For my final Co-Op experience as a fourth-year Antiochian I traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Here I am working for Chapel Hill Quest Martial Arts, where very skilled instructors teach their martial art, To-Shin Do, as well as different fitness classes and women’s self defense. To-Shin Do is the art of modern Ninjutsu, brought to the United States from Japan by An-Shu Steven K. Hayes. In the martial art there is a team you can apply to become a part of and that is the CTI team (standing for Coach, Trainer, Instructor team). Boiled down, a coach’s job is to make a student’s day, and to let them know what they are doing well and that their presence is valued in the dojo. At the trainer level, one is allowed to become more involved, teaching pieces of defenses, leading warm-ups for classes, and giving students the next piece for them to work on to improve their training. Depending on the dojo you’re in and your experience as a trainer, a trainer’s job can be anywhere from leading warm-ups and being a demonstration partner for the instructors to instructing and running full-fledged classes. A To-Shin Do Instructor is an individual who is fully certified and ready to run their own classes, teach the full curriculum of all levels, and assign responsibility to the coaches and trainers.
Tory at Work, 2016
Before I left Ohio, my instructor Johanna presented me my Trainer patch, signifying a new chapter in my CTI career. I had been coaching at Antioch To-Shin Do classes and at Johanna’s village space, Yellow Springs Martial Arts, for a while, but I had never been super confident about my abilities as a coach or trainer. Confidence is half the battle with things like teaching, so it was important for me to feel confident about my abilities to actually be an effective CTI member. Johanna definitely had a plan for me, though, and I came to Chapel Hill, trainer patch in hand.
I started off at Chapel Hill as a coach, as was my job description. I introduced myself to students, their families, and anyone who asked who I was. It is my job to work 6 days a week as a coach; helping the instructors with classes, encouraging students, providing a safe and welcoming environment, helping keep the space beautiful, etc. A couple weeks ago, something incredible happened.
One day, there was a big class made up of adults and youth, white belts, yellow belts, and blue belts. There were not enough instructors for the different groups of people to be taught. They could’ve figured it out if they wanted to, but instead they asked me to teach. The two yellow belt youth students followed me to a section of the mat and I taught them that weeks’ curriculum. I timed the class perfectly, moving from defense to defense in good time, leaving just enough time to do announcements at the end. I showed them some secret moves from Ohio and they told me after that they had a wonderful time and they were very excited about what they had learned. And I felt wonderful about what I had accomplished. I recognized what I had done well and felt good about myself. It was such a stark difference from the coaching and training abilities that I exhibited in Ohio that I could really truly see how much I have grown and accomplished.
Co-Instructing Shuriken History with Patrick, 2016
Since then I have instructed more classes, experienced wonderful accomplishments and failures alike, and I have continued to expand my knowledge and confidence in instructing To-Shin Do. I am so happy!
Here are more fun facts from my experiences here so far:
At Mountain Quest 2016 (a Chapel Hill To-Shin Do adventure where everyone lives and trains on a mountain for three days with some of the highest-ranking To-Shin Do practitioners that exist, including the founder of the martial art, Steven K. Hayes), I was privileged enough to be the lowest-ranking person to be an attacker for An-Shu Steven K. Hayes during the seminar. I am about a year away from getting my black belt– everyone else that attacked for An-Shu had been a black belt for a while, at least. Many of them were third degree black belts and higher. I felt very special to be called up to attack! 🙂
An-Shu Steven K. Hayes destroying Tory England at Mountain Quest, 2016 🙂
During Mountain Quest there is also a very amazing experience that happens with a waterfall. It is a powerful, pounding waterfall that participants can stand underneath to experience a spiritual cleansing. It is an experience in which the mountain is trying to defeat you, but you refuse to let it. Directly after my waterfall experience, the sky opened up and began to pour rain down on us. The loudest cracks of thunder I have ever heard sounded around us as my boyfriend and I made our way back up the mountain. Sticking together, it was only us on the trail together for most of the journey. Torrential downpour turned into small but powerful rushing rivers, and the 1,000+ feet of elevation left to climb was becoming increasingly more challenging. We climbed, heavy with soaked clothes from the waterfall and rain. We reached the testing site, which still left us about a mile to climb until we got to the campground. That’s when it started to hail. In the middle of a North Carolinian summer, hail the size of blueberries started pelting us from the skies. Reaching the last stretch of trail-turned-river, the hail stopped. As we reached the top, the downpour turned to a whisper of rain. Soon after, I left the campground and got dry, and the clouds had cleared and the sun shone. I had conquered that mountain. It told me I would not succeed. It sent water, it sent fire, it sent earth rushing towards me, it sent ice. And I did not stop.
Screaming into the Waterfall, 2016
That’s all for now! Thank you for reading 🙂