FDS Information

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“The Legend of Flowing Dragon Swords”


In China, many years ago, there lived an Overlord, who was both Great Warrior and Holy Man. This Overlord had the care of many lands and peoples. So he trained his warriors to be the most skillful swordsmen in all the Provinces. The peoples of this land revered and appreciated these swordsmen and bestowed many accolades and tributes upon them. And so it came to pass… that after enjoying this status for many years … the swords of the warriors started breaking regularly in battle … and they began to experience something quite foreign to them… Defeat.It is said that this Overlord, — this (warrior/holy man), retired to a cave in the mountains to ponder and meditate on this… Further, it is said that he spent many years in this cave, but that when he returned, he brought with him this game.

And then it is said…For the reason, he determined that his warriors were losing the battles and their swords were breaking, was that they had started to feed their Dragons and not keep their practice.


Acknowledgement – The act of acknowledging; to avow; to declare openly; recognition.

Bokken – The main Wooden Sword used in the basic practice of Flowing Dragon Swords; usu: Black or Brown.

A Japanese Wooden Martial Arts practice weapon shaped like the “Katana”, about 40 inches long with a slight, graceful curve, a retaining ring and removable hand-guard called a “Tsuba” (pronounced “Suba”, the “T” is silent).

Opponent/Teacher – Its Paradoxical origin has three main aspects:

  • The first is that this is the common name given to all people who practice the art of Flowing Dragon Swords when they are participating in the “Game”/ the Practice;
  • The second is that it refers always to self first, i.e., “opponent”, always being with-in you; the finer point here is that “opponent” is never the “other”.
  • The third is that “Teacher” is always the Other.
    Teacher is the person who does you the profound honor of assisting you in the practice by playing in this communal way, while you look deeply at your self, past the reflection you normally offer to society.

Paradox – A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.

Metaphor – A figure of speech in which a term is transferred from the object it ordinarily designates to an object it may designate only by implicit comparison or analogy.

Joseph Campbell – Professor of Comparative Religion at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly 40 years, died at the age of 83 in 1987; wrote “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” ”The Masks of God ,” The Historical Atlas of world Mythology,” and many others.

Professor Campbell’s Interviews with Michael Toms; (available on CD, and audio cassette from New Dimensions Radio atwww.newdimensions.org), and Bill Moyers; “The Power of Myth” (available on CD, DVD, audio and video cassette, also in book form). Find out more at www.jcf.org

Dragons (High & Low) – The word “Dragon” does refer to both the Mythological Beasts as well as the more specific yet equally metaphorical parts of our ego which do not serve us; Those parts of our internal dialog which separate us from others with thoughts or feelings of either, “better than” or “not as good as”, and all Fears and Desires.

Slaying and/or Embracing our Dragons -These are metaphorical expressions in our practice meant to empower the “Opponent/Teacher” (the Player) to give their attention to the points of disconnection, as realized-physical-manifestations in the present moment, of when we are not present with one another. The “Embracing” refers to a deeper more advanced , if you will, principal of not necessarily needing to rid ourselves of these dragons as much as recognize them and our reactions to them, while pursuing balance.

Kokyu or Kokyuing – From the Aikido use of the same term:
Breath – more specifically, “Breath Power” or “Breath powered”, from inside of us (also: Breath-filled or Breath- full).

Stilling Play -From a term used for a hovering bird or “Raptor” as it hunts. Its correlation to our Practice comes from the extraordinary depth of connection and fixed eye gazing in an FDS Game when two O/Ts are locked nearly motionless; yet the perceived energy is powerful and palpable, as if the wings inside were hovering at the sight of the prey – of the self.

Appendage Weapons –
“The Sword is an Extension of the Arm”
“The Arm is the Sword”

These quotes, from different Martial practices, give us clues.
They are used in our practice to metaphorically describe the hands and feet of both Opponent/Teachers, in a version of the advanced play of our Game. Played only with mutual consent and understanding – and added gradually. This understanding comes from “empty step/empty hand” training from additional practices such as Tai Chi, Qui Gong, Aikido, or Unique life experience. The Hand or Foot may be placed,with respect, on the body of the opponent/teacher, and then, only then, filled with energy, never forced.



As of January 2005 the following individuals are in training, or are already serving as Teaching Assistants and are to become Teachers of the FDS Practice:

  • Rev. Karuna Gerstein, CFDSI
  • Dr. “John Jack” Erbaugh
  • Malika Harville*
  • Rebecca Smith, CFDSI

Bio’s of Teachers in Training Follow:

Rev. Karuna Gerstein, CFDSI:
is presently Richard’s most accomplished and well rounded FDS Advanced Player, and Serves as Assistant Instructor of the FDS Practice in Northern California and was certified by Richard and Yvonne in late 2007. She has been studying since January 2005. (RS)

Karuna Gerstein is an ordained Interfaith Minister, Spiritual Director, Dream Worker, Chaplin, and founder of “A Gift for Life”,www.agiftforlife.org, Embracing Life by Exploring Death, elder advocate, end-of-life counselor, bird/raptor enthusiast, massage therapist, a writer, poet and the first certified instructor on the west coast.

Karuna is passionate about building bridges, living her life fostering connection instead of division. Her journey has taken her from young Catholic girl with aspirations for ministry through spiritual explorations in Buddhism, Native traditions, Sacred Dance, and Judaism. She has arrived at a place where she considers herself truly Interfaith, exploring and honoring all ways that guide us to the deepest parts of Life. Karuna is a student of Richard Squeri, practicing Flowing Dragon Swords; Bob Noha, practicing Tai Chi; as well as various teachers of Eastern and Western meditation practices.

Dr. “John-Jack” Erbaugh:
If life truly blesses you, there are a few extraordinaire elders who come into your life. This man calls me Teacher and allows me to call him my dedicated student and it is I who am the honored pupil. To be in his presence and enjoy a profound friendship with this learned and exceptionally vital man is to understand one of the great joys of life. (RS)

Dr. “John-Jack” Erbaugh started out as a dreamer; through high school, college and med school. Upon graduation from med school, he had a sudden change of direction after discovering that a residency in ophthalmology and his dislike of the mechanical aspects of it, was not what he wanted. This led him to abandon it completely for psychology and psychiatry.

But the spirit was still missing, and it didn’t appear until decades later, when he tried folk and sacred circle dancing. This was the foot in the door to making what he calls, “Soul-Level” connections.

For this level of connection to be possible, it required a series of intensive practices. For John Jack this meant: technology-assisted meditation, Pilates and Alexander training, Radiant Breath work, Neuro-Muscular Integration (NIA), and of course Flowing Dragon Swords, as well as many spiritual retreats. The end result of all these practices is a constant awareness and appreciation of what is going on deep within the “body-mind” across the transpersonal bridge.

“Essential in all these practices is the escape from acquired pain, into the joy of living. One practice that leads directly to the exhilaration of the spirit and the joy of connecting with another has been the study and practice of Flowing Dragon Swords. There seems to be no end point and no limit to this delight.” – Dr. John Jack Erbaugh

Malika Harville: (Teachers in training, Bio coming soon)

Rebecca Smith – CFDSI (Bio coming soon)

Authorized {teachers in training} of the Practice of Flowing Dragon Swords In the Eastern Untied States are:

(Note – The version taught in the East, has grown and expanded we will be in-servicing soon, please keep an eye on this sight for events posted in your area. Posted September 2006)

For Persons 14-100 years
Chas Lankford
Matt Stevens
Pamela La Regina

For Young People 14-18 Years
Dave Lasala
Michael Smith
Kenyon Adams

All the above mentioned wonderful persons are in the
New Haven, Connecticut and New York City Areas

Friends, Mentors, Teachers

  • David Chandler for his Sword Game from his Tai Chi practice
  • Master Reggie Jackson for his counsel and wisdom
  • Tea Ching Chen for his gift of spirit & Zen
  • Sensei Bob Noha for his skill, openness, knowledge and teaching
  • The Aboriginal Teachings and Mentoring of;
    Richard C. of the Southwest // Klockiyel of the South,//
    & Sequoia of the North
  • Michael Toms for his extraordinaire interviews specifically: “The Wisdom of Joseph Campbell Series” (as well as many others)
  • Justine Toms for her support and encouragement
  • Bec Kageyama for her support and encouragement
  • Julie Terry and Patrice Ryan for making this site possible & their gifts of sight
  • Rick Kantor & Richard Levi for their Support and encouragement
  • Karuna Gerstein for her friendship and work in putting together some of the first West Coast workshops. Dr. Loren Gerstein for his friendship and help w/ some editing.
  • Mr. Jeffery Schmidt for his friendship and marketing expertise
  • Ms. Sofia Dumitru who’s coaching and assistance have been most helpful.


  • Yvonne Kay Squeri for her support, inspiration and Love
  • Tami, Carlos, Sierra, and Alex for Loving “Grandpa”
  • Gary, Sarah, Sallie and Aedan for Loving “Uncle Rick”
  • Meg Adams-Squeri for empathic spirit & multi-dimensional courage

Author’s Note;

Much of the tenor and philosophy contained in
Flowing Dragon Swords is owed mainly to two extraordinary persons, the first is Joseph Campbell, whose lectures and teachings continue to this day to have profound effects on my life as well as many others and the second is:
Morihei Ueshiba (O’Sensei), especially from his;
“The Art of Peace”
(as translated by John Stevens)
“Their writings are still opening me up, and are fresh each day.”

**Special Thanks to my Dear Friend, the Extraordinary Calligrapher, Writer and Artist for the Logo and Title Lettering as well as many other Gifts :

Pamela LaRegina, of Supercalligraphics at

Special Acknowledgement and gratitude for the:
Photography Featured on this site goes to
Ms. Patrice Ryan & Ms. Laurie Binder

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