How is Kin Shin Kai different back...


Apart from considerations mentioned in What is Kin Shin Kai, following are some of the ways we believe we differ from many karate groups.

Firstly, while our classes are highly structured and encourage good discipline and strong group spirit, we are more relaxed in our formalities than many other karate styles. These often conduct classes like a military boot camp. We aim to teach people how to defend themselves and not how to be pretend soldiers or warriors. We do however retain the Japanese spirit of courtesy, respect and politeness.

We believe enjoying your training is important and so appropriate humour and having fun is encouraged, particularly with younger students. Older students tend to naturally take their training much more seriously. This does not mean we do not put our students under great pressure at times. Dealing with stress and pressure is a vital part of self defense.

Respect for self, fellow students and instructors is expected but again, unlike many other groups, does not have to be blind respect. It is encouraged for any student to politely question instructors about things that may not make sense to them or with which they disagree (and to expect a non evasive answer). Besides the obvious benefit for the student in more clearly understanding where they are going, it keeps the instructors on their toes and means they are less likely to teach half-baked methods.

We also maintain there is a huge difference between self defense and fighting, although there are obviously commonalities in the methods of physical engagement. True self defense is keeping you and your loved ones safe from harm. Fighting on the other hand is about battering your opponent into submission. For ethical, legal and practical reasons we should clearly not get the two mixed up. Whilst the latter may occasionally be necessary to facilitate the former, in general we believe that most self defense is non physical and is based on your awareness of potential dangers in daily living, as well as the attitude you project for others to react to. Once a persons mindset changes from self defence to fighting we believe in fact there is much more chance of them being hurt.

This is not to say that some of our methods are not potentially extremely and simply brutal. On the contrary, simplicity and brutal effectiveness are trademark features of the old karate traditions when they are taught properly. In extreme situations it is generally only tools of this kind that will give someone being attacked a chance of successfully defending themselves.

However it is our belief and experience that most of the time a less brutal response, often largely non-physical, is more appropriate to self defense and that any "self defense" based mainly on battering the other person e.g. boxing, kickboxing is missing the point. Ultimately this may lead to an unnecessary and dangerous escalation of many confrontations and result in greater harm to the practitioner even if they "win the fight".

Originally karate tuition in Okinawa was conducted on a one to one or very small group basis This definitely leads to a far better quality of learning. At Kin Shin Kai we try and emulate this by teaching relatively small groups streamed where possible into varying levels and age groups. Many other groups teach only a couple of larger, less personal classes where much of the tuition and assistance may be provided by brown belts or lower level black belts. These, while they may be keen, can't hold a candle to a more experienced instructor when it comes to teaching what really matters. In fact they may often impart incorrect information due to their sheer, relative inexperience. Most Kin Shin Kai classes are directly taught or supervised by a 6th dan with over 30 years experience and all instructors have many years of experience in karate.

Many styles try and promote themselves with extravagant claims like "the best style", "Australia's leading karate instructor", or else hang onto someone else's coat tails by claiming lineage to "the world's premier teacher". At Kin Shin Kai we think those claims are often unsupportable and meaningless. There are few sensible criteria for determining such sweeping generalisations and we question the ego needs of people who feel they have to make such claims (see choosing a martial art).

We simply believe we have something to offer that is a little different, which makes much better practical sense of karate tradition, and which will suit a broad range of ethically minded people.

We also emphasize competency based gradings (belt level tests) over curriculum based ones. We prefer someone who may know less but can make it work as opposed to someone who knows all their curriculum but couldn't make it work in a real situation. Some of our training is not as pretty as a result of this but neither is a real life confrontation.

Our techniques stress keeping things as simple as possible and we are constantly working to refine this. We believe attacking vital targets is a critical part of self defense, but we focus on those targets which are easily accessed under a situation of great stress and danger, which is when they are most likely to be needed.

We stress evading, deflecting, redirecting and off balancing the opponent as much as possible and as continually as possible as an aid to controlling them.

We also highlight the habitual use of techniques that elicit predetermined responses from our opponents. This is an important way to make our follow up techniques more predictable and effective and thus our self defense easier. We point out how traditional karate is full of applications that use and in fact often rely on this principle. We try and make our non contact training mimic what we expect to happen in real life as much as possible.

We incorporate many principles from the internal martial arts and consider our power generation to be of the internal kind as opposed to the external (which mainly uses muscular strength and tension). The internal when mastered is an easier, quicker and more flowing kind of power and one that can be maintained well into old age.

For those familiar with much of todays teaching of traditional karate, we also differ in that we offer a wide range of self defense contexts and entries in our kata applications (Bunkai). We also offer a far more complete range of exit techniques. This is in contrast to much of standard karate-do where most applications are practised against an opponent stepping in throwing a straight right handed punch - not how people are normally attacked.

Lastly we are not just into focussing our attention on the more talented students. While promoting such students can make a club look good, we believe such students should be treated exactly the same as anyone else and not, as so often happens, become the teachers favourite. We will however try and give more help to any student who demonstrates a greater than average dedication - that to us is far more important in a student than just natural talent.

It is one of the unmitigated delights of teaching martial arts to be able to watch someone who commences training looking totally unexceptional, develop through their own dedication and our teaching methods into an excellent martial artist. The beauty of the martial arts is that this can be achieved by almost anyone!

For information on enrolling in classes see Training Information or Contact Us