The Art of Winning Blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Black Belts, Life Mastery, and Ninja Adventures

On Feb. 6, 2010, seven Boulder residents (and one Denver resident) will be testing for their Black Belts in To Shin Do, an ancient Japanese ninja martial arts form. The seven include one young man and five girls ages 11-14 - all of whom have dedicated more than 4 years to reach this moment in time.The other two candidates are admirable men who've dedicated their training to making the world a brighter place.

Photo/video opportunities:
The Black Belt test is open to the public on Sunday, Feb. 6 from 4:15-5:15 pm at Joder Arabian Ranch, 7497 N. Foothills Hwy, Boulder, CO 80302, weather permitting. Othewise the testing will move indoors to the Boulder Quest Center, 1501 Lee Hill Rd. #18, Boulder, Colorado 80304. 

Martial arts and girls:
The appeal of martial arts for girls and women is noteworthy. At the Boulder Quest Center, 1/3 of the students training in martial arts are women - atypical from the national perception of the Bruce Lee male following.

What inspires girls to study martial arts and what have they gained? I spoke with the girls individually and here are a few highlights. Feeling confident about themselves in any situation - on or off the mat - was a consistent response among the five testing. What a gift to have internalized this feeling at such a young age!

On the physical side, all of the girls have used their martial arts training to avoid being hurt in bike and skateboard accidents. They instinctively rolled, jumped in the air and landed on their feet, or used a "break fall" and walked away with only a scratch. These included in situations such as their bike skidding on ice and going out from under them, or a when a skateboard hit a bump and  went flying and would have landed on their head.

Beyond the physical:
What surprised me were other benefits involving their thinking, organization, and spiritual fortitude. For example, Black Belt tester, Jane Bright, 14, a freshman at Shining Mountain Waldorf School, was quite articulate about the mental side of the training. Jane is also a competitive downhill ski racer, plays basketball, volley ball and soccer:

"If To Shin Do wasn’t one of the things I do I couldn’t manage and enjoy everything else I do. I have learned how to organize myself so that I can have all these things simultaneously. There’s stuff I have learned through To Shin Do that I could not learn through other sports and the lineage – it's very inspiring. To learn the techniques you must embody them in your mind and body. This takes a sense of focus and organization, and the ability to bring everything into one to make it successful. When you can master your own mind, you can master so many more things in the physical world.
Studying through the elements (i.e. belt levels for Earth, Water, Fire, Wind & Void) through the years, the progression is on purpose, everything has a meaning. My potential of my whole being has expanded from To Shin Do." - Jane Bright

Quite a quote for a 14-year! Jane is happy to speak about her experience, as are the other girls who are testing in a little over a week.

To meet the Black Belts, please join us for the public testing or even better, schedule a free class as my guest. (303) 440-3647;

Be ninja!

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Stephen K. Hayes Pro Shop

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