Cameron Shayne - The Father of Mixed Movement Arts by Mover Magazine

MM: Who is Cameron Shayne? 

CS ; I was born in 1971 in North Carolina during an era in which Bruce Lee was alive and innovating the first modern mixed martial arts system. Calisthenics were required in school as part of Ronald Reagan's’ physical education initiative, and the Beatles were popularizing yoga. I am from the generation born in the middle of the tech and social media boom, which makes me somehow a contemporary thinker with an old school attitude. I am a perfectionist with a critical eye for inconsistency. I have only had two professions in my entire life. One as a movement teacher, and the second as a bodyguard. I have no time for complainers, trolls, or professional victims. For me its simple: do something to change it, or shut the fuck up about it. I tolerate zero bullshit. As a teacher I have a simple motto: give me one hundred percent or find the door. I comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable on a daily basis. I am an enigma in that I am by my nature, a sweet man that could choke someone to death if necessary.    

MM: How did you get started with movement / martial arts / fitness / yoga? (Talk about it since you were a kid, which discipline did you start first, etc.)

CS: My family wasn’t well off so I didn’t have access to much as a kid other than the woods around our house. There were no modern electronic devices, no social media, nothing you could disappear into other than books or your imagination. We climbed trees, leaped across creeks, and swam in the lakes. I found martial arts at the age of twelve mostly because I had an angry father who was a notorious street fighter, and I found myself surrounded by rather rough men. He started slap boxing with me when I was about 8 until I started formal martial arts training at twelve. That’s when I found my first teachers, Paul and Dan Harmon. Paul was the North Carolina State Taekwondo champion and Dan trained in Korea as a world class Olympic Taekwondo competitor. I played sports at a high level throughout high school. In my early twenties I moved to LA and found Yoga thru an ex-girlfriend. In my late twenties I found Yoshukai Karate while at the same time I found my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher Rickson Gracie. Ironically he shared a studio with my Karate teacher and my love for MMA began.

MM: What is your experience? (What disciplines have you learned and how long have you been doing them.)

CS: I achieved my 4th degree black belt in Olympic Style Taekwondo under the Harmon brothers, my 3rd degree black belt in Yoshukai Karate under kick boxing world champion Gerry Blank, and my brown belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu which started with my first teacher Rickson Gracie, and now finishing with 4th degree black belt Gui Arashiro, Ryan Graces lineage holder. So collectively I have been studying martial arts for 30 years. My yoga asana practice has been 20 years now and mostly self taught in the sense that I had early influencers like Patty Asad and Bryan Kest who formed my understanding and contributed to my knowledge but I never studied a single lineage style with a long term teacher. I’ve been studying movement arts, meditation, and living arts my whole life, so yoga didn't rock my world like a person who comes to it with no self inquiry practice or movement background. I also saw and avoided the parallel religious tones that I worked so hard to untangle within myself coming from a southern baptist upbringing. I focused instead on the physical and philosophical qualities that I still teach as part of Budokon. Calisthenics were present my whole life because my generation was really influenced by legends like Bruce Lee, who could do a two finger pushup, and Herschel Walker who to this day at the age of 53 still does 1500 pushups a day. 

MM: What lessons have you learned about life through your practice of mixed movement arts? 

CS: Without trying to sound like Yoda, but here goes: I find the more you move, the more you realize the potential of everything effortless is found in the struggle from nothingness. The birth of profound moments of movement begin from an idea that your body can’t quite realize. You know there’s more, but you can’t find it with your current strength, stamina, or understanding. For this reason most people resign to doing what they already can do, nothing more. They are not disciplined or determined enough to play in area of weakness, mistakes or failure. Places where immediate successes are rare if not impossible. In short, failure is the most frequent and important action that occurs in the learning process. Learn loving to fail and you’ll have massive gains.     

The second most important lesson I have learned is that all movement is simple. There is no complex movement, only simple things done with such proficiency that it seems we are observing the supernatural. There are limited general variations of the human anatomy and its abilities. Therefore if any diversity occurring within movement is the result of unlimited intellectual creativity. In simple terms we are tool makers. We create objects which we build relationships with resulting in new ways we move with them, against them, or around them. Yet ultimately we are limited like any other animal by certain absolutes such a general skeletal structure, eye sight, hearing, and intelligence. Mixing movement art systems has allowed me to see how related all movement is and how easily you can adjust to any environment with solid mixed movement fundamentals. 

MM: Let’s talk animal locomotion. Although there is a rise in popularity of animal locomotive work these days, you’ve been doing it for over a decade (please correct me if I’m wrong). Tell us about what it is and why it’s important? 

CS: I have been researching and teaching animal locomotion as a part of the Budokon system for the past 15 years. After seeing my first Jiu-jitsu teacher Rickson Gracie demonstrating some calisthenics style exercises that were inspired by the work of Orlando Cani I was curious to understand what quadrupedal movement including crawling could be used for. When I first started my inquiry I found several interesting teachers who were pioneering therapeutic movement systems based around the evolution of the spinal column from fish body to human. They were very interesting approaches and I was exposed to some brilliant movement innovators like Tom Myers and Moshi Feldenkraus. The challenge for me was that no one was teaching animal locomotion as a movement science so I had to build the work from scratch. I started with basic ideas and sketches of movement by learning how quadrupedal animals walk and run. That lead me to the Dutch primatologist and ethologist "Frans" de Waal, PhD and his incredible book “Our Inner Ape”. I was fascinated by the anatomical and intellectual changes that occurred from ape to early human including the dramatic posterior pelvic tilt allowing for bipedal locomotion. 

Animal locomotion matters because humans evolved from quadrupeds. Our gaits and our bipedal development are the results of a change in our environments and subsequently a change in our locomotion. So by changing the surface or number of limbs you use to locomotive you can change the anatomy. This means you can rehabilitate people with spinal irregularities, strokes, and children with movement disabilities, not to mention recalibrate the average persons physical architecture.

MM: You’re animal locomotive work is highly advanced and impressive to watch, how did you get it to that level? 

CS: I move most like the animal I embody when I relate to the animals intention, attitude and behavior. Is this animal predator or prey? Is it hunting or evading? What’s the animals’ gate and can I accurately replicate it? If not how do I integrate and replicate its more general qualities like its locomotive patterns, posture or personality. Do I understand its anatomy and environment? 

MM: What is your fascination behind it and what has it taught you? 

CS: One might think that I was fascinated by how it looked yet I had no real examples of people walking like animals to be insured by. I had only seen four point base transitions called animal crawls which got me curious. So It really came down to imagination, observation and research. It has taught me how much I love to be on the ground and how childlike I feel when I pretend to be another animal. It most importantly taught me about the true nature of walking, because I took it for granted as a human.   

MM: You’ve talked about integrated movement and how it makes you stronger, can you explain to us what it is and how it can benefit us? (I heard you talk about how an ape is stronger than a human yet never lifts weights) 

CS: This work is incredibly effective for people who require motor skill therapy because it balances the very ancient relationship between the pelvic girdle and the shoulder girdle via the spine. It creates new neuro-pathways that build an intelligent relationship between the left and right brain.

MM: Where should someone start if they’ve never done any locomotive work? 

CS: This is a complicated question because Animal Locomotions’ current popularity is the result of a few pop culture catalysts. One was the equinox fitness gimmick “Animal Flow”. Which is a perfect example of the age old fitness company tactic of taking a movement art and reducing its complexity and depth for the sake of mass consumption and ultimately money, i.e. Taebo, Zumba, etc. It doesn't require extraordinary powers of reason to recognize that an eduction course granting a teaching certificate after a weekend is more interested in generating revenue than producing educators. The second but more legitimate spotlight on animal locomotion was UFC phenom Connor McGregor preparing for fights with animal crawls. This really started the conversation in mass about primal movement while in some ways it continued to blur the line between education and entertainment.   

At Budokon University I have focused the work as a therapeutic and peak performance movement science in a way that is unique from other approaches. One can certainly argue that man has been immolating animals for a variety of reasons including combat like Kung Fu animal forms, but there has been no real investigation of animal locomotion as a therapeutic application for humans. Budokon is arguably the first complete codified style of movement involving the study and application of primal movement patterns for the restoration of the human anatomy.  

To answer your initial question, anyone could begin exploring quadrupedal locomotion by crawling and climbing in various ways. After a period of time the body will adapt to the effort strengthening in general ways the limbs as well as the shoulder and pelvic girdles. If person becomes more serious about this body of work I encourage them to attend Budokon University for a serious education. 

MM: Let’s talk Budokon. What is Budokon and where did you get the idea for it? 

CS: When I first started developing the work I focused on the martial arts and yogic aspects. I developed it as a "non-classical" style suggesting that BDK is built from traditional Hatha Yoga, Japanese Karate-Do, Korean Taekwondo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, yet without attachment to any specific style. Unlike more traditional martial arts, BDK has no fixed striking style and is focused on self defense application. As well as being a combat system it is a philosophy with guiding universal principles, specifically that all mental activity (beliefs, thoughts, consciousness) is subjective and temporary.

Eventually as the animal locomotion and calisthenics curriculums developed it took shape as a mixed movement arts system composed of 6 life sciences: Movement, Intelligence, Emotion, Relationship, Nutrition & Environment. These six pillars are taught inside of a 6 level belt ranking system: white, red, blue, purple brown and black. Each belt level covers all 6 pillars of life sciences and progressively becomes more complex as the belts advance toward black belt. Though the movement arts curriculum is the most alluring aspect of the work it only makes up fifty percent of the students’ assessed progress. The other fifty percent is a measure of the individuals development within the remaining five pillars of mental development. 

MM: What is the aim or intention behind Budokon? 

CS: Budokon is a way to self-transformation through self-observation. It is a practice designed to challenge and destroy the mental constructs we have of our selves in order to be free from limiting beliefs. It draws critical attention to the stories and beliefs our minds have created in order to confront and release them. The BDK physical work strengthens the body, and the mental work strengthens the mind. There is no particular intention behind the work other than wanting to contribute some goodness to other people lives, while living my life on my terms. 

MM: How has Budokon evolved? 

CS: It began as a personal practice that other people were drawn to and in a way convinced me to share it on a larger scale. I don’t see the work or myself as important, but I do see us both making a difference on a larger scale then I did in the beginning. Initially I thought I would be offering a highly specialized training practice to a small number of serious movement students. I had no idea that the work would become a new style or linage art form taught world wide. Its evolution is a reflection of how people responded to it. When you create something you have to realize that society inevitably influences your art as much as your art in turn shapes society. So it has evolved in a way that accommodates more people who are interested in it. 

MM: What is Budokon University? What do you teach there? What is the main philosophy or pillars for the Academy? 

CS: Budokon University is an international education institute devoted to the development of both professional teachers and inspired movers in the areas of life science, martial arts, yoga, animal locomotion and calisthenics. 

The BDK Academy in Miami is an educational institute that serves the local community by offering the BDK mixed movement arts black belt curriculum. The basic difference is that one is focused on educating teachers to share the work, and the other on developing inspired practitioners who simply want to live it. 

MM: How does someone get started or involved with Budokon? (you could talk about the website and the retreats.) 

If some where interested in our training camps I would start with www.budokon.com and see what you find. If you are local in Miami join us at our BDK Academy in Wynwood. Our schedule is online on www.budokonacademy.com

If you want to connect immediately reach out to my wife and BDK Global Brand Directormelayne@budokon.com

MM: Enlighten us. What is your motto or philosophy for life? 

CS: The way you do anything, is the way you do everything. 

MM: What advice would you give to someone just starting out, who wants to become a better mover in their own bodies? 

CS: Find a great teacher. Become a great student. Slow down. Fail. Listen more than you talk. Never stop. Practice, practice, practice. 

MM: What would you say the benefits are to incorporating something like Budokon, martial arts, or movement into someone’s life? 

CS: Besides the obvious health and fitness benefits it gives you a community to connect with, and a place to challenge your mental and physical limits.

MM: Leave us with a final thought. (This could be wise words / a life lesson / a quote / or whatever comes to mind) 

CS: My favorite martial arts fable is a Chinese classic. It is a conversation between a master and his student. The students asks the master, “Would it not be more tranquil and serene to be a gardener and tend the plants?” The master replied, “Tending the garden is a relaxing pastime, but it does not prepare one for the inevitable battles of life. It is easy to be calm in a serene setting. To be calm and serene when under attack is much more difficult, so, therefore, I teach you that it is far better to be a warrior tending his garden, than a gardener at war.”