British Shintaido (BS) is the official Shintaido organisation in the UK. It runs workshops and courses throughout the year, holds bi-annual examinations, and supervises the teaching of Shintaido. It also runs the British Shintaido College (BSC) - a peer support network for UK-based Shintaido instructors - which organises regular instructors' training sessions. BS also offers support, both on an advisory and financial level, to those actively involved in running a Shintaido Club in their area.
What is it?
Shintaido is a modern movement system based on traditional Japanese martial arts - principally karate and sword technique - with the emphasis on self development and artistic expression rather than self defence.
Practitioners study a wide range of movements, some being open and energetic while others are soft and mediative. Shintaido classes include group work, partner practice and a number of solo exercises. The range of these exercises is enormous and includes movement suitable for people in a wide range of physical conditions. There are gentle exercises for the more elderly or infirm, looking to rediscover a more natural way of moving, and also plenty of open and energetic movement for young and healthy people seeking to challenge themselves and open up their horizons.
The Shintaido curriculum is based around three fundamental ‘waza’ (formal sequences of movement). The first is 'eiko': an explosive movement best described as open, noisy and free. The second is 'tenshingoso': a sequence of five movements which contains the formal sequence behind all Shintaido technique. The third, 'meiso', is a kind of "meditation in motion" characterised by soft, gentle and flowing movement. These three ideas form the basis of Shintaido, and are designed to help practitioners re-invent their lives and the way they interact with people around them.
As well as this core Shintaido curriculum, experienced practitioners often go on to study the Shintaido forms of karate (known as Shin-karate) and bojutsu (Japanese quarterstaff technique). While the core ideas of Shintaido can be understood quite quickly, this extended curriculum is both vast and varied, and can form the basis of a lifetime of exploration
A video introduction
Here is an introduction to Shintaido made at a practice in Massachusetts and narrated by David Franklin, the current head instructor of the Czech Republic. It illustrates the three fundamental forms of Shintaido and records impressions by both instructors and practitioners.
Who is it for?
Shintaido tends to attract people who are interested in change, self development, and re-connecting with their bodies, their community and their spiritual nature. It is open to everyone and can be enjoyed by athletic and non-athletic people alike. Students are encouraged to extend their range of movements, each working at their own pace. The movement is co-operative rather than competitive: students must be prepared to work with others, rather than against them, in groups and pairs as well as individually.