Hampshire College OPRA offers a wide variety of martial arts classes geared toward all skill levels. Whether you want to strengthen your skills or try out a class for the first time, OPRA has the course for you.
Shotokan Karate is an unarmed form of self-defense developed in Japan. It stresses the use of balance, timing, and coordination to avoid an attack, and strikes as an effective means of counterattack to be used only if necessary.
Aikido is a modern manifestation of traditional Japanese martial arts (Budo), derived from a synthesis of body, sword, and staff arts. Its primary emphasis is defensive, utilizing techniques of neutralization through leverage, timing, balance, and joint control. There is no emphasis on strikes or kicks, as one is trained to blend and evade rather than conflict. Beginners will practice ukemi (falling), body movement, conditioning, and several basic techniques.
Kyudo has been practiced in Japan for centuries. The form of the practice is considered a type of Ritsuzen or standing Zen. It is often practiced in monasteries as an active meditation in contrast to Zazen, or seated meditation. Class members will concentrate on learning the seven co-ordinations or step-by-step shooting form. The target, which is only six feet away, serves the archer as a mirror in order to reflect the status of the archer's mind and spirit.
Intermediate Kyudo will review handling equipment, maintenance and the practice of Shichido. Students will be introduced to to the two-arrow forms, Hitote and Tsukabai, both practiced at short range and then, gradually, at a more distant target. Students learn the difference in equipment required for long-range shooting and how to synchronize with other archers in their practice. Prerequisite: OPRA #0115.
Debated to be the most superbly-engineered sword in the world, the Japanese katana has roots in far Eastern culture, and is popularly recognized as the icon of samurai warriors as their weapon of choice. Iaido takes the art of swordsmanship away from the practice of destroying an opponent and closer to the act of collecting and improving one's self. As a form-based martial art, Iaido is practiced without an opponent. Its principal function is the study of form or kata, which consists of four primary coordinations: Nukitsuke (drawing cut), Kiritsuke (finishing cut), Chiburi (cleansing the blade), and Noto (returning the sword to the scabbard).