THISTLES PICS 071613 TUE FOR BLOG 004 - 200WThe PhyreKeeper Blog #0003 For Friday, 07/19/2013

The Phyre Dojo specializes in providing the most complete teaching & training in all of the world’s wood friction fire methods & techniques & beyond.



A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that I drive by a farmer’s field next to a landscaping business on Rt. 31 past Flemington in New Jersey. Twice a day, going to and from work I would gander at a few acres of Great or Common Mulleins (Verbascum Thapsus,) Moth Mulleins (Verbascum Blattaria), Horseweeds (Conyza Canadensis,) Eastern Daisy Fleabanes  (Erigeron Annuus,) and more… A sea of white and yellow among green. I mean, hundreds of potential (HD) Hand Drill stalk spindles. Then, one day, on the drive home – all gone. Plowed under, planted with something else yet to take its place. Anyone and everyone who has ever “scoped out” an area or a place along the many roads and byways in search of potential harvesting and gathering Phryction Phyre accoutrements has encountered this dilemma. Before you can collect, they get taken out by the “hit man.” Mowers, massive RoundUp sprayers, and in this case, the farmer’s plow.

Emotionally, through the years, I have resigned to continue in my scouting missions to attempt to maintain unattached to these places until late fall comes around. If it hasn’t been touched after the fall harvestings, and late summer mowings, then “it was meant to be.”

Being a “Dojo,” I am very much culturally influenced by the Japanese. Especially since the martial art I train in is Japanese – the Bujinkan. There is a phrase written on the keyboard of my laptop (that I have no choice but to look at daily) – “WABI SABI.” Wabi – roughly translates to “rustic or basic.” Sabi – roughly “worn or used.” (I imagine many people will respond with other definitions, but the case is it is even Japanese cannot clarify it much further than the “feelings” it evokes.) An example might be my 2002 Suburban. It’s old, beat up, still runs (barely,) but, it’s mine. I know its quirks. It makes me happy its sitting on the driveway waiting to still be useful.

Wabi Sabi (at least for myself) has come to clearly represent three things by my definition: Incomplete, Imperfect, Impermanence. Or, Nothing’s Finished, Nothing’s Perfect, Nothing Lasts. Such is Human Nature, everything in it and about it. Such is our understanding of the nature of the Universe… and Phryction Phyre.



Still trying to complete my Hiden Denki Densho video series. I made some great discoveries in my Phryction Phyre experiments as I record video to get it finished. I want to tell you what they are. But, if I did, “this message will self destruct…”

I ordered a pound of Yellow Sweet Clover seeds online and it came in the mail. Looking forward to planting next Spring.

Received my copy of the first Boy Scout Handbook (reprint, not an original.) I got it just to see if there were any references at all to friction fire. And, THERE IS! A whole few pages! dedicated to the (BD)  Bow Drill. More on this at another time. I will try to complete my Boy Scout of America Handbook collection and get back to this. I also have Editions #: 9, 11 and 12. Number 10 is on the way and I have to research filling in the blanks later.



Much to my wife’s disappointment, I have (again) allowed many areas of our acre to go wild and let a handful of plants literally have their way. Among the Horseweeds (Conyza Canadensis,) Lettuces (Lactuca,) and Chicories (Chichorium Intybus) in the front yard there are two of the three Thistles that have been permitted to “squat” on the Lau’s property. Mostly along where the yard meets the roadside, we have the Spiny Leaved Sow Thistle (Sonchus Asper)


There are probably about 2 dozen of these Sow Thistles. Their stalks are the most fragile of out of the three types on the property. They are also growing right next to Prickly Lettuces (Latuca Serriola) – a close look alike. So, sometimes I have to look twice.


As you can see, the bases of the leaves curve around the stem. It’s been reported that its milky sap can cause redness, rashes and burning. I have yet to acquire these symptoms and signs. But, I’m not exactly rolling around in it either. Currently, they’re in the stages between yellow flowering and going to seed. I am collecting the down for next year for the garden as well. They’ll have their own spaces and my wife will be happier when these places are reclaimed by the lawn mower.

Next, there are only two of these that I see on my property. The Bull Thistle (Circium Vulgare.)


These are the tall warriors in my yards. There’s one in the front and one in the back. This one here faces my neighbor’s yard. They have since gotten used to my strange habit or weed propagation. In my early days of learning, teaching and training in Phryction Phyre, I never would have considered the Thistle, any Thistle, for a spindle. Knowing that you can chew some of them like a celery, I assumed they were to succulent and fragile. I have since recanted having now used many different kinds.


The Bull Thistle is one of the stronger, thicker walled stalks. It can stand up to a lot of pressure. Highly recommended. There’s practically a small forest of these growing along the highway exit near my home (safely behind the guardrail!) I will be collecting the downy seed heads this week for next year’s planting. It’s a biennial creating a rosette the first year and the stalk shoots up the second. I will wait to collect the hundred or so stalks near the end of summer. And, hopefully not get a summons in the process.

And, lastly, surrounding my sunroom (Phyre Dojo) in the backyard, are the Canada Thistles (Circium Arvense.)

The are so tall and densely thick that I sometimes worry I will lose my kids from the wildlife that might be in there. Half were going the seed and half were finishing flowering. I’ve since collected these downy seed heads for next year as well.

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These stalks will make excellent spindles. And, they’ll be closest to my ideal diameter size for (HD) Hand Drills – 3/8 ths of an inch.

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Here, they face my red shed. Some people may recognize that red shed as an old “school store.” Mixed in on the side with these Thistles are more Lettuces, mostly in the background. Canada Thistles are considered invasive. I would agree in the sense that it didn’t take long at all for them to completely take over and rule this small space left alone.



This is my third blog to date (on my newly updated Phyre Dojo site.) A have always been a writer by nature. Joseph does mean “scribe” in Hebrew after all… By making myself commit to the weekly schedule, I find myself clarifying things I didn’t “have time” to clarify. There’s a secret to teaching… The more you teach, the more you learn than the students. I haven’t taught martial arts for awhile now. But, there is something that happens in teaching called the “coaching effect.” The process of transmitting and transferring information to others clarifies skills, knowledge and understanding further in the person doing the transmitting. My opinion is that this “intrinsic reward” is hardwired into humanity for those that are involved in lineage type training. Bruce Lee said in many interviews and writings that you have to “truly express yourself.”



Do you have some experience with Phryction PhyreKeeping and there is a method or material you want to see or try that no one else has been able to physically demonstrate for you. (And, someone just telling you about it doesn’t count.) Email me!

If there is someone you know who would want to know how to do or experience Phryction PhyreKeeping for themselves? Tell them to go to

Scouts, Nature Groups, Martial Artists, Environmentalists, Primitive & Wilderness Skills, Preppers…

Phyre Dojo – where training in all of the world’s Phryction PhyreKeeping Methods… is ONLY the beginning! Because everything else is just “friction fire.”

May everyone around you feel and be safer because you are there.

Joe Lau, RN, AE-C