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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 […]

Same Conclusion, Different Endeavor

I read this recently, from an interview with Olympic fencer Daryl Homer by Clay Skipper, July 13, 2021, and it absolutely paralleled what we do in advanced To-Shin Do combat. He puts it precisely on the nose! “…with our sport, we really have to understand the opponent’s psychology. Like, you might be a really strong […]

Kyo-Jitsu Ten-Kan Ho

It is said that the ninja uses the juxtaposition of falsehood and truth (kyo-jitsu ten-kan ho) as one of his options for winning. Ostensibly this is translated as presenting truth as falsehood and falsehood as truth. This seems obvious as a ninjutsu tactic. If you are strong, appear weak to trick an adversary into underestimating […]

Guest Contributor: Bryan Toutoshi Griffin

Hello Ninja Friends! This month we are delighted to share a wonderful piece by our friend Bryan Toutoshi Griffin, owner of Quest Martial Arts Raleigh. Originally posted on his web site at questraleigh.com, we felt that Bryan’s experiences gave him a fascinating point of view. Thank you for sharing Bryan!

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.” […]