Senshido Evolution

Since its inception in 1994, Senshido has undergone continual evolution. From its basement beginnings, it has gained notoriety internationally for its eclectic, conceptual approach to self-defense and combatives. It’s simple yet brutal effectiveness attracted hardcore warrior athletes from the world over. As Senshido’s methods began to spread internationally, its focus began to shift from purely fighting to a more holistic methodology, promoting not only an understanding of body mechanics as it relates to violence, but also psychology and human behavior for the same. While not diluting its methods, Senshido broadened its focus to be more inclusive, targeting its approach for the general population – not just fighters and martial artists – becoming “everyone’s self-defense”. As time went on, Senshido evolved further when it started to take on an even bigger picture approach, as it ultimately became a vehicle for the message of peace, empowerment and self-betterment.

Similarly, Senshido’s branding has undergone several evolutions in attempting to capture and represent the pervading philosophy at the corresponding stage of development of the system. From the dark and combat-focused depiction of two fighters going at it, to the dove representing its focus on peace, to the phoenix representing Senshido being born again. At the current stage of Senshido’s development, none of these proved to be a suitable reflection of the philosophy that currently drives Senshido. The one constant throughout Senshido’s history has been its holistic nature. And with that in mind, we went back to the drawing board (literally) to capture this visually, and came up with a modified triquetra, with each point representing the trinity of mind, body and (warrior) spirit, and how they interconnect, emphasizing the holistic nature of the system. The overlapping effect created by the points of the triquetra and the circle also gives the appearance of a globe (global outreach) in the centre. The Senshido text in the logo contains two distinctive elements in the E and the N, with the former also speaking to the trinity depicted in the triquetra and the backwards N to the unorthodox nature of Senshido.

We feel that this latest logo is one that captures the essence of Senshido, right from its beginnings, and will carry it through going forward into the future.

Evasion…

20150109_120411The job of your personal protection instructor is to make you an escape artist. The better trained you are the smoother your escape. You will slip out of conflicts without engagement. Which is the culmination of a well evaluated situation and it’s appropriate reaction. If you have to engage (“Have to” is key here), it will probably be because you unwittingly painted yourself in a situational “corner” (Zigged instead of zagged) and you have to make your evasion, a forceful one.

Still, no matter how forceful it is, from a hard shove to caving in someone skull, it should still be an evasion (part of an escape plan). Therefore whatever forceful means you use (tools), they need to be applied toward bringing yourself to safety. Nothing else. When do you stop “mauling”? When you know the attacker has been made “safe” for you and/or cannot prevent you from getting yourself to safety. Every time you engage, you increase the number of variables, slow down your exit, give the opportunity for bystanders to get involved and other headaches.

As oppose to a jailbreaker, you have, too often, to formulate a coherent strategy to bail out on the spot with a minimum of info acquired almost on the moment. A good thing to do, when you enter a location that could be unsafe… scope before, take a tactical look, file in your brain where the bottlenecks are, the ways out in order to speed your ability to decide upon an evasive scenario. I call that Quick tactical mapping. If you have to engage, you will facilitate your exit. I’ve seen some guys win fights in spectacular fashion and doing it in a way that made them jump from the frying pan into the fire because of the fact they fought without factoring in where it could end. Example? Engaged at the door, ended in the coatroom (4 x 12) back against the wall with 5 of the guy’s friends coming in with bottles and one with a pool cue. Did not end well for a guy who actually beat up his man.

Counter ambush and evasion skills. Starts with that.

Marc Ste Marie.

Assemble! (Part 1)

superhero-silhouette-banner-oval

So, in my last blog from a couple of weeks ago I had a little fun comparing myself to Captain America. Again, the point of that entry was to describe how I felt stepping up to the plate as the new Senshido Team Leader. Like I said, I did so being surrounded by great people; people with their own strengths and experiences that benefit the Senshido team. So in this blog, I’m gonna have fun comparing our team members and affiliates to super heroes (and anti-heroes) as well.

Just to reiterate, I am not (necessarily) comparing us with their powers, physical skills or even abilities (especially since  none of us can really fly and stuff like that). I am focusing more on their intangible traits and interpersonal skills and attributes – their philosophies, personalities and maybe their way of life. We often look to fictional characters such as super-heroes for inspiration. Which was why I decided to write this up. So without further ado, let’s begin the team’s roster:

Marc St-Marie: THOR

1947443_10151965895396625_286580792_n

ultimate_thor

I don’t think I can start this post with a better person. Marc has been part of Senshido since the beginning. Much like Thor, Marc is backed by years of combat and martial arts experience, and the team often looks up to him for advice. He is a leader in his own right, and inspires us all. Plus with long hair, he does kinda fit the bill don’t you think? Although, today Marc may not be as actively teaching Senshido self-defense right now, but he is and always will be a teacher and a mentor to us all.

Mia and Rick Capozzi: SPIDER WOMAN and HAWKEYE

Seminar1a

theavengers30-2

This Senshido International power couple of Senshido Connecticut needs to be compared with another power couple. So I chose the (one-time) couple of Hawkeye and Spider Woman. If you know Mia and Rick like I do, the comparison is perfect. They are courageous, tough as nails, and also witty, a bit smart-mouthed and snarky ….okay, maybe VERY smart-mouthed and snarky (they’d be the first to admit it lol). But they are also super loyal to the team and dedicated individuals. They would do anything for their family and team members and always fight for the “little-guy”. Not to mention that  Rick himself, is a LEO (law enforcement officer) and even practiced archery in his past so the Hawkeye (a form of LEO himself) connection is quite suiting. And at one time, Spider-Woman stabbed Wolverine with his own claws (see below). Mia would probably do the same thing! LOL

3285502-spider_woman_wolverine_ii

Speaking of Wolverine…

Tuomo Malinen: WOLVERINE

10006090_10152677423478356_2104142806_o

dexter-soy-wolverine-chaos-gd2013

Tuomo of Senshido Finland says and I quote, “Well as a character I’m a bit like him [Wolverine]. I walk my own path. Not so worried about whether I look good all the time (like now I’d really need to shave). I’m a bit temperamental like him, but I can keep my cool and always fight on the good side.” Both may be a “Ronin warrior” in their own right but they are also very loyal to their team and friends. Tuomo is also very resilient and if you take Tuomo’s beard and move it around to make tufts of hair on his bald head, then add mutton chops, wouldn’t you see it as well? He also has a cool video replicating scenarios and shredding, sans the adamantium claws, which can be seen here .

Patrick Ressler: SABRETOOTH

131774_1660489923472_3037170_o

124310-136787-sabretooth

Ok, so Sabretooth isn’t a hero – at all…but Pat really wanted him, so to compromise I chose an alternate reality version of him where he was a hero…kinda. This Sabretooth is a character with a dark past but makes a change and fights on the side of good. A side that protects others.  I can say that Pat of Senshido Germany always liked to describe himself as a man who doesn’t hide what he is and could care less of what society may think of him. He’s accepting of himself. Those are the individual qualities that Pat sees in Sabretooth, and it is those qualities that separate him from others. Patrick is honest and true to himself – and to others. That’s what makes him a valued team member.

Malachi Bond: CABLE

155222_474317958591_3661055_n

Cable

Cable, a lesser-known hero, is a time traveller and explorer who always make it his goal to do what’s best for the future and others around him. Malachi, of Senshido Alaska, can’t move through time, but he enjoys learning from others. He is open to learning from all his experiences and the experience of others. He explores new ideas and adds them to his repertoire. Mal is always planning for the future and its betterment, doing what he feels is for the better good, especially for those around him such as his loved ones and his students.

Brian Opdenkelder: BATMAN

286873_1885092851854_3330786_o2011_batman_arkham_city-wide

Yeah, try saying Brian’s name three times fast! Well, was a bit difficult to decide who gets Batman among our team members. A few of us wanted to be him (even me at a point), so they had to do a fight to the death for it- just kidding…sorta. Brian of Senshido Ontario was first to call dibs so that was that lol. In reality, Brian is strong, smart, and very experienced in combatives, including Ninjitsu. Brian also works as a Corrections Officer, requiring him to stay sharp, being surrounded by criminals each day.  So Brian can say, “I’m Batman.”

Step Up

Senshido-Logo-Red-Dblack-bg2

So, it’s been a few months now that I have stepped up to become Senshido International’s new Team Leader. I’ve been meaning to write this blog entry for awhile. I just didn’t know how to express it, until I started re-reading some comic books I had. I’m a bit of a superhero-geek so I thought this entry was fitting. And if you enjoy the superhero-comic book universe you may find this entry a fun read.

First, let’s start on how it all happened. Many of you who follow the Martial Arts world, namely the world of reality-based self-defense, may know that last year my teacher and good friend, Richard Dimitri stepped away from the business of self-defense and handed over Senshido to his Team Members. He had his reasons and is still a person I talk to and share ideas and philosophies with to this day. He ultimately decided to move on to bigger and better things (stay tuned). Anyway, for several months Senshido was leader-less. And many of us members were fine with that, including myself – or so we thought.

But I also noticed many of us members were kind of divided. Not personally, nor in terms of training, materials or methodology. What I saw was, rather, lack thereof true unity. We didn’t get together as a team like we used to and everyone was pretty much doing their own thing. So I spoke up. I believed we could still make Senshido International work as a team and that we didn’t necessarily need a leader as we all had our own strengths and dare I say, specialities within the group. I compared us to the (nerd alert!) Avengers or the Justice League. Each of us has something to offer, and we were all hand-picked by Richard Dimitri as Team Members for a reason. After sharing these thoughts with the group, I was told by other members that what I said was inspiring.

Then one day, I spoke with Richard, sharing thoughts, critiques and concerns within this martial arts/RBSD world. I kept him in the loop with the team’s progress. He really respected my ideas for wanting to keep up with “evolving” Senshido. Even prompting a planting a seed by saying, “Why don’t you lead now?”

I kind of brushed it off. I replied by saying I will just continue to lead by example. I thought we were fine the way we were. We just had to make sure we were all on the same page.

It seemed all that had happened created a domino effect. Apparently, team members were talking and they felt that there was a need of a leader. Not necessarily someone to tell everyone what to do specifically, but to delegate and maybe even make the tougher decisions regarding the group, especially in terms of progress; a figure-head if you will. They suggested nominating people, because, “…even The Avengers or Justice League still had a leader.”

At first, I was, along with a few other members, a little reluctant to the idea – let alone become the actual leader. It wasn’t until I saw my name thrown in there by a few of the team members, and why they thought I was a good candidate that changed my mind.

After reading such positive comments, I pondered, and thought, “Maybe I should.”

I think this panel sums up how I felt. It’s from a crossover¹ comicbook where the Avengers team up with the Justice League of America. (I warned you of the comicbook nerdgasm, so don’t judge me lol).

JLA/Avengers 2003- 2004; Kurt Busiek & George Perez

JLA/Avengers 2003- 2004; Kurt Busiek & George Perez

1 Note: for you non-comicbook fans, a cross over is when two or more characters from separate or competing titles, often from competing companies, join together in a story for a special event or storyline. Imagine a suituation when two separate t.v. shows from different networks would meet up and do a storyline together.

I know the character, Captain America very well. He’s also one of my favorite characters in comicbooks, and I guess I could compare myself to “Cap” himself:

Captain America: The First Avenger

……ok, so I’m not American. Then maybe this version is more suiting:

1

I mean it figuratively of course. Personality-wise I feel I can relate to his character most. He has no real super powers and is joined with the likes of Superman, Thor, Flash, Wonder Woman, Ironman- and even Batman who has his fancy gadgets and genius intellect can be put on the level of “super”- yet they all are willing to listen or follow him. I am in the same boat. I was a bit surprised even. I am part of a group who many have much more experience than me in the field, were more skilled, been in more real-life situations, yet, I was still a likely candidate to lead them?

I look up to my team. I see us as heroes. We are definitely not above others, nor are we crazy vigilantes. But I see us as heroes because this team really enjoys helping others. Not just through self-defense and combatives training but through being good teachers. We should see ourselves as heroes because we care about our students, we care about their safety, health and their progress. We give our students someone to look up to, and I think that’s our responsibility. And this mentality is not limited to personal protection or martial arts, but in their everyday lives.

But the feedback I got from the team was that they see I do all those things too. They see my heart, my initiation and the passion to help others was strong. They knew despite not having as much experience as some of them, I did have extensive training with Richard Dimitri, the founder of Senshido, and have seen Senshido progress from nearly the beginning. I`m also very strategic and enjoy a challenge so I decided to step up.

boss-vs-leader-800x800-300x300My work has already started. We’ve got a new logo, new direction, and new website.

I lead with my heart and I move with my team.

I’m enjoying my new responsibilities and

I hope my team and our students will enjoy this new journey.

We’re ready to do some!

ASSEMBLE!

superhero-silhouette-banner-oval

If you liked this blog, just wait until you see the next one, where I compare our current Senshido Team to other heroes themselves!

Stay Safe,
Wes Derequito
Ara Academy & Senshido International Team Leader