Some people malign the five elemental models we use in To-Shin Do often because they just don’t understand what they are. Almost thirty years ago I was introduced to them as the Go Dai no Kata in one of An-shu Hayes’ early books. Ever since then I have been listening to people say he made them up. (long sigh…)
The elemental models of earth, water, fire, wind, and void (potential) can be found throughout Asian cultures in many different areas of study including the martial arts. Years ago I visited the National Museum of American Indians where I saw an exhibit called Our Universes that had Native American Tribes’ representations of the universe. The majority of them had some version of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and their name of the great potential. An-shu Hayes did not make them up.
Now that we’ve got past the childish arguments of the misinformed we need to ask then what did he create? The answer for me is a model of our minds under pressure and how to use our emotions to power a physical defense that is an appropriate response for the situation we find ourselves in. Take a moment and think about that.
Over the many years I have been training I have heard so many people start to describe their martial art by saying; “my martial art always does this or that. We are experts at fighting, with kicks, punches, locks, on the ground, fill in what ever here….”
To me this is another example of our polarized society where no one listens to anyone else’s opinion they only think theirs is the right answer. The problem with this is it doesn’t look at what the problem is. In self-defense the situation you find yourself in always determines the strategy you should use. To be stuck in one mindset limits your chances for success.
Enter the To-Shin Do elemental system to give you choices of how to respond depending on the situation. What a concept, actually seeing what the problem is before deciding how to respond. You know as in two of the 5Ds of Self Defense.
I recently described the system as emotional energetic strategies of defense and was questioned as to what I meant by it. The fastest way I can explain what I meant might be with questions.
Imagine someone you love is standing behind you and there is someone in front of you trying to hurt them. How would you feel? Would you hold your ground and refuse to let them pass? If so the Earth strategies of To-Shin Do would be useful to you, they would strategically match your emotional state of mind at that moment.
Now you are alone walking and when you turn down a street there is large angry person who wants to make you a victim of violence just because you are there. Are you still feeling like you want to hold your ground as above or are you thinking you need to put some space between you and him? How do you feel now? Water energy strategies might be the thing you need at this point.
What if that person you love in the first example was not behind you but behind the attacker and he was trying to keep you from getting to your loved one? What emotions are you feeling now? Are you committed to getting to them no matter what? To-Shin Do fire strategies could help.
Say you are out enjoying yourself with some friends and the boyfriend of a girl in your group has had a few too many drinks and decides you are making a pass at his girlfriend. He wants to fight and all you want is for this to end without anyone getting hurt. What emotions are going through you at this moment? How do you feel? The evasive strategies of wind maybe the answer for this situation.
The situation you are in causes you to feel something in response and like scale notes on a piano or primary colors for an artist the To-Shin Do elemental system gives you strategies of defense based on natural emotional responses to danger. A true art!