Info and Advice for Beginners

Turn up a few minutes early for your first class, and wear comfortable sportswear that won’t restrict your movement. T-shirts, trackies, hoodies, shorts, or compression tights are all fine. It’ll be up to you when to decide to buy a training uniform or dogi.

The first thing you learn is to fall safely. A senior student will take you aside and teach you the basics of falling technique.

After practising to fall, join the class as best as you can, but still at your own pace. Do not do things that you are not yet comfortable with.

There is no special class or program for beginners, but as we focus a lot on the fundamentals there is no need for them.

You may initially be put off by everyone else moving a lot better than you; you may even feel that you are ‘dragging the class’. The truth is, having beginners on the mat is very beneficial for the class. You are the most important person there, and you will teach us how we are just like you.

Fujimori Shihan wrote “Together, yourself and others are like a jewel and whetstone – Tazan no ishi – and training is the process of polishing the jewel. In other words, your partner is your teacher and vice-versa. Beginners force you to remember your first experiences and act as mirrors of your former self. There is a saying `Do not laugh at the beginner he is like you before you learned’, (The 100 poems of Hozoin style). A skilled person is an example to the un-skilled, the inept are examples to the skilled.”

Training is completely up to you: you have to be self motivated. No one will cajole you to come more often, train harder, or rush through a curriculum. On the other hand, the more you train the more you will profit from the classes.

The key to rapid progress – beside attending the classes as often as you can – is solo training. Talk to Giles Sensei or senior students on how to build your solo training program.

Go for the long haul. Train moderately and consistently, and avoid injuries.

  • Will this improve my fitness and strength ?

Yes. Butoku-ryu techniques do not rely on brute strength but the underlying whole-body movements will condition you. You will develop explosive power in the hips and legs, and a relaxed but springlike upper body that can transmit that power. We have many exercises designed to promote such physicality, and to build your skill ‘from scratch’, so to speak. A lot of these you can do at home (or at work, during breaks).

Falling and getting up during classes can be exhausting, depending on the pace you choose.