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To-Shin Do Schools – Vision, Mission, and Values

I was asked how I define our work, and specifically, what makes the Quest Center To-Shin Do schools stand out. Here is what I ended up replying: Vision: Life mastery through martial arts Mission: To encourage peace, happiness, friendship, and fulfillment through the practice of modern and classical protection, health and fitness, life organization, and […]


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 […]

Consistent Tiny Steps Win the Day

“An ant on the move is more powerful than a dozing ox.” – Lao Tzu Even though we start from humble beginnings, we can rise to lead a extraordinary life. If little practices are repeated consistently over time, we can improve ourselves and advance in capabilities. We come to the dojo two or three times […]

Concepts, Principles, and Techniques

Something I will be emphasizing in seminars this year is the differentiation between concepts, principles, and technique instructions. If our students know the concept of good taijutsu and know the principle being taught, it may help them do their techniques more correctly. A CONCEPT is an overarching description that applies to everything we do. “Rely […]

Curious Attention

I challenged my students to an awareness exercise over the next few weeks. As they head in to the hectic holiday season, I asked them to pay attention whenever they are in a crowd (at the mall, the supermarket, etc.). But specifically I asked them to pay attention to how many people around them were […]

Why the 3-Part Student Creed?

When people come into our schools as white belts, they learn a three-part Student Code, or student creed, and promise to abide by it. We tell them right up front: “These are the three things you must remember whenever you’re doing anything dangerous, whether it’s a surf board, or a bungee jump, or martial arts […]

Everybody On The Mat

A question was raised at Festival that required a woman’s touch. So this month I’m going to step aside and let you read a very important post from my friends. -Fuutoshi Everybody On The Mat: Inclusivity Through The Lens of Kunoichi Women Warriors By Theresa Murphy and Amy Tiemann We highly value the benefits of […]

Natural Movement

We talk a lot about having ‘natural movement’ in our martial art. As important as it is, it can be just as hard to describe what that means. Sure, we want natural speed, relying less on fast ‘muscle’ speed. We want to use gravity and not rely solely on strength. We want to take away […]


The ability to stay focussed in a violent situation on the presesent moment is often the determining factor in surviving. The development of this focus is the main point of all of our training. The problem is that we have three attention/focus systems in us that are constantly vying for control of our focus. The […]

Order and Chaos

What if martial arts training is really an interactive experience of order and chaos? When there is an imbalance, there is less than effective training. You need to have order — the discipline, respect, and intelligently paced learning. You also need the chaos — free testing, the “try it outs”, and “what ifs”. When you […]

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 […]