By Sensei Jim Atkinson
What if someone was to ask you, “What does Shindo represent, and what do you learn from it?” Could you answer this question?
My answer would be that Shindo represents everything about Master Shintani’s life, and it teaches you the essence of body movement necessary for the style of karate he taught. Shindo was Mr. Shintani’s dream and passion. While holding up a Shindo bo he once stated, “THIS IS MY LIFE.” He also once described Shindo as “a gift for all of his students”. The importance of Shindo being practiced throughout the SWKKF is not only to continue the legacy of Mr. Shintani’s teaching, but also for the development of our karate. Anyone who has trained with the Shindo knows that there are no short cuts. Your body has to do the work, your hips have to do the work, or it just doesn’t work! I once heard a comment from an instructor that “Shindo is my lie detector.” This is so true!
Fortunately I have been able to travel around the country and work Shindo with a lot of people. It is incredibly noticeable that the students that have been incorporating the karate training with Shindo training stand out due to their strong hip action. I strongly believe this is due to Shindo training. Some of the areas with a strong Shindo curriculum are using Shindo and karate technique to reinforce basics such as double action, hip action, three-point line of force, and posture. What we have been doing in Norfolk as a Shindo workout is to put the Shindo down and work a karate technique or combination, developing all areas needed to make it a strong technique. We then pick up the Shindo and apply the same technique or combination reinforcing everything we had worked while using empty hands (karate). Your posture and hip action should in most cases be the same. Mr Shintani said that the Shindo is an extension of the hands, and everything else is the same.
In many dojos across Canada Shindo is amalgamated with karate training and both arts are practiced together in the regular adult class. We have also brought our junior green belts into this training. This helps students more quickly understand the importance of hip action and line of force. Focus is an-other area that has been improved. I feel this is because of the focus put on target areas and under-standing the intended strike and the line of force it has to take. When you punch, your body is behind the punch, fist, shoulder, and hip (three-point line of force). This is also the basics behind a Shindo strike or block.
We have also incorporated a striping system. We currently are using three stripes, white, green, and brown. The white stripe is to be awarded to a student some time between white belt and green belt. During that time all the basics of karate and Shindo are developed to green belt level, and we teach them SHINDO NIDAN kata. The green stripe is awarded between green belt and brown belt. Again, the level of both karate and Shindo are in the intermediate level. At this time we teach students CIO BO TIE kata. The brown stripe is awarded at the brown to black belt level which would be considered advanced. We also teach the SEI SHAN NO SHINDO kata. Currently we are teaching KUSHANKU NO SHINDO kata to the black belts and are starting to see great results in their development in both karate and Shindo.
The great thing about this is that instructors not familiar with Shindo but with a good understanding of karate can use the karate to develop Shindo techniques. All it takes is to have an open mind and to be unafraid to use your own thoughts and ideas. The kata are available on DVD, and there are a great many instructors familiar with the katas available for assistance.
I feel that the future of Shindo is important and everyone should work Shindo techniques to some ex-tent in their regular class.
Mr. Shintani would be very proud to see that the gift he has left us is being developed and his legacy will live on forever through Shindo.