Martial Arts Sensei - Teja Bell

For more than 40 years, Teja Bell has integrated the practice and teaching of martial arts, healing energy practices, and the Dharma. He is a teacher of Aikido (5th degree Black Belt) and of the Chinese Internal Arts, and a fully ordained Rinzai Zen priest and lineage Dharma teacher.

Concurrent with his martial arts training, Teja has trained across the three major Buddhist traditions: Theravadin, Mahayana Zen, and Trans-Himalayan Vajrayana.

  • He began reading Zen texts and visiting teachers and centers as early as 1969. Upon meeting Rinzai Zen Lineage Master Roshi Junpo Denis Kelly of the Hollow Bones Zen Order and Mondo Zen, he found a home in the Zen Community and after four years of training with Roshi Junpo, Teja was ordained as a Zen priest.

  • Taking refuge and practicing Ngöndro and study in the Vajrayana traditions as well, Teja has had the opportunity to take teachings and empowerments from some of the great meditation teachers in the Tibetan lineages – Gelugpa, Nyingma and Kagyü, including advanced retreats in Trekchö and Tögyal, Madhyamika, Pöwa, Tsa Lung, Chöd, dream yoga, Mahamudra and Dzogchen and other forms of Bon and Vajrayana Buddhist practices and teachings with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

  • For the past 12 years, Teja has been a regular visiting teacher on multiple annual retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where he has practiced and taught with many teachers in the Theravadin tradition of Insight Meditation, including Jack Kornfield and Robert Hall.

Teja is a bridge between the traditions of Buddhism and the Qigong and Yogic practices of Taoism. Teja began his journey studying martial arts (Judo and Kung Fu) in 1965 with Tatsumo Makami. His studies also included Yoga, Meditation and Eastern Philosophy.  In 1971, Teja began his Aikido training with Jeff Fox Sensei (a student of Akira Tohei Sensei). He received a black belt ranking in Tae Kwon Do Karate with In Mok Kim, a 9th degree black belt. Teja expanded his training in 1975 to include Yang style Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong taught by Li Leita, a lineage Master in the “Yang” style.

While he continued his Aikido studies with Robert Nadeau Shihan and Frank Doran Shihan at City Aikido in San Francisco, Teja created a series of advanced training programs for students preparing for black belt level examinations, and created and taught children’s Aikido programs at Aikido of Tamalpais. Teja has also created and taught a low impact form of Aikido that he calls "Reduced Impact Aikido.” He now holds the rank of 5th degree black belt in Aikido, awarded to him by Nadeau Sensei.

In 1984, he traveled to Japan where he studied Aikido with the late Saito Sensei and lived at the Iwama Dojo, country home of Aikido’s O’Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido.

Upon returning to the United States – while continuing Aikido training - Teja studied Chinese Internal Martial Arts: Wu Style Tai Chi, Xing Yi, Bagua and a variety of Qigong practices: Dragon and Tiger, Marriage of Heaven and Earth, Bend the Bow, Energy Gates, Spiraling Energy Body and Gods Playing in the Clouds and Taoist meditation with Bruce Kumar Frantzis.

He also studied the esoteric martial art and meditation system known as “Liu He Ba Fa” and other Nei Gong systems with Sifu Paul Dillon. Other important teachers have been Joseph Crandall, Frank McGouirk Sensei and Master Luo De Xiu (Eric Lo).

Teja teaches seminars and retreats in Qigong, the Dharma, meditation, Zen meditation and Aikido practices and the non-dual integration/deconstruction process as outlined by Peter Fenner.  He is a teacher of Dr. Richard Paul’s “Critical Thinking.” He is a regular visiting teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center (12 years), Aikido-Ai (17 years) and Hollow Bones/MondoZen retreats (10 years). 

Teja is committed to the lifelong pursuit and mastery of these disciplines, and to the ethical and empowering communication and transmission of their essential qualities, for the benefit of all sentient beings.  For more resources, contact information and schedule, please visit:

In addition to his martial arts and meditation training, Teja is also a professional musician and recording artist.  For more information and access to his recordings, go to