Lessons and Advancement
Although we train together regularly, each dojo member’s progress will be different. This means that although there are regular practices, you are free to choose how often you want to participate, and how much time you want to dedicate to training. Essentially, the more time you spend practicing and learning, the faster and more smoothly you will make progress. Two or more training sessions a month with cutting practice, in addition to time spent at home watching videos and doing individual practice (for example, 30 minutes or so, 2-3 times per week) will help keep your skills sharp and ensure you learn from your mistakes and correct bad habits quickly. Practicing once a month or less is likely to require you to re-learn skills you have already learned, and it can be difficult to stay motivated. Feedback from senior members is very useful, but you won’t always need an instructor to make progress: since there are only 10 techniques and several videos of top sensei performing them are available, you can quickly learn to recognize good technique and identify areas you need to work on.
Batto-do does not have a colored belt system like karate, so all members wear a black belt from the beginning, although they will not yet have a black belt qualification. After one year of training, members are eligible to take the shodan, or first-degree black belt test. The Japan Batto-do Federation is eager to support the development of international batto-do students, so it should be possible for Shishinkai members to take the test in Boston: the high-ranking sensei who will judge these tests are willing to come here to do the tests in person. One year after passing the shodan (1st dan) test, members are able to take the 2nd dan test, after which 2 years are required to take the 3rd dan test. The gap between the 3rd and 4th dan test is known to be quite wide, so anyone earning a 4th dan qualification or higher may be thought of as a skilled and experienced dojo member. Sensei are required to have a 6th dan rank or higher, and to my knowledge 8th dan is the highest rank held by any Japan Batto-do Federation member worldwide. Few have achieved this high distinction.