HISTORY OF TAI SHIN DOH™
The Foundation of Tai Shin Doh was created by Soke Ronald F. Balas in 1966.
The rudiments of the Martial Art which eventually became Tai Shin Doh began in the years 1951 to1954 during Soke Balas’ Service in the United States Army and his Wartime service in Korea.
As part of military training Soke Balas learned fundamentals of “Combat Self Defense” and when in Korea was introduced to principals of T’ang Soo Do by several “KATUSA” (Korean Augmentation to US Army”) personnel, and during leave in Japan, had the opportunity to visit and train in a program sponsored by Master Gichin Funakoshi”s method in Tachikawa.
Upon returning to the United States in the late summer of 1952, Soke Balas continued to train in Jujitsu and Combat Self Defense while having been assigned to military bases at Ft. Knox Kentucky and Camp Gordon, Georgia, (now Ft. Gordon), and so, it began.
During his undergraduate school days’ Soke Balas became part of an informal Sport Karate Club at the old Fenn College (1955/59) which in 1963 became known as Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was introduced to the Shotokan Heian Forms. These Forms as well,as JiuJitsu and basic Self Defense became the beginning of his interactive martial arts learning and teaching career. He began to integrate values of both learning and teaching. “Learn all one can, teach all you can”, were his watchwords as he continued to train and learn more throughout the latter ‘50s and 60s.
The 1960s witnessed a phenomenal growth in North American Martial Arts. This was the decade of the burgeoning increase of the “Master Instructor,” and while there was little question as to the fine and exceptional Martial Artists who were often referred to as “old school and traditional”. There appeared on the scene, however, another breed of self-pronounced “Masters”, each of whom, as often as not, seemed to espouse his own particular style as the only “pure” martial art, while denigrating others as historical afterthoughts. In more than a few cases, credentials of these “masters” proved questionable at best, and as rapidly as many appeared on the scene, they seemed to disappear just as rapidly.
Soke Balas saw a real danger in this element, and it was at this critical time that he began to espouse the basic belief that ethics and honesty in representations had to be an essential component of any effective Martial Art. To be believable and have legitimacy, every effort had to be open, honest and able to stand up to scrutiny. In short, there would be no secrets in his Martial Art. Danger and opportunity emerged as the dual watchwords of what would soon become Tai Shin Doh.
In a pure philosophical and academic sense, Soke Balas began to recognize and openly espouse what he referred to as “horizontal integration” or interrelationship among the styles of Martial Arts. He also realized that the Martial Arts were, in modern parlance, that is to say, from a more practical and basic foundation of Kata, self-defense, strikes and blocks, up through actual fighting contests were “vertically integrated”, This increasingly broadened view of the martial arts as a dynamic map with genuine longitude and latitude as well as human depth, formed the intellectual cradle of what would soon become Tai Shin Doh.
In the mid-1960s, he helped salvage a failing Martial Arts program at a local Cleveland suburb’s YMCA. With a nucleus of just three students, he began teaching his own integrated, three dimensional approach to the martial arts, founded solidly upon full-contact Karate and "hard fought" JiuJitsu, but also integrating elements of Aikido, T’ang Soo Do, Judo and modern Armed Forces Self-Defense training. Within three years, Soke Balas had developed his Martial Arts program to accommodate more than 150 students in training per week. Surely there was integration, the knowledge of interrelationships between “styles and techniques” but until that time, training was referred to as the Balas method of “Karate Do!” It was at this time that Soke Balas refers to as a defining moment, as the concepts of TAI, the head or intellect, SHIN, the heart and body, and DOH the “way” or “path” was suggested for consideration as the “new name” by a grateful and loyal Black Belt assistant (Sensei Kingsley Guy) upon his promotion to Nidan. Thus was born Tai Shin Doh, officially inaugurated in 1967
Tai Shin Doh steadily gained students and soon branched out from its original home. In the 1970s, training in Tai Shin Doh was then afforded to more than 300 students per week and included Tai Shin Doh programs in Florida and California as well as students in Japan and West Germany.
During the 1970s’ Tai Shin Doh had the honor and privilege of being the official training method for many Law Enforcement personnel as well as elements of US Army Special Forces.(Res.) It was in this decade that Tai Shin Doh expanded its scope of training by becoming part of Physical Education Classes as well as “After School” programs in several Public and Private Secondary School Systems in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area. Tai Shin Doh has always been a “good neighbor” in terms that Staff had given their time and expertise with Public Speakers, demonstrations, classes for “Special Needs” as well as physically and/or visually impaired. During the past quarter of a Century, (25 years) Tai Shin Doh Staff have given their time and expertise, relative to addresses on school safety issues as well as providing Public Service addresses in print and audio visual media to millions of viewers and listeners in Northern Ohio.
During the late 1970s’ Tai Shin Doh promoted and sponsored numerous Invitational Tournaments in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area and began to affiliate with the Amateur Athletic Union of the USA. In this time period, Tai Shin Doh sponsored Martial Artists from Japan and Poland. These Martial Artists were True Champions in their respective country’s, ranging from National Junior Olympic Judo Champion to “New” Japan Armed Forces Division Champion. Tai Shin Doh has been honored in all respects especially by having attracted distinguished Martial Arts Masters from Japan, whose expertise and rank predate World War 11, and during this decade, in no small way, the influences of these Masters had a profound and lasting effect on Soke Balas. In addition, and honored memory of Masters from Korea and The Philippines, Soke Balas, is grateful for their wisdom and encouragement while serving together during the Korean War.
In respectful and honored esteem (Japan) of Dr. Uji Abe, Kendo and Karate Do, (Rank1940) Master Toshi Masuda, Karate Do, (Rank1940) (Korea) Master Kim, Suk Soon, T’ang Soo Do, (Rank1944) (Philippines) Sgt. Ramon Garcia, (Rank 1941)
In 1991, Tai Shin Doh began its affiliation with a number of World-renowned Black Belt Councils and sanctioning bodies. (listed on the Tai Shin Doh website, www.taishindoh.us). These organizations are truly international in scope and recognized as having members on every Continent.
Today Tai Shin Doh is internationally renowned with Dojos located as far away as Florida, California and representation in Western Europe and Russia. Tai Shin Doh has reached more than 25,000 students since its creation. Students have gone on to become Physicians, Attorney’s, Educators, Professional leaders in both the Public and Private Sectors, they have become parents and homemakers and leaders in our Military. And although growth continues, the very same basic premises and values with which Tai Shin Doh was founded, are its guideposts for tomorrow.
1. The Martial Arts are horizontally integrated, equally important and useful.
2. A Martial Art should be vertically integrated too, i.e., involving basic self-defense, kata, weapons forms, competitive Kumite, etc.
3. Studying the “Way of the Warrior” can effectively lead one to the “Way of the Peacemaker.”
4. We do NOT “give” belt promotions. Our students have to earn them.
5. The coveted black belt is not an end in itself. Rather, it’s a beginning, a doorway through which our students enter a new, more mature phase of martial arts study.
6. The true martial artist views his/her art as a lifelong philosophy, not a hobby.
1. Ethics are the beginning and the end of everything we do.
2. Duty to our Martial Arts discipline is like duty to our commonwealth; it is a fundamental part of us.
3. Learning and teaching are sacred.
4. Students must learn to be good teachers, just as teachers must never stop being good students, and continue to learn.
5. Learning and teaching modes must be flexible to meet student needs.
6. Kindness and courtesy are as important as any self-defense move.
7. Violence serves no one. The best Martial Artists avoid fights if at all possible.
8. There are no secrets in Tai Shin Doh; everything is open to scrutiny.
Ronald F. Balas, Soke/Judan
Tai Shin Doh
September 8, 2001