Hampshire College OPRA offers a variety of martial arts programming suited for all skill levels. Whether you've come to strengthen your skills in an art we provide or want to try something new, OPRA has the course for you.
Karate was first developed as a form of unarmed defense for the Okinawan people in the 19th century. Using strength from rooted stances and creating lines of power through the body, karate is now an art where individuals can study and explore their natural strength by removing their weaknesses. A technique can only be called a "technique" when it is truly reliable and can be used under any circumstance. Students will practice repetitions of stances, blocks, strikes, and kicks that depend on balance, timing, and coordination to execute. Over time, these single gestures can be strung together in strict organized sequences of movements to create a form called kata. Within the movements of kata are examples of how to engage with external opponents in a variety of hypothetical scenarios. Drills that use working with partners can be used to explore these scenarios and create a narrow basis for sparring. NOT A SELF-DEFENSE CLASS.
Students of all fitness levels will enjoy this exercise-based class of total body movement. Strikes and kicks will be examined using proper technique to align hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, and hips to absorb impact from hitting and holding a punching bag. No previous martial arts, fitness or kickboxing experience required. NOT A SELF-DEFENSE CLASS.
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. NOT A SELF-DEFENSE CLASS.
Kyudo (Japanese Zen Archery)
Historically, archery was a form used for warfare that required the skill to hit a "target" over certain distances. As an art, Kyudo removes the importance of accurately hitting a target by placing the archer only several feet away, allowing for study of the form and ceremonial sequence of movements to be the focus. Creation of proper shapes within the body while holding the bow ideally puts an emphasis on alignment rather than aiming. If the alignment is correct and even if the archer is 100 feet away, the arrow will find its target. Students will learn strict etiquette in both the use and philosophy of the Japanese bow and discover its roots within Zen meditation practice. Meditation is not the mind that is detached from the real world; it is the mind that is most present with it.
Considered by many 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.