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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

Ground Flow Workshop

In this new Ground Flow Workshop, Hardee Hakutoshi Merritt shares hard-earned personal insights into the secrets contained in this kata and the context behind each step. Adding this drill to your practice can go a long way toward helping you prioritize movements and understanding your options on the ground. With competency in this realm, you […]

November’s To-Shin Do Curriculum

This month To-Shin Do explores several key principles and techniques. For our Level 1 students, you’ll explore how to exploit the gift of your attacker’s momentum and how to skillfully applied proper alignment overpowers bigger bodies. Level 2 is in Fire mode this month, exploring vectors, intercepting, angles, using gravity to accelerate in unexpected ways […]

Kata Maki and Ude Garami Applications

“Kata Maki”, “single wrap” or “shoulder wrap”, is a training exercise from the Koto Ryu family style of kop-pojutsu. In the execution of this technique, you can attack the opponent’s shoulder by wrapping up or entangling one of their arms to injure, takedown, or incapacitate them. “Ude Garami” can be defined as “entangled arm” and […]

Nine-Kamae Long Bo Sequence

We’re thrilled to announce this brand new course by Mark Sentoshi Russo. Nine-Kamae Long Bo Sequence 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. By completing this course you will not only develop […]

The Many Facets of Ninja Taijutsu

Last year at Festival 41, we emphasized training in a very advanced ninja style combat called Santo Tonko no Kata, or “Method of the escaping rat”. This was a unique form of combat especially suitable for intelligence gatherers. If a spy had his cover blown and had to make an escape, he might have been […]

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 […]

Losing Makes You Strong

As I watch people training I see them trying to do the kata correctly, to be right. They always want to win. So much so that even when they are in the role of the attacker they often compete with their training partner. Turning what should be a learning experience into a game of tag. […]

Secret Winning Power Within

I was talking with a student recently who expressed some pretty conventional negative thoughts about how her life had gone from childhood. Somewhat unhappy relationship with parents. Managed to graduate high school. OK but not super marriage. Picked up a little weight that will not come off easily. It was a sad but normal take […]

Who is Your Teacher?

Best advice ever given to me as a martial artist? “Know yourself and exactly why you are training in the martial arts, and then carefully select the best role model teacher who directly addresses your motivating passion.” For me, that meant looking all across America for a teacher who inspired me with his skill, ability […]

The Worst Advice I Ever Got

Worst advice I ever got? “Shut up and train. Don’t bother me with silly questions about people or techniques. Just do what I say. Practice the martial arts in their unchanging classical form and you can easily adapt them to modern 21st century self protection; it will be simple.” Wrong on all points. I studied […]

The Harsh Reality Of Self-Defense Training

Self-defense is a big topic. In fact, if you’re honest about wanting to practice self-defense, the training encompasses most every aspect of your life. That’s the hard part. Maybe you read the title and were already thinking of brutal knife attacks, group fight dynamics or what happens to the brain under stress. We practice all […]