutes of fast-paced punches, kicks and jumps - with names such as Fighting Crocodile - before finishing with five further minutes of meditation.

Mr Shayne said: "Our philosophy is that for a person to be healthy, they have to think healthy, live healthy, eat healthy and move healthy."

A black belt in tae kwon do and karate as well as a certified yoga teacher, Mr Shayne began developing Budokon while working as a martial arts instructor in Hollywood, with the idea forming as he trained Rene Russo for the Lethal Weapon films. Cox then became a convert, and is reportedly now so advanced that she can break boards with her bare hands.

Major US sports stars, too, are fans - including reigning Olympic women's beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh, who attributed her gold medal to the discipline. She said it had brought her to "a level as an athlete I have never before achieved".

Budokon went mainstream in late 2003. Mr Shayne brought out a DVD, and began to license instructors. Within months it had spreadacross the US.

"I'd like to see British cities becoming thriving hubs for Budokon," said Mr Shayne. "My sense is a lot of people in the UK are like: get up, go to work, go to pub, go home, then get up and do it all again. There's so much more to life."

A few enthusiasts in the UK already practise Budokon, following the DVD. Rachel Wilkins, 29, from Leamington Spa, said it helped her lose half a stone. "It is unbelievable how much better I feel; I'm healthier, fitter and able to breathe more freely," she said, adding that her friends are queuing "to borrow the DVD".

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