In this article I would like to say a few things about our karate style, Shin Ai Do. I have been prompted to write this article thanks to a question from one of my blog readers, Alex. His question made me realise that perhaps I should explain a little bit more about our club and the history of our style. I hope you will enjoy it.
What is Shin Ai Do?
Shin Ai Do Karate is a modern Karate style that inherits from traditional Karate schools such as Goju Ryu and Kyokushin. The name Shin Ai Do was first used in 1989 to describe a school of Karate developed in Russia
Our logo comprises an outer circle, known as Enso in Japanese, and the Kanji for Shin Ai do
Enso is a Japanese word signifying a circle and has no single, fixed meaning. A popular expression in Zen painting, it symbolizes a moment when the mind is free enough to simply let the body or spirit create. The brushed ink of the circle shows the expressive movement of the spirit in time. The Enso circle also symbolizes strength, enlightenment, harmony, elegance, and the universe.
The term “Shin Ai Do” means “Way of True Harmony”, which echoes the principle aims of the style. These are for a practitioner to execute techniques in a flowing manner that is in harmony with the advances of an attacker, and more broadly, for a practitioner to find a style of fighting that is in harmony with their own abilities.
As illustrated in the graphic below, as well as being interpreted as “Shin Ai Do” our Kanji can also be read as “Makoto Ai Michi”, which means “Sincere Teaching”. This also represents our way of training in that there is not an emphasis on making money from our students.
The main distinction between Shin Ai Do and some other styles of Karate is that Shin Ai Do training focusses on adopting a way of thinking as opposed to just learning a particular set of techniques by rote.
Components of Shin Ai Do
Shin Ai Do uses strikes, throws, sweeps and ground fighting techniques that support fighting against an opponent in a variety of scenarios. In all cases the aim is to use an attacker’s power against him/her.
We strongly emphasise safety in our club for our students and so we use head guards and small gloves with a variety of other standard protective equipment such as shin pads, groin protectors, gum shields etc. Using these safety measures we are able to simulate realistic fighting, but in a relatively safe environment.
A few words about me
My name is Les Bubka and I am the instructor at Guildford Shin Ai Do. I originally started training in Oyama Karate in 1992 in Krakow, Poland. In 1997 after a short break due to injury I was dragged by a friend of mine to begin training in Shin Ai Do Karate under Sensei Artur Marchewka. (A big thank you to my friend Piotr as switching to Shin Ai Do has changed my life!)
In 2002 I passed my instructor’s exam and opened my first dojo in Krakow. Two years later I opened another two dojos in Proszowice and Koscielec and by 2003 my students were taking part in many competitions with great success. Training hard whilst working as a professional instructor, I successfully gained my 1st Dan in 2007 having completed my exam in front of an international commission from Idokan Europa and Idokan Europa Poland. After moving to United Kingdom I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start the UK branch of Shin Ai Do in 2008. In 2009, at an international seminar in Krakow, I achieved by 2nd Dan. Currently as I am writing this article I am preparing for my 3rd dan grading in August.
PRESSURE – our students set their pace and priorities. If they want to train without testing, that is up to them. Most martial arts instructors will constantly assess the progress of their students. There are basically two paths trainee can choose when training with us.
- Rank and File – they want to continue the association path to black belt and above. Learn all the history, ceremonies and Japanese names etc.
Just Train –Students just want to train and learn. They will not be expected to memorize the Japanese words and philosophies.
Shin Ai Do Functional Karate.
In my opinion the main function of Karate is fighting. That is what we teach and therefore some of our kata performances are far from aesthetical perfection, but they work on a resisting opponent.
I hope that this short description of Shin Ai Do Karate will help in understanding my points of view.
Our vision of Functional Karate is not the only way, there are others great paths, but all the roads lead to the same mountain peak, whichever way we get there is not important.
I will mention one more thing which makes me stay with my teacher Sensei Artur and the very small school of Karate that he represents – Shin Ai Do. When I arrived for my first lesson Artur said very few words to me. He told me about his school and what I could expect, but also he told me something very unexpected which I did not understand at first. He said “After this class please visit a few of the other schools of martial arts around here and attend some lessons there so that you can choose the right school, the one best suited for you. One day I hope you will return and join our club”. And so I did after a few visits to other clubs… It is now my 17th year with Artur as my teacher. Through all these years he has always encouraged me to visit different martial arts and sports, to learn from them what I can. As a result of my Sensei’s influence I am now training in Wrestling, Kempo and other systems.
Now that I am a teacher myself I try to encourage others to be open and to try to explore other possibilities as we never know what is just round the corner. It makes me proud when my students find the art, sport or hobby which makes them happy even if that means that they are leaving my dojo, I am happy for them. They all know (so I hope) that from the first time they step in to my dojo they have entered the family of Shin Ai Do where they can get Sincere Teaching in the art of Karate.
If you think that anyone else would benefit from reading this article please feel free to share.