These are some of the questions we have been asked in the past, and some of the answers we’ve given. If none of this assists you please email us at shinbudo.london@gmail.com

  • Are your coaches first aid trained, DBS checked, and insured?

Absolutely. All BJA, UKBJJA, BSF, and BWA coaches are, and ours are no exception. So are our assistant coaches, btw.

  • What do I need for my first class?

Just turn up in loose clothes (ideally a cotton track suit and t-shirt with long sleeves), and bring along a bottle of water and a pair of flip-flops.

  • How do I tie my belt?

There are a number of ways of doing it. Check this video for a fairly straightforward one.

  • What is the best age to start training judo, sambo, wrestling, and bjj?

The answer varies depending on what you are trying to get out of your training. If you hope to become an Olympian or world champion, then probably you should start training between the ages of 8-11. If you are just looking for a good excuse to keep fit and have fun, while learning some great self-defense disciplines, then any age is good, really. We find that most kids under the age of 5 do not have a sufficiently long concentration span and motor coordination to learn most basic techniques and positions. Kids between 5-7yo can pick up quite a lot, and become quickly adept at breaking falls safely and fundamental ne-waza/groundwork techniques and exchanges. Tachi-waza/stand-up techniques dramatically improve at 7 or 8, though again much depends on the child.

  • Will I/my child become more confident/disciplined through training?

A difficult question.  Any sport, if practised long enough, is a discipline in itself and will foster discipline. We teach combat sports and martial arts at Shinbudo, so we are probably a bit more careful about placing some additional emphasis on discipline during training, in order to avoid/minimise the risk of accidents. Training in martial arts fosters self-confidence, and some parents have told us that their kids are more confident at school, and in life in general. ‘Correlation is not causation’, but we like to think that a strong, physically active, and happy child is also a confident one, and if judo and wrestling can contribute to that, then more power to you!

But, to be clear, we are not disciplinarians, a lifestyle club, or a self-improvement group of sorts. We are a sports club. And although we do provide (physical) education, we would not dream of taking the role of educators (that belongs to parents and schools).

  •  Are judo, bjj, sambo, and wrestling dangerous?

Judo, bjj, sambo, and wrestling are contact sports, so they are inherently hazardous. However, the IOC confirms that, as far as Olympic sports go, judo and wrestling are much safer (in terms of injury rates) than many other Olympic disciplines (including non-contact sports). This is hardly surprising since the rules of judo have been developed (and keep developing) with safety in mind, and wrestling is a very popular sport and in some countries (such as the US) it can often be part of the school curriculum. BJJ focusing more on ground fighting, rather than on throws and takedowns, dramatically reduces the risk  associated with falls and knee and ankle injuries in the stand-up game, and we really recommend it a starting point for mature adult beginners with not previous grappling experience. Also, grappling sports (unlike striking arts like boxing or hybrid arts like MMA) can be practiced full-contact and against a fully resisting opponent with minimal risks of brain injury linked to concussions or associated with chronic traumatic echephalopathy (CTE). That’s a major bonus.

For sure, statistically speaking, cycling in London is a far more dangerous activity. In any case neither wrestling nor judo, or bjj, should be practised unsupervised, without the proper protective equipment (essentially mats), or insurance (which we get through our BWA , UKBJJA, and  BJA Membership , which you will have to acquire after 2 training sessions). Here at Shinbudo (and in BJA/BWA/UKBJJA clubs in general) safety is of paramount importance, and we put a lot of time and thinking into training safely. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.

  • Are judo, bjj, sambo, and wrestling good for self-defense?

Hmm…, yes and no. The regular practice of any sport, let alone a combat sport or martial art, will of course make you stronger, fitter, and more aware. Judo, wrestling, sambo, and bjj are  grappling based combat sports, emphasizing regular ‘close quarter’ practice against a resisting opponent, and that alone brings along some unquestionable self-defense applications and credentials. Judo even has a set of techniques (called Goshin Jutsu) that are specifically dedicated to self-defense (though they are typically taught to higher grades only and in the form of kata). Core BJJ techniques form an integral part of various ‘military combatives’ systems (such as MCMAP), and there is no doubt that no self-defense programme can be seen as complete without a profound understanding of clinching, grappling, and ground-fighting. In recent years wrestling has gone through a resurgence as an essential component of mixed martial arts training, and there is no doubt that if you want to keep a fight standing (a good tip in most – not all – self-defense ‘scenarios’), being a proficient wrestler might be you best bet. But neither bjj nor judo/sambo or wrestling will teach you other aspects of self-defense (e.g. striking, dealing with armed assailants or multiple opponents, whatever that means, or conflict diffusion and negotiation skills) and they are typically practiced as ‘combat sports’ rather than for, strictly speaking, self-defense purposes (and people tend to fight the way they train, especially when under duress). Self-defense is also a highly contextual and multi-faceted concept, self-defense ‘in the street’ being, for instance, very different from self-defense in warfare (again, ‘whatever that means’), and the streets of London being very different from the streets in Rio or Naples (incidentally, wonderful places and well worth a visit). Arguably no single martial art or system can prepare for all possible self-defense scenarios.

To be perfectly honest if you are seriously (we mean seriously) concerned about being a victim of crime, you should have a chat with your local bobby with a view of assessing, managing, and reducing the risks you feel exposed to. While there is no doubt that martial arts are also about self-defense, training them only with self-defense in mind is both reductive (MA have much more to offer), exaggerated (genuine self-defense situations being extremely rare occurrences, in London at least, and even then some ‘common sense’ being enough to get you out of trouble most of the times), and possibly beside the point. As a friend once said ‘when the boat sinks, swimming is a useful skill to have. But nobody learns swimming with ship accidents in mind’.  But if you want to have a chat about this, please do drop us an email or come and talk to us. We’ll try our best to advise.

  • Are your training facilities suitable?

Yes. We have state of the art Dollamur Flexiroll judo/grappling mat, and two blue crash mats. We have toilets and a water fountain. Unfortunately we have no showers.

  • How are people graded in your club?

In judo we grade under the BJA in judo, following the BJA grading syllabus . Similarly, in wrestling, we follow the recently introduced BWA award system (though awards are not as frequent as belts). And in BJJ we follow the traditional IBJJF grading systems (endorsed by UKBJJA). Grading depends on actual progress and students are individually assessed by our instructors.

  • Are the mats cleaned regularly?

Very much so! We sanitise our mats every two training sessions. We alternate the two distinct disinfection methods that research shows as being the most effective: washing mats with a hydrogen peroxide solution (that kills both viruses and bacteria, including the loathed staphylococcus aureus and tinea pedis) and sanitising them with a steam cleaner. After a bit of research we have decided to stop using bleach and bleach derivate products (given the harmful dioxin residues that they leave on the mats and the unpleasant odour when we practice ne-waza techniques). For spot cleaning we use anti-bacterial sprays tested against antibiotic resistant strains of s. aureus and Methicillin Resistant S. aureus (MRSA) (e.g. Dettol, Savlon, and the like).

As you can tell we take hygiene very seriously. So please help us by:

  • washing your judo-gi and other training equipment after every practise using anti-bacterial products
  • never stepping on the mats with shoes; never walking barefoot outside the mats
  • clipping your nails and toe nails regularly
  • washing immediately after practise
  • making sure that you are healthy, with no contagious skin condition (e.g. warts, athletes foot, ringworm, staph, etc.) when training, and that if diagnosed with such condition do not return on the mats until cleared by a GP – if we detect such conditions on the mats, you will be asked to leave the session, so please do not feel offended.
  • Do you teach MMA?

No, we don’t. We are a grappling club so our main focus is grappling sports. But there is no shortage of excellent MMA gyms in London and if you’d like some tips, feel free to drop us an email.

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