Questions and Answers – Part 2
Two young men in Texas – Patrick Tow and Rayford Outland – decided to do a History Fair high school project about ninjutsu training and my work. After gathering information from my books, DVDs, and the internet, their teacher asked for more detail and urged them to write to me personally with some more questions.
If you might be interested in some minor points about my life and how I ended up where I did, questions 5-8 and the answers follow the previously answered 1-4.
5. What makes ninjutsu and To-Shin-Do different from other martial arts?
Mechanically and technically, we have a very unique way of moving in position-in-space and action-in-time. This method allows our techniques to work even when we are up against one or more aggressors who might have technically superior strength and more violent fighting anger. We do not go to position and unload; we use the positioning process as a major significant part of our defense and counter attack. That allows smaller defenders the opportunity to win and get home happy and healthy.
As a second big difference, psychologically or spiritually we emphasize high reliance on self-knowledge. Know yourself and know the ways that others are most likely to trick or goad us into unwinnable situations based on our psychological or personality blind spots. Our 5-element training shows us the value of many possibilities for many situations and many different personalities. I think this is most unusual in martial arts training, though it is an important core part of our study in the To-Shin Do adapted from ninja taijutsu.
6. What would our lives be like here in America if you hadn’t brought us ninjutsu?
Well, most people do not like to read what appears to be a person praising himself, so this is awkward for me. But OK – since I was asked directly – I’ll give the blunt immodest truth. (A friend reminds me, “It ain’t bragging if it’s the truth, you really are that good, and you really do know that much.”)
Without my bringing ninjutsu to America, we in the world martial arts community would lack a well-respected earned-reputation spokesperson that advocates a practical protector approach to stopping violence, based on handling dangerous aggressors with intelligent tactics informed by heroic compassion from a big-picture perspective. All we would hear in the martial arts media would be pretty conventional thoughts on either building discipline through martial arts (…valid but certainly not unique; don’t all martial arts claim this?), or questions of who is the cruelest dominator in the cage or ring (…though I am of course proud of our winning competitors who rely on their To-Shin honed skills).
What makes our To-Shin Do martial science unique is our heavy emphasis on how to get home happy and healthy and hugging the ones you love every day of the year. It’s how to be a power for good, based on martial experience as outer armor and deep inner exploration as personal empowerment. This is not about glorifying brutal or cruel behavior or “fighter” mentality. We advocate turning out more protectors in a world that already has too many predators.
7. What have you been doing recently?
I am also doing more work to encourage other martial artists to consider running full-time professional SKH Quest affiliate To-Shin Do schools of their own. We need more people sharing this ideal with their home communities.
On a personal level, I continue to travel and study in earnest with Asian teachers of the spiritual and psychological sciences that lead to more self knowledge and a bigger truer picture of the nature of reality and the role of the individual human in that reality.
I also encourage all of those who teach our To-Shin martial art to get out there and take the risk of exposing yourself to something new and threatening. Don’t just stay home and practice what you already know. Explore and grow, and then share your insights with all the rest of the To-Shin community. I did just that when I was in my formative years of my 30s, 40s, and even into my 50s. Keep growing.
8. The ninja everyone know about in popular culture really are nothing like the ninja of reality. Do you wish that true ninja would play a bigger role in this aspect of society?
Movies and popular culture have fixed on the idea of the ninja as ultimate villain. This stereotype has been going on for a long time. It is an equally bad image in the West just as it is in the popular culture of Japan.
My experience of ninja training in Japan, back in the days of the 1970s when Masaaki Hatsumi was still teaching ninjutsu to a few of us (as opposed to budo taijutsu to a huge following today ), was very different from the ninja movie stereotype. I learned that the ninja were warriors willing to endure anything for the sake of their families and communities – hence the name ninja, which means “person who endures”. It is too bad that the world has not seen much of the real ninja heart in the movies. Perhaps someday there will be a ninja movie that tells the real story.
Answers to the next questions in the series will be published soon: