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Joe Hyams – In Memoriam

Mark's most celebrated student was author and syndicated columnist Joe Hyams, who trained privately with him from 1987 until his death in 2008.

A WWII combat veteran who parachuted into the indescribable hell that was the Battle of Saipan (earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart), Joe would return to the Pacific as a war correspondent for Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the United States Armed Forces.


After the war, he became a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and, by way of a series of events that unexpectedly landed him an interview with Humphrey Bogart (the biggest movie star in the world with whom it was notorious difficult if not impossible to get an interview), Joe was tapped to be the paper's west coast bureau chief, covering Hollywood.

Regarded as a "writer's newspaper," the New York Herald Tribune was home to such writers as Judith Crist, Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck and Jimmy Breslin.

That interview also marked the beginning of a great friendship with Bogie.


A recognized pioneer in the martial arts world, Joe was the quintessential student, studying with Mas Oyama (founder of Kyokushin Karate), Bong Soo Han (Hapkido master who doubled for actor Tom Laughlin in the film Billy Jack), Ed Parker (founder of American Kenpo), Jim Lau (Wing Chun master, student of Ip Man and Wong Shun Leung) and Bruce Lee (martial arts icon and founder of Jeet Kune Do).

In 1979, Joe would draw on the enlightening experiences of training with those men to pen Zen In The Martial Arts, one of the best-selling books on the martial arts ever written. 

Initially sharing his private lessons with Mark with screenwriter friend Stirling Silliphant (with whom he also shared his lessons with Bruce Lee), Joe would go on to train with Mark far longer than he ever trained with any other teacher.

Considering him a mentor and very dear friend, as well as a dedicated student, Mark will occasionally tells stories about Joe and their many training sessions, to illustrate a point he's teaching or simply to keep Joe's spirit alive. As Mark has said, to live on in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.

Excerpts from 'Zen In The Martial Arts' by Joe Hyams

A dojo (practice hall) is a miniature cosmos where we make contact with ourselves – our fears, anxieties, reactions, and habits. It is an arena of confined conflict where we confront an opponent who is not an opponent but rather a partner engaged in helping us understand ourselves more fully.

Only after several years of training did I come to realize that the deepest purpose of the martial arts is to serve as a vehicle for personal spiritual development.

When you lose your temper, you lose yourself—on the mat as well as in life.

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