What We Teach
About the Instructor
Michael Erwin is a 1999 graduate
of Lawrence University in Appleton, WI with a degree in Philosophy.
Professionally he is a graphic designer, industrial and production
designer, and web developer. His teaching approach is to make martial
arts a safe, fun, and pragmatic experience.
Michael has been training in the martial arts
since 1985 in a variety of styles.
He holds a black belt from Stephen K. Hayes, described by Black
Belt Magazine in 2006 as “One of the ten most influential
living martial artists in the world”. Hayes regularly served
as personal escort and security advisor for the Dalai Lama of Tibet
in the 1990s.
Michael holds another black belt in a
Japanese-based self-protection art, and a brown belt in a mixed
martial arts style that combines Muay Thai and Filipino weapon techniques
with other styles. He has recently followed his interest for submissions
into the world of catch wrestling. He
leads a class oriented around self-protection for men and women
in Wausau twice a week.
began his martial arts training (like most Americans) as a youngster
in Taekwondo, and was lucky that his early experiences were under
two very good instructors, Chief
Deputy Sheriff Denis McCarthy and Wisconsin State Trooper James
Smith. These two gentlemen brought to life the values and integrity
that martial artists should exemplify. Early on they instilled a
sense that martial arts had much more potential than learning mere
punches and kicks. Martial arts weren't just about violence, but
about being able to choose the path of gentleness, and having the
courage to be honest and just despite a popular culture which denigrates
personal responsibility. The martial arts were not just another
sport like baseball or basketball, but a method of living your life.
Unfortunately the two men stopped teaching in 1987 due to family
and work changes, and Michael could not find any other local schools
that were not oriented around Korean kicking arts taught as a sport.
In 1992 a fortunate conversation led to intensive
training with two local teachers at their respective schools; Michael
began studying Combined Fighting Systems with Shawn McCarthy (no
relation to Denis McCarthy) and Japanese taijutsu martial arts with
Tim Peterson. He was the senior student of each for a time.
is happily married and the father of two. He is manager of digital
media for a small business (read that as: Graphic Design, IT, &
Web Development). He finds writing third person accounts of himself
like this slightly disturbing. He enjoys writing a lot of other
things which are not disturbing.
Hobbies probably include martial arts, judging
by this web-site.
SKH Quest Centers
To-Shin Do® Goshin Taijutsu &
Classical Ninpo Taijutsu
Stephen K. Hayes
In 2006 Michael Erwin began formal training
with Stephen K. Hayes in his modern revolution of classical
Ninpo Taijutsu which is called
To-Shin Do ®.
The system is a very accessible way to
organize and transmit the vast self-protection and personal
development curriculum that Takamatsu-Sensei and Hatsumi-Sensei
lineage Taijutsu represents.
|2009 - Present
2009 we began incorporating the Catch Wrestling methods of
Steven Henderson into our curriculum. Steve is a personal
student of Billy Wicks, an old time catch wrestler from the
Due to its direct and evasive technique, catch wrestling has
become an invaluable part of our practice for advanced students
who wish to incorporate ground fighting / submission wrestling
into their training. More than just freestyle wrestling with
jiujitsu submissions, Catch has its own unique methodology.
Catch is based on the strategy that motion
and leverage can overcome resistance while protecting against
attack. The basic strategy of a catch wrestler is to always
work to get to and stay in a top position where he or she
can easily disengage and escape. The style is an ideal addition
to our self-protection focused training.
Black Bear Society
Takamatsu Lineage Ninpo Taijutsu
A Black Bear Society Seminar in Central
Wisconsin in 1999
Combined Fighting Systems
Filipino Martial Arts, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, Wing Chun,
American Martial Arts Association - Wisconsin
Prior To 1985 Michael watched
a LOT of martial arts movies.
The most influential ones
being the American Ninja series, anything starring
Bruce Lee, the bravura film-making of Chuck
Norris, and of course the film that had children everywhere
kicking and punching and wishing an elderly Asian classic car
aficionado would mentor them, The Karate Kid.
Michael was surprised to learn
from his parents in 1985 that, in fact, martial arts WERE taught
in America. He had previously imagined that training was only
available through ancient, secretive Taoist mountain immortals
who would teach you only what was necessary for you to save the
galaxy / the world / your community / your family. They would
usually teach you in a montage sequence or two, and you would
be ready to fight the final boss in about two weeks.
The truth turned out to be
a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Learn about how to get started
training with us here.