SUGGESTIONS FOR DOJO TRANSITIONS



INTRODUCTION

This handout is presented as a service to individuals who currently operate a martial arts dojo(s) or an organization and may be considering transition into the OKINAWA KENPO KARATE KOBUDO KORYU KAN or OKINAWA KOBUDO systems as taught by Hanshi C. BRUCE HEILMAN.

The handout also provides suggestions for IKKF Licensed Instructors who may be sponsoring a new Dojo through the transition process. These suggestions are designed to help make the transition process as trouble free as possible.


ADVANTAGES OF TRANSITION

The advantages of transition to the OKINAWA KENPO KARATE KOBUDO KORYU KAN or OKINAWA KOBUDO systems are highlighted within the various benefits one receives from membership in the IKKF. The benefits of membership were presented in a previous section of this web page.

In addition to the "organizational benefits", transition to the OKINAWA KENPO KARATE KOBUDO KORYU KAN or OKINAWA KOBUDO systems offers a couple of unique "technical benefits" over other systems of the martial arts. The most important technical benefit is that the system uses one set of basic concepts throughout all of the training areas. Thus the basic concepts that the student is exposed to are applicable to basic drills, kata, self-defense, sparring and weapons. Another important technical benefit is the emphasis placed upon correct technical execution of the kata and the importance of kata bunkai. Lastly, the kata of the system have remained unchanged from their early roots, thus retaining a heavy "jitsu" orientation.


JUSTIFICATION OF TRANSITION

Based on actual experiences, we have found that the easiest transitions have occured where the Dojo Head Instructor (or Organization Head) did not make the decision to change to the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryu Kan or Okinawa Kobudo systems in a vacuum. It is suggested that the Head Instructor involve their senior students into the decision process concerning the transition. In this manner, the advantages and disadvantages of a transition can be addressed in the beginning. As with anything in life, change (even for the better) always causes some problems. A good level of communication between the Head Instructor and the senior students can go a long way to eliminate misunderstandings and smooth out the transition process.

A key point for the Dojo Head Instructor to focus upon the the students is the benefits that will open to them with completion of the transition process. Linage, technical emphasis, training opportunities, and access to Senior Teachers and the system Master are some of the key benefits for students of the system. The IKKF is not a "paper mill" organization as far too many organizations seem to be today. Instead, the IKKF's focus is the spread and preservation of high quality traditional Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryu Kan or Okinawa Kobudo for future generations of students - keeping the "old ways" alive.


ADMINISTRATIVE REQUIREMENTS

Each Dojo (or Organization) within the IKKF is required to be registered with the organization. Dojo registrations are on an annual basis. Each IKKF Registered Dojo (or Organization) must be under the direction of a IKKF Licensed Instructor (4th Dan or higher) or sponsored by such an individual. All members of affiliated Dojos are required to be individual members of the IKKF.

In the case of those Dojos/Organizations only involved with the Kobudo, all Yudansha (Black Belts) of the member body training in the weapons are expected to be active members in the IKKF.


TRANSITIONAL PROCESS

Transition into the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryu Kan or Okinawa Kobudo systems is not an overnight process. Generally, one can expect to spend from one to two years in the initial transition stage, and an additional two years to complete the transitional process. The following discussion is divided into two parts: transition for Karate-Kobudo and transition for Kobudo.

Karate-Kobudo Transitions:

INITIAL TRANSITION STAGE - We have found that it is not desirable to try to make the transition all at one time. The first and most important consideration is that the Dojo Head Instructor secure training so that he/she may be able to "stay ahead" of the students during the transition. Also, the Head Instructor may wish to involve the senior students in the process with an intensive kick-off seminar (see training opportunities discussion).

With respect to basic techniques/katas/etc., we have found that is also desirable here to implement the change in a more gradual manner. We suggest that your existing katas be maintained while starting to introduce the "new" Okinawa Kenpo kata to the students. The new kata can be introduced to all of the students in the Dojo at the same time. New students to the Dojo would only be taught the Okinawa Kenpo katas and the existing students would start to augment then replace the number of katas they previously worked. Generally, this process has been found to take around one to two years to complete - but it does so with the least amount of hassle for the senior students by allowing them to continue to progress in their training - an important point to keeping the Dojo operating soundly during this change period.

As the Okinawa Kenpo katas are starting to be introduced, it is also recommended to incorporate the basic techniques and basic drills into the training program. There basic drills are designed to teach the basic concepts of the system and set the stage for the open hand and weapons katas.

Thus, the overall goal of the initial phase is to replace the Dojo's existing material (basics and kata) up to Black Belt with the Okinawa Kenpo material so that the students of the Dojo will experience minimal disruption to their training.

COMPLETION OF KARATE-KOBUDO TRANSITION - At such time when you are now just working the Okinawa Kenpo katas, the focus of the transitional process turns to "locking in" the material. Here again for past experience, you should expect this phase to take another one to two years to complete. During this phase, a strong focus will be placed upon kata bunkai at all three bunkai levels (primary, secondary and third level interpretations).

Kobudo Transitions:

The transition process for those involved in only the Kobudo side of the system is less involved than for the full Karate-Kobudo transition.

INITIAL KOBUDO PROGRAM - In the initial stage, the focus is on the introduction of weapons basics and introductory katas for the Bo, Sai and Tunfa. The Nunchacku may also be introduced during this stage. the initial target should be the Dojo's Black and Brown Belts. Once this material has been "absorbed" by the senior students, the weapons program can then be introduced to the intermediate level students (green belts). One should typically expect this process to take one year to complete.

ON-GOING KOBUDO PROGRAM - Once the introductory program has take root, the focus of the weapons program will be to get the Yudansha (Black Belts) formally tested and certified in Okinawa Kobudo. At this same time, an important focus of the training program will be to keep the Dojo Head Instructor "ahead" of the students in his/her training.

After the Shodan certification is Kobudo is achieved, the real training will only just have started. Subsequent training introduces intermediate and advanced level techniques, additional kata and weapons, detailed analysis of Bunkai and finally Weapons Kumite (free-style fighting with protective equipment).


TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

There are a number of training opportunities available to the Dojo/Organization Head Instructor and his/her students as members of the IKKF. First and foremost, it is recommended that the Dojo/Organization Head and/or senior students purchase a set of IKKF VIDEO TRAINING TAPES to assist them in the transition process as an excellent reference. Karate-Kobudo transitioners should pick up all of the IKKF Tapes, while the Kobudo transitioners need only purchase those dealing with the Kobudo (see IKKF Video Tapes section of this web page).

Additionally the Dojo/Organization Head or Senior Students can travel to IKKF International Headquarters in Pennsylvania, various Regional Headquarters or to the Dojo of the sponsoring IKKF Instructor to secure instruction.

If at all possible, we recommend that the Dojo/Organization Head Instructor start off their transition process by taking advantage of one of the above training opportunities. As an example, you may wish to come to Headquarters for a week of two of training. We have found that this is an excellent way to get the program off to a strong start.

After the Head Instructor has become introduced to the system, you may wish to consider having your IKKF Sponsor to your Dojo to conduct an intensive training. This training focuses primarily on the instructors in the Dojo and provides an overview and introduction to the Dojo students. We recognize the importance of maintaining the "position" of the Head Instructor during and after the transition process.

Other training opportunities available to the IKKF member include:

o Attendance at the ANNUAL IKKF TRAINING & SEMINAR held each summer at IKKF International Headquarters in Pennsylvania.

o Attendance at the periodic IKKF SEMINARS held at International Headquarters in Pennsylvania throughout the year.

o Attendance at periodic REGIONAL IKKF CLINICS AND SEMINARS given by IKKF Licensed Instructors throughout the country.


An additional training opportunity available to those Dojos located distant from existing IKKF Dojos is the use of VIDEO TAPE for training. Your IKKF sponsor can work out a training program with you to address:

o Open hand basics and basic drills,

o Weapons basics and drills,

o Performance of open hand and weapons katas.


Generally, the initial focus of the instructional program is to provide the transitional Dojo/Organization with the material covering training up to and including the Shodan (1st Dan) level. Once this level of material has been assimilated, the IKKF sponsor will then work on "locking-in" the material while providing higher Dan level material for the existing Yudansha (Black Belts) in training.


RANK CERTIFICATIONS

Upon joining the IKKF, each individual is issued a Federation Membership Certificate. The Membership Certificate carries no rank. Upon meeting the requirements for rank certification, the member can then be tested for and receive IKKF Rank Certification. Both Kyu and Dan level certificates are provided for the Karate-Kobudo and the Kobudo programs (see IKKF Handbook for more details).

During the transitional process, the Head Instructor is accepted as a member of the Federation, but does not receive any rank certificates in Okinawa Kenpo. In other words, we do not "cross-certify". We do however, in accepting the Dojo (or organization) issue a IKKF Dojo (or Organization) Registration Certificate, and a letter of "Acknowledgement of Rank" of the Head Instructor. The IKKF Dojo Sponsor will work with the Dojo Head to provide him/her with the opportunities to secure the training necessary to be able to meet the requirements for re-certification in the Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo Koryu Kan or Okinawa Kobudo systems. At such time as the requirements are met, the Sponsor will re-certify the member for certification. In the case of those individuals being re-certified for Yondan (4th Dan) or higher, the Sponsor will recommend for re-certification by Hanshi Heilman.

Kyu rankings for the Transition Dojo's students can be processed through the IKKF as would a regular Okinawa Kenpo Dojo. Once the transitional program has been worked out between the Dojo Head and the IKKF sponsor, the Dojo Head can promote his/her students through the Federation with approval of the Sponsor. Generally, the Sponsor will want to physically participate in any Yudansha testing done by the transitional Dojo or review a video tape of the testing. Once the Dojo Head has secured his/her re-certification, the Dojo Head promotes their students through the normal process.

As can be seen, the IKKF attempts to work with the transitional Dojos (or organizations) during the process to minimize any problems associated with rank certifications.


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For further information on the transitional process contact:

Hanshi C. Bruce Heilman
INTERNATIONAL KARATE KOBUDO FEDERATION
102 Cleveland Avenue
Reading, Pennsylvania. USA. 19605

(610) 921-3601 * email "ikkf@ikkf.org"
IKKF Web Page: "http://www.ikkf.org/"