Ninja Mind and Determination

Rumiko and Stephen K. Hayes with daughter Marissa and her Grandmother Carolyn on graduation day in front of Marissa’s senior project – the creation of a “Rumi” brand of women’s martial arts wear based in style, comfort, and inspiration

Let’s explore dreams and determination and the ninja will to win.

My daughter Marissa just graduated from a 5 year university program with a degree in Fashion Product Development. She has been heading towards this since she was a pre-schooler, so determined on a career using fashion as a means of increasing the impact of beauty, craftsmanship, self expression, and dignity in daily life. Marissa has always been focused on fashion, especially writing about it, even as she worked for years in the family dojo as a teen. As university student, she interned for New York City firms like Seventeen Magazine, Victoria’s Secret, Coach, Liz Claiborne and Stylesight. These internships were not the norm for her university program. She talked busy New York fashion professionals into listening to her and then allowing her to create internships with them where no such internships existed. She wanted that. It did not exist. So she made it happen.

She reminds me of me.

After university, I landed in Japan with an enormous optimism and absolutely no plan. I just knew that if the ninja tradition still existed in Japan, I had to be a part of that. All through my college days 40 years before my daughter Marissa got to her campus, I was doing my best to prepare. I studied the Japanese language. I studied the martial arts. I traveled internationally. I learned to ask for way too much as though it were requesting a small favor. I got used to people fearing for me in my one-pointed maniacal fixation on finding and restoring the authentic Japanese ninja warrior tradition in the Western world. I had no plan, but I went to Japan. I was counting on raw magic happening, and in many situations in Japan I really needed every bit of magic that I could recognize and grasp.

Our To-Shin Do training provides the power to move through life with determination and skill, accomplishing what we need while making the world a better place as a result of our success. I learned this truth by way of taking a big gamble and moving to Japan without knowing anyone there and having not the slightest clue as to whether the ninja arts I sought were even real. On the other hand, my daughters Marissa and Reina and all those growing up in the ninja martial arts since the early 1980s learned this truth by way of reading the books, attending classes in the dojo, and watching their seniors’ demonstrate warrior authenticity in daily life.

I had to hope. Everyone else gets to know.

My best advice to young friends and students as they set out on any great life adventure is to plan thoroughly… and leave room for magic. Have a clearly defined vision of your goal… and allow for the possibility that you may end up with something even better than your original goal. Talk to everyone you know who could help you… and be ready for some unimagined fortuitous connection with just the right person. Never never stop talking to potential allies about your dream and how you plan on putting your gift to work in the world. That’s what I did, and my reward now is a collection of countless stories of how people around the world improved their lives – sometimes in small ways and sometimes revolutionarily – as a result of what I was determined to seek and then share.

What’s your dream? Have you tried asking for advice and guidance from others in the world-wide To-Shin community? It has worked for many before you in furthering noble dreams.

So… Anybody out there know the editor of Vogue magazine well enough to tell her about this absolute stormer named Marissa who would be the best thing ever to hit the hallways of that office?

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