Unlimited training from $25/month

Mark Sentoshi Russo

Mark Sentoshi Russo, An-shu's senior-most master instructor, has been training with An-shu Stephen K. Hayes for over thirty years and runs his own To-Shin Do training school in Florida. His intense presence and masterfully-precise martial arts skills are informed by his years of commitment to seeking the hidden spirit wisdom of the Himalayan meditation and mind sciences. His clear communication and his explosive power will keep you on the edge of your seat, empowered, challenged, and motivated.

Courses by Mark Sentoshi Russo

Street Smart Gyaku Nage

An attacker won’t give you a straight arm to work with. Learn both inside and outside applications to Gyaku Nage that makes this a highly practical technique. It shows up frequently in real-life struggles, making it an excellent “go to” option. Add this one to your arsenal.

Nine-Kamae Long Bo Sequence

This course will get you well on your way to proficiency with the rokushaku bo (6 foot staff). You will learn the nine fundamental postures along with basic and advanced striking skills.

Beyond Curriculum

Explore fundamental truths, abstract ideas, and advanced applications that prove the ninja’s core belief – that size, speed, and strength aren’t the only way to win.

Mindfulness and Meditation

This course dives into the core concept of mindfulness, which is required to tap in to and master your Sanmitsu – thoughts, speech, and actions – which create your, whether you know it or not.

The Principles of Nidan

Join Shihan Mark Sentoshi Russo as he explores the principles of Nidan 2nd Degree Black Belt at a seminar at the Hombu in Dayton, Ohio. You’ll explore advanced concepts that demonstrate how we adapt and adjust when things don’t go well.

Escapes and Reversals

Stay ahead of a dangerous adversary by not only knowing how to apply locks and dislocations, how to be sneaky enough to escape and reverse them. There is always a way in and out of everything. To access this content, you must purchase To-Shin Do Training Subscription – Master Access, Monthly, To-Shin Do Training Subscription […]

Powerful Strikes Workshop

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!

The Four Primary Secrets to Mastering Taijutsu

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.

Exploring Gyaku Nage

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.

Hon Gyaku – The Game Ender

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.

Strategic Sensitivity and Awareness

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

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.

Beginner Legs Workout

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.

Safe Space

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.

Strengthening the Base

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.

Understanding the Elements

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.

Sentoshi Sword Series

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 […]

Shoulder Dislocation Workshop

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.

Crushing the Attack – Part 3

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.

Trapped at Knifepoint

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.

Your Phone is a Secret Weapon

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.

Crushing the Attack – Part 2

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.

Crushing the Attack – Part 1

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.

Explosive Stomp Kicks

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.

Functional Fitness Workout

Take the first step 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, many of these exercises are deceptively challenging and will […]

Breaking Balance

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.

Getting Started with Meditation

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.

Deceptive Takedowns

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.

Getting Started with the Bo Staff

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.

Roots of Confidence

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

Street-Smart Gyaku Nage

Gyaku nage is an elbow leverage throw or takedown. Historically this technique relies on a straight arm for leverage and successful application. However, in a real struggle it is very unlikely that an attacker will give you a straight arm to work with. This is why the technique is rarely used. In

Beyond Curriculum

In most people’s minds black belt is the end game for martial arts training. This is the product of many social and economic influences. Somehow the uninitiated have the idea that black belt means you’re Spiderman. My sense is that the best way to put this in perspective is through an analogy. Black belt in […]

Detachment – The Freedom to Try

As my children were growing up I would sometimes observe that they were afraid to try new things for fear of failing. No matter how much coaxing, they would often stick to their guns, “I don’t want to”. Yet often I could tell that they really did want to try, but that desire was overpowered […]

Balancing Perseverance with Walking Away

Growing up we’ve probably all heard the words of wisdom, “A quitter never wins, and winners never quit.” “Never give up.” “A winner is just a loser who tried one more time.” And of course, the contradictory wisdom, “You have to know when to cut your losses.” “Don’t throw good money and time after bad.” […]

How Is This Helping?

Previously I mentioned that our brains are literally hardwired to push us toward focusing on the negative, to be scanning for perceived danger and threats. To make matters worse, our neocortex, which is the seat of imagination, is good at making things up. This is a formula for a lot of negative fantasies. With all […]


Recently I took on a new life coach client. At our first meeting he got very emotional and asked me why he felt he was always struggling with a sense of negativity. He said he had looked into whether he was clinically depressed and felt that this was not the case. “I’m not really depressed […]

Doing Your Best

We are all trying to do our best. What does that really mean though? If we are not clear on what the definition of our “best” is, we are very likely to seriously reduce our ability to our best. If our perspective is not based on clarity and realistic expectations, we are setting ourselves up […]

Relative Reality

“I’m no Einstein,” I said, “but I do know it’s all relative.” Someone had just asked me what my views on karma are. “Well, what does that mean?”, they replied. “Can you elaborate?” First we have to acknowledge that there are two views of so-called reality, I said. OK, now you’re starting to blow my […]


New year, new beginnings. This is always a good time to apply one of my favorite life management models – Continue, Stop, Start. Perhaps especially so as the year of the rat suggests, the time is right for turning pages and embarking on new journeys. So the model is quite simple, that’s why it works […]

Verbal Taijutsu – Fire

In this third article on verbal taijutsu I will focus on the energy of the fire element. First let’s start with energy itself. The fire element is about connection, but also energy. An intense level of positive energy is always contagious. Enthusiasm is inspiring. This is what a lot of motivational speakers survive on. By […]

Because I Love 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 […]


“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 […]

Finding Your Way Back

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 […]


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 […]

Control and Freedom

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 […]

Visceral Training

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 […]

I Get to Do This

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 […]

The Value of Sword Training

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 […]

Winning With Words

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 […]

Art Reflecting Life

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, […]

Straight Talk

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 […]

Fluid Connectedness

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 […]

Verbal To-Shin Do

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 […]

Is It Necessary?

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 […]

Practicing Perseverance

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, […]

Yesterday’s Lunch

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 […]

Why Don’t We Spar?

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 […]

Troubleshooting Your To-Shin Do

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 […]

Learning to Love the Plateau

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 […]

No Mistakes for the Ninja

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 […]

On Opinions

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 […]

Got Balance Breaking?

“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 […]

Solo Training

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 […]

Being Mindful of a Teacher’s Value

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 […]

There Is No Finish Line

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 […]