Q: You offer classes in Aikibudo and Jujutsu. What's the difference?

A: In the simplest terms, the differences between the self-protection arts taught within our school are as follows:

  • Aikibudo:  This art is a softer martial art that utilizes large circular movements to off-balance and control an attacker with minimal injury and effort by the practitioner. It comes from the Daito-ryu school of Aikijujutsu but emphasizes spiritual development and humane self-defense.
  • Jujutsu (classical Japanese):  The classical Japanese Jujutsu we teach is a Koryu, or "old-school" art that has remained essentially unchanged since its founding in the early 1800's and traces its curriculum back many hundreds of years.


Q: How long will it take to earn a “Black Belt”?

A: It largely depends on a student’s natural talent and dedication to the art. However, the rank of Shodan (1st-degree black-belt) in each of the arts offered at the dojo typically takes the average student approximately 3 years to obtain. That said, shodan is not thought of as a high rank in traditional Japanese martial arts, and certainly does not mean an expert or master. A student ranked shodan is simply a serious beginner ready to start training in earnest.


Q: Are female students welcome in your dojo?

A: Absolutely! We welcome all sincere students, regardless of gender, age, religious beliefs, or otherwise.


Q: Do you teach children?

A: At this time, we only offer classes for youth and above, or those age 12 years and older.


Q: Are there any religious aspects that might conflict with my own beliefs?

A: No. Being traditional Japanese martial arts, there are certain aspects of the Japanese culture that are infused into training. The dojo has a Shinto shrine and pictures of the founders of our arts that we bow to before and after class, but bowing is not a subservient or religious act. This etiquette (reishiki) in traditional Japanese martial arts is similar to nodding one’s head out of respect while shaking someone’s hand. It is showing respect to the individuals that have (at times) suffered at the loss of their own lives to hand down these arts to us. The shrine represents the flow through time of the arts from their founding to the present day.


Q: Is there a competitive aspect to training?

A: Competition is not a part of training in our dojo and we do not attend tournaments. All the arts we teach are based on formal waza or kata (techniques/forms), many handed down for hundreds of years. We strive to perfect these arts together, in the spirit of mutual cooperation. That said, as one advances in the arts, various specific forms of freestyle practice are introduced, but the student will be more ready to deal with such training at that time.


Q: Are you affiliated with any Japanese organizations or instructors?

A: Yes, that is another important aspect of traditional Japanese martial arts heritage. All of the arts we teach maintain affiliations with Japanese organizations. In addition, our direct instructors maintain close connections to their own current, or former instructors in Japan, and students of our dojo may have their ranks registered in Japan if they so desire, or visit affiliated instructors and dojo in Japan if they travel there.


Q: What costs are involved outside of tuition?

A: All that is required to begin training in any art is loose fitting clothing and the desire to learn. Once one makes the commitment to join the dojo, costs vary:


  • For Aikibudo, and Jujutsu, the required uniform is either a white Karate or Judo gi and white belt.
  • For Iaido and Kenjutsu, one may wear the same uniform as the other arts with the addition of a black or dark blue hakama (samurai trousers) and a traditional sword obi (wider and much longer belt; color is irrelevant). The cost of these items are around $60-$100 total. A student should also acquire a bokken (wooden sword) with plastic saya for around $35, and Jo (50" white oak staff/stick), and eventually, a quality Japanese made iaito (practice sword) approved by the instructor. These training swords typically range between $300 and $1,000, depending on quality. A real sword, or shinken, is recommended for cutting practice (suemonogiri) after one year of training and will cost the student between $300 and $1,500 for a basic sword.


Testing fees for ranks below the black-belt level (kyusha) vary from art to art, but typically range between $15 and $30. Testing fees for yudansha (black-belt) ranks in the arts we teach vary, depending on the rank and specific art. Please inquire. Additional fees are required if one also chooses to have their yudansha rank/s registered in Japan.


Q: Are traditional Japanese martial arts for me?

A: There is only one way to find out; do as much research as you can and contact us if your are serious about training. As stated earlier, traditional martial arts study is not for everyone. These arts are viewed as a lifetime pursuit and it may take time to find the right dojo, art, or even instructor (sensei).

The best advice is to visit a dojo and carefully observe the instructor and students, then decide for yourself if the training is right for you. One thing is certain, all students come to the dojo for varying reasons. Some come for the historical connection to ancient Japan and the samurai heritage. Others come for reasons of self-improvement through dedicated training. Still others come to learn self-defense skills. All are legitimate reasons to undertake study in our dojo.Please contact us for further information, or to ask specific questions about our school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Traditional martial arts

Our Mission

Indianapolis Martial Arts at the Shinwakan Dojo has a simple mission: to offer authentic training in traditional martial arts with lineages and current affiliations in Japan. We are the only school in the Indianapolis area offering this variety of classes and arts.