Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are there safety precautions taken due to the COVID situation?
A: The vast majority of COVID restrictions have been relaxed. In general terms, we follow any new guidelines and rules imposed by the government, local authorities and our venues. Additionally, our group specifically requests that individuals presenting COVID symptoms stay at home until they can present a negative test result. In the dojo hand sanitising is encouraged and individuals are free to wear masks if they so desire.
Q. Is training expensive?
A: The club strives to keep fees/contributions to a minimum, enabling karate to be accessible to all. They are outlined on the CLASSES page. Other minor costs that come over time include gradings(promotional testing) fees and uniforms for which there is no hurry. Fees go towards renting the venue, keeping the club registered with our larger organisations internationally and purchasing training equipment.
Q. Who can train?
A: The following restrictions apply depending on age;
Karate training is open to anyone aged 5 to 60 years old.
Jujutsu training is open to anyone from the ages of 15 - 60 years old.
Weapons training is open to anyone from the age of 15 years and older.
Individuals over the age of 60 but consider themselves to be in good physical condition may request special approval to join unarmed training (karate & jujutsu).
Other special circumstances such as health conditions or disabilities are assessed on an individual basis. Many times we are able to accommodate. However, there may be some individual circumstances for which we may not be able to provide the right support. It is best to simply get in touch with us to explain the circumstances.
Q. What is taught?
A: We have separate classes for karate, jujutsu and weapons. We also run self-defence courses throughout the year. All the unarmed training is focused on self-defence applications. While we have a big emphasis on the culture and traditions of Japanese martial arts, the general theme of our classes involves the practical applications of these in the modern world.
We have free-fighting / sparring elements in our training, but we are not a sporting school. That being said, karate students, especially younger ones have the opportunity to participate in sport competitions from time to time. We have one internal karate competition for under 15s every year.
Q. How long does it take to get my black belt?
A: The award of the First Degree Black Belt, reflects the level of skill achieved by the students. So naturally, the more you train the faster you will learn and develop, technically, physically and mentally. On average a student may take between 2 1/2 and 4 yrs to achieve their first dan (black belt), but this depends entirely on the individual student.
Q. I am not very fit, nor very strong..is this the right class for me?
A: This is exactly the class for you! The beauty of martial arts is that even the weak can overcome the strong. Of course the skill requires a basic level of fitness, so training is highly structured and focuses on developing the necessary physical condition required to supplement technical training. It is all very gradual and facilitates most body types, even in the instance of permanent disability. In such cases however, consulting your physician would be advised.
Q. What kind of conditioning do you do? Do you do 'iron body' training in karate?
A: We do many types of physical conditioning for strength and endurance. However it takes much time following the right type of training in order to develop that so-called 'iron body'. Consistency and patience are key!
Q. How important is internal energy in this club?
A: Concepts of internal energy are sometimes described by terms such as 'ki' or 'tandem' in Japanese martial arts. It is safe to say that we pay a great deal of attention to principles such as these, which enable us to general power without a great reliance on pure physical strength. In karate principles such as kime, shinkuchi, tandem, and muchimi help us to achieve this goal. In jujutsu and weaponry we tend to pay closer attention to concepts of tandem and kokyu facilitated by being relaxed and supple.
Q. How do you spar? Is it point karate for competition, or full contact?
A: We're primarily a self-defence school but competition is possible for karate members. Sport has its place and has many good values to teach students, however many techniques used in sport are not practical in the real world.
In regular jujutsu and karate classes we also have free sparring exercises. However, these are just tools for our development, not our ultimate goal.
WEAPONS SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Q: What equipment do we need to purchase before we get started. Are there any notable retailers for trustworthy beginner equipment?
A: We provide our members with a list of equipment required and our trusted suppliers. They range from the more economical local retailers, to more high-end Japan-based exporters. The list also tells you what weapons should be acquired as a priority for beginners.
Q: Can I practice with my friend, using online learning resources?
A: You can practice with whomever you like. However, personal access to our learning resources and the issuing of ranks (traditional or certificate) is only for registered members.
Q: Is there an element of sparring in any of the styles listed? Can I spar together with my training partner at home, if safely taught to do so.
A: Many of our weapons forms are paired exercises, meaning that they can only be done with a partner. This may be described as 'pre-arranged sparring' or sparring drills. You should wait to be shown how to do so safely in person before attempting to do so at home.
Free-sparring on the hand is generally limited to advanced students.
Q: Are the syllabus’ related to each other in some way, as in shared techniques from one to the other?
A: The elements of kenjutsu, iai and the weapons of jujutsu have very close underlying principles such as suppleness and relaxing the body, breathing and using the tandem (centre of mass). They therefore greatly compliment each other.
The techniques of Okinawan kobudo are a little more different and are closely related to karate.
While the techniques of the various lineages have similar underlying principles, they are not combined or fused to form something new. There is no new hybrid fusion. They are preserved in their classical form as they have been passed on to us. They are simply brought together in our curriculum.
Q: Is grading a requirement of study in the dojo? How does grading work, and how often can we grade if we choose to do so?
A: Generally, we love to see our students progressing in what they are taught. For instructors this gives a great sense of pride, and progression certainly boosts morale among the members. We understand however, that different individuals may have different commitments in their lives. This is why we have different classes of membership.
As a rough guide, Associate Membership is for individuals who want a general introduction and exposure to traditional martial arts weapons systems, and can casually pursue the certificate ranks in their own time. Full Membership however is for individuals who are interested in more committed, long-term development within our organisation and may therefore take part in our promotional exams which are currently held annually. There are benefits to both forms of membership so please contact us to find out more.
Q: Do these ryu ha weapons syllabus include aspects of jujutsu techniques, such as 'unarmed vs sword' or 'x-weapon vs unarmed'?
A: Our school's weapons curriculum (nihon kobudo) incorporates weaponry of classical Japanese kobudo (iai, kenjutsu, bojutsu & jujutsu) as well as Okinawan kobudo. There are many weapon techniques that are applied against an unarmed opponent. On the other hand, unarmed defensive techniques against weapons generally fall under the curriculums of our karate and jujutsu classes. There are some exceptions at higher levels.
Q: For the Shibukawa Ichi Ryu weapons syllabus, is it still possible to get gradings without the jujutsu syllabus?
A: We teach the weapons of this system passed on to us, along with other weapons under the banner of Dento Nihon Kobudo Jikan Kai.
Q: Is there randori/ sparring involved in any of these weapon classes?
A: Free sparring with weapons is dangerous if the practitioners do not have expert control, even with safety equipment. Therefore most free sparring elements of weapons training (shinai geiko & iji keiko) are reserved for advanced students.
Q: Is the weapons training kata and kihon based, or are there some specialised tanren exercises included?
A: Yes and yes. Okinawan kobudo generally include the terminology - kihon and kata (basics and forms).
Nihon kobudo (koryu bujutsu) generally use the terminology - kata and tanren (forms and supplementary exercises).
We follow these training methods holistically. Our curriculum is very large.
Q: Are there any prerequisites to study a particular style and can we learn multiple forms at the same time? Are we required to learn every weapon in a specific school?
A: For simplicity and especially safety, the curriculum is taught in a very methodical order. Beginners will start on a select group of weapons and as they progress they are exposed to more complex techniques and more weapons. Currently, the weapons required for the absolute beginners curriculum are the iaitou (training sword), bokutou (wooden sword), hanbo (4 ft stick) and the nunchaku. These are the weapons introduced and assessed in the very first rank. However this does not mean that they won't be exposed to other weapons.
Your personal curriculum details what your focus will be, and what you'll be assessed in (for certificates or kyus). You are given direct support for this. However, in actual classes all members get exposure to other weapons in the wider curriculum and are invited to participate in those exercises from time to time, regardless of their rank.
Q: Which of the mentioned sword styles utilises dual-wielding (long and short swords used together)? How different is this style from Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu?
A: Nitto is a set of techniques in our advanced curriculum that utilise 'daisho' - the long and short sword combination. These are taught in the kenjutsu section of the curriculum. The lineage is of Shinkage Ryu kenjutsu which is an entirely different style from Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu. As we have never been associated with Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu we'd prefer not to speculate on the differences, except for the observation that we use a longer sword.
Q: What is the difference between an amalgated weapons system and a style?
A: A style, often referred to as a 'school' or 'ryu-ha' is a martial arts system with unique elements such as their history and lineage, curriculum, philosophies and principles. Historically many martial arts practitioners created new styles from old ones, or a combination of older ones. It is important to note that the new creations would have a change in name accompanied by changes to their curriculums and other elements. These changes reflected their 'new-ness' or novelty.
Dento Nihon Kobudo Jikan Kai is not a new style, but instead our association's combined/amalgamated curriculum of multiple traditional styles which were passed on to our president in his many years of martial arts training. No new techniques, philosophies etc have been created. Instead, we work hard to preserve the unaltered teachings of each style in the curriculum. At the same time, these specific ryu-ha were all deemed to have similar and compatible underlying principles. This means that they compliment each other, which is absolutely not always the case with differing styles.
This was done for us to preserve the styles within our association, regardless of external affiliations. A secondary benefit of this is that it allows our students the opportunity to have a much wider and diverse exposure to legitimate traditional weapon styles than is usually possible. Yet, they have the opportunity to specialise in specific styles of the curriculum either within our association or through our external affiliations. For example, an advanced kobudo student can request to study and progress in kenjutsu alone, or iai-do alone (of the same lineage).