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A Strange and Surprising Opportunity to Learn and Grow

On our final Saturday of our Vajrakilaya retreat at Pema Ts’al Monastery in the Nepalese Himalayas, Eric Gadol, Lauren Garst, and Geoff Garst went with Rigzin Wangdu and me into Pokhara city to do a guest teaching for my friend Fatta Gurung. Fatta is a karate teacher who teaches Nepalese police officers hand-to-hand survival, so I planned possible lessons to be of value and interest to them.

We arrived and were surprised to find a community of 50 gi-clad abandoned, abused, and at-risk Nepalese girls supported by a Luxembourg charity. Fatta also teaches them karate. Whoa! I had to radically revise my planned lesson on the fly. Making things up as I went along, I reduced a few of our grappling moves to 4-step lessons (“pull down, push up, step, step” for osoto-gake…). The little girls jumped right in and had so much fun. They would pull my friends and me over to watch them, and of course we gave them lots of surprised “great job” encouragement. We were rewarded with huge smiles, big eyes, and happy giggling.

I ended up the lesson with a deep breathing exercise, emphasizing taking in breath through the nose, instead of the mouth. That way you can calm yourself down when somebody is trying to make you mad, I told them. They repeated the exercise over and over. I asked how many girls had ever helped out one of their sisters. So many sincere hands went up.
It is so difficult putting into words how surprisingly moving the evening was. I mean really moving. Each of these precious little girls had her own very unique story. All had rough backgrounds, but life went on and they were growing up. People cared for them and did what they could to steer them into positive living. My friends and I spent an hour with them, and we were irrevocably touched.

Maybe those little girls helped to reaffirm to me the beautiful power of To-Shin Do. We have developed a martial art where ordinary people can rise to do extraordinary things. Not an art encouraging beating other people, or winning for yourself, To-Shin Do trains us to aid others. 

Yes, I am very aware how demanding training in To-Shin Do is. So many people take multiple times to pass the evaluation tests. So many growls and tears over trying to really get the techniques and principles. Changing as a human being is tough and frustrating work. And yet, incredibly, people persist. Like those beautiful little Nepalese girls, nailed with a rough hand in life, they do their best. They breathe deep. They remember the secrets for rising above what would pull them down. They help their friends succeed.

I am now double inspired to build the beautiful To-Shin Do legacy we are all creating. You with me, too?

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