You wouldn't know it if you saw Richard "Mack" Machowicz hosting his Discovery Channel show "FutureWeapons" or leading one of his martial arts classes at the Los Angeles-based Bukido Institute, but this former Navy SEAL studied to be a Zen Buddhist priest.
On the surface, there seems to be very little about the man who insists on being called "Mack" that's Zen. He's intense—engaging, embracing, good humored, but all the same, intense. There's a passion and a drive that burns deep inside the man. It's the same passion that helped him conquer "Hell Week" in BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/SEAL training). And it's the fire that drives him to succeed in the world of entertainment.
No, Mack doesn't really fit the placid stereotype of a Zen priest. But he says the stereotype of Zen is wrong. He tells the tale of one of its greatest priests Rinzai who carried a "waking stick" to smack his students out of their daydreams.
In every thing he does, in his best-selling book "Unleash the Warrior Within: Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals," in his classes, and in his hosting duties on "FutureWeapons," Mack wants to be a "waking stick." That's his true mission in life. As Mack told me at the end of this interview: "If I exist solely to help somebody else do something great, I am OK with that. That would be a blessing to me."
You left the SEALs in 1995 after 10 years of service. Have you ever regretted that decision?
I wouldn't say regretted is the right word. What I would say is that I miss the camaraderie. I miss the challenges that come with that particular job.
It must have been hard on you when 9/11 occurred. You must have thought about going back.
You're right. That was particularly hard for me. That was one of the biggest challenges that I had. But there I was, I was out, I had started building my business and started doing all the hard things to make that business grow and I was really torn. It came down to this: There were better guys who were still in the mix, who knew their stuff, and had their tactics and training and procedures as current as possible. They were the best guys to do that job. So I made the decision to focus on my career and what I was going to do. But it was a very, very hard decision.