The Art of Winning Blog

Monday, December 3, 2012

Four Reasons Why Ninjas Are Better Than Pirates

Four Reasons Why Ninjas Are Better Than Pirates
Halonah Abraham Paiss is 14 years old and attends New Vista. She has a youth shodan in To-Shin Do. She enjoys tennis, talking in old languages with weird accents. She wishes she lived in Camelot.

For centuries one question has plagued the cyber world. Wars have been fought, digital blood has been shed, and most think there can only be one answer. This ultimate question has been summed up in three words: Pirate or Ninja? 

Both figures are strong, dangerous, and very different. This conflict leaves one with the dreaded pirate-ninja saga, “a popular fight between two entirely different groups. Based on two different internet subcultures, Pirates and Ninjas, as two very different stereotypes battling out to death.” (Urban Dictionary) The opinions of these two groups have become so strong that there is a day for the pirate, Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th, and a ninja day, Day of the Ninja on December 5th. (Live in Boulder and want to be a ninja? Join us for a free ninja class.) But there can only be one winner of this mighty battle and who will it be? I am going to show you why ninjas are by far the winner in this battle described in these four reason. Their history, fighting tactics, appearance, and the ninja and pirates code.
Some say the pirates are older and some argue that the ninjas go back longer. The history of the Ninjas dates back to the 11th century in Japan. “Prince Yamato is often considered the first ninja story.” (ChaCha) The ninjas importance and influence grew during the Heian Period (794-1185), when powerful landowners hired private warriors for the protection of their properties. Mostly, ninja were used as protectors of land and royalty. On the other hand, the pirates have been roaming the high seas since the 15th century. Pirates didn’t really have a “job” or purpose except for their duty as a fellow crew member on the ship. They mostly went out and stole goods all for themselves. This clearly shows that ninjas have been around longer and were actually an importance in helping society, while pirates are more recent and were not useful whatsoever. They were only out for their own good while ninjas helped others.
Both pirates and ninjas are great fighters. But their fighting styles are very different. “A pirate without his weapon is nothing. The only thing that makes a pirate valuable in battle is his weapon.”  All the pirates do in a fight is use their muscles and swing the blade around hoping that they will kill their opponent. 
A ninja can kill someone with his bare hands and is skilled in katanas (sword), shuriken (throwing stars) bo-staffs and other deadly ninja weapons. A ninja, is also a master of mind games. If a pirate ends up killing someone it was probably out of pure luck. Therefore, ninjas are much deadlier than any pirate in a fight.
Ninjas are way more formal in how they look then pirates. The ninja uniform was called a shinobi shozoko. Ninjas are dressed to be ready for a fight at any second. “Black or dark blue was used for night missions when being seen would mean certain death. White was used for winter missions so they could easily blend in with the snow covered area. The other color used was a green kind of camouflage pattern so they could blend in with the forest surroundings.” (Ninja facts)
While pirates wore garments, breaches, blouses, canvas shorts, rags, fine cloaks (sometimes), rich silks (which they stole), or torn and bloody shirts. They didn’t give a rats tooth what they looked like. Although the pirates didn’t care what they looked like they definitely cared about how other pirates acted and how they should be treated.
The pirates have the code of conduct and the ninjas have the code of honor. Each one shows the rules of how each group works. Below is an example of The Ninja Code of Honor.

  • Never betray your clan.
  • Accomplish the mission; failure is not an option.
  • Always put the clan and the mission before yourself.
  • If you are captured, escape.
  • If you cannot escape, commit seppuku.
  • If you can't commit seppuku, resist.
  • If you can't rescue a comrade, take his life.
  • It's better for them to die than to fall into the hands of the enemy.
  • Serve your chunin (cell leader) and jonin (clan leader) with total, unquestioning obedience.
  • Live in shadow; never reveal your true self.
  • If it is not necessary to the mission to kill, don't kill.
  • If it is necessary to the mission to kill, don't hesitate.
  • Never strike a member of the same ryu.
  • To leave the ryo is to die; No nukenin (rogue ninja) may be allowed to live.
  • Your master's enemies are your enemies.
  • Accept missions only from your chunin.
  • Never arrange a contract yourself.
  • Never question or refuse a mission.
  • Always aid a genin (fellow ninja) from your own ryu.
  • Never use the terms "ninja", "shinobi", or "assassin" when speaking in public

The bold points are examples of how the ninja ALWAYS put others in front of themselves. It also shows how stealthy they are and that they are there to help, not always kill, only if it is necessary.

This next list is an example of a Pirates Code of Conduct.

  • Every man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full share and a half in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and quarter.

  • If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be marooned with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm and shot.

  • If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be marooned or shot.

  • If at any Time we should meet another Marooner (that is Pyrate) that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our Company, shall suffer such punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.

  • That Man that shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.

  • That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoke Tobacco in the Hold, without a cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a Lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.

  • That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.

  • If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement he shall have 400 pieces of Eight; if a limb 800.

  • If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.

As you see below, these examples are not showing any way of helping anyone. In conclusion, the ninjas code of honor is honoring people before themselves. In the pirates code of conduct, tells us things mostly about death, punishment, running away, affairs etc.

In the end, it should be pretty clear why ninjas are better than pirates. If you were undecided about which side you took before, I would hope that this paper helped to clear that up for you. Ninjas have been around longer, they would undoubtedly win in a fight, they appear to be ready for anything at anytime, and there code isn’t about them but about others. 

I am, of course, expecting a paper from the pirates to try to prove me wrong.

Go ahead.
The ninjas dare you.

Celebrate Day of the Ninja with a ninja class. Schedule your free class today.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Letting Go Control In Order to Create Life (A Black Belt essay)

A 15-year public high school English and History teacher, high school administrator, and teacher trainer, Rachel Balkcom has spent her career seeking sources of effective education and facilitating youth work around systems change. She has served as the Director of both youth activist and teacher training programs through schools and non-profits and currently serves as Education Director at the Denver office of City Year, a national organization dedicated to reducing the dropout rate in the nation’s most challenged public schools. Rachel has been training at BQC since 2008 and also enjoys gardening and writing fiction. She and her life-partner, BQC Instructor Ian Sanderson, live with five chickens and a dog on a tiny urban homestead in Northwest Denver.

Letting Go Control In Order to Create Life
A Black Belt Essay by Rachel Balkcom

By age 35, even if we’ve had some discord and tragedy and betrayal—evidence that change is constant—some of us think we’re essentially who we’re going to be, that we’re fully cooked. We think we know what we’re good at and what we’re not, what we’ll do in the world and what we’ll leave to others—people who were born with different aptitudes. 

To Shin Do allowed me to see that this set of assumptions was inaccurate, that the potential existed for me to make calculated, deliberate choices about who I was and what I was capable of. Earlier in my teaching career, I used to confront my students, who asserted that nothing in society would ever change. “On the contrary,” I would assert, “you may be assured only of constant change in our systems and in your life. The opportunity exists in your ability to manage, coax, shape that change.” At the time, I was thinking of justice in the outer world. I laugh as I realize now, that I was the one who had to heed those words—and apply them to my inner world.

In each of the last three elements of my training, I have confronted a shift that was, to that moment, the most significant internal transition of my life. Each shift has been an iteration of the same dynamic moving within, and each time, I resisted change until it exploded, leaving me better for it, more whole, re-formed—after I changed my positioning in relation to practically every other thing in my life. The recurring themes have involved control: the faulty assumptions that the mental can make order of and therefore subdue the physical, emotional, spiritual; and that if I ease my stringent efforts to control my own safety, I will undoubtedly be harmed.

I have begun learning to let go control, to trust—in myself, in others, in a force that integrates the self with the world. I have realized that in the letting go of control, paradoxically, I have more power to create my life. Letting go creates freedom, and freedom creates power. By trusting, we can more fully create the things we want, including goodness for ourselves and even others in our lives. 

In the fire element, I first fully realized that I had operated with the understanding that I could control life by intellectualizing it, and that if I let that go, I believed, I put myself in significant harm. It was impossible for me to succeed in fire unless I turned my brain off and practiced using other realms as the impetus to action. In my personal life, trust emerged as a primary challenge. Letting go of control and connecting with those around me was the answer to both challenges. I fully accepted my love for Ian and allowed myself to admit (trusting in both of us) that I want to be with him until the end of life.

In wind, I became frustrated that I couldn’t move freely, be free, and I reverted to patterns of trying to understand in order to solve the problem, to flex intellectual muscle to keep myself safe. I had to stop thinking and move, fitting in like a current in a river, trusting that the way would reveal itself. In my personal life, I accepted a position that, I hoped, would bring me closer to the job I really wanted. I meditated in order to remind myself that the right position would develop, that—although I couldn’t see or control it—the answer was imminent. 

In void, I struggled even more overtly with my ability to trust myself in order to let go control. Again, I was challenged to let go, be free, thereby paradoxically engaging in self-protection. In this iteration, it was clear that self-trust had everything to do with my sense of self-worth, and I struggled with feeling like I was good enough. I looked at other practitioners who engaged in the art as though it were second nature and thought, I’m not that. I can’t do that. I can’t discern or move that way. Inspired lessons by both Keitoshi and Aitoshi demonstrated that I could choose to trust myself, giving me opportunity to prove (to myself) my own self-worth. In my new position at work, I more authentically adopted agency over my own influence, standing confident that I am the right person, with the right experience, for the job.

In each of these phases, free response was challenging. I struggled with trusting my own body to know what to do in the moment (rather than trying to think it through in the half-a-second I had to discern). I struggled with trusting my connection with another person to help me ride the wave or fit in. I was challenged to trust myself and my capability, to leave off the self-judgment and know the right answer would be revealed.

It is the path I describe that allows me to see that I deserve to wear a black belt, to train with Ian and Jane and Kim. That I have learned, some of the time, to let go control and to trust myself to freely create myself is the most significant shift of internal being of my life, and my aptitude is shown in the way I live, which goes far beyond whether I can always flawlessly respond on the mat.
Since I started in the art, I have solidified relationship with my life-partner, bought a house, and arrived in the kind of job I’ve wanted for years, which allows us more financial security than we have had. My parents moved to town, I healed relationship with my sister, and my entire family spends time together once a week. I have found success in creative pursuits of which I didn’t think I was capable. I see connection between To Shin Do and all these life effects. To Shin Do allowed me to decide what to do when faced with change, shaping it to create myself anew—seeing it not as something done to me but recognizing that my response shapes who I am and my life. As I achieved internal freedom, I was able to create life with increased power and intention. 

On the last testing night, I had prolonged moments of letting go, of not-judging and not-controlling, of freely responding in appropriate ways. A student’s mother approached and commented on my fluidity, my grace in training and thanked me for engaging in this art as a female. The next day, a friend and peer told me I am someone she would like to emulate within the art. Apparently An-Shu once said that when challenged by self-worth, we might pay attention to what others say about us. While I am confident in the value of the internal shifts I have created through the art, perhaps I have to admit that the internal shifts are now often evident on the mat as well.

To Shin Do has re-created my entire life, my sense of my own potential; it has removed perceived limitations and freed me. Even as I recognize that development isn’t always pleasant, I welcome the continued challenge and growth possible within the art. I look forward to my ever-growing sense of self-worth and ability to actively create my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Panic is a Choice by JoAnna Pappas

After taking Aitoshi’s Ninja Secrets class on ground fighting last Monday night, I had a profound epiphany: panic is a choice.  It might not seem like a choice right away (i.e., if you’re startled by a spider crawling on your desk or, say, snuck up upon by an invisible ninja, then the element of surprise likely seems out of your control). However, once that initial adrenalized state of surprise passes—which is basically when your brain realizes cognitively what’s going on—then your maintenance of that panic energy is actually a choice. This may seem like a pretty controversial statement considering any standard definition of the word. Panic is described as an overwhelming sense of fear, anxiety, frantic agitation, fight-or-flight reaction, etc.  Seems pretty uncontrollable, right? Like you wouldn’t have a choice because this is your body’s natural reaction, right?


When you breathe, you have control. When you assess what’s happening and remember you have options, you have control. Most importantly, when you remember panic can’t control you, you have a choice.

For instance, in the ground fighting class, Aitoshi taught us all about four-quadrant breathing. For those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to be there, this basically means you can breathe from your chest, your belly, the sides/back of your ribcage, even your shoulder blades. What this essentially equates to in a fight is that no matter where the attacker is trying to hold you down—whether a side mount where they’re crushing your ribs, or if they’re putting their full weight on your belly trying to pin your hands down, or whether they’re attempting to pin down your chest—there is ALWAYS a way to find oxygen. You just have to find the spot in your body where the attacker is not putting pressure. You can breathe into that spot. And when you breathe, you take control. When you take control, you are no longer being controlled by someone else. And when you choose to put your energy into a place of options, you choose to conquer panic.

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