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Control and Freedom

Updated: Nov 10, 2019

Article Archive By Mark Sentoshi Russo

Mark Sentoshi Russo often publishes articles of guidance and wisdom directly to his students as they take on the journey learning To-Shin Do at his martial arts school in Tampa, FL. Master Russo has recently agreed to make these articles public for the benefit of anyone who happens to visit the Tampa Quest Self Defense Website, those who are curious about To-Shin Do and students who want to review the valuable lessons inside.

Control and Freedom

Why is it that far too often life leaves us feeling beat up? Well, stuff happens. In the tenets of Buddhist philosophy this is the first of the four noble truths. No matter what we do things will happen that cause unhappiness. The key is to minimize the frequency and intensity of these experiences. To put it bluntly, we need to realize how we cause self-inflicted wounds and do our best to avoid doing so. Should be simple, right? Yes, well, not so much. This is something I share with my students at our Toshindo martial arts school. Let’s take a quick look at one approach that can make a massive difference in your life.

Toshindo martial arts students practicing positive visualization at the Quest Self Defense school in Tampa, FL.
Toshindo martial arts students practicing positive visualization at the Quest Self Defense school in Tampa, FL.

In our quest for happiness and success we all get seduced into the idea of control over people, circumstances, our environment, and the list goes on. This seduction often blinds us to the most powerful thing that we do have control over. In fact, it is the only thing we really have control over. The first century philosopher Epictitus (one of my personal favorites) and a practitioner of what is known as stoicism (gravely misunderstood by the way) offers us this profound wisdom as we pursue our personal sense of happiness and peace of mind.

“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night- there is only one path to happiness, and that is giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.” Discourses, 4.4.39. God and fortune here refers to universal energies or powers that we perhaps don’t fully understand.

“We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will. What’s not under our control are the body and any of its parts, our possessions, parents, siblings, children, or country – anything with which we might associate.”

So, one excellent way for us to free ourselves from self-imposed stress and strife is to recognize when we are struggling to control things that are essentially out of our control. Invest some time reflecting on much of what you do each day, and those things that upset you, and you will begin to develop an awareness of how often we all fall into this insidious trap.

Not surprisingly, at the most advanced levels our To-Shin Do martial art reflects this philosophy clearly. We strive to use body positioning, angling, deception, timing, and distancing to allow our attacker to “defeat themselves.” In fact, so often in our practice of To-Shin Do, as in our daily lives, it is we ourselves getting in our own way through excessive tension and overreaction that fouls us up.

So, as we practice our unique martial art let it be a constant reminder to avoid struggling for control in circumstances where it is not necessary. Relax your body, relax your mind.

Master Mark Sentoshi Russo's 9th Degree Black Belt - The only one of it's kind in To-Shin Do.
Master Mark Sentoshi Russo's 9th Degree Black Belt - The only one of it's kind in To-Shin Do.

Control and Freedom was originally written for To-Shin Do instructional website:, where it is possible to receive - unprecedented access to Stephen K. Hayes (founder of To-Shin Do) and his Martial Art Masters. Includes: Unarmed Self-Defense, Weapons Training and Health and Wellness.


If you enjoyed reading this article and wish to read more, please return to Master Mark Sentoshi Russo's Martial Arts School in Tampa, FL. website:


Quest Self Defense

2634 Cypress Ridge Blvd, Suite 103 Wesley Chapel, FL 33544 (813) 973-0144

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