In 2014 after close to two decades of “traditional” karate which had both its merits, but equally intolerable flaws Jason Smith started Shinkyu Martial Arts, he was joined by many including Amandeep Singh Chodha who later became his partner in running Shinkyu as their full-time careers and life’s work.
Karate’s purpose for the first four centuries was for self-defence. But just over a century ago karate started on a path that would lead most schools to turn their back on on this most fundamental and traditional aspect of karate. Most clubs including those that fervently claim to be “traditional” (like our old club) don’t follow this highest value goal of karate. Instead they teach a hyper stylised points sparring which evolved as a sport and they place most of the emphasis of their grading (and therefore training) on performance aspects of kata (set forms). This kind of training is the focus of majority of karate clubs today.
Sadly this kind of training is wildly incomplete for preparing students for self-defence, worse it breeds false confidence and bad habits which can make things worse in self defence. Any instructor who actually studies how to deal with real violence knows this. Any instructor who has studied the history of karate knows that most of the practices of points style sparring and performance focused kata are also modern and not traditional at all. The focus on these practices is also the reason why many laymen and other martial artists say things like “karate doesn’t work.“
Enter Shinkyu. Rather than being a complete departure from traditional karate, Shinkyu is a return of the old, truly traditional ways of self-defence focused training. In our karate style we still teach kata, but we teach with it’s original purpose – to reinforce self-defence techniques and principles, rather than teaching kata like a dance.
But we didn’t stop there. Our goal has always been to prepare our students for self-defence. In order to do so we looked past our karate backgrounds and studied some of the most effective martial arts on the planet to make sure that what we pass on was cutting edge – the most reliable, effective and realistic techniques and strategies we could learn. We studied and adopted techniques from Krav Maga, MMA, Kick Boxing, Judo, Brazilain Jujitsu and even a little Akido.
Later we started Shinkyu Combat which started as specialist classes for karate students who wanted to practice more of the apex skills – Self-defence and sparring. With a format much more akin to an MMA or Krav Maga class Shinkyu Combat classes have become popular for students who don’t like the idea traditional training. Shinkyu Combat teaches fundamental techniques with focus pads and kick shields before doing practical partner work.
Today Shinkyu is a thriving and expanding club that is constantly sharpening it’s skillsets, increasing the depth and diversity of knowledge in it’s instructor team. And we are most proud to be achieving our foundational goal of teaching cutting edge self-defence skills to our students: in both Combat and Karate.