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New Moment, New Beginning

This year my Festival session was about each moment being a new beginning. In fact, the entire Festival theme was “Ninja Reborn”, for several reasons, including marking our dedication to using technology and the internet to even more effectively spread To-Shin Do across the globe. It is an important concept to me personally, as well […]

Quotes About Nothing

At the To-Shin Do Ninja Festival this year I taught a session on Saturday morning. For me, the session was very fun and humbling because of how much effort everyone put in to learning the ideas. We looked at arm positions which allow you to move and strike with great power while expending very little […]

Festival 34 is Almost Here!

Festival is just two weeks away! This year in Raleigh, the hotel is so close to the airport and other restaurants that there’s no need to rent a car. And with lunch covered both days, along with a free continental breakfast as part of your $119 special room rate, there are almost no meals to […]

Three Stages of Developing Expertise

What if the point of martial arts training was to become invincible, as opposed to impressing others with visually entertaining technique? What if we trained to attune natural movements to a wide variety of possible assaults, rather than developing complex techniques for one-upping other competitors in a contest? Accomplishing great things with the appearance 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 […]


For a martial art that is dedicated to realistic, usable self-defense skills, we need to recognize that we may not be the meanest or strongest person in a confrontation. A true self-defense system has to rely on more than just hitting hard and fast in order to be useful in any situation. Not to discount […]

Manners and The Martial Arts

To say that manners are a lost art in our society today would be an understatement. Rudeness runs rampant but do we still need manners? Most martial arts still practice some form of manners but the reasons for it may surprise you. Manners were a form of self-defense. In feudal Japan there was no law […]

Mu-shin: Mind and “No-Mind”

A student once asked me, “Japanese martial arts books sometimes describe a state called mu-shin, or ‘no-mind’. If I were thinking of nothing, how could I handle an attacker who was thinking very hard about beating or killing me? I mean, with nothing in mind, wouldn’t I just be an easy target?” I told him […]

Chi-Shiki 知識 Knowledge

The second of our Twelve Keys of To-Shin Do training is all about gathering as much information as possible and then learning to put that knowledge into usable action. The more we know and understand about any given technique, the better we are able to fine tune our training experiences. This information gathering happens in […]

Lose to Win

When practicing kata or techniques very often students rush “to do” the technique without understanding why the kata or technique exists. Kata in our system are reenactments of battles or are they are drills created to pass on principles of survival. They provide answers to situations that teach lessons to us. They are not things […]

Ninja Festival 2014

This year An-shu Stephen K. Hayes’ Ninja Festival will be held September 26-28 in Raleigh, North Carolina. We have some exciting things planned, including some in-depth sessions from all three Shihan. Black Belt Workshop Friday September 26th, from 1:00 to 3:30pm, An-shu Stephen K. Hayes gives an advanced seminar. Train with An-shu Stephen, An-shu Rumiko, […]

The Science of “Not-Teaching”

I stood at the edge of the training area with one of the brown belt Trainers. She and I were watching a group of new students as they practiced punching into padded targets. “Look good, don’t they? Bodies moving with the arm extension. Hitting the targets well. Getting good results. Having fun.” She nodded silently […]