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How is Katori Shinto Ryu different from Kendo or Iaido?


Katori Shinto Ryu is a Koryu School. It is a classical system which can be traced back to the 1400s. Having been passed down through generations of instructors to the present time. This adds a level of intensity to our training as we are practising such a old system and must do so with respect and accuracy. Modern Budo such as Kendo and Judo are systems with have been adapted to allow for competitive practice while at the same time holding on to the traditional principles inherent in all Budo. The addition of competition while interesting, does have some drawbacks. The more dangerous throws of Judo and cuts of Kendo must be removed for safety thus reducing the Art to a Sport. These are however excellent systems in and of themselves. KSR has no competitions and therefore no rules are necessary.


Are there any prerequisites for attending?


Training is open to all. I only insist that a new student has at least 1 private class before attending group practice. Ideally first come and watch, if interested arrange the introduction. I place a person's curiosity and interest far higher than their physical state. As such curiosity is the only prerequisite. Fitness or lack thereof is not an issue.


Will training improve fitness?


Hmmm. Well not by itself I suppose. Depends what you consider to be a good level of fitness. A 2 hour session of KSR would probably be the equivalent of a good hike. It will however be excellent for improving core strength. The mindfulness of the training style will help unite body and mind with the breath. As you become more conditioned and train with intensity, you should feel more benefit. For me it was relaxing the upper body and moving more from the center.


How much training is required?


This is a common question and one that is difficult to answer. It very much depends on what a person is wanting to get from training. If it is to have a very basic understanding of the school than maybe a few years. However if it is to truly understand then a lifetime of training wont seem like such a long time. In terms of frequency. To become condition and begin to train freely it is necessary to train as often as possible. Twice a week in the Dojo is good along with solo practice preferably daily. Also it is important to attend seminars of more senior instructors. I attend courses with Sensei Luigi at least 3 times a year and these are open to all to attend.


What is our lineage?


My teacher Sensei Luigi Carniel was a student of Sensei Yoshio Sugino. Yoshio Sugino is considered to be one of the most remarkable Martial Artists of the last century. Yoshio Sugino originally a high up Judo student, trained under 4 Shihan of the Katori Shinto Ryu. Luigi Carniel takes passing on the teaching he received very seriously.


What's with all the bowing?


Reishiki - Etiquette is a quintessential aspect of Japanese Martial Arts. The act of bowing is one of respect whereas in western culture, bowing tends to be seen as worship. In KSR the reishiki is influenced by Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan. As a beginner it is something to be aware of, but with no pressure. Just figure it out as you go along. It may take a few weeks. Here is a few simply guidelines. Upon entering the Dojo bow. This is to show respect and thanks to the training space. Then we sit in Seiza { formal sitting position } to begin the class. We sit in order of experience. The Sempai {senior student} sits further to the right with the newest student sitting furtherest to the left. The Sensei sits in-front of the Kamiza. The Kamiza {place of Spirit} is the central point of the Dojo. It symbolises the tradition and heritage of Katori Shinto Ryu. It is usually marked by a picture of Sensei Yoshio Sugino or the founder of KSR Iizasa Chōi-sai Ienao. As a beginner just follow the lead of the students next to you. We bow twice each time raising our hands into Gassho. On the second time we clap twice and bow again. The Sensei then turns and we bow to each-other. The Sempai will then signal that it is time to stand. These things serve an important function in Budo. It keeps training cohesive and helps to get people in tune with one another.


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