By Delaney Foreman
He could walk by you on your way to class, but you would never know he is a karate world champion.
Lester “LJ” Easley, Butler University’s physical well-being instructor, is a man of many hats, currently donning the humble positivity and happiness of Buda Khi course originator.
“When I was taught by my masters and instructors, they would say to get someone to be as good as you are or better means that you are a good teacher,” Easley said.
Fitness has always been important to the Goodwill Games Martial Arts gold medalist. Through his schooling, there was not a sport Easley didn’t play.
Easley said he had already played baseball, basketball, football, hockey and tennis, but he did not begin karate until he was 19.
“I just knew it would give me an edge over everything else,” Easley said. “I listened to people who had taken it, watched people that did, and they had something different about them. It was the mental part.”
Easley said he incorporates the mental toughness of karate into the regular Buda Khi workout.
His students said they rely on Easley’s positivity to motivate them to complete the 100 pushups, 200 crunches and four miles the class consists of.
“If you fall back, its almost part of the class,” freshman Dylan Menefee said. “It is knowing your limits and pushing yourself, and you can laugh with him because he is laughing the whole time.”
The positivity that he radiates is part of his life philosophy and that of Buda Khi, Easley said.
The course title is a Japanese phrase originally spelled Budo Kai, meaning “martial way” and “school” or “association,” Easley said.
Easley said he changed the spelling to Buda Khi because he wanted specific letters to carry specific meanings.
B-U-D-A signifies Believe in yourself; Understanding is everything; Discipline first; and Attitude, Always respond positively.
K-H-I means Karate is the way of the empty hand; Happiness, Humble, Have fun everyday; and Improve your life daily.
Easley said these simple words have impacted his life and those he teaches.
“The philosophy behind Buda Khi is that it will take your entire lifetime to master it,” he said.
Buda Khi students said they didn’t expect the deeply-rooted sentiments Easley preaches during class—especially within a required physical well-being course.
“We are really fortunate that Butler really does stand for educating the whole person and has constructed a university core curriculum that supports that notion,” said Mindy Welch, physical well-being coordinator.
“You leave there feeling all-around better,” sophomore Alex Petersen said. “You come in having a bad day, but when you leave, you are relaxed, comfortable, and you feel good about yourself.”
Students are humbled when describing how important Easley and the course are to their day.
“Easley is funny, and you can tell he loves what he does,”freshman Grant Rollins said. “He wants everyone to succeed and be comfortable with themselves.”
Because Easley is the creator of the program, his passion shines through.
“Easley has created something that he loves doing every day, something he is excited to do every day,” Petersen said. “And sharing that with people is really powerful to me.”
Currently, Buda Khi classes are expanding all over the Indianapolis area.
Easley said when you have a positive attitude, you can achieve anything.
“Do something you love that stimulates you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically,” he said, “and share it with others.”