Shikishimakan Dōjō is a martial arts training system predominantly aimed at children and incorporates Japanese language and culture into the grading syllabus. The martial arts training system is an eclectic mix of Jūjutsu-based Karate and Iaidō. Students learn Japanese proverbs, Asian geography, society, history, religion and philosophy as well as spoken and written Japanese. There is a strong emphasis upon respect for others and self-regulation. To move through the grades, a student is challenged on many levels and must meet a number of criteria including (but not restricted to) those listed below in order to pass the black belt grading:
The system goes beyond sport and hobby and echoes the chants of a bygone era in terms of a warrior being a cultured individual. There is a focus on social and civil responsibility. Although the environment is non-threatening and friendly, the system is strict as requires much commitment from students in terms of effort, behaviour and responsibility. It would not unusual for a Shikishimakan teacher to base grading success on behaviour and effort at school and/or home and expect parents to cooperate by sharing reports that might assist us in our deliberations. Of course, student behaviour and effort during training/study sessions and other Shikishimakan activities will be considered as the student approaches. The system is rewarding but not for all comers and should be thought through carefully to see whether such a restrictive training suits the family expectations.
SHIKISHIMAKAN is a name derived from a less well known name for "Japan" (SHIKISHIMA) and "(Training) Hall" (KAN). It is an eclectic martial arts style developed for training young people and is based on Karate and Iaidō (the traditional art of sword-drawing). The founder and main instructor was trained and awarded black belts in Japan in two martial arts as well as having been a student of Japanese brush calligraphy. He is also a qualified and highly experienced classroom teacher of Language and Social Science. Like all official instructors in his dōjō, he also maintains accreditation with the Martial Arts Industry Association (MAIA). The MAIA Level One accreditation requires that instructors are cleared via a Working With Children Check and that they have been deemed competent in administering basic first aid.
Not only does Shikishimakan teach martial arts, it also expects students to sit theory examinations relating to Japanese history, language, geography, and culture. Proverbs must be memorised in Japanese and the implications of each must be understood in practical terms and explained in English. Other areas of knowledge Shikishimakan students need to take on board include:
Shikishimakan is designed to challenge students physically, academically and socially. Following the patterns of the dōjō (martial arts school), students defer respect to higher graded students and teachers by bowing deeper to the senior belt. Self-defence aspects of training are accompanied by constant reinforcement that avoidance is the best policy. Students are encouraged to live confidently but wisely. They are encouraged to avoid places and people that hold unnecessary risk or danger to themselves, their families, or friends. Diplomacy and avoidance are expected to be paramount in the mind of Shikishimakan students.
Shikishimakan students are expected, at certain grades, to perform demonstrations of knowledge, and teach individuals and groups in a supervised environment. It aims at nurturing a well-rounded social/academic/ physical person. The system seeks to train a modern cultured warrior that views his/her martial arts skills as only one aspect of the entire warrior personality. The true warrior sees the bigger picture and assumes a responsible role in seeking to improve his/her own society - not through violence.
Physical contact in free-fighting is kept to a minimum and students are expected to purchase their own protective equipment to ensure a higher level of safety as they progress through the higher grades. Initially, there is no free-fighting but as students become better able to position themselves and move with correct distancing and reach control, they are permitted to use techniques with more freedom.
Until around brown belt, students do not learn weapons at all. From brown belt, they commence training with the bokutō (wooden sword) but never fight freely with the swords. The work with swords is restricted mostly to kata (fixed forms). The karate component includes throws, holds, rolls etc at higher levels but initially covers basic stances and hand strikes.
The most important aspect of Shikishimakan is the respect and etiquette. A great emphasis is placed on etiquette and how one carries oneself. The martial arts could be considered as a framework within which to teach self-discipline and manners to a generation of Australians who are seeing fewer and fewer examples of honour and culture in their own society. We borrow the traditional format of the Japanese ancient society to restore some of the positive elements of our own.
SHIKISHIMAKAN is a non-aggressive and non-competitive style. We do not enter competitions. Although a variety of personalities can be seen in our dōjō, it is an ideal environment for quieter and more introverted young people. The dōjō itself is friendly but serious during practice. In fact, the friendly but calm and serious atmosphere of the dōjō that is valued by practitioners who are seeking a calm environment to practice in the midst of the loudness and busyness of the school week.