The Art of Winning Blog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Master Lesson Pt. 1

10,000 hours.
10,000 hours of your life.
That’s a pretty big number.

Many people have said that this is what it takes to be a master. A new book called “Outliers” states that people who are highly recognized in their fields have close to or at least 10,000 hours performing and training in that field. Over the years, I have met plenty of people who have said that they have heard and understand this concept. I have also met people who say that mastery can come a lot sooner — at least at 5,000 hours. Either way, I always wonder has a person really ever thought about the reality of that number?

Let’s put in perspective what it would take for a person to actually live this reality. Let’s say you spend 5 hours a day, 6 days a week training in a particular field. That means you spend 30 hours a week doing that particular activity. If you take that 30 hours a week and multiply it by 4 weeks then you have 120 hours a month. Next, multiply 120 by 12 months and you will come up with 1,440 hours a year. Finally, if you multiple 1,440 by 7 years you come up with 10,080 hours. Even at 5,000 hours for mastery you are looking at 3.5 years. Now that we have seen the numbers broken down, let’s be honest about the average American’s life. How often have we met a person who can dedicate 5 hours a day, 6 days a week to training in one particular field. You will probably not be able to think of too many people. Most people you will think of may be able to dedicate 1 hour a day, 3 days a week. If you do the math, then it will take 288 hours a year which means 2,880 hours in 10 years.

Because of this large difference in numbers, you can see that unless a person sets up there life so that their livelihood revolves around their training, then gaining mastery based on time invested in one skill is very difficult. This is why Olympians have no other jobs and sports all stars rarely work outside of training. Think about those you consider masters in something and review what it is they spend most of their time doing. Now that we have broken down the time it takes to gain mastery, another aspect is quality training time. The saying “practice makes perfect” is not completely true. It is like studying and watching television and texting at the same time. Studies have proven the amount of actual information a person will retain while engaging in other activities while studying is less effective and normally more time consuming, than focused undistracted training study time. For this reason, the phrase “perfect practice, makes perfect,” was born. This phrase points to a direct relation of how dedicated quality practice with little distractions will enhance performance in a shorter time. Upon the completion of this brief study of what it takes for true mastery, the next time you say “I want to be a master,” think about what that would really take. This honest perception will start you on the right path to your goal. You can fake it or you can make it, but making it takes time and dedication, not short cuts.

By Hakim Isler

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Winter Warrior Weekend, introduction

Experience a yamabushi style, mind-body exploration of ancient and modern practices of the ninja. In the first weekend of February, Boulder Quest Center will host a seminar and Black Belt Testing. We are in the process of designing the different modules and some current ideas include, long battlefield weapons like naginata and yari, warrior meditations, outdoor training with nature as co-conspirator, and a boundary-exploding hike.

To make this seminar incredible and to pave the way for future awesomeness, we'd like to get your input. We want you to comment on this blog or on our Facebook page with elements you'd like to see at the seminar.

Also, we have a lot of great artists at the dojo and we want you to design our W3 T-shirt! There will be a prize for the winning shirt so start thinking about designs (deadline will be in Dec 2010).

Oh yeah, and if you still have your rock from Kim and Jenn's test, bring it to this event.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To-Shin Do Martial Arts After 50

Testimonial for Boulder Quest

People ask me why I do To-Shin Do training after all, I'm older. I started right before I turned 50. I guess some people think that if you're a woman that age, you're done learning, and your body is too vulnerable to be that physical. Nothing could be further from the truth! Not only have I become more flexible, my muscles are more in tune and my presence is stronger. I have also developed a sharper awareness, clearer intuition and a confidence in my life that grows daily. I want to encourage anyone to give this practice a try. It will change you in ways that are unexpected and beautifully in sync. It's great for kids, but awesome for adults at any age.
            - Bobbi Benson
              Creative Strategic Director for Peace Together

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Festival 30: Life Giving Sword

We are currently in Dayton, OH for the 30th Annual Ninja Festival. I'm so looking forward to a weekend of great training, connecting with friends, and sharing the secrets of our 900-year old lineage.This year's theme s the Life-Giving Sword which epitomizes the ninja approach to self defense. It isn't about violence or even defending yourself. It is about what you create and cause to thrive in the world. If you can't be here this year, start saving for next year. I'll be using our Facebook page to post great quotes, training anecdotes, and cool pics. I hope you'll follow me there.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Small Business Success and Life Mastery

A few years ago, I was awarded a coaching package as part of my Sam Walton Emerging Entrepreneur award. As a female, small business owner, I've found personal coaching to be critical to my success.

As a martial artist, coaching is important because it let's me work through questions and drill the important success skills. When I teach, I watch every individual and my lesson plan grows as I see what the individuals in my class need.  When I get to study with my teachers, I vigorously train so that my teachers have the greatest opportunity to coach me. If I don't try, they can't give me valuable feedback. If I'm not taking risks, I cannot grow.

Business success is no different. I recently had the opportunity to reflect on my business coaching success. To read more about how it's helped my journey, please visit Bill's blog. If you want to know more about how martial arts can help you achieve life mastery, please give me a call at (303) 440-3647 or drop me an email. I'll give you a free 15 minute consultation, just for contacting me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gaining Control

With a fire raging in our backyard, I've been contemplating the nature of a fire and it led me to some thoughts about control. I hear a lot of people talk about control as either a guilty pleasure or a grasped desire. But when we are faced with a loss of control as great as the devastation of a wildfire, we are afforded the rare opportunity to examine what we can and cannot control. Firefighters are not currently working to put out the fire; they are focusing their efforts on preventing the fire from spreading. They are also working on protecting homes and letting things burn where the loss is less devastating. A fire truck was lost to the blaze but all the firefighters were safe. The fight is not at the fire, but at the things we can influence such as where the fire goes.

In a recent attack near CU, a woman was attacked while walking home. She could not control this man's desire to attack her. She could not control how big he is or what he smells like. What she could do (and did do) is control her reactions. She fought back and he ran away. She applied her influence to realize her escape.

In another attack, a lion attacked a trainer. The trainer couldn't control the lion, but he could influence (much like laying down a fire break).  The man continued to fight and position, putting weight on the lion's head and removing his leg from it's mouth. The other trainer backed him up and provided distraction. The other lion even influenced the fight by pinning the male lion's hindquarters. No one (or animal) was truly in control in that situation. It had to rage and burn out, but how and where it burned was influenced by everyone's actions.

There is much we can do to influence our experience of suffering. Old age, sickness, and death are inevitable, but, with the torments of negative thoughts and emotions, we certainly have a choice in how we respond to the occurrence of suffering. If we wish, we can adopt a more dispassionate and rational approach, and on that basis we can temper our response to it. --His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In the Boulder Four Mile Canyon Fire, the firefighters know that the fight isn't at the fire. The fight is to influence the fire to minimize damage and danger.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Getting Started on the Path

I think it's so inspiring to hear about how senior teachers got started on this To-Shin Do path! In this really cool blog post, Master Instructor and 7th Degree Black Belt, John Gentoshi Poliquin. I hope you find the story inspiring, and as always, we encourage your discussion in the Comments.

Can't click the embedded url? Copy and paste the link below.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Use Your Ninja Skills

The following is a post from the SKH Forum by one Kriss Gakutoshi Hurdle from Newbury Parks Martial Arts Center. It was so important that I got her permission to re-post it here.

"I had a wonderful conversation with parents at the dojo last night; we spoke about the difference in To-Shin Do personal development and other dojo/academy/studio's programs. Many times in most martial arts and karate schools, the kids train, yet at the end of class they are admonished NOT to use their skills. Our program is quite different! I WANT the kids (and adults for that matter) using their skills! I want the kids looking people in the eyes when speaking; I want the kids shaking hands using a two hand politely firm grip; I want the kids practicing a strong belief in themselves; I want the kids being aware when in public, yet not nervous. I want the kids to practice violence avoidance. I guess the difference is in the programs themselves. So many arts do not match on the mat what one should do in a confrontation- therefore, the students are told not to "fight". Proudly, To-Shin Do is completely congruent in their lessons- from the natural movements, to the finding space that will work against someone larger and faster, to developing total life skills- leading to "Tatsujin"-a fully well rounded individual. There really is no better program out there. Period. I know- I have black belts in three other styles- but To-Shin Do became my home. Trust me- it is the program I put my kids in...... "

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

This 4th of July, I was thinking about the multimedia invocations of Independence Day. We have Bruce Springsteen’s lament of breaking free from the chains of dying town. Martina McBride’s anthem of freedom from an abusive spouse. Will Smith’s kick ass defeat of really ugly aliens. We also have booming firework displays oddly reminiscent of a carnival ride and mortar shells. There’s the American flag and a bone-deep thankfulness for our soldiers and pride in our country. 

The thing I love about this holiday is how all those warrior energies manifest in celebration for one day. We celebrate the explosions that might terrify us and shut down airports on other days. We rejoice in the ways we’ve exceeded our potential, the ties we broke and the ones we tied.
As I look forward to the end of vacation and starting back to the dojo tomorrow, I wonder how many people are poised to make a change in their life. Who can I reach to get started on this path to becoming a master of their own life? Who do you know who would benefit from more confidence, self-reliance, and happiness? Bring them in; it’s time.

Life mastery through martial arts. Unleash your potential.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Karate Kid in Boulder?

What makes the Karate Kid so popular? I think the Karate Kid speaks to a dream that resides deep in our souls. The desire to be uplifted, saved, and empowered. We long to find within ourselves, the strength to stand up for who we are and our beliefs. The same energies that drive us to explore new lands, found new organizations, and keep our principles sacrosanct.

Then we set out in search of a path that can live up to that promise, that can speak directly to the place deep in our selves and our sense of purpose. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of helping others find the strength to live their lives to their full potential. I felt the opportunity offered in this human life was too important, too sacred to be wasted.

I found the answer to that promise in To-Shin Do. It is at the heart of why I opened the dojo in 2005. I want people to find their strengths, passions, friends, and good works. That path begins with earning your white belt in a system that promotes your values and represents your heart. That’s why I offer everyone a chance to try a class at no charge, because you are your own most important teacher. 

Take advantage of trying your free class by calling (303) 440-3647. I look forward to helping you unleash your potential.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Self Defense and Empowerment Journeys

Warrior Divas with the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department’s “Journeys through EXPAND” program recently completed a 6-week, self defense, and empowerment program. These brave women have all been dealing with the effects of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) and the post-traumatic stress that accompanies this type of injury.

For most people with MTBI, the injury represents a loss of control, both in the event of the injury and in dealing with the traumatic effects in the aftermath. Our class focused on building confidence, establishing a new power base, and learning useful skills for self defense. Each class had mind and body skills designed to help these women use their bodies and even their injuries to their advantage. We practiced how to fall down and get up, striking skills, and boundary setting.

“Through this class, I learned the self defense isn’t about just the physical. It’s about your sense of self and defending your principles”, said Sophia, who had a powerful success story of turning an adversary into an ally thereby. “We had so much fun, it makes it stick. It’s amazing what you can learn in just six classes” added Lenora.

It was quite the blessing to be able to work with these women and to share their insights, vulnerabilities, and potentials. This class helped women connect with their inmost power and was summed up perfectly by Cara: “I learned I can be powerful, even when my body is failing.”

If you’d like to schedule this empowering work for your group, please contact
Mary A. Casey II, President, Boulder Quest Center.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ego Isn't the Problem

In my college psychology classes there was always a lot of debate about ego. The maligned ego was to be feared, avoided, and generally beaten into submission. It’s the cause of war, pestilence and feelings of sadness. It eats at your true self and annihilates all that is good and true. Despite teachings on Id and Superego, it seemed to be Ego that we fixated on, merging all the elements into one amazingly flawed human being. At least, that was what I heard in my classes.

Though martial arts, I’ve learned there’s no problem with who we are. I enjoy having a sense of self. It keeps me from cutting myself when chopping vegetables and encourages me to do good works in the world. The problem seems to be when I focus on a sense of ME rather than the changing boundaries of self.

If I’m trying not to cut myself, the boundary of the self is my skin. If I’m doing good things so I can feel good, the sense of self is in my heart body. If I’m doing good to help someone else, my sense of self is over there with them. It moves, slides, and morphs like an amoeba. It becomes what it needs and goes where it’s necessary.

I’m sure somewhere there is a psychologist who could explain how my flawed view of the ego led to my confusion. That’s true. I couldn’t learn this from a book. A multiple choice test on the definition of ego didn’t lend me to insight. I had to experience it.

By practicing martial arts, I get to play with the boundaries of self, of right and wrong, of good and bad. I get to really know how conflict manifests and how to lessen its impact in the world. I get to practice self defense and that has made all the difference.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ninja, Patient Person

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Saying that one should be patient and withstand trouble doesn’t mean one should be defeated and overcome. The whole purpose of engaging in the practice of patience is to become stronger in mind, stronger in heart. And you also want to remain calm. If you lose patience and your brain becomes confused with emotion, you will lose the power to analyze and figure out how to overcome the negative force that is opposing you

The term ninja translates as patient person, not assassin or night stalker. The word and the practice are about engaging fully in life, riding the moment, and waiting for the perfect time. It is about knowing that 'good things come to those who wait' and that 'the early bird gets the worm'. With practice, you can learn to tell the difference.

By taking up a physical practice, we are able to see our emotional brain at work. We can see it get stuck, frustrated, and angry. We can also see it prevail. Ultimately, we practice self defense to learn to make our lives brighter, happier, and safer. To do that we need to discern truth clearly.

I believe it is critical to have a practice venue where we can experiment with the success and failure of engaging with truth. Otherwise it's our friends and families who have to practice patience while we try to figure it out.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dependent Origination

The room remembers
as the language, voices, people,
The whispers
long submerged
burst in a hurried bubble
of thought and movement.
When did these words begin?
Was it the thought,
or the planning,
or the speaking,
or the listening,
that birthed these thoughts into existence?
Where do these words end?
With me in Colorado, or in the walls in an Indiana hall?
Snippets hurriedly grabbed,
contained on paper, in conversations, in meditations.
The memory of sounds,
the strange and familiar,
the unknowable and not unheard,
the comfort and the challenge.
The room remembers
and changes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trust in Choice: TSD and Intuition Development

In middle school, I had a really creepy bus driver. All of us thought he was weird and we made fun of him all the time. One day, he looked at me in the mirror and said, “I chose you to be one of my special kids and now you make fun of me”, and sadly went back to driving. I started walking home from school the next day.

Just a few days later, my mom realized I was walking home, rather than taking the bus. I told her about the bus driver and she talked to the school administration. I don’t know what they told her, but I was forbidden to walk home anymore. I lived closest to the school but the required district route meant that I got off last, with one other neighbor boy. If he wasn’t on the bus, I’d have to ride alone. I started getting off early and cutting through the woods, so I wouldn’t be on the bus alone, but I’d also be following my mom’s rules. I kept up that routine for three years.

One night at dinner, the news reported a shooting in the parking lot of a nearby convenience store. When they showed the picture of the man, it was the creepy bus driver. I was amazed. Until that moment, a part of me believed that my intuition might have been flawed, that maybe I was over-reacting. It was the moment I first understood that rules cannot protect us. Our actions and trust in ourselves is what ultimately keeps us safe. My mom and the school only had my word, and that’s just not enough in our litigious society. It was a great gift because when we avoid a dangerous situation, we often don’t get to know that we were right. I was right; he was creepy.

The reason I fell in love with our martial art is because it teaches you how to recognize your own innate powers. Whether it’s intuition of intention, a person’s truthfulness, market trends, or nutritional needs, To-Shin Do training helps you trust in your choices. It’s not a quick and easy path, but in just a few years, you earn a lifetime of magic.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Overcoming Fear

Over the years, I have taught a lot about how martial arts training reduces fear in your daily life. From the ability to practice dealing with problems to re-defining experiences that have already happened, the journey to a To-Shin Do Black Belt helps you discover who you want to be.

Sometimes I come across an article I wish I'd written because it so captures what I mean. I highly recommend reading this post from "The Positivity Blog" and then coming to the next available class at the dojo.

Unleash Your Potential!

PS: Don't forget our Grand Opening "Night of the Ninja" with student demonstrations, special teachings, and cool prizes. Invite your friends. April 9, 5:30-8pm.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Women's Self Defense Advice from Aitoshi

Rules for Women’s Self Defense as Experienced by Mary Aitoshi, President, Boulder Quest Center

1. Train in an intelligent martial art. This might seem self-serving but there’s a reason I’ve invested all my personal wealth, time, and passion into creating a venue for exploring the magic that arises when we harness our personal power to make a better world.

2. Have friends. Predators like to isolate people emotionally and physically and your best line of defense is having friends in multiple social circles. This is true whether you are walking home or in a violent relationship. You’ll hear people say “always walk with a buddy” but it’s not always practical and it’s not always safer. However, you carry those important to you with you in spirit and they bring me to point #3.

3. Live a life you enjoy. If you know why your life is worth living, you’ll be better prepared to make decisions when that enjoyment is threatened. Does this predator want $5, your self-esteem, or your ability to have dinner with your loved ones? How important are those things to you? If you don’t know your value, how can you make decisions under pressure? (Intelligent martial art training can help you answer that question.)

4. Learn the difference between fear and intuition. This takes time and training but it’s a learnable skill. Out Ninja Magic class on Saturday’s is specifically geared to help make intuition a natural outcome.

5. Manage your risk. All of life has risks and any choice we make has a many possible outcomes. Intelligent martial arts training lets you play with choices in a low risk environment so you can better decide how to deal with the risks in your life.

6. Be Magical. Life is wondrous and you are a part of it. The Ninja of ancient Japan were martial arts wizards who unlocked the secrets of nature in order to protect their family and friends. Nine families through time have passed down these secrets to the current generation.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have visionary secrets that would allow you to deal with dangerous personal security issues decisively, powerfully, and successfully, and at the same time feel safe to be as heroically kind, benevolent, and helpful in society as you could be?

If you are interested in feeling more capable, martial arts may just be the path for you. If you are interested in learning to live with more freedom and less fear, the Boulder Quest Center may be for you. If you want to connect with the life you’ve dreamed of living, the path of the ninja awaits you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Be Magical

In the 2010 Year of the Ninja, we at the BQC have decided on a theme for the year: Be Magical. I've spent these first few days of the new year contemplating the magical skills you learn from newbie to black belt.

1. Moving with Grace and Power. From the Fundamentals through the Path of the Protector, you'll learn the skills that change your relationship with the ground. You'll learn to float, maneuver in midair, avoid obstacles, and achieve harmony with your surroundings.
2. Defeating Bigger, Stronger, Faster Opponents. Learn to use your body to its potential with the ninja secrets of alignment, momentum, torque, and intention.
3. Power Over Perceptions. The ninja are famous for disappearing and had many methods for achieving this reputation. In our path to black belt, you will learn how to be in unexpected positions, seeming to move with unthinkable speed and silence.
4. Mind Control. Learn what influences your mind into mindless actions and take back the control over your decisions. Learn to differentiate between fear, instinct, and premonition.

We are currently enrolling new students for classes. Schedule your introductory appointment today. (303) 440-3647
Stephen K. Hayes Pro Shop

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