This autobiography chronicles the life and times of a journey from youth in the midwestern heartland of America and on to global sword competitions, multiple Hall of Fame inductions, and two world record achievements. The seed of this successful lifelong passion was planted in those simple times in rural America when creativity, ingenuity, and honest effort were the staples of a happy life. The son of hard-working middle-class parents, they instilled the lessons and guidance that molded his character as a young aspiring athlete. In time, those lessons drew a clear parallel of cross-cultural similarities with Japan that would lead him to this lifelong passion and a deeper understanding of himself and the greater world at large. From his earliest experiences at age four watching his grandfather, a modern-day blacksmith swinging his hammer in forging a variety of iron gardening and farming tools. This set the template for the beginning of a fascination with swords, the Japanese swordsmiths who made them, and the Samurai that used them.
On the heels of incomplete athletic dreams, he sought to fill that void with something that could satisfy and further discipline his physical and psychological disposition. With the first of three epiphanies, he moved from the American heartland to the west coast, searching the Great Northwest Cascade mountains near Mt. Rainier to discover what and where his higher calling might be waiting.
The second level of insight began with his emerging fascination with Japanese culture and swordsmanship. This eventually became such a passion that he gave up a successful business and lifestyle in southern California, to immerse himself into an esthetic process of discovery in hopes of answering the sword's call while calming his restless heart and mind. This pilgrimage pursued the deeper meaning of life through this driving passion of swordsmanship's intimate philosophical principles that the practice provides. Unbeknown to him at the time, it was the classic Hero's journey as described by renowned philosophers Frederic Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and the great mythologist Joseph Campbell; to leave, undergo a transformation, and return with news of the journey. This second of three transformations of consciousness emerged from his global travels, constant research, and training experiences that would eventually and profoundly change and refine how he interpreted and perceived his sword practice and the greater world at large. To immerse himself fully in the experience, he traveled, camped in forests and deep deserts, training swordsmanship 6-8 hours each day for over five years to the seclusion of all else, accumulating over three million sword swings and what he describes as 'just beginning' to understand this passion. It is what the Japanese call 'musha shugyu' (a warrior's pilgrimage), the journey to comprehend the depth of what this 1000-year-old practice had to teach him about the true meaning of swordsmanship, life, and himself.
Upon successfully returning to the regular world, and fifteen more years of dedicated practice, he began transmitting the basic principles of this art form to others. By 1997 this fresh perspective enabled Russell to accurately transmit complex principles and philosophies as an intuitive understanding for the elusive quality of greater life 'flow' on the way to mastery in swordsmanship. These efforts brought him to the attention of the greater sword community at large where he became the west coast representative for some high-profile Japanese instructors who sought out capable leaders to expand their own sword school's interests here in America. In a global competition platform with world-class swordsmen from Japan and Korea, he earned second place to a Korean man at the World target cutting championships in Taegu, Korea in 1999. This led to two still unmatched World Records that still stand 21 and 13 years respectively..