Courses Offered

This is a sampling of a variety of different courses offered through Hampshire's Outdoor Programs, Recreation, and Athletics (OPRA).

Shotokan Karate

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. 

Hatha Yoga

A calming class with many passive postures, mostly done seated or lying down, often with the eyes closed. The focus will be on tuning-in, releasing, relaxing, stretching, and restoring energy.

Whitewater Kayaking

Learn the fundamentals of kayaking and basic whitewater skills including strokes, rescue maneuvering, eddy turns, ferrying, bracing, river reading, surfing, and the kayak roll.


Aikido is essentially 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 (Japanese Archery)

Kyudo, the Way of the Bow, 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.

Iaido (Japanese Swordsmanship)

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).

RAD Physical Self-Defense

The Rape Aggression Defense system is a program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques. The system is a comprehensive course for women that begins with awareness, prevention, risk reduction, and avoidance, while progressing on to the basics of hands-on defense training.

Strength Training

This course will give you first-hand experience in weight lifting, stretching, and aerobic activity. Students will learn how to use the machines, barbells, and dumbbells in the multisport weight room. The course will also include conditioning, using various workouts on the track.

Maximum Interval Training

Getting an effective workout doesn't always have to take time away from your life by going to a gym and running on a treadmill. You will be surprised how much you can accomplish in a space no bigger than your dorm lounge with a towel and water bottle at your side. This is an exercise system that uses your own body as the equipment. The object is not to confuse your muscles or train to get an edge on competition, but to arrive at and strengthen your own natural physical abilities. The positive effects of maximum interval training are best achieved through consistency and commitment. Bring your towel, water bottle, and sneakers and expect to get sweaty!

Outdoor Adventure Sampler

This course is an opportunity to experience the many activities that make up outdoor adventure. Students will be introduced to natural areas in the local region. In the winter, activities may include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. As spring arrives, students will canoe, sea kayak, hike, climb, and visit a cave.

Thru Hiking         

Students learn how to select gear and equipment for long-distance hiking, prepare mail drops, meal plan for weeks at a time and execute a thru hike. Upon completion of this course, participants will be equipped with the skills needed to successfully thru hike any trail.

Top Rope Climbing

Students will learn basic safety techniques, rope work, knots, and climbing techniques. Enjoy the opportunity to exercise your body and mind using the indoor climbing wall and local climbing areas.

Outdoor Leadership

This course addresses outdoor leadership from a theoretical and practical perspective. Readings and discussions will focus on such topics as leadership theory; safety and risk management; legal responsibilities; group development theory; gender and social justice issues; and the educational use of the wilderness.

Fundamentals of Basketball

If you like basketball but have little or no experience playing it, then this is the class for you. Students will work on the basic skills of basketball, such as dribbling, passing, shooting, rebounding, and defense.

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Outdoor Programs, Recreation, and Athletics (OPRA)
Hampshire College
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002