Black Belt '09 Homecoming
Here are a lot of my senior Black Belt students and SKH Quest licensed school leaders. Several folks came in before for my 9-9-’09 60th birthday party at the Dayton dojo and then we all got together for some high-level practice the Friday afternoon before our 29th annual Festival.
Some of these Black Belts have been training with me since the early 1980s. Some have traveled to Japan with me for training and visits to inspirational training halls and mountaintops and temples at the roots of our ninja warrior tradition.
Especially in this year of unprecedented financial devastation in the small businesses and lives of so many Americans (and world citizens), I emphasized a hearty salute to my Black Belt training partners for making it back to Ohio for our yearly gathering.
These are the ones who carry our To-Shin Do out to their communities to serve the call for heightened life mastery quality through martial arts training. These strong people saw the importance and beauty of the message I carried from what I studied with my teacher and my teacher’s teacher. Certainly they do not “have to” stay with me and my program; easier lessons and easier belts and easier trophy titles could certainly be had elsewhere. But they vowed not to take the cheap and easy route, and promised that no matter how difficult the lessons, they would persevere, they would prevail, they would master.
I am proud of my friends. You can see their schools listed on this web site under TRAIN WITH US.
One of my favorite martial arts business people, Michael Massie, recommends keeping expenses low. Then in a bad economy you can still keep going. That’s one of the reasons I left the system I got a blackbelt in. They wanted a large investment in capital to start one of their schools upfront.
I understand them wanting to protect their brand. But I have my investment to protect to. I don’t think I should have to build someone else’s business.
I have to write this.
I received a dvd of Mr. Hayes last week, and again, was blown away. What has deeply impacted me, and still helps me, is how Stephen Hayes teaches. I’m not talking about the depth of material, the physical mastery, or the professionalism/style. That’s definately present in how Stephen Hayes teaches.
As a teacher, Mr. Hayes puts his soul into his work. That really means a lot to me. There are many people who are now teaching ninjutsu, but after more than two decades in this art, I can still learn something very basic, for the first time, because someone who is teaching is willing to go far enough in their efforts to make sure the lesson is understood. This is the soul of teaching.
Obviously, with kyojutsu and all of the ura and omote, we students are expected to figure out many things for ourselves. There are many lessons no one can teach us, but for the record, I want to say thank you, Mr. Hayes, for doing your absolute best to make sure those things than can be taught, are taught well and in such a vulnerable way.
We put teachers on pedestals and expect/ask the impossible. Rarely do we get put into their position and understand some of these hard things.
I am grateful that there is a person who can transmit the murky and openly-secret arts of the ninja, who is completely in touch with who is on the receiving end of the instruction. Thank you, Mr. Hayes, for all of the hard work over the years, for going against the grain, and for doing it because you were told to do so.
You’ve helped me many times understand something within myself that has come up as a result of studying this art. You’ve also been quite honest in warnings about the pitfalls, terrain, and of course, how much we are responsible for our power.
May all the Ancestors of our ninja traditions continue to assist you.
(ps I completely understand if this post never makes it to the page!)