Patterns In Weather and Training

Uncategorized Nov 14, 2020

We train outside on Saturdays at a local park.  Four weeks ago we were in rain gear. Three weeks ago it was boots, winter gear and 3 inches of snow . Last week it was over 70 degrees so shorts and t-shirts. Today it was 48 degrees and partly sunny so back to hoodies and jeans.  

The weather seems crazy, unpredictable and following no pattern. How in one week do we go from a winter snowstorm to a balmy summer sunny day? It seems to make no sense but to a weather scientist, a meteorologist, who studies wind, humidity, temperature and can see entire systems as they move and interact around the world, patterns emerge which allow them to predict the weather.

Many who see the art we study think It seems as crazy as the weather. It looks like it makes no sense and follows no set pattern. How can training partners create the same effect on each other grappling, striking, or using weapons when one is twice the weight and 10 inches taller? How is this possible?

It’s...

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Locks as an Emergent Event

Uncategorized Nov 13, 2020

Our Shinobi Science experiments yesterday were looking at the comparison between doing a wrist lock versus having the wrist lock emerge as a product of the shape of a person while they are being affected by gravity and their position in relation to the defender. Kind of a nerd way of saying are you trying to force the lock on or can you get the attacker to move in a way that gives you the lock.

We looked at the relationship between the attacker’s center of gravity, their center of mass, and their balance line as we moved through the steps of the wrist lock kata model. We found there are particular shapes the attacker’s body contorts to as their balance is broken and the lock appears.

The next experiment was to focus on creating those shapes which led to the lock emerging. Once we understood the shape needed to capture the balance of the attacker we could cause that shape to occur in other ways by looking at the other joints of the body and where they were in relation to...

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How To Take Control Of Your Training In Uncertain Times With Shinobi Science

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2020

Recently one of our students was explaining his results from a training experiment. Another student said she had gotten similar results and they began discussing where they thought this would lead. We were smiling because their discussion was heading exactly where the lesson was supposed to.

Now this is not a totally unexpected result when training but at the time none of us were together. One student was at home in California, the other at her home here in New Hampshire and we were at the dojo. All of this was happening live online because of the pandemic.

Makes you think...

What if where students are learning is not as important as how they are learning?

Since 1992 we have been trying to help people see and understand this amazing martial art, which can provide them with a key to being safe, healthy and happy. After all these years of teaching the ninja sciences we came to understand something surprising.

Learning doesn't happen in the space between the student and the teacher....

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Whose Thoughts Are You Thinking?

Uncategorized Jan 07, 2019

One of the side effects of teaching our ninja martial art is that you get into the habit of observing people, how they move and what they say, not just while training but in every day situations too.

I was listening to a number of people talking about politics. One person in particular kept making statements as his own that I know came from a political pundit on a TV show that I had seen. As I listened I started to think about our words and thoughts and questioned…whose thoughts are they?

With television, the Internet, political spin-doctors, religious zealots, scientific proponents, teachers, friends, parents, peers, spouses and all the other influences out there acting on us, are any of us thinking our own thoughts?

As an exercise I began to track my own thoughts. I picked a subject at random then tried to write down three ideas I had about that subject, so far not too difficult.

The next part though was enlightening. I tried to remember where I got my ideas for this...

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Another Layer

Uncategorized Dec 07, 2018

I had friends come down from Quebec Canada for some private training. They are very devoted practitioners, who every few months, drive over seven hours to train for almost eight hours then turn around and drive back. Each time they come we explore what they know to find what they don't know. These are never 'pat on the back' sessions where they leave feeling good about what they know. The sessions are not easy and I have great respect for them going through these with me.

Each time we train together they are honest with themselves about what they think they know being just that, what they currently think. I am honest with them and let them know that what I am showing them is my understanding at this time and will change with time. We work through the mind's natural desire to say 'this is what reality is', to remove another layer of delusion and try to see more clearly the taijutsu of our art.

So many people train for five to ten years, what seems to me now a relatively short time,...

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Going Through The Motions

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2018

Last week we spent a lot of time at our dojo working on being a good attacker and throwing real punches at our training partners. Although this doesn't sound like it would be difficult, from beginning student to highest ranked practitioner, all had a difficult time with this. From my perspective they were all just going through the motions.

The problem was not a lack of trying, or of physical control, or even of lack of focus. It was a problem of goals. I'll give you an example by asking you a question. If I was to call you up in a class to help demonstrate a technique with me as uke and asked you to hit me what would be your goal?

I asked this question as we were working this week and got; to hit you, to throw a jab, to throw a jab at you, to punch in, etc...

All of these are correct but not the goal. Because these comments didn't get the proper attack I was looking for. Sometimes the attack wouldn't be on target, sometimes it stopped as I moved out of the way, sometimes it tracked...

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Teaching Taijutsu

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2018

My teacher, Mark Davis, had me start a training group for some people, who couldn't make it to Boston, in New Hampshire in January 1992. I can honestly say I didn't have a clue what I was doing as a teacher at that time. It was okay though because I was honest with my group and explained that if they were willing to experiment with me I would share what I knew but that it came with the condition that it was my understanding as of that point in time.

It's funny twenty-five years later I often tell my students the same thing, I'm showing you this based on my understanding at this time, it could change. How amazing is our art that I can say that? This martial art we train in has so much in it, so many levels of understanding and so many levels of teaching.

I hear many people say that they want to teach our art some day. And I see so many people trying to help in class by teaching to lower ranked students what they have learned but after twenty-five years of doing this I believe you...

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Humble Path to Excellence

Uncategorized Sep 04, 2018

It's always interesting to watch people at festival, new and experienced, while watching a lesson on stage have that moment of what just happened up there. They see something done by An-shu Stephen or An-shu Rumiko and stare in amazement. You hear them ask how did they do that and say it looks like magic.

It is inspiring to all of us to be oohed and aahh’d at what they can do but if you are not careful you can be lulled into the trap that somehow what is being done is special and you are not capable of reaching those levels of training magic. Well it's not magic and the reality is actually even more impressive and hopeful for us all.

During a session this year at festival Mr. Hayes was teaching about getting back into a good kamae from an extremely compromised position. Mrs. Hayes was training with some people to the side of the stage. She was working on this technique with an extremely strong partner. She didn't like the results she was getting. She could make it work but she...

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The Illusion of You

Uncategorized Aug 07, 2018

If I were to ask you how much do you think your life will change in the next 10 years, would it be a lot or a little? Most people think that they will change very little. However if I were to ask you how much has your life changed in the past 10 years most people would say quite a bit.

We all share the illusion that who we are now in this moment is the end of our personal evolution but every day our experiences change us more than we are aware. Once we accept this daily change we can learn to direct it and become the person we want to be.

Think about the person you would want to be 10 years from now and then push the change a little more and then a little more from there. See that future you and describe them on paper. Write down who they are. Now work backward from that future person and write down what would have to happen for you to become that future person. What achievements and events would have to take place for you to become them?

When you work backwards in...

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Celebrate Mistakes

Uncategorized Jul 10, 2018

Our society has moved toward an educational system that promotes test prep and regurgitation of information. Teachers prepare students to take tests by showing only the material that is on the test so that the students get it right and score well. This creates students who only want to be shown what they need to pass. They are afraid to take chances and be wrong.

Unfortunately this attitude is too often seen in martial arts training also. Teachers who show series of memorized movements and students who only want to know what they have to learn to earn their next belt. Why?

To be blunt it is easier. Teacher and students can move around doing “the exact same steps” and pretend that they are learning and feel good about themselves. No one wants to be wrong but mistakes are the basis of all learning.

If you have been through the To-Shin Do instructor program you know people are so sensitive to being wrong teaching concepts like PCP are used to help students progress despite...

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