90% of Retention Rate after Bokuto Kihon-Ho

Fox sensei sent me an e-mail about the result he got after introducing Bokutō Kihon-Ho to his new students. Kindly he give me permission to share the information with you. Here's what he did and how he did it.

This year I started using the bokuto kihon as the core instructional technique at MSU. For example..using ippon uchi as a stepping stone to teaching kihon uchi with shinai

  • Once members can do ippon uchi with bokutō..
  • Then having them do it with shinai on bogu…
  • Then having them do it with fumikiri-fumikomi and stopping…and
  • Then finally having them go through.

The results have been truly amazing for two reasons:

  1. Our retention rate of new students has been incredible. Normally we start with about 20 new students each semester and wind up keeping one to three of them. This semester we've kept 18 out of 20!!!
  2. The progress of the students in getting a handle on basics through the Bokuto kihon and then carrying it into shinai practice is quick relative to what we had been doing and other similar dojos. We had a visitor from Detroit Kendo Dojo two weeks ago. He said that it was hard for him to believe that these students had only practiced since the beginning of the semester (September).

Prior to the seminar I had pretty much decided to try this experiment. The seminar was really a great chance to firm up both my understanding of the BK, its purpose and how to do it as well as my resolve to do it.

The background of all of this is that if you look back at many martial arts and historical kenjutsu, almost all of them use kata as a teaching curriculum. The ZNKR Kendo Kata, however, drawn as they are from several ryu-ha (schools) and as advanced as they are, are not suited for basic instruction.

I had toyed with the idea as early as about 10 years ago of developing an instructional 'kata' but was not sure what material I wanted to put in it; whether it should be done with bokuto, or shinai…whether single person (suburi based) or two person.

When I became aware of the BK, I was step by step drawn to the idea of using it to teach kendo basics to our college 'kids' and using it to develop their basics. Last summer that all came to a decision point.

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