Where’s Wally? Hokkaido University Kosen Judo team and Alumni celebration dinner after winning the 1992 Nana Dai Gakko national championships. (Hint: I am standing next to my friend Yuki Nakai – Pride II Vale Tudo finalist)

Thru my 20s and 30s I was into martial arts, mountain biking and youth work.  Eventually I noticed that the greatest benefit occurred when we were abiding in wild natural environments; the wilder the better.  So I delved into working as a wilderness guide, helping young people feel at home in nature as they found ways to dispel intensities.   I kept at it til my own kids came along, and family life called me to put down roots somewhere.  So here we are in a little farm house up Cowichan Valley.  I can’t complain…

A big part of the guiding life was building shelter out of whatever was available.  Debris huts, lean-to’s, tipis… sometimes little more than a tarp and some rope; and often less than that.  The other key element was making a hearth fire to gather round and cook with.  So long as we could keep warm via movement, metabolism, and an external heat-source, we experienced great com-fort (with-strength).  And the abundant qi/chi/prana of wild nature was ours to absorb without hindrance.

As my guiding days wound down, Sadie and I first moved into a little cob cabin with a rumford fireplace I had helped build.  The first few mornings of waking up in the cabin I felt great, but something about it had me baffled.  I was feeling refreshed in much the same way I felt when sleeping in the great outdoors.  But I was now surrounded by 4 walls and a roof.  Here I was in a warm comfortable home, feeling virtually all of the vibrant energy I usually only felt outdoors.  This was an altogether new experience, leading to a major ‘AHAAA’.

That moment of realization was over 23 years ago, and I have been building dwellings and wood-fired heaters from natural materials ever since…  Being around such materials enhances my health and helps me tune into the subtleties of nature.