Martial Arts Teaching for the Future

One reality I see over and over at martial arts business conventions is crowds of young proficient martial artists in on the latest martial fad and hoping to earn a living providing good training for their communities, but lacking in a crucial double-edged necessity.

They lack a seasoned mature presence, and they lack an inspiring realistic system for teaching how to deal with people, they definitely need more motivation and determination, they need to listen to some black motivational speakers.

Are you mature enough in your presence (we’re not necessarily talking years-of-age here) to inspire successful people to want to engage you to help them advance?

Are you aware enough to come across as someone that matters, someone that is making a difference in the community (…as opposed to being some twitchy young dude who mimics all the fads and cliches in appearance, language, and bearing, someone who radiates, “I’m trying real hard here and hoping you will chip in and help pay for all my fun.”) ?

I can teach other teachers good real-world martial arts. I must admit that really is not a likely business target though. I have few takers when it comes to getting a better martial art for an existing school; teachers stay pretty locked in emotionally to what they earned their black belt in, even when there are better things out there. On the other hand, there are school owners who have no grounding at all, and easily fall victim to chasing down a newer sweeter “flavor of the month”. Many school owners want to “roll” since Brazilians made that popular in the 1990s. Where were they when folks were snickering at me for teaching ground technique in the ’80s? And what then is the next hot thing to blossom? Fads come and go.

Success in the martial arts business is not about superior defense technology, it seems. It is about recognizing and delivering what makes people feel strong, decisive, and capable. Therefore, my next-few-years work is in the inner realms of warrior protector spirit. I believe martial arts school prospects in most towns are looking for authentic confident presence. They just happen to enjoy martial arts as a great way to get there. Yes, every teacher says s/he will deliver that, but truth is I see a lot of teachers who do not even have such maturity and stability themselves.

You can join us if you are brave enough and sincere enough, and ready to let go of the fad addictions that seem to motivate so many of your lost martial arts school owner peers.

I will start a next chapter in my teaching in 2012 after one more trip to see friends in the Himalayas next spring. I want to deliver training experiences to promote the inner strength and outer sophistication that seems to be so forgotten in our martial arts image of today. “Martial mastery, all-organic, no artificial additives, free-range, no cages”. The real deal for a world that seems to be growing more and more challenged and confused every day.

Maybe I will find some brave men and women ready for a fast track experience to what us 1960s martial artists admired in the rough and tumble grand old Asian men who headed the training halls back then when martial arts first came to general America, and what forward thinking people admire in spiritual teachers today in the 21st century.

Let’s see who shows up.

42 comments to “Martial Arts Teaching for the Future”

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  1. Inspiring. I wish you had a school near me. I have one of your DVDs but I have no real way to train what I’m learning from it. Which is a shame because your approach and philosophy have really struck a positive chord with me. Well, at least for the time being I can train “mentally” I suppose. Thank you for your always compelling words.

  2. Your words of wisdom are inspiring as always An-Shu. I have been searching for a “real” martial art that not only trains how to defend yourself but trains the mind and spirit to be in harmony with each other and what you teach does all 3. However, it seems most dojos out there is only content with teaching the physical aspect which follows the “fad” of what’s out there and from what I see doesn’t prepare a person how to deal with real life “dangerous” situations.

    I agree with “chabuhi” wish you had a dojo close to me. I have ordered a DVD of yours to start my training and am loving it. I don’t know when or where you will “start the next chapter your teaching in 2012,” but I’m looking forward to being apart of it!

  3. Great post and news for next year, An-Shu.

    I am wondering if we would be able to benefit from your life work if you would have been looking for a dojo closer to yourself when you were looking for truth in the martial arts.

    (Sorry Iyose and chabuhi, couldn’t resist)

    All the best to everyone,

  4. Scott Workman says: -#1

    Count me in Mr. Hayes.

  5. I would have to agree with most of this

  6. In my experience, individuals are more than eager to learn what you have to teach. My LDS group has taken on many people. I think what most school owners are afraid of is realizing that what they’ve dedicated their training time to in the past wasn’t what it should have been from the start. I know when I first started on my path in To-Shin Do, there were many hard lessons to learn and relearn. I have since dedicated myself to the instructor path and am working hard to bring your teachings to everyone I meet.
    I Believe in Myself.
    I Believe in what I study.
    I Believe in my teachers.

  7. leanne northey says: -#1

    I look forward to your next chapter of teaching An-Shu and to following your journey over the next three years into “the inner realms of warrior protector spirit,” and the enlightenment it will bring to my life and others that l pass your knowledge and techniques onto in my journey in To Shin Do Martial Arts.

  8. Joseph Mattison says: -#1

    I will always take every opportunity I can to better myself. Your path is an inspiration. Thank You!

  9. As always, I’m in it for the long haul! Ninpo Ikkan Sensei Hayes!

  10. When an author writes a story based on his past; he knows somehow he both is, and is not, that young innocent who went through all those experiences. Its easy to be heartfelt. There is glow to remembrance. The happy times, the sad times. Times on lonely winding roads without a friend, and times watching little babies being born. I want to thank An Shu Hayes for that initial spark. It doesn’t take much light to shine in the darkness.
    The pursuit of the heart of the ninja warrior has been my constant companion and guide. What would I have held on to without it? Who would I have become?
    Time has worked its alchemy on me. I open a book, to find that it is my book, and the first couple of chapters are already filled in. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There is serenity there. But at the same time, hopefully, there are a couple of pages there that are still blank.
    It has, at times, been hard for me to see what I want and not be able to have it. A love lost to some life whirlwind, just a phone call away, but unattainable. But in many stories, before the credits roll, the protagonist finds himself older and wiser; scarred, but healed. There is the possibility for redemption, of hope against hope. The road may not be easy, and dangers lurk in the shadows, but the moment can come, the moment to set it all right. For now, and forever.
    I take up the challenge. I set my own path. I have the chance to hold my life in my own hands, and make it what I have always felt it could be. My stated intention for myself, and for all the world, is to train in the ways of the warrior.

  11. Andrew Willett says: -#1

    Thank you very much for this amazingly inspiring blog entry, Anshu. I feel blessed to be part of this journey along with all of my To-Shin-Do family members. I look forward to seeing what I can find in myself, and what levels of mastery I can achieve.

  12. In the region where I live, most people associate “classical” martial arts with character, spiritual, energy building benefits for the practitioner. Whereas the more modern, sportier or militaristic disciplines are been looked at as “more effective” street combat methods, most people agree that those same look more aggressive as-well.

    The problem is, as you wrote so well An-Shu, that most of those traditional schools and teachers -just don’t have the knowledge- to pass on the spiritual and mental strength building methods, anymore…I should add.
    Most teachers pretend indeed to have found this wisdom, and tell their students to just keep training long enough, and “you will see the wisdom”…
    The more modern schools, well…most of them build on “success” on the competition floor or how fast they can kill their “enemy”.

    The sad thing is that neither of the paths will lead to personal happiness. The first will lead to frustration of “not seeing or getting” the wisdom and the second, well depending on the school, might bring physically wrecked bodies at the age of 40, tricky, cool-blooded “killers”, or even traumatized victims who have used what they learned in an inadequate way and now are facing charges in justice, or maybe worse, they now have to deal with the consequences of maiming or killing a person, and have a very difficult time trying to handle the rest of their lives emotionally! (it could be even worse…they might not care at all they killed someone)

    Our lineage is indeed quite different isn’t it?

    What surprises me a lot is that the people who come to our training are really surprised to see that we have actual “exercises” to develop these capacities.
    People who need the technical advice for professional reasons, see the value of the techniques and so appreciate the gradually scaled “violence level” in our responses. Whereas people in need of personal protection techniques appreciate the human aspect of their non-violent nature, we do not transform them in killer machines, they can stay just as “normal” as they used to be before joining our dojo.

    I apologize for making this such a long post.

    I will come to my point here 😉

    Sometimes, it is even worse “outside” the martial arts…
    Some basic ethical values are so easily put aside in the professional world nowadays.

    Just two days ago, I was confronted, during a semi-professional meeting with a situation where I and other people present, were attacked verbally.
    This person was accusing me of being someone I was not and at the same time insinuating that my only interest was commercial. He continued by barking “shut up” at even his friends, and dismissing other peoples comments. We were about to vote some kind of rules to go by in this assembly. By that time, some of the people present had already started to defend me (that’s how you recognize friends ) but the feeling in the room was just dreadful and some of the people present started abandoning and agreeing (to calm things down). This was a difficult situation, this assembly needed new rules and needs to attract new members in the future to survive, but by doing so, it looked like several of good friends would leave the assembly. I did not really vote that night as a was prepared to accept the result of the majority anyway, beyond the personal attacks.(I provide merchandise to the assembly)

    This meeting had left me with a very awkward feeling, this “Junior-member” was about to push out some of the “senior-members”, and he didn’t seem to bother, at all. I do indeed have commercial interest involved in that assembly, but hey, that does not justify for me to put my core-values aside. I had a rather restless night, and in the morning, I decided that I could not let this happen.
    I wrote a letter to that junior-member explaining how my personal values were completely opposite of all what had been said and done that night, and how chocked and disappointed I was in how he had treated his own friends. I added that I was not born a Business-Man, I was born Hu-Man. Business is No valid excuse to set aside all you are. There is no valid reason for anyone to say that it is “ok” to do so because it will bring you more money…”it’s only for business, that’s not the real me”. I value friendship more than business. If you are an ethical human being, then you do business in a respectful and ethical way. And yet it is so tempting to do it anyway.
    I did not ask any favor in return, nor did I require him to retreat from the board or assembly. The future will tell us what change will happen. I ended my letter by saying that this is my personal experience of that evening and that I was not OK with what happened.

    I am a “founding member” of this assembly, but nonetheless, I took a rather big risk here to set the other members against me.
    But when I send a copy of that letter to one of my friends who suffered the biggest personal attacks of that junior member, He called me and expressed his gratitude that I stood up for him and the true values of the assembly (and life). For me, this is more reward than I expected 😉

    I am quite proud of the important step I took to re-affirm my engagement to uphold the real warrior spirit in a resolute brave bold way!


  13. Dax Robertson says: -#1

    I remember growing up in a small town thirsty for knowledge in the martial arts. (Thanks to movies with messages like the original “Karate Kid”) When I was younger, there were no schools in the area and the ones within driving distance were made too expensive for my family to afford. So I watched films and studied books at the library. Needless to say, when a Tae Kwon Do school started a class, finally, I jumped at the chance to study something. However, my parents kept me from it. This time, they told me that though I was eager, I needed to be able to understand the philosophy that accompanied the martial arts. As I studied and my knowledge grew, I eventually reached the coveted rank of black belt and tested for instructor certification. But, I began to realize that the philosophy I sought, the path I sought, was not something that was not included in the school I was studying, but rather something I learned from my research and my practice and from my parents. Soon, I found myself searching, hunting for a path, a tradition, that more closely aligned with what lied within. I opened my heart and my mind and began studying many other styles with other people, when chance would have it a friend and I discovered the wonder of To Shin Do and the FAMILY that makes its community. Since that day, I knew I had found a home. And though I still practice the other systems I have studied, I try to share the joy that is To Shin Do with others and ultimately wish to work my way down the instructor path so that I might bring a local school to my community so that I may share with more and more people. Needless, to say I have been there. I have had the thought that I was practicing the ultimate system and did not need others. A fighting system without the a philosohy, without a path to help a practioner improve upon their character (mind, body, and soul) is exactly that, a system that teaches one how to fight. People need more and that is the magic that is To Shin Do. So, THANK YOU Anshu. Thank you to all my teachers of every rank for sharing something so beautiful and bring my study group in to the family. 🙂

  14. Thank you, An-Shu, for being the expert in translating this information. I love this journey!

  15. Sensei Hayes! What a great post! I definitely agree with what you are saying in regards to people always going with the “flavor of the month”. Many schools are out there just to make the quick buck, and are run by people that might be good martial artists, but lousy teachers. They have not attained that harmony between the mental and physical side, which prevents them for passing it on to their students. I always remember the quote: “It is better to be the warrior in the garden, than a gardener at war.” Without training the mind as well as the body for real-life situations, no positive growth can come out of it. I am consider myself very fortunate to have trained/train with some great human beings, who are also martial artists, and passing on of their “presence” onto me is much more valuable than any technique. Most recently, you have been one of those great individuals that I have had the pleasure of meeting and learning from. I look forward to seeing you again very soon in CA. All the best!

  16. Looking forward to seeing this next chapter unfold, Anshu. Ganbaremashou!

  17. Mr. Hayes

    2012 sounds exciting.

    Here in oklahoma there are not any good Bujinkan ir to-shin-do schools.

    I live near Arkansas and as far as I know and i have looked, there are not any in Fort Smith either.

    I think these places have a good clientel base for ninjutsu but in Oklahoma it seems everyones attracted to the fad MMA sport fighting. I even found a MMA dojo in “WALMART” in Bartlesville OK. Mostly teaching kids.

    I am not sure about the Arkansas peoples fight mentality.

    Looking forward to it Anshu…

    • lantz i live in oklahoma and own the dvd’s. contact me at and we might could start training.

    • I live in Arkansas and I can tell everyone here that the “Arkansas peoples fighting mentality” is just as strong as anyone’s and I know many people that would enjoy this martial art. I think every state should have plenty of schools so that everyone has a fair chance to pursue this art as an interest and/or life style. I’d have to move at least 2 states away just to take a class. I can’t learn from a movie. I need personal training. Please, make more schools and put them in states that have none. I have a friend in Texas that would love this, but there’s no school there either. Don’t leave us out because the states we live in have bad (and false) reputations. I am not a hillbilly redneck. I am an Arkansan. And I want to learn To Shin Do.

  18. Hi
    my name is adel my countri iran
    i have dvd to-shindo step1&2&3&4&coaching
    i have veri students to-shindo kay in iran.we want coach in iran;I have conect mr hayes.please

  19. well said, An-shu sensei

  20. What I have found is too few schools today, if any, teach the skills of recognizing a situation before it comes to the point where you you are forced to use the skills that you are taught to defend yourself. Most schools today teach the skills to simply defend yourself, and that it is. There is a lot more to it than simply learning the moves and techniques. Very few teach their students the psychology, and the responsibilities behind using those skills.

    When I was training in my early years, a Sensei asked me what I thought perfection in the Martial Arts would entail? What did I feel that would make me the best that I could be in the Martial Arts?

    I stupidly answered ” To beat anyone I come across”. He told me that I was wrong. He asked that what is the definition of the Martial Arts? Before I could answer, he said “to defend yourself. How better to defend yourself then to not allow yourself to be put in a position where you have to defend yourself. To attain perfection in the martial arts is to become so versed in it that you no longer have to use it. The mind is much stronger than the arms, or legs”

    That was one of the most profound things I have ever heard in my life. It is one thing that has stuck with me thru out the years of my life.

  21. I had the pleasure of finally returning to festival this year and it was a completely amazing and ground breaking experience for me.

    I expanded my knowledge and felt that everything learned was of value and a on top of that just had a great time training in a martial art i love !

  22. Thanks Brother Hayes
    Thanks, for bringing forth this insight..most martial artist(westerners) have forgotten the spirituality of the art,they see it as a sport rather than a away of Life.
    My own personal journey in Martial Science started Sept./1966 at 16 years old
    and continue when I met my Spiritual Master teacher in 1971.
    For me Martial Science and Spirituality is a way of Life.


  23. I have to say that’s great to hear that’s what you plan on do in 2012. I happen to own my own dojo in Illinos. My back ground is in aikido, i trained it that for almost 16 years before i chose to move on. I was a direct student of Larry Reynosa sensei for the last 7 years of my aikido training. Reynosa sensei was one of Steevn seagal sensei’s highest ranking students at that time. The truth of the matter is i left because i no longer believed in that art. Too many people in aikido think that that style is the be-all end all way of self-defense. I know for a fact that it isn’t. So i changed what i was teaching and developed a more realistic approach to real world self-defense. I own 30 something dvd’s on your art as well as 50+ dvd’s on Hatsumi sensei and all of Robert Bussey’s as well. I have used those dvd’s as a tool to inspire me to teach what really works and what doesn’t. I’ve been studying Ninjutsu for many years as a cross-training method for my own benefit. 4 years ago when i developed my own system my knowledge from what i’ve learned throughout the years has paid off 100%. My student have became more developed as a total warrior, striking (there is none in aikido) grappling, choking and over strength and zanshin have drastically improved. So i look forward to what your bring to the table next year and i hope to incorporate into my own. Thank you for all the years of your unconditional inspiration. Gambatte AN-SHU

  24. Hakim Intoshi Isler says: -#1

    I am ready for this year. Thank you my teacher and friend.

  25. Master Stephen, when you speak, I listen. Thank you for the constant support and encouragement. Tom

  26. Being one myself, who is looking forward to bringing something of a similar nature to light in the near future, in a way outside of the martial arts, I greatly look forward to your very valuable wisdom and insights.

    Will there perhaps be a way to engage these teaching through DVD, book, or the like? For those of us who may not be able to reach you at the Hombu so readily? I very much look forward to visiting again, though having these teaching widley accessible, is something I think the world would much appreciate.

    And there’s no doubt in my mind, that the fast-track experience to the authentic warrior protector spirit you speak of, will last well into foreseeable future.

    Thank you, Sir!

  27. Thank you Master Hayes for such a thoughtful post. It’s really a shame that our industry is so focused on making money. Not that there is anything wrong with making a good living, but I wish the focus was on genuinely serving students and community.

  28. It could be argued that the 1960’s inner strength, outer confidence was a fad. However, it’s been my goal for some time now, so I won’t be the one to make that argument. Good luck with your goals in the coming year. As for me, I’ll be focusing on the physical aspects of the martial way.

  29. ARTHUR ALVANEZ says: -#1

    Count me in Sensei. I’m your avid student since I first swa Sensei Sho Kosugi in 1978 Enter the Ninja. I bought a Blackbelt Magazine last year featuring yo9u Sensei . My dojo and students practice your art of ninjutsu. God Bless.

  30. Hayes shihan, Very nice and well written. Your views are always interesting and thought provoking.

  31. Count me in I’ve just read what i have been telling all during the past year.

  32. Im actually starting up with Dennis MaHoney next month (Jan 2012), I first studied under him ages ago and he opened my eyes to martial arts through Ninjutsu. Now that he is teaching your To-Shin DO, it’s an opportune time to start back up with him and become complete. Thanks for all you do An-shu Hayes, and for branching your school out to such wonderful people like Dennis and his instructors.

  33. Chris CDS from Greece says: -#1

    Your inspiration where always powerful An-Shu, beyond measure, I love that journey too. Thank you.

  34. I’m in! We need to stand up as “Warrior Protectors” 2012 is the year to do it.

  35. I would like to learn do you come to san diego,ca?

  36. Hello (Family)to-shin do kay

    The seminar to-shin do was held in Iran(Training:sense rick,south africa) for the first time in Asia.
    (sorry im cant speak english very good!)

  37. great comments and nice post. I would like to offer Lantz an opportunity to train with the dvd’s with me and test through black belt. I live in stilwell oklahoma, eight miles from arkansas. The closest training I know of is in little rock, arkansas.

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