My name is Kristopher Shelton. I have been practicing martial arts
since I was 6 years old. I started off with Tae Kwon Do and practiced that for a while, then I went through a period
of experimentation. I found that Tae Kwon Do was severely lacking in a lot of areas. I soon realized, through
my research, that there is indeed a difference between martial arts in concept. Some styles in existence today are meant
for survival. These arts generally teach practicality and simplicity while, at the same time, not closing your mind
to new things. Other styles in existence today have been modified into sport forms for various historical (or monetary)
reasons. Tae Kwon Do is a sport form, while I had instinctively been wanting a style meant for self-defense. In
all honesty, want I wanted to train in was ninja because my heroes at the time were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but
at that age, I didn't know the difference.
This led me on search for a style that would give me the ability to defend myself and others effectively,
not just a mere sport. While my choices were limited (Louisville, KY., where I was living at the time, is not exactly
a martial arts hotspot), I trained in Wing Chun Kung-Fu for a while (the style originally practiced by Bruce Lee), and then
Shaolin-Do. I reasoned that since the Shaolin is considered to be the root of all Chinese kung-fu styles, and by extension
the Japanese martial arts, then it would have to work.
Upon more research into the style and into the works of other masters, I came upon the realization
that while a style may be meant for self-defense, a certain style may not be the best style for a particular individual.
For example, a short and stubby person, with short legs, would not find much usefulness in a style such as Tae Kwon Do or
Northern Shaolin Kung-Fu, where long legs would be an asset due to the kicking emphasis. Shaolin-Do was a style
that relied on power, and being of a small stature, I was not in a good place. I tried to argue this concept with
myself, citing countless masters of many styles who were incredibly small, yet delivered massive power. I then
learned that these masters had spent years and years devoted to their art forms, and most were gifted with a natural talent,
and thus this explained, at least to me, the reason they were masters in styles that seemed to not fit their body types.
Now in Georgia, my martial arts training had taken on a kind of frantic search through numerous
styles by use of videos and books, trying to splice together something effective for self-defense. My Tae Kwon Do techniques
and katas were pretty much non-existent at this point, as I had not practiced them in years. My research finally led
me to the ancient art of ninjutsu.
Ninjutsu teaches that strength and speed are not sufficient for effective self-defense.
What if you run into someone who is faster or stronger than you? Even if you are stronger and faster than everyone
else now, what will happen when you are older and your physical body has naturally decayed with time, leading to
your strength and speed being negatively affected? The answer is taijutsu, the ninja's art of self-defense.
Taijutsu uses distance and timing so that, no matter how strong or weak you are, you are always in a place where
the opponent can not hit you, but you can hit them.
This held great appeal for me, and I subsequently bought every book I could find on the subject,
trying to add that emphasis to my previous training. I failed miserably. In a desperate search, I looked
around the Internet for a dojo in Georgia. Come to find out, Georgia is a breeding ground of ninjutsu dojos thanks to
one of the first white shihan, Shihan Bud Maelstrom. However, I was again disenchanted. I live in Newnan, the
middle of nowhere, and every dojo was at least an hour away. Thanks to my best friend, I found a shihan who wasn't
an hour away- Shihan Wade Goodner.
Wade-sensei teaches out of his home near Jonesboro, Georgia. I very
anxiously sent him an e-mail, and the following weekend I was off to his house for my first taste of ninjutsu. For some
reason, I was incredibly excited- so excited that I literally made myself sick! After a nice conversation in his living
room, we proceeded downstairs to his dojo. That class sealed my fate, and I have been a fanatical practitioner of ninpo
I am always training in some way, trying to further my abilities and grow as a "budding ninja".
I view ninjutsu as one half of my personality, with music being the other half. Both complement each other, and lessons
from ninjutsu have actually found their way into my music. Ninjutsu is more than just a system of defending yourself
and those you love... it is a way of life, tested and proven in battle for thousands of years. It is my way of
I only hope that my training in not be in vain so that I will become great in this art. I
certainly don't want to disappoint hundreds of past soke, right? :-P Just kidding. Seriously, in the
future, I wish to pass on my knowledge to prospective students so that they may pass it onto their students, keeping the art
alive and prospering.
|Me in front of the Hombu Bujinden