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Michael Stinson, owner and trainer of Quest Martial Arts , moved to Arizona from Florida in 2000 for a job opportunity in the dot-com industry. By the time the whole thing collapsed he’d fallen in love with Arizona.
“Here at Quest Martial Arts we have Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler where we teach under the Torrance Gracie Academy (now University). We also have Phoenix Quest Center which is a form of modernized Japanese jiu-jitsu or ninjutsu called To-Shin Do.
To-Shin Do was and it was created by Stephen K Hays, a blackbelt Hall of Famer who studied under last remaining ninja Grand Master, Masaaki Hatsumi. He wrote a books when he came back, and achieved fame. Then he came out with an approach to teaching that was more about dealing with the American legal system and the kinds of violence we face, because we needed an art that to protect us here, not feudal Japan.
“We all want… to live peaceful happy lives, but we have a habit of being violent… and most people without some sort of training or ability to protect themselves will find themselves in trouble. The more you train, the more you become aware of what you’re capable of – what other people are capable of – the less you want to go down that road. You don’t want to get into a fight because you know exactly how bad it can go and you know how bad you could hurt someone and you don’t want to do that.
“I came from a broken home. I’m very lucky to be alive not in prison or anything like that because I did some stupid things. Well I got jumped by three guys, and had no idea how to fight. I was 120 lbs, super skinny, always a nerd in school and I just slipped out and ran. I was just lucky they were just trying to scare me, not really hurt me. But at that point I determined I never wanted to be in that position again so I started training.”
Michael’s first teacher was Marco Russo in Tampa, Florida, teaching ninjitsu at the time. “The funny thing was his was actually the last school I checked out because I thought “ninja” was just load of garbage, but I checked out a whole bunch of other schools and finally I went to his school and I saw it I loved it and I just started training.”
Michael got involved with his leadership team started teaching and pretty soon realized that this was what he wanted; to help other people find this in their lives too, “Because my whole life changed.”
“As a result of change. I stopped doing the things I was doing. I made better friends I started getting better jobs. I moved out here. My whole life turned. If it hadn’t been for martial arts I feel like I’d still be in a bad place potentially and I want to help kids adults women everybody find that strength in themselves.”
“Quest is actually what Stephen K Hays called his organization, so originally Quest Martial Arts was Phoenix Quest Center and all they taught was the To-Shin Do. Then they branched out and started adding the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
“I felt like we needed to sort of rebrand ourselves. We’ve got this new logo that we use that represents both our arts kind of in one and I just wanted to recognize that we’re more than just To-Shin Do, although it’s a huge component of my life and a huge component what we do; it’s part of our lineage now.”
Quest Martial Arts teaches self-defense to kids of all ages, to adults of all ages. Their younger students start at around 3 and go all the way up to students in their late 60s.
With the three and four year olds Quest’s goal is to help them learn how to be in a group.
“A lot of kids end up hitting kindergarten or daycare and they’ve never experienced those group activities or their parents put them in something and all of a sudden they’re thrown into this mix and they have no idea what to do. Three and four year olds is the starter class to help them learn how to work in groups with other people; learn how to use basic fundamental skills: jumping, moving, ducking, rolling. From there they go on until we call our Mighty Dragons.”
Mighty Dragons is five to seven year olds learning a combination of To-Shin Do Ninjutsu as well as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu skills. They learn grappling standing, skills to escape stuff. The 8 to 12 group can either do Junior Grapplers (the Gracie side of the house) how to deal with bullies, how to have a confident assertive ability to stand up for themselves and ninja kids (the To-Shin Do Ninjutsu – the ninja – side of the house).
“Every parent wants their kid to stand up for themselves.”
Quest Martial Arts is on the northwest corner of Dobson and Elliot, in Chandler. 3016 north Dobson, Suites 12 and 10. They can be reached at 480 756 2323, or on the web at phoenixquestcenter.com, on Facebook, Instagram, and “just about everything. Look for us we’re out There. We’ve got a lot of great reviews.”
Quest Martial Arts is offering everybody a 10 day free trial, “to see if we have a good fit are we the right place for you and your family to meet your goals. If we are, we’d love to have you.”

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