Introduction to To-Shin Do
By Wren Holden
The first time I heard of To-Shin Do was through my school. I decided to attend a college that was a little experimental, so I was at a particularly open time in my life. I was eager to try new things, and I had resolved to become the person that I had always dreamed of becoming, strong, fast, and absolutely no nonsense. When I looked at the class schedule and saw that a martial arts class was offered, I jumped on the chance without really knowing anything about it. I had wanted to pick up a martial art since I was a little kid, and I envisioned myself doing insane spin kicks in back alleys and doing triple back flips like my heroes did in the action movies. I was very excited to emulate Bruce Lee and the other fighters I admired as I went to my first class. However, I found out that To-Shin Do was something a little different.
For one thing, it was practical. I had not expected to be taught things that I would be able to use in a real setting right away. But after the very first class, I was learning pieces of something that I felt could save my life one day. Coming from an environment where I had been told that I, as a woman, was helpless against men and the world, it was a revelation. I felt like I could survive an attack in a back alley for the first time in my life. I had always been prepared to die rather than have something taken from me with violence, I had always been resolved to fight to the bitter end, but I was given a light of hope that first lesson. I was given the option of walking away instead of fighting fruitlessly until I was either ended or left for dead. I found that the way of fighting and the mindset of the Ninja, while not exactly what I had in mind in terms of grace and honor, aligned really closely to how I had lived my life up until that point.
I threw myself into To-Shin Do wholeheartedly. The fighting style and the thinking in combat were less revelation and more seamless acquisition into my life than anything. However, I found that the camaraderie and balance of the art was helping me with everything from keeping my footing on an icy road to controlling my temper. What I thought would be an engaging hobby became a way to learn about myself. I had always been one to keep inside my head, but I had never really cared about what exactly was in there, and what made me tick as a person. Meditation and the code of mindful action really helped me when I was stressed and to find out why I became angry at certain things. My introduction to To-Shin Do even changed the way I approached certain classes, especially when I learned about the different elements and the ways of thinking that go along with them.
While I still have those fantasies of being able to high kick my opponents into next week, I understand that in a real fight, I have something real to fall back on. I also feel like I am much less likely to get into a fight, physical or verbal, now that I have the responsibility that comes with knowing how to use my body to the degree of effectiveness that this martial art affords. The kindness and balancing part of To-Shin Do is just as important as the striking and the weapons, and in the end it was the balance of the teachings that impressed me and kept me coming back for more. I am really excited to learn more about To-Shin Do as I continue with my study, and I am also excited to work on myself.