Following the path, an exploration of the martial way

Tuesday, Nov 29  •  


Todd Windley
Self Defense Systems and Eastern Philosophy Instructor

At Avalon Hills, we have several programs that allow clients look deeper inside themselves. One of these programs is martial arts where self-defense techniques, eastern philosophy, meditation are studied to increase mindfulness and a greater understanding of oneself. For many centuries, the study of martial arts has been intertwined with gaining greater control over the mind as well as the body.


The Budo (武道) path, also known as the martial way is about training one’s mind through improving the body and spirit. It is critical that both be cultivated to develop a well-rounded individual. The overall goal isn’t necessarily learning how to gain control over an attacker, but rather to gain control over oneself, thus having greater control over life.

Self Defense

There are obvious benefits to having the ability to protect oneself, but the surge of confidence that comes from learning the capacity and capabilities of the human body is very empowering. It can enable a person to engage life with the strength and courage to take on greater challenges.

When situations arise where self-defense is needed, most actions tend to be very instinctive and reactive, but this is not always to best course of action. Our human nature tends to oppose strength with strength. Interestingly, it is often easier to overcome strength with softness. Our program instructs practical and efficient ways of handling threats by exploiting weaknesses that all humans have.


We repeatedly practice these techniques so that they can be done without thought. This concept is called Mushin no Shin (無心の心) or “mind without mind”. This is a Zen expression that explains the mental state that highly trained martial artists enter during combat where the mind is not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.

We aim to put these tools right into the hands of our clients so they can experience and become proficient as if it was their first natural reaction.


The mind and body cannot be separated, but the mind is the key to controlling the body. With a strong mental management structure, great things, even incredible things can be accomplished.

We strive to strengthen the minds of each individual, to sharpen their awareness, enhance their abilities of perception and give them the confidence to thrive with their newfound skills. This is done through in-depth philosophical study and discussion as well as real world application of these philosophical concepts.

One of the first steps in this journey is to find the path to establish “Oneself”. Each person will have a different experience and path, but what is true for all is that they will find strengths and abilities that they did not know they possessed. Our goal is to uncover these hidden abilities and strengthen them so these they can become their most powerful assets.


It is unusual for self-defense, martial arts and philosophy to cross paths with health and mindful awareness, but we see these to be one and the same. Each adds to and edifies the another.

In our program, we educate each client on the benefits to having a healthy body to enable them to be capable to act when the time is needed

We also explore the concepts of eastern medicine where we learn the critical pressure points on the human body that enhance relaxation as well as enhance blood flow. By having a greater understanding of the human body, clients can learn new ways to see their bodies and gain a better appreciation of it.

I have been very fortunate to be a part of this program at Avalon Hills for the past 4 years. There are many parallels between martial arts/eastern philosophy and modern therapy, that is why this program works so seamlessly the work being done at Avalon Hills. I truly think that it provides experiences and new concepts for the clients to embrace and add to their arsenal of life skills.

The study of martial arts has been a focal point in my life for almost 26 years now. It has brought me many challenges, successes and failures, but truly has made me a better, stronger person. I continue to challenge myself because the path does not end for me here. I feel that this is a lifelong journey of study and self-exploration. It is my sincere honor to share what I have learned and I truly hope that it brings others the joy and confidence that it has brought to me. I hope that these experiences, skills and philosophies will be powerful tools for clients to carry with them through life. I hope to see them walk a little taller, feel a little stronger and most importantly know the great power that they have within themselves.