In our martial tradition, upon attaining a third degree San-Dan Black belt, we also receive a Warrior name. After a few months of impatient awaiting, the news finally arrived. Ohtoshi! From now on, I will be walking through life, bearing the warrior name Ohtoshi. (Ohtoshi has a website where he shares ninja secrets!)

I have heard several stories about how influential these names have become in several of my To-Shi warrior brothers and sisters lives. Weird coincidences leading to situations in life where all the characteristics of their warrior name came shining through. Upon receiving the name, one tries to understand to deeper meaning of those few words written on that small piece of paper. How will that name change my life? What greater responsibilities comes along with it too? Will I be able to live up to it?

One of the particularities of the Japanese language is that « kanji » can be read in different directions, so I suppose that we can do the same once that Kanji is transcripted into English. I will try to explore here what my teacher had in his mind when he choose this name for me. (you can read some extra information about this in the box below)

Balanced Center Blade Warrior:

So many possibilities here, am I a warrior with a balanced center, or am I a warrior with a well balanced centered blade or maybe the warrior from the center who will restore balance?

Here is one possibility I believe might be an interesting starting point…

During the 2012 European To-Shin Do festival in Belgium, An-Shu Stephen K. Hayes and myself had a discussion about how people, at some point in their lives, are on a point break where they might just  » fall off  » to the « wrong side » of the path of life. I explained how I had been exactly on that edge, a long time ago, and how lucky I was to have found my first martial arts teacher who showed me that there was more to life, and how we can all experience a happy and balanced life. I could have tumbled down a road where I might have very well, never been able to recover from…. Ever since that day, I have been working and living towards attaining a position and direct my actions in a way to stay as far away as possible from that edge. One of my students pointed out how « inspiring » I now am to him, as an example of balance in life, juggling between my professional, martial and familial activities. Balanced Center Blade Warrior…yes, I may indeed have found that balance somewhere in there 😉  . As from today however, I would like to take a next step towards mastery in life and martial arts and re-position myself right on that edge, not on my edge that is, everybody else’s edge, and do my best to restore their -loss of- or fragile balance. Right now, that is my understanding of what it means to go through life as Ohtoshi! Restoring and maintaining balance in my direct surrounding world.

After more than twenty years of martial arts training, and forty years in this body, I feel like I may -finally- have found some very important work to be accomplished in my life and world. Never, ever, I might have been able to discover this without all the life lessons I have learned and found through my martial and spiritual training, transmitted by my teacher in so many different ways, sometimes subtle, sometimes bold and heart crushing ways, but always true and valuable! I express my gratitude to my teacher, An-Shu Stephen K. hayes for making so much time and effort to allow me to live my life to the fullest, thank you!

Here is An-Shu Stephen K. Hayes’ short explanation, you can read more on the skhquest forum (search Toshi names in open forum)

…… I wanted to acknowledge the advanced practitioners of To-Shin Do with a similar custom, so An-shu Rumiko and I began a practice of awarding a special unique To-Shi name to each new 3rd Degree, as 3rd Degree is a most challenging and significant rank to attain in To-Shin Do.

…To determine the name, we consult with the new 3rd Degree’s teacher to gain some insight as to that person’s best aspects of character, we check the Asian zodiac of the person’s birth, and then we look at the person’s middle name at birth and do our best to use that first letter to find an appropriate name in Japanese.

This is a difficult process, because not all English letters are transferable to Japanese sounds, and because some popular English middle names start with letters for which there are few appropriate Japanese words. Adding to the complexity is the fact that some Japanese sounds can be written with several different kanji letters, so that it appears that names are duplicated in English when they really are unique and different in Japanese. For example, there are two persons with the English spelling Rintoshi, two with Dotoshi, two with Myotoshi, two with Antoshi, but in truth each name is unique in Japanese written form.

An-shu Stephen Kinryu-Jien Hayes