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What it Means to Win

The martial art of To-Shin Do is about learning how to win. When I explain to new students my view of what it means to earn a black belt, I tell them a black belt is someone who has the tools to be more successful in every area of their life. I have yet to find anyone who didn’t see that as an appealing goal to strive for, even those who don’t train in martial arts. The confusing part comes when people, especially those outside of To-Shin Do, try to share their individual meanings of what ‘successful’ and ‘winning’ look like in their lives.

Students begin our martial art for a lot of reasons, and expect different things out of their training. Some love the historical training and wouldn’t be a part of our art if that didn’t exist. Others are interested in the self-defense aspect and wouldn’t be a part of our art if that didn’t exist. Some want personal development and wouldn’t … well you get the idea. But under all those concepts, the idea of winning, of being successful, is what it is all about. This by itself probably isn’t revolutionary. Every martial art is going to talk about winning. What sets us apart in To-Shin Do is what we mean when we saying we are training to win.

Some folks think winning has to involve beating someone physically, or at the very least that someone else has to lose, and more importantly, that other person must know they’ve lost. If you don’t have those two components, according to this philosophy (one person who both loses, and knows they’ve lost), you can’t say you’ve won. Our art goes beyond that simple definition. Yes, sometimes that is what winning looks like, and no martial art is complete without that level of training. But winning takes on a lot of forms.

Sometimes winning is standing up to someone. Sometimes it is saying nothing at all. There is even a kind of winning where someone else, as in ‘the other guy’, actually thinks they’ve won, even though they really didn’t. A need to beat or defeat someone that is based on ego or revenge just gets us in trouble later on. A need to make ourselves, and those around us happier, healthier, safer, and more empowered is the kind of winning that drives me. And, I think, our art.

Our martial art gives us more tools to win (in whatever form we feel is most important to us … yes, even the beating someone physically kind). It also broadens our sense of what winning is, and I think that’s an even more important lesson, really. Winning is a mind-set, and there are many ways to get there. It’s amazing to me how To-Shin Do has a path to get to each one of them.

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