The Art of Winning Blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ninja and MLK, Jr

We took lots of calls today to see if we'd be open. It got me to thinking about why I choose to be open on today. The quick answer is that I love to train and I want people to have lots of opportunities to get on the mat. 

The more important reason is that it's my way of honoring the values that inspire me. I remember reading the "I Have a Dream" speech in middle school. It touched me. It made me believe in possibilities. It also helped me realize that race and privilege are important issues. When I founded my business, inclusivity was one of my key values. Many traditional martial arts schools attract a conservative clientele. I wanted to attract the dreamers--the people willing to commit to a dream, people who want make the world a better place. I'm proud that we range between 1/3 and 1/2 female. I'm proud that we have a variety of races, professions, gender identities, and sexual preference. I'm also proud that I often have no idea about these demographics. I care about people's vision and the people they want to become. I like to think I'm helping to further MLK Jr's vision too. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Surfer Chick Heart Sutra

Inspiration sometimes comes in convoluted ways. You can point to triggers but exactly why or how it manifest in that way at that moment is hard to pinpoint. In it's own way, it is an example of the Heart Sutra. In this case, I was at a cello concert. Talk of the Heart Sutra and how to make it into a song arose. I started to think about how you would explain the Hear Sutra in today's vernacular. Following is fairly accurate discussion my inner Surfer had with my inner Skeptic. In my imagination, the Surfer talked while the Skeptic nodded. Whenever Skeptic wanted to argue, Surfer was right there with the answer.

Dude, like the red pill or the green pill, doesn't matter. It's all the same.

You know matter is neither created or destroyed. Therefore, there's no birth or death. There are moments with those names but it's not precisely true.

This camera, it can see what's going on over there and show it here, so eyes aren't necessary for sight. I can plant a bug in a room and it will record the noise, essentially hearing them, so ears aren't really needed for hearing. Quadriplegics can communicate through technology and move with assisted devices they control with there minds so a body doesn't have a set function it must perform. Therefore, there can be no absolute definition that contains all of the functions of the Eye, Ear, Nose, Body, or Mind.

People relate to colors differently. Some people taste color. Others are color blind. Some people will sell you before they see you. Others will hear you. Some people have sophisticated palates. Some can barely taste at all. Therefore there is no absolute of see, smell, taste, touch, thing.

But when we destroy Birth, Death, Body, Mind, the Senses and the Sense Organs, we take out the base constructs for how we build a world. All our ideas have these blocks as a base construction and when we take them away, no idea is an absolute. Not even this.

Then what's left is only this moment. The moment before we observe it. Like Schrodinger's Cat, all probabilities exist until they are observed, but we are only really observing the past. So is the observation the experience or does it change it?

So this moment is when the mind is blown. This is the moment when all possibilities are split open and you realize that more is possible then you ever imagined. Limits are just paper obstacles based on paper constructs. It's not to think outside the box but to recognize you built an imaginary box around yourself. It isn't really there.

Mind Blown. Dude.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Office Ninja Position Available

Office Ninja Job Description


Job Title:
Office Ninja

Date Prepared:
September 2015

Reports to:
Chief Ninja

Position Summary:
The Office Ninja is a demanding position that requires your best, not just in your job, but also in your life. The successful Office Ninja leads volunteers and staff with confidence, enthusiasm, and grace. The Office Ninja drives organization and looks for ways to improve processes and procedures. The Office Ninja leads a person from Prospect through to Student and shares Student responsibilities with the Head Instructor.

An Office Ninja:
&  Tunes the administrative engine so everything runs smoothly
&  Engages people in the art
&  Makes people feel welcome
&  Helps people commit to the path
&  Loves organizing
&  Believes in To-Shin Do, Stephen K. Hayes, and themselves
&  Wants to make a difference

Key Measures For Success:
&  24-hour turnaround on Prospect processes, including follow-up calls and data entry
&  24-hour turnaround on Student processes, including follow-up calls, initial paperwork, and billing.
&  Net gains in student counts monthly
&  80% conversion from Prospect to Student
&  100% calendar accuracy
&  All monthly events are on the website and slide show before the month begins. Handouts are 2 months before.

&  Execution of Prospect Processes
o   Enrolls new students
o   Follow-Up calls and emails
o   Appointment scheduling
o   Database management
&  Execution of Enrollment Process, including cancellations and holds
&  Monthly Tuition Billing (non auto-bill)
&  Marketing for Events
o   Internal flyers
o   Website
o   Event registrations
&  Scheduling
o   Leads weekly scheduling meeting
o   Maintains paper and online calendar
o   Liaison with students and staff for private lesson and special event scheduling
&  Retail
o   Manages retail display
o   Suggests new items for ordering
&  Purchasing
o   Office, janitorial, and uniforms
&  Front Desk
o   Graduation preparation
o   Answering phones
o   Selling retail items
o   Scheduling lessons

Required Knowledge/Skills/Abilities:
&  Business writing and etiquette
&  MS Word
&  MS Excel
&  MS Publisher
&  Database management
&  Customer Services skills

Required Education/Experience:
Some college preferred

Expected Hours:
This position is extremely flexible and can be divided into different positions for the right candidates.
*Could have some of these hours as an Instructor for the right candidate*


Starts at $9-10+/hour plus bonuses (generally becomes $11-$13/hour). A raise is possible in the first 60 days for exceeding performance objectives. 

To Apply: 
Send a letter of intent to Mary Aitoshi. Priority will be given to candidates whose letter is received by 9/25/2015. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Why I Train: Aiden Hovde

Why I Train
My Black Belt Essay
Aiden Hovde
1 July 2015

Dedicated to Bradley Holcomb
My training partner in spirit

When I began To-Shin Do training in January, 2012, it was for the express purpose of working off some wrathful energy.  I soon learned that this particular aim is decidedly inappropriate in a dojo due to the risk of injury.  By then I had become captivated by the Code of Mindful Action and fascinated by the elemental approach, so my new reason for training became sheer curiosity about where this path would lead.

Over time I became delighted with the positive effects training had on my mind and body.  I became more flexible and stronger, my balance improved, my awareness ballooned to many times the spatial volume it used to occupy.  On a few different occasions I was able to save some inattentive pedestrians from traffic-related injury by means of physical intervention and/or my voice.  So I added to my list of reasons for training:  It works!  It’s beneficial!

At some point I had to come up with a concise reason for training to attach to my coaching credentials.  I struggled with it because a generalization referring to efficacy and benefit seemed vague and uncompelling.  If I were a prospective student asking an experienced To-Shin Do student why they train, I don’t think I’d be inspired by such an answer.  After weeks of thinking,  I came up with this: “I train to become the hero I’ve always dreamed of being.”  That statement came close to the tone I had in mind.  It covered the bases.  I think a determined hero strives for a fit body and expanded awareness.  And the statement may be alluring or intriguing especially to younger folks.  On the other hand, to me, although this particular phrasing of my reason for training was true enough, it nonetheless felt a bit contrived and overreaching.  I decided to hang on to it until I came up with something more appropriate.

Last year a friend of mine was justly convicted of a serious crime and sent to prison.  I say “justly” because I attended the trial and saw the evidence and I believe the jury rendered a just verdict.  I was shocked and heartbroken and unnerved and it was as though the ground beneath my feet had given way.  I had thought that my friend and I had shared values.  I had been certain of it.  I had admired my friend as an example to follow.  And then my friend fell.  And I fell.  

Over the course of a year my consternation became more profound.  What is a guiding path anyway?  Are core values not enough by which to navigate through life?  How could this have happened to my friend?  Could it—would it—happen to me?

Eventually my confusion totally undermined any attempt to supplement my training with additional reading and videos.  I would start something and then minutes later find myself pacing my apartment, incessantly asking the same questions over and over, hearing no answers. How could this have happened to my friend?  How can I prevent myself from falling in a similar way?

In desperation I reached out to Aitoshi because she has a gift for reflecting a person’s heart enough for them to see it from a different point of view.  I related to her my history with my friend and at some point she remarked, “It sounds like you have a lot of gratitude for those things.”  And then I had a slap-my-forehead-I-could-have-had-a-V8 moment: Gratitude!  The notion lit up in me so strongly that tears welled up in my eyes, a sure sign that something was resonating.  I knew what I had to do to get through this place of paralyzing confusion.

It took me several weeks to compose a letter of gratitude to my friend.  I expressed my thanks for everything we had shared, everything my friend had taught me, and the crucial thing I was gleaning from my friend’s predicament: “I think I’m learning that while the Code of Mindful Action and other such guidelines can provide signposts, there is no clear path, and even when traveling with fellow warriors, it is up to each one of us to carefully choose our route.”

I mailed the letter, and with that, the obsession evaporated.

As a bonus, I have a new concise reason for training: “I train out of gratitude.”

I think that statement promises to be an excellent conversation-starter.  And if a prospective student draws me out, I will be able to amplify at length.

I train out of gratitude that I still have the physical ability to do so.  (And since we are encouraged to train no matter what our physical ability, I’m fairly assured that I will keep training as long as I draw breath!)

I train out of gratitude that An-shu Stephen K. Hayes spent decades acquiring this ancient wisdom and welding it into a system suitable for Western culture.

I train out of gratitude for a dojo community of like-spirited individuals who accept me as a fellow traveler.

I train out of gratitude for all the opportunities this training provides, including physical benefits, leadership training, spiritual growth, and understanding of the natural world.

I train out of gratitude for teachers who “walk the talk” (no small accomplishment in this day).

I could on and on, as many of my fellow students can and do.  And it’s all encapsulated by this short statement:

“I train out of gratitude.”

Special thanks to Aitoshi for her heart-felt assistance.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Finding Our Voice

Finding Our Voice
by: Ozrich

When I started my training in To-Shin Do, one of the first things that I was taught was the importance of being able to speak intention and power into a space. Each element, I was told, speaks from a different part of our body, whether from our earthy depths as we command someone to “stop it!” or our windy heights as we help remind someone to “take it easy”. 

I've noticed that our art has amazing instructors who not only teach the intellect needed to fight, but the wisdom to live. When I hear the kinds of things that our instructors have to say, it is difficult to not make some kind of vocalization, some kind of affirmation that, “yes, I have heard you and understood you. Thank you!”
It’s like when we first learn the four stages of readiness and we are asked to just “listen to our body”. We begin to realize that someone approaching or entering our space brings up natural responses in us that we usually suppress or ignore because we don’t want to be rude, or “what if we’re wrong”. All of these things keep us from listening to and manifesting our natural response.

During the beginning of my training, it was sometimes embarrassing to make sounds or to really command someone to "Stop it!". When I began to allow myself to make sounds in the dojo, however, I realized just how often I was keeping myself from expressing connection to, appreciation of, and understanding for the people and ideas that we are surrounded by in the dojo.

From there, it was only a short leap to see how those blocks appear elsewhere in my life. How often have I not given thanks when it was due, not said no when I should have, or denied someone the chance to hear that they are loved because of my own internal blocks? 

As always, our training reaches further than the dojo and I wanted to take this opportunity to speak up and encourage others to find their own voices first in the safety of the dojo so that it is ready whenever it may be called on.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On the Rape of Sansa Stark

Warning: This article contains triggers. I know because I wrote it. 

I watched Game of Thrones on Monday (finally caught up--thanks Tivo)! I was astounded by all the hype around her rape scene. Unlike the Lannister rape (which was definitely non-consensual. Even though they'd had sex before doesn't mean Jaime can his way any time he wants it.  See this article on tea and consent if you are still confused), everyone seems really clear that this was in fact, rape. I thought GoT deserved kudos for tackling a subject like marital rape, which is still contentious. It wasn't even acknowledged as a crime until the late 1970s and wasn't illegal in all 50 states (and DC) until 1993. It's still rarely prosecuted.

The click bait headlines referred to it as gratuitous rape (an idea I found so offensive that I had trouble deciding to even click on the articles). Here's why I thought the show was on the money.

  1. Rape happens and it's disgusting, messed up, and gross. 
  2. Rape happens in marriages. 
  3. It happens under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Rape also happens under the influence of power, social norms, and peer pressure (which is why there's a need to change the cultural conversation around rape).
  4. In GoT, the rape was in character for Ramsey. He expresses his disdain for others, like Tyrion, who didn't consummate the marriage. He needs a witness, not just to control Theon/Reek and Sansa, but to cement his need for position. He can do what the powerful Lannister men could not.
But what really got me were the critics who said that it didn't make sense since Sansa has been coming into her power. Really? The truth is the rape isn't about Sansa because it's never about the victim. Strong, powerful, beautiful women get raped in real life. It happens, not because of the dress she wore, but because of the choice the rapist makes. Her strength doesn't protect her from being raped, but I believe it will help her recover from being victimized. (I also predict that in the next few episodes we'll get to explore what it's like to be stuck in a relationship with a power-hungry narcissist.)

While I'm at it, where's the outrage over the tragedy of the House of Tyrell? The faith is now a militant force that can imprison people for having sex with someone of the same sex? His own grandmother called him a "pillow biter". Yet, like the rape scene, this "trial" accurately portrays the effect a militant religious force can have in the modern day. When I searched for articles about it, I mostly found people celebrating the "anti-gay" sentiments they see portrayed in GoT

One of things I like about Game of Thrones is it's willingness to go there and to cross the line. It doesn't hide from the idea that rape happens, and it effects the victim and the people who care about her. Rape isn't nice. It's not an expression of love (ewww, Lannisters, ewww). Prejudice exists. Abuse of power exists. Bad things happen to people even when they make all the right choices. Finally, please don't reduce rape by calling it just a "plot device". Go deeper Senator McCaskill, because one person can change the world...the question is will you change it for better or worse?

Links to Referenced Articles:
Tea and Consent:
Marital Rape:
GoT rape:,
GoT gay trial:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Proof of Magic

For years, decades maybe, I've struggled to articulate the magic of the mind science in our ninja arts. The magic in To-Shin Do is much easier to understand because you can see it and feel it. In fact, all of your senses can experience it. Plus you can record it, take pictures of it, and otherwise prove its existance.

Proof is a funny concept. We often look for proof, not of our experience, but of others' validation of our experience. But in this case, the proof is internally and intrinsically manifested. You might never see the results by looking at outward results. In this 'chose your own adventure' life, we don't get to know where the other forks in the road would've taken us.

This it's almost impossible to describe these mind science trainings. The power of the visualization a and the way I healed this from my past, from my lineage, and from my future, is impossible to explain mechanically. I can say, I woke up a different person each day. Lighter. Brighter. Sometimes even flakier as I try to operate in ordinary reality. 

I love the joy I find in my life. I love that if I was kidnapped and thrown naked out of a plane (see previous blog on Resiliency, Pigsties, and Choice), I'd still be happy. I love that I'm choosing easier paths to joy and never settling for less than what I know is right, even when it doesn't seem rational.

Mostly I love that I'm trusting myself and my experience more and more each day. I don't need to prove magic to you because I live with it as my constant companion. I'd love to share it with you though!

Take a moment today and acknowledge your magic and your joy. Invite doubt to the conversation, but don't let it hold you back. 

Stephen K. Hayes Pro Shop

1501 Lee Hill Road #18|Boulder, Colorado 80304|Phone: 303.440.3647|Email: