A collection of guided meditations for your daily practice.
Courses by Mark Sentoshi Russo
Shihan Russo helps you connect with and understand the secrets to delivering natural power versus conventional power in your strikes. Sentoshi sensei has been described as being able to “hit like a cannon”. Make this skill your own!
Join Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo as he dives deep into the four primary secrets that lead to mastery of taijutsu. Sentoshi is detailed, demonstrative, and deliberate in these extended explorations of each principle so you can build them into your training at the root level.
Gyaku Nage is an essential elbow leverage throw/takedown. When applied with a modern day approach, opportunities to take advantage of this technique show up all the time. This course will make the secrets to the modern application details crystal clear and explore various entry scenarios.
Health and fitness are foundational cornerstones to a happy, fulfilling and productive life. These reasonable and effective 30-minute workouts will quickly have you feeling better in many ways.
This course will guide you, in detail, through the science, body movement, applications and variations of the Ganseki Nage throw/takedown technique.
Hon Gyaku is a phenomenal, minimum effort, maximum effect technique that is frequently available and easily applied. Shut down various choking attacks (standing or on the ground) as well as pushes, grabs, slaps, and shoves, and learn why this technique is ideal for women’s self defense.
This is a powerful example of setting a trap for your opponent and springing to victory right when they are sure that you are beaten.
Any fight is two opposing energies coming together in conflict. At the highest levels, beyond just doing technique, the one who learns to embrace and control this energy connection will always be the winner.
Building a life you love is a life management course that will guide you through the five fundamental areas that are the foundation of a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
This conditioning program will not only dramatically improve your marital arts skills but improve your overall health and fitness, helping to prevent common knee and back problems.
Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo details several principles behind dealing with attackers that are larger and stronger in this hour-long workshop.
Join Senior Master Instructor Mark Sentoshi Russo as he guides students through self-defense fight scenarios exploring the three methods for finding and making safe space.
Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo’s leg workout course includes self-myofascial release, stretching, and a series of functional fitness leg exercises using your own body weight to strengthen the base and improve your To-Shin Do Taijutsu movement.
Join senior ranking Shihan, Mark Sentoshi Russo as he takes you on a guided tour through the five elements of To-Shin Do – Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and the Void.
The Level One Twelve Count Kata is clearly and thoroughly presented in this course. The program takes you step by step through the twelve Fundamental Kenjutsu postures combined with cuts, deflections and counter cuts. An additional bonus is Master Russo’s unarmed interpretation of each clash, providing greater understanding and wider application for a first rate […]
Join Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo as he guides his students through a seminar workshop on shoulder dislocation techniques. The specific techniques addressed in this course include Musha Dori and Ura Oni Kudaki.
Learn a ninja master’s approach to defeating a close range hook punch attack with timing, positioning and technique. Join Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo as he carefully guides you through the details.
Learn how to turn an attacker into his own worst enemy. Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo guides you through efficient and effective methods for managing the nightmare scenario of finding yourself trapped at knifepoint.
Learn how to instantly transform your cell phone into an improvised weapon of self-protection. See how using good To Shin-Do Taijutsu makes this every day item an obvious choice.
Learn how to apply long-range strategy and technique to defeat an attacker’s punches. You will be guided through the details of timing, angling, distancing, and how to generate powerful counter-strikes.
Counter striking an attacker’s punching arm is highly effective and unexpected. In this mid-range version of counter-punching the punch course you will study the specific details of protecting yourself while simultaneously delivering a punishing counter attack.
The stomp kick is an important fundamental technique in the To-Shin Do Ninja martial arts arsenal. As with all things To-Shin Do the stomp kick has many variations and applications. This course will take you through the critical basics and key variations as well as scenario applications.
Take the first step in a series of functional strength training courses designed to help increase your dynamic power, sense of balance, flexibility, and agility. You’ll build core strength and stability in addition to organizing and strengthening neural pathways that support effective unified movement, which is essential to proper To-Shin Do taijutsu. When done correctly, […]
When an attacker has their balance they focus on harming you. When you take their balance they must focus on regaining it, leaving them vulnerable. Learn how to steal balance and take control.
Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo introduces you to the concepts, principles, and techniques of a basic meditation practice. Learn how to gain clarity, focus, and achieve a calmness of mind that will help you reduce stress in your daily life.
To-Shin Do Master Instructor Mark Sentoshi Russo clearly teaches you the secrets of the Ninja Leg Trap called ashikake. This incredibly practical and immediately applicable course provides sneaky, unexpected and easy-to-learn principles for this must-have technique in your self-defense skills arsenal.
Master Mark Sentoshi Russo teaches you the essential principles of snares and captures using flexible weapons, such as the ninja kusarifundo.
Learn core fundamentals, exercises, strikes and defenses using the rokushaku bo (6-foot long staff). Master Russo explores the some of the possibilities available from Seigan No Kamae and breaks them down into easy-to-learn lessons.
Master Mark Sentoshi Russo teaches you how to develop your body’s natural flinch responses in scientific ways to defend against a surprise lead-cross combination attack.
Master Mark Sentoshi Russo teaches you the ninja secrets to body positioning, attack-stops, strikes, alignment, and kicks that work with your body’s natural movement rather than fancy athletic techniques.
Posts by Mark Sentoshi Russo
As I mentioned last month a number of people have asked me to cite applications of our martial arts system to activities in daily life. I very much enjoy these questions. Our art is so rich. For example, I know of a currently popular martial art that stresses the strategy – dominate, dominate, dominate; it […]
“So you’ve been doing this for a very long time, why do you keep doing it? I mean, when do you think you’ll give it up?” This question came from an acquaintance that I have been bumping into for many years at my local Starbucks (those of you who know me are aware that I […]
Recently I have had a number of students ask me how we apply our martial art outside the dojo to everyday life. Well, that is a huge question that could be answered by way of a book. This is, in fact, a life art. The training, given time and proper guidance, will work its way […]
Do your best to pay attention to how your footwork and body positioning are keeping you safe and placing you in a position of advantage.
“Really screwed that up,” said my student as he rubbed his jaw. “I hate it when I make mistakes,” he continued. I said, “yeah, don’t we all. Do it again,” I said. His partner attacked and he angled perfectly and avoided getting hit. “That’s it,” I exclaimed, “perfect.” “Now, let me ask you a question. […]
“Holy mackerel,” I said, “where are you planning on going?” A student had just asked me what to do if you were surrounded by a number of attackers. Now students who train with me know that my usual answer to a self-defense question is “it depends.” That is not a cop out or a blow […]
A friend of mine recently told me he was thinking about resuming his training after taking some time off. He asked me if I had any advice. That was easy – “do it,” I said. After giving it further thought, I realized that this could apply to quite a few people. Life can get in […]
Like many of you I am a fan of the magnificence of the Olympics. The athleticism and single-pointed dedication never cease to inspire me. As I watched ski champion Lindsey Vonn do her final Olympic ski run I was moved almost to tears as she spoke about this pivotal moment in her life. She was […]
Here is a little acronym that a friend of mine shared with me recently to remind us of essential components for managing our day-to-day life. P – Be present. Do your best to avoid being caught up in the past, worrying or obsessively anticipating the future. You have heard me refer to these habits as […]
New year, new journey. As 2017 slips into the realm of memory it is the perfect time to practice clearing mental and emotional space to free up energy for the road ahead. It is so easy to find ourselves clinging to the past by way of both positive and negative memories. While positive memories can […]
Why is it that far too often life leaves us feeling beat up? Well, stuff happens. In the tenets of Buddhist philosophy this is the fist of the four noble truths. No matter what we do things will happen that cause unhappiness. The key is to minimize the frequency and intensity of these experiences. To […]
Through our work with the NinjaSelfDefense.com online training courses we have made learning the art of To-Shin Do available to everyone. Back in the early 80’s it was a very different world. I won’t bore you with stories of how I had to walk uphill barefoot in the snow both ways to and from class […]
This year’s Festival theme brings to mind high stakes, terrifying, gut wrenching conditions. That’s what real self-defense feels like. The definition of visceral is: “relating to deep inward feelings rather than the intellect.” In other words, forget about analyzing, calculating, and thinking your way through it. The way you have conditioned yourself, the way you […]
How often do we find ourselves griping about necessary tasks in our lives that should or must be done? If you are like most people, the answer is – far more often than you would like. Or, worse yet, you continue to procrastinate and avoid getting things done. Of course, some part of your mind […]
In recent years many professional athletes and teams have discovered the power of visualization training. This is a tool I used quite a bit myself when my career at the time had me travelling to an average of two to three cities a week. Needless to say, my time in the dojo was very limited. […]
As many of you know, it is standard procedure in our training halls to do a short meditation at the end of class. If you are training on your own or with a small group we recommend that you do this as well. There are endless ways to turn these quick meditations into valuable exercises. […]
Many new students make the mistake of discounting the value of sword training. The common thinking is that training with a weapon that you are highly unlikely to ever face is probably a waste of time. On the surface this logic makes sense. The advanced, or unusually savvy, student will look beyond the surface to […]
“What you guys do here is what I always thought marital arts was meant to be.” With tears in his eyes, this is what one of my new students (recently made yellow belt) said to me in my office. His name is John. John has a toddler son and had recently realized how out of […]
So often as a teacher I see my students beating themselves up because they are not doing things perfectly. It can be so hard to witness. Of course we all want to do well at what ever it is that we have taken on. The problem is that this very desire may turn against us, […]
This year at my annual two day training camp I devoted the first day entirely to developing more effective communication skills. Clearly we will all fight many more verbal battles throughout our lives than physical ones. The key measure of our skills as communicators is our ability to effectively employ our ability to communicate to […]
Thirty-four years ago I wandered in to a boy scout camp in Hamilton Ohio with my belongings on my back in an old backpack, and a sense of adventure in my heart. I could not wait to train again with the man who had totally blown my mind at our first meeting a couple of […]
I was doing an interview on a local television show. I was asked what was so unique about our marital art. I found myself struggling to indentify and communicate the specifics. As I began outlining the key elements, for example, using gravity rather than fighting against it, understanding unified body movement, perfecting balance breaking skills, […]
As we continue to move forward with the development of To-Shin Do as the best self-defense martial art available anywhere, I couldn’t agree more with An-shu’s directive that we must focus on what is practical, relevant, and reliably effective. I have long held that when we are practicing defenses against various forms of strikes we […]
In my many decades as an instructor one of the most difficult essential To-Shin Do concepts to get students to assimilate is the idea of moving with your opponent. For many students this is incredibly difficult to grasp. This is the principal of fluid connectedness. This is the understanding that once the conflict has begun […]
It was a Monday morning. My knee was more painful than usual. I had spent most of the previous day working in my yard in the humid Florida heat. It was definitely one of those “really don’t feel like doing this” days. I had successfully followed through on my base line self-discipline rule, which is; […]
In the ancient Toltec wisdom tradition words are viewed as having magical potential. Words that create negativity, suffering, and pain are considered black magic. Conversely, words that comfort, heal, and facilitate the manifestation of positive realities are white magic. This belief is clearly consistent with the Japanese Mikkyo doctrine of Sanmitsu; the triple secret. The […]
We were winding up a seminar training session. I was taking questions. A long distance student asked a very common question. “What is the most important thing for me to work on at my stage of training?” There are always many things; improvement is continuous. Given that this student was a Black Belt my response […]
Keep on keeping on. That was the lingo we used to encourage each other to persevere when I was a teenager. That phrase has resurfaced from my memory archives on several occasions during the past few months. The process of building my new five star training hall has been riddled with unforeseen challenges, setbacks, frustration, […]
It was a typical summer day in London, shifting temperatures and periods of light rain. I was just outside the British museum spending time with friend and teacher Lama Rigdzin Dorje deepening my understanding of the esoteric Buddhist practice of Vajrakilaya. This practice is very complex and was introduced to me by my teacher An-shu […]
The term mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword lately. There is a lot of confusion around the concept and the practice. While mindfulness essentially means paying attention, or being aware, the concept is quite expansive and can be applied in a number of ways. For starters, being aware or paying attention is far […]
I have been asked this question a number of times over the years. To this day I remain a bit mystified by how difficult it is for most people to grasp the fundamental and critical difference between sport and athletic performance oriented martial arts and martial arts that focus exclusively on realistic self-defense. As I […]
On the day I was promoted to eighth degree black belt I stood before friends, family and students – seekers all – awash in a complex mixture of emotions. As I accepted this great honor I referred to my guide, teacher, and martial friend, An Shu Stephen K. Hayes as a most essential “On Jin”(own […]
I have had many students ask me to comment on getting the most benefit out of their training time invested. Whether you are in a class at your dojo or training on your own with a few friends in a small group, there are a few things to consistently keep an eye on. You may […]
All of us who have trained for any significant length of time have experienced the feeling of losing momentum or stalling out. We feel that we are just not making any progress and may even come to believe that we have reached the limit of our skill development. If our aspiration is to reach a […]
Cultivating good uke (oo-kay) skills is a critical component to good To-shin Do training and developing reliably effective technique. This is a rather expansive topic and far too complex for one short writing such as this. That said, here is one of the most frustrating things you can slip into that will foul up your […]
It was many years ago now. I was training with the 34th generation Ninja Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi and An-shu Stephen K. Hayes. I was in awe. The grandmaster had just demonstrated a brilliant reversal technique, and with a flippant laugh said, “no mistakes for the ninja.” My young, beginner’s mind interpreted that as a promise […]
The following is an excerpt from chapter five of my book Clearing Away the Crap in my Cap. The work is a rhyming book that explores the complexities and challenges of the human condition. The focus is on issues we all struggle with at times and common traps we may fall in to. I hope […]
That is what one of my advanced students said to me recently. It wasn’t an offhand comment. It was a heartfelt cry for help. It wasn’t the first time I have dealt with this issue, and most certainly won’t be the last. However, I am frequently surprised by the individual who admits to contending with […]
“This stuff is amazing,” he said. “Okay, you got my attention, what stuff,” I replied. “To-shin Do, To-shin Do is amazing,” he said. “I couldn’t agree more,” I said. “What’s the story,” I asked, because I knew there had to be one. Geo is a black belt student of mine. With great enthusiasm he proceeded […]
The young woman was trying hard to mask her pain. I sat in the warm sunlight enjoying its touch on my skin. I sipped my coffee as did most of the other patrons. Every time I looked up from the pages I was studying, my eyes were drawn back to the grieving woman. Was this […]
Why do we train with such dedication? Well, for one thing, it’s fun; got to have fun! Beyond that, for very serious To-Shin Do students and teachers this is a life style. It’s a healthy life style for mind, body and spirit. To my mind there is a component to this life style choice that […]
In the early 1980’s when I began training with An-shu the world was very, very different. No cell phones, no internet, no skype, no training videos. Back then it was: get on an airplane figure out how to get to where the training was happening try to take it all in take notes (lots of […]
Festival 34 in Raleigh North Carolina was an exciting, inspiring, and rewarding experience. No surprise there. I have been making the pilgrimage to this event for three decades. I use the word pilgrimage because by definition this is “a journey to a sacred place.” For me, wherever festival is held the space and place are […]
There is an old joke about a highly skilled engineer who was hired to solve a very challenging problem that folks had been struggling with for quite some time. As the story goes, this engineer showed up, assessed the problem in about 30 seconds, then pressed a quick series of buttons on a computer and […]
For a number of years when I served as a management consultant to fortune 500 companies my life style revolved around traveling to any where from three to five cities a week in some cases. Needless to say this made training regularly challenging and potentially frustrating. However, often I would return from a week or […]
Recently I was refreshing my memory on some material by reviewing a course on video from a number of years ago. As I watched An-shu Hayes and studied the specifics of the lesson, and his movement, something became apparent. I noticed some subtle differences in the way An-shu was moving. I am not sure how […]