Practical Self Defense

Philosophy of self-defense and martial arts

Every student, indeed every person, can be empowered to protect themselves and others they care about when they are given the right tools, techniques, and skills. These tools are physical and psychological, and should be capable of being applied in the real world, not just the dojo or on the training mat.  

The role of martial arts
Campus Ninja Self Defense uses as a foundation the practical, self-defense oriented martial art of To-Shin Do. This martial art teaches fundamental skills that can be deployed by almost anyone faced with a potential physical threat, including men and women of smaller stature, without becoming a black belt (although this is encouraged!). Workshops are designed to build core self-defense skills as well as the ability to assess potential threatening situations.

A Reality-based Approach
Our workshops and classes are built on the real-world experiences of students on college campuses and elsewhere. Students are taught basic defenses that can be used in common situations, including parties and other social events, bullying in school hallways, even "dates gone wrong."

Approach to curriculum


The curricula provided by Campus Ninja Self Defense--whether a 3 hour workshop, a 6 week crash course, or a semester long program-- give participants a broad set of tools that will help them cope with real threats that emerge unexpectedly. This curriculum provides tools to students so they can defend themselves against physical assaults, regardless of how they ended up in the situation to begin with.  These tools have been selected because they provide practical options to get them out of a bad situation. The do not require the student to be physically strong or large. In fact, smaller students using these techniques often find it easier to gain advantage over larger and stronger students.

My programs present curricula that are both practical and accessible. [1]  Their format and structure is based on real threats and events culled from real-life student experiences and campus crime reports. Thus, the skills and techniques are not developed to defend against hypothetical threats or attacks. They are

  • Are practical;
  • Are accessible to a wide range of students, regardless of size, gender or body type;
  • Are presented to counter actual threats and experiences
  • Assume the student unexpectedly finds herself in a physical confrontation or is facing a potential physical assault;
  • Assume the student is unarmed;

High schools, colleges, and universities


Physical threats and assaults are an unfortunate fact of life on college and university campuses but remarkably few students are prepared to identify, neutralize or counteract that threat. The recent controversy over the rape of an Amherst College student is a tragic reminder that sometimes the most damaging attacks come from those that both familiar and known. Indeed, more broadly, most victims of sexual assaults are attacked by people they know. But the threats facing students in our colleges and universities are not just sexual in nature. Excessive drinking often creates potentially volatile environments that can quickly degenerate into physical attacks and even brawls. Among the type of threats students might face:

  • Physical fights
  • Bullying
  • Peer intimidation
  • Sexual harassment & assault, including rape
  • Robbery

The unfortunate reality is that most students unexpectedly find themselves faced with these threats. Sometimes, the assault comes from a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes a fight emerges after a party is crashed by an uninvited guest. Sometimes violence emerges because someone else at the party makes a bad choice. Sometimes, students are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

To-Shin Do

The techniques taught in this curriculum are grounded in the taijutsu martial art of To-Shin Do, a self-defense system developed from the principles and applications forming the basis of traditional Ninjutsu, and can be found in:

Stephen K. Hayes, The Ninja Defense: A Modern Master’s Approach to Universal Dangers (Tutle Publishing, 2012, ISBN 978-4-8053-1211-7

Curriculum details

The Practical Self Defense workshops and curriculum is designed to meet a wide range of needs and concerns. We can structure the workshops as....

  • 15 Week Practical Self Defense Curriculum (21 hours of instruction)
  • 6-Week Practical Self-Defense Curriculum (12 hours of instruction)
  • 3-hour introductory workshop in practical self-defense
  • GPE Clinic Nepal Practical Self Defense Curriculum ​

Global Peace Exchange Self-Defense Curriculum (pdf)


Sample semester-long curriculum outline (pdf)


women in martial arts: a roundtable

 Violence against women and girls is a worldwide problem even if the question of whether the level of violence is increasing is debatable. By some estimates, one out of three women will experience some form of domestic violence. Martial arts has a unique role to play in giving women and girls essential tools for stemming violence on personal, social, and cultural levels. This prompts the question: Why does martial arts teaching and practice continue to be dominated by men? Why aren’t more girls and women studying martial arts?

The search for answers to these questions led me to convene a roundtable of highly experienced and accomplished female martial artists in the fall of 2012. All these women have practiced and taught martial arts for more than two decades with cumulative experience of more than 150 years. All have advanced black belt degrees, and they include owners of martial arts schools, practitioners of multiple martial arts, and, in at least two cases, developers of self-defense curricula focused on women. Their insights draw on a wide range of martial arts, including Ninjutsu, To-Shin Do, Ninpo, Kempo Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Tai Chi, Tang Soo Do, Hapkido, and Escrima as well as boxing and kick-boxing. Thus, the insights and lessons learned are applicable to the self-defense and martial arts communities more generally.


About the Forum Participants

  • Rumiko Hayes is a native of Japan and co-founder with Stephen K. Hayes of the martial art of To-Shin Do ( Their affiliated schools have graduated more than 1,000 black belts since its founding in 1997. A long-time student of Ninjutsu Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi, she is also the mother of two grown children, both female, who have earned black belts.
  • Tori Eldridge ( is a practitioner of To-Shin Do (5th Degree black belt) and author of Empowered Living: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection among other works. She has a rich and varied career as an entrepreneur, teacher, actress/singer/dancer on Broadway, TV and film, a screenwriter and novelist.
  • Theresa Murphy is co-owner of Shinobi Martial Arts Center ( in Plaistow, New Hampshire and has earned black belts in To-Shin Do (3rd Degree), Bujinkan Ninjutsu, and Kempo Karate (where she also served as chief instructor in her dojo). She has also studied Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, and Shotokan Karate. Theresa is the co-founder of the self-defense curriculum Lessons In Violence Evasion (LIVE).
  • Laura Giancarlo has been training for the last 27 years in the various Ninja arts as well as other martial arts. She has earned black belts in To-Shin Do (5th degree), Bujinkan Ninjutsu, Okinawan Shorin ryu, and Tae Kwon Do. An athlete all her life, Laura has participated in a variety of sports including gymnastics, dance, yoga, softball, collegiate cheerleading. She has also served as an instructor of martial arts and fitness classes. She lives with her husband in West Chapel, Florida with her husband where she enjoys teaching science to middle school students.
  • Mary Stevens  is the owner of the Quest Center for Martial Arts ( in Boulder, Colorado, and earned her black belt in To-Shin Do (4th Degree).
  • Kriss Hurdle co-owns Newbury Park Martial Arts Center ( where she holds the title of head kunoichi. She is a 4th Dan in To-Shin Do and holds Black Belts in Tang Soo Do, Hapkido and Escrima. Her degree is in Marketing Management with additional background in Communications, personal training, spinning and group exercise instruction. She is a Reiki Master and specializes in self-protection and self-development and energy work for women, men and children. She is a proud Mom of two and happily married for almost 18 years.