What is Senshido – (The Way of 1000 Masters)?

Senshido is the actual ‘art’ taught at our Montreal location under Senshido Combative Science Technologies founded by Richard Dimitri.

Change is imperative. Change also implies evolution. However, in the martial arts field change is taboo. Instead of passively agreeing with the traditional arts that pass themselves off as methods of self-defense, we questioned and researched. Instead of accepting the inherited misconceptions that are continuously presented to us daily; we innovated and progressed. Rather than bending to the egos of the political forces behind the martial arts community, we like few before us have broken from tradition. Blindness and self inflicted myopia is nothing but laziness contrived by an ignored ignorance. Senshido is change.

Senshido has never catered to the traditions that in some ways plague the martial arts in so far as survival is concerned, but rather expanded into progression and innovation. We have a mission statement and have stuck by it since the beginning. Since 1994, Senshido has become quite controversial both in the traditional realm and the eclectic circles as well. We have attracted international attention and secured ourselves as one of the top 5 reality based systems in the world.

Senshido’s goals and values are congruous with the warrior values that drove men to seek ways to protect themselves, their families, clans and villages against danger centuries ago. The oldest or first documented form of fighting was discovered in ancient Egypt and was scripted on the pyramid walls around 4000 to 5000 BC. These combative disciplines which as far as we know started from the Egyptians and broadened onto the Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese and so on, were used purely as methods of warfare and self-defense. Those were the values that originally created the fighting systems around the world, not tournaments or inspirations of championships.

In order to avoid confusion, let me define and note the differences between martial arts ‘systems’ and ‘styles’. Styles are specific types of expressions which have been passed on from teacher to student, generation to generation and transmitted identically to each individual regardless of their differences as human beings. There is neither evolution nor practicality in styles since their foundations are theoretical. To mimic without thought is the way. A system is usually comprised of several styles to form a more complete art which in turn evolves and progresses with the obvious need to adapt. Some systems however never progress and eventually become styles. Some factions of Jeet Kune Do are a good example of a methodology turned into a system turned into a style.

Senshido if necessarily labeled, is closer to being a system but is really neither a system, nor a style. It is a process, a methodology that is transcendental, interchangeable and adaptable to all systems and styles. Although it does contain many modified physical attributes that have been inspired by other systems; it is comprised of several original, unique and innovative methods.

Creating a new martial art system is not just a question of mish-mashing several arts together for the sake of eclectics as many have done since it has become fashionable to do so from the coming of MMA and NHB events. It takes scientific exploration of each combative strategy as well as an in depth comprehension of emotional inertia and its effects on the reactive mind as well as taking into consideration the entire myriad’s of variables that can come into play before, during and after a fight.

No pure styles make up Senshido. From a physical perspective, we mainly rely on gross motor skills and Senshido’s 5 Principals of Physical Retaliation: Primary Targets – Closest weapon to Cosest Target – Tactile Sensitivity – Economy of Motion – Non Telegraphic Movement. No range of fighting, style or technique has ever won a fight. Survival is credited to the fighter’s mindset that allowed him to walk away a survivor. The actual technique, style or range is completely coincidental. It used to be that martial artists would cling to their styles and develop an emotional attachment to it, nowadays it’s become ranges and techniques instead since the coming of the NHB events. Techniques are not as important as the philosophy and mental reasoning behind them. Logic and reason guide the individual. Simplicity, directness and efficiency backed by strategy are the ingredients to success in combat and defense.

My students understand that Senshido’s sole concern is enhancing survivability. They realize the journey towards self-confidence and truth lies solely within themselves and that Senshido is but a guide or vehicle towards that truth. In combat, you will do what you will do. The truth, in a world of self-created conceptualizations and instilled beliefs, appears harsh and remains for the most part unexplored. Change is imperative but frightens most. Blindness or refusal to see is a very common affliction amongst martial artists, which in turn creates dis-ease in the form of hidden insecurity in their ability. For the most part, this insecurity manifests itself as ego and arrogance.

The narrow minded and fearful of questioning, those who merely accept because “that’s the way it has always been done” and the too lazy to introspect succumb to their own fate. As Marc Macyoung states, “It’s their blood”. The fight happens but once. To look back at it and say “I should, would or could have” is futile unless it is done with introspection as a learning tool for the next possible encounter. The various mind-sets that influence our every day decision making are usually quite predictable and for the most part, problematic and becomes even more so during combat.

The mind (not brain), with all it’s unsought yet self induced imperfections like mental fatigue, doubt, fear, anger and anxiety create optimum performance hesitation resulting in emotional inertia which in turn manifests itself as physical disease. We create our own hells and hang on to it with no apparent logic as to why – a matter of ‘uncomfortable comfortableness’. Resistance is futile. Unfortunately, combative tactics only change after a severe and harmful event. Unfortunately too late, that is a mistake that have caused some their lives.

So if anything, Senshido exists to make you question, introspect and search for a better way. It is a form of truth. Do not label, crystallize or solidify it. Take from it what you need, use what works for you, modify what doesn’t and begin your own journey. Nobody owns the truth; it is out there for everyone to seek, study and use as they may.

Be it through literature, debate, casual conversation or teachings, to hold one’s opinion speaks of quiet reservations. Styles, systems, labels, titles, religions, cults place you in a faction. Factions limit people to knowledge within itself. As Bruce Lee Prophetically said “He who is without style adapts to all styles”. I write this piece for the inquisitive and narrow-minded. My words may disturb but they lead to sought reactions. We’ve said what we meant and we’ve never pretended as so many others do intending just to please, if we condemned your point of view, ask yourselves… why?

Train intelligently and diligently.

Founder of Senshido


No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We’re put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest”.

Senshido’s 5 Principles of Physical Retaliation

Once struck, there are generally 5 different reactions a human being will have after getting struck.  The individual who has been struck can react in one or more of these ways.  In no particular order they are: 

1.  To create distance.  The individual hit will back up and move away to regroup or protect themselves.
2.  To clinch.  The individual will close the distance and latch on defensively to the other who hit him.
3.  To counter strike.  The individual struck strikes back immediately (with or without a weapon), no quarter given on the counter.
4.  Drops semi or fully unconscious.  The individual struck is put out of commission.
5.  Takes the shot, looks at you dead in the eye and replies: “That all you’ve got?”

Knowing and understanding these reactions are imperative in order to have a contingency plan for each and every one of them.  If your mind is trained to be prepared for any or a combination of any of these reactions, it will be extremely difficult to be caught off guard and one’s recovery time and natural flow are much quicker and with no hesitation

Your mind will be ready for whatever outcome and won’t go into the dreaded assumption frame.  One of the worst things one can do is assume.  The only 2 safe assumptions anyone can make in the face of potential violence is that 1. Your opponent is carrying a concealed weapon and 2. He’s not alone and he’s got friends. That’s it, that’s all.  Anything else can potentially get one killed.
The key in physical retaliation is your ability to spontaneously improvise your next move based on your attacker’s reaction.  Your attacker will always dictate what your next move is going to be based on the 5 possible reactions they will have after you landed your first strike.

The following are Senshido’s 5 principles of physical retaliation and they are always applicable regardless of what style or system one practices or what the scenario or situation may be. You will even find them applicable in the MMA arena.

Principle # 1.  Economy of motion. 
Musashi said, “Do nothing which is of no use”.  Basically, do not waste energy on unnecessary movement. 
There are 2 ways of doing this
1: Your intended natural weapon, whatever it may be whether it is a jab, kick or submission application should be the initial point of movement prior to any other part of the human body.  If your intended strike is a left jab then the left fist should be the very first thing to move followed by the rest of the body.

2: It’s important for you to have a mental and philosophical reason for everything that you do.  Don’t just throw a kick or punch for the sake of throwing it.  Many fighters as they circle each other feeling each other out will unnecessarily throw ‘something’ because nothing has happened yet.  If it is done with reason backed by strategy, then it is fine but a lot of times fighter’s just kick or punch for the sake of it

When my students spar, I will randomly stop them and ask them why they did what they did in terms of strike or combination, for the most part; they don’t have an answer.  It’s important for the student to understand and know why they are doing what they are doing.  This will economize on wasted motion and help the student strategize consistently while maintaining energy.
In the street, economy of motion also economizes on both mental and physical energy.  Energy is a key factor in survival.  For the most part, stress, fear and the adrenaline dump will cause a mental energy drain which in turn will deplete one of physical energy rather quickly.

Principle # 2.  Non Telegraphic Movement.
Non telegraphic movement ties in directly with economy of motion.  This principle basically states not to telegraph your intention to your attacker by making any unnecessary movements prior to your initial attack.  This includes facial expressions, shift of body weight, shift of eyesight, idiosyncratic movements prior to striking and winding up.

Your attack should be explosive and sudden preferably from a verbal defusing stage where the body language is natural and non-threatening.  If you’re already engaged in the fight and your opponent is still ‘active’ your attack should still be explosive and sudden without any prior movement to initialize it except the intended weapon of choice (whether natural or weapon or actual weapon) and the ‘beat’ and ‘rhythm’ should be broken and erratic in nature
Principle # 3.  Opportunity Striking VIA Closest weapon to closest target.
This principle dictates you striking without giving your opponent the opportunity to negate, block, jam, parry or counter your strike.  In order to do this you need to strike with (as Bruce Lee prophetically stated in an episode of long street) your nearest natural weapon to your opponent’s nearest open or available target. 

While doing this, repeat the word “Opportunity” to yourself as you begin your strike to the time you land your strike.  If you can say the word ‘opportunity’ more than once, chances are your opponent would have had the opportunity to react instinctively in negating your attempt to strike him and you did not use your closest natural weapon to their closest available target.  You should only be able to say the word ‘opportunity’ once at the most by the time you reach your intended target.

This doesn’t mean that your initial strike should be the knock out blow or strike that ends the fight, although that would be ideal, it isn’t always probable. For the most part, on the street, your first strike is a distraction or flinch instigator which will allow you to follow through with a more powerful or terminal (fight ender) strike.  Sometimes, a bite, pinch or spitting in the opponent’s face will cause a momentary distraction, which will allow you to capitalize on.  It’s important however, that when you follow up after your initial strike, you do so on the half beat so that your opponent doesn’t have the time to react and negate your follow up strike.
(This principle is demonstrated and instructed in full detail in our Surviving the Streets & Tool and Target DVDs available for purchase via orders@senshido.com)

Principle # 4. Primary Targets.
In a real fight, you need to end it as quickly as possible.  In order to do that, you have to debilitate your opponent.  However, it is necessary to judge whether the situation is a maximum potential for violence (life or death situation) or minimum potential of violence and weather or not your opponent is a good guy having a bad day or genuinely “bad guy”.

A maximum potential for violence situation requires use of extreme force.  The primary targets on the human body that will debilitate them are the eyes and throat.  As human beings, we have the innate instinct to protect our eyes and windpipe. If your opponent can’t see, he can’t fight, if he can’t breathe, he can’t fight.   The rest of the human body is secondary.  There are no other specific targets as there are nerve clusters everywhere on the human body.  Striking the groin, the sides of the biceps or the shin will all cause a flinch response creating another opening allowing for an immediate follow up strike.  Strike as many places and as often as necessary in order to reach the eyes and throat and debilitate your opponent.

If your opponent has been debilitated without having struck his eyes and throat then all the more power to you.  However, if your opponent is drug or alcohol induced or if he has a high threshold of pain, if he’s emotionally disturbed then chances are, if you haven’t struck his eyes or throat in order to reflexively protect himself, he’ll most probably keep coming at you.

Principle # 5.  Tactile Sensitivity.
Tactile sensitivity is the ability to interpret your opponent’s energy through the sense of touch. The majority of fights will start at the close quarter range also referred to as the trapping range.  Dialogue and communication will allow for an attacker to get in the close quarter range without necessarily having to strike you yet.  This is where the assailant has access to lapel grabs, strangulations, shoves, tackles, headlocks, static knife threats and attacks, intimidation tactics and more.  If the fight is not dealt with at this range it might well lead to the ground

Tactile sensitivity is applied the second you and your opponent have come into physical contact together.  At the close quarter, ground fighting and in close body to body boxing range the hand is much, much quicker than the eye.  If your opponent decides to pull a knife out of his belt or back pocket while in the clinch, you will not be able to see it but you will be able to feel and read his body language through the sense of touch.  There are countless drills that help develop the tactile senses and freestyle grappling on its own is a phenomenal way of doing so as you are constantly trying to interpret your opponent’s next move through the body to body contact. However pure grappling doesn’t offer the benefits of defending against strikes and weapons which should be added into all tactile sensitivity drilling
A good tactile sense will allow one to defend oneself better at the close quarter and ground fighting ranges.  You’ll be able to feel and intercept an oncoming attack as it develops

There’s a story of a Tai Chi master whose tactile sensitivity was so developed that he had a butterfly in his hand try and fly away and he followed it with his hand until his arm could no longer extend upwards as the butterfly flew off.

Senshido’s 5 principles of physical retaliation are always applicable regardless of the situation or scenario once things have gotten physical.  They require proper training and mental blueprinting.  Once they are acquired however, they become unforgettable and imperishable skills, like riding a bike and applicable to all martial arts styles or systems.

Train intelligently and diligently.
Rich Dimitri