What is Your Training Goal?

Two men train to win fights.

One fights to beat other men and receive glory and treasure. He fights for himself.

The other fights when forced to defend those who are wrongfully endangered. He fights for others.

Both are fighters. Is one more noble than the other?

There is certainly a place in martial arts training for testing yourself one-on-one against others, and I salute such champions. But I am dedicated to taking martial arts to a different place. In my remaining years, I am passionately committed to teaching a method of intelligent personal combat that can be used effectively by a compassionate protector when brutal and cruel aggressors wish to dominate for pleasure or profit.

Some ask, “How can you tell how good you are without trying it out in a ring or cage?”

I ask, “How can you tell how good you are if you only try it out in a ring or cage?”

In my schools, trained instructors in padded armor simulate real-world assaults to let students test their techniques and spirits under high pressure. As a protector school, we train for situations very different from a contest ring. Our goal is not to defeat competitors, but to develop the fighting skills and knowledge to establish peace when others might choose bullying, violence, or murder. We teach the kinds of awareness, attitudes, and techniques you need to end a fight with a larger attacker, or several attackers, or a surprise attacker, or an unfair attacker, or an armed attacker, and then get everyone to safety – very different from skills needed to win a prize in a mutually consented fighting contest. In our dojo, “lop-sided” 2-on-1 scenarios, verbal distractions, and surprise attacks abound. And yes, sometimes we just go one-on-one in contest style with certain reasonable restrictions to see how good we are under pressure.

Since we are teaching techniques for ending fights as quickly as possible, I also feel strongly that it is crucial to teach a code of ethical living as part of an elevated fighting system, and to be able to demonstrate that code of ethical living to my students in every move I make on or off the mat. In my schools, students learn and test out one new piece of our warrior ethics system for every level of every colored belt they earn.

I would not hand a loaded rifle to a child who had not been taught to respect the power of the bullet. I will not teach skills of bone breaking, joint damaging, and organ injuring without teaching wariness for the potentially seductive corruptive power of being able to dominate, “submit”, humiliate, maim, or kill another human being.

17 comments to “What is Your Training Goal?”

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  1. Christos Karatsalos says: -#1

    This is the best birthday gift that only you can give to a child with almost forty years memories and helps him to go even deeper but also keep him going and growing with positive purpose in mind.
    Thank you An-Shu.

  2. I fully agree, it’s time for the martial arts to go back to the heart of what they were created for “Preservation of life”. Anything other than that is not true warriorship.

  3. Chris Scarbrough says: -#1

    This is what I admire about you the most. You protect others by making sure you don’t empower bad people with good ideas.
    Thank you for upholding such a high standard of teaching.

    -Chris Scarbrough

  4. Daniel Spaulding says: -#1

    Very well said!! Ninpo Ikkan!

  5. While growing on the path, exploring each moment, the magic and lesson it contains, thankful that through your teaching An-Shu, to have your wisdom lighting the experience.

    Thank you An-Shu, for showing the true essence of the warrior, with its responsible compassion as well as true heart.

    Stationed Overseas

  6. The old adage of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely comes to mind when I read An-shu’s email. Its an every day thing that an instructor has to do in watching over the students in their care to insure proper development. Some changes happen over night, some happen very slowly over time- to the good or to the bad.
    We must be aware of our own development as it dictates ours actions for which we are accountable for . Its up to the instructors to set the right example, the high standards etc but its up to the student to achieve them. The student’s ulitmate destination is choosen by themselves.
    I read a passage someplace that when a warrior was defending what they loved and that was familiar to them, they was a stronger warrior.
    Love and peace is the fuel for a true warrior.

  7. messaoudi rachid says: -#1

    hallo my goal is to be a good schoktherapiest so ik ik help people if thy whant it , a specialie for poeple how dus not have mutch.

  8. This sums up precisely why I prefer to spend my time following your training examples over those of others and why I find your work so inspiring and refreshing at this point in my life.

  9. Incredible An-shu,i had write a post on my blog about the same topic this week.because here people said that we Are not trully Martial artist because we dont make cage fighting.
    Incredible coincidence! To’-shin people Are trully in contact it seem!

  10. Daniel L Dunn says: -#1

    I’ve also encountered people who are convinced ‘real’ fighters are those in the cage or those able to force their will on others. I’m so happy to see the understanding of what a true warrior is coming to light for our society.

    Just as the terrifying ferosity of the Tiger is only revealed when it must defend life – so too are the noble actions of the authentic warrior only presented when we must defend life (or train in the Dojo : )

    Thank you so much for being a bastion of this knowledge An-shu!

  11. Yes this is the ideal we strive for, however, life has a way of throwing curve balls at us so don’t get locked in to any one technique.

  12. I’m glad to see the message is finally getting out. Combat is not a sport. It is about stopping the opposition before he or she kills you or worse, those you are responsible for. Contrary to popular belief it is not about being artful, expanding your mind or any of the other politically correct reasons I have hear recently. The original practitioners did not create this art for the fun of it. They did it to protect their families and to safeguard their future from deadly threat. The biggest problem I see in Ninpo today is that a lot of current practitioners have either forgotten or not been taught this. Sensei you are one of the few Instructors that I have encountered that understands this. Though I am not Quest I am blessed to have encountered your teachings back in 1984 and am proud to still call you Sensei. Ninpo Ikkan!

  13. Terry Garrett says: -#1

    WOW!!! I totally agree with An-Shu Hayes. Isn’t this what martial arts is all about? The protection of others and self? The realization of higher self in that the martial artist doesn’t have to use the skills he possesses but only when the scheme of totality calls for it without arrogance or competitive reassurance?
    Thank you An-Shu for you words of wisdom and for keeping our perspective pure.

  14. An-shu,

    When my wife and I decided it was time for my son to learn self-defense, I did a great deal of research into the schools in my area. I was concerned that he would misunderstand and mis-use self-defense skills and ultimately become a bully.

    The practical self-defense skills and protector-attitude you teach are what led me to choose To-Shin Do and the Dayton Quest Center over the other schools in our area.

    Many thanks to you and the other instructors for teaching my son practical skills that will allow him to protect himself and those he loves from harm.

    Bobby Joyce, aka Elijah’s dad
    Dayton Quest Center
    Yellow belt student

  15. An-shu thank you for this piece, it is very inspiring and for me it addresses the heart of the matter of what it means to be a true warrior. It is so much more than having a locker full of moves and techniques that can cause harm. I like what you referred to as one who is a compassionate protector and I feel that I am at the very early stages of learning what that really means. One of the reasons why I moved away from simply doing sport martial arts was because I was allowed by different instructors to learn them without addressing who I really am. To-Shin Do is complete in this sense because it does not allow me to do that. It addresses the whole of me and the dynamic relationship I have with the rest of the universe. In truth, I have found the art natural, compelling, based on sound life affirming values…and to be honest a little bit scary at times. As was said previously I feel blessed to have encountered your teachings and I am grateful for your continued efforts in sharing them internationally. I have found To-Shin Do Ninpo incomparable in its completeness. Thank you.

  16. Thank you An-Shu for an as always pertinent and inspiring article. I have been following you since the 80’s and you are always a source of wisdom in the martial arts.

  17. George Kirby III says: -#1

    Funny, I had a conversation with my relative who is a probations / corrections officer. In the conversation, i was asking him to help me with my skills and he could learn too. he pointed out that a true test of skills would be a fight club (probably in a prison) or a cage fight (MMA). As he does not fight he plays for keeps (gun) though he run every time I talk about training. “All I wanted to do was pretend fight in a dojo.” Which caused me to turn into a ninja preacher/judge.
    I then pointed out that rings have rules, taking punishment. It is marketed as a sport and is treated as such though serious injuries are incurred. it is about fitness. A real violent fight- street or military often ends in less than a minute. Weapons can be expected but you can’t be sure when or what kind. Plus from two, ten to forty are more attackers some or all armed. If that happened every time you went to the dojo or ring you would not go. I’ve been trained in koppojutsu etc. used various weapons, and been attacked by large pythons, Ligers (lion x tiger) alligators, people etc. I found that my martial art skills polished is what helped defend myself. Winning in the ring sounds good for the fame, seems to employ endurance and as a accomplishment in life, as does (boxing, basketball, football.) but I don’t think death or near lethal injuries is an expected outcome. And some ring fighters have a sort of ‘friendship’ with their opponent, no malice as a with sniper with you in his sights. Thanks every time I read your post It seems we witnessed similar events.

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