Martial Arts

Please note that there will not be any martial arts classes offered during the spring 2024 semester. We hope to bring some of these offerings back for the fall of 2024.

If you have any questions or would like to express interest in future martial arts programs, you can reach out to us at

The Outdoor Programs, Recreation, and Athletics Department is home to Hampshire's Budō Education Program—an all-immersive martial arts program with classes and clubs suited to everyone's skill level.

Hampshire Budō Education Program

The primary goal of the Hampshire Budō Education Program is to contribute to the college’s effort of providing formative experiences through which a student is affected by growth, change, and new knowledge. We learn through humbling experiences that enthusiasm alone, without commitment and follow-through, is not enough to reach our highest levels. Martial arts education is a means to broaden (or economize) a student’s ability to reach their goals across all areas of pursuit. Current Budō Ed. offerings include programming in the form of co-curricular courses and public membership clubs.

Shotokan Karate (club)

A striking art originating from Okinawa that drew inspiration from China and other South Asian mainland countries. Historically intended to shape and harden the body to be a sufficient fighting force without weapons, karate training offers equally useful benefits to the mind and spirit. Students will experience practice of individual fundamental techniques (kihon), which will later be threaded together to create entire formal sequences called, kata. Within kata are the imaginings of engaging an external opponent. These instances can be analyzed and replicated in partner drills called kumite.

No previous martial arts experience is required to learn. This IS NOT a self-defense activity.

*Current Shotokan karate practice is adjusted to properly observe COVID health precautions around contact and close proximity.

Kickboxing (class – temporarily inactive)

Students of all fitness levels will enjoy this exercise-based class of total body movement. Strikes and kicks will be examined for proper technique and workshopped among partners.  Training and exploration of how to align hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, and hips to absorb impact from striking and holding a punching bag will be conducted. No previous martial arts, fitness or kickboxing experience required. This IS NOT a self-defense class.

Kyūdō – Japanese Zen Archery (club)

Kyūdō is the martial art of the Japanese bow and arrow.  Historically, the bow was used for hunting and by soldiers in battle during warfare but was then dramatically transformed into an instrument of budō, meaning the non-competitive study and practice of martial arts customs descended from Japanese warriors.

Kyūdō, is a type of archery that focuses on form of technique as a martial art. The goal of marksmanship and accurate target shooting is secondary to the beginner.  Students new to the art receive immersive training on the customs, etiquette, and culture of the Japanese bow before taking their first live shot.

No previous martial arts experience is required to learn. This IS NOT a target shooting activity.

*Current Kyūdō practice is adjusted to properly observe COVID health precautions around contact and close proximity. 

Aikidō (class)

Aikido means “The Way of the Harmonizing Spirit.” Created as a response to changing times in Japanese martial arts history, aikido served as a way to practice immobilization techniques without permanently harming or maiming an opponent. Using the motions of sword and spear attacks as the main inspiration for the curriculum of defenses, aikido imagines striking your opponent as though the arm were a sword or spear in a category of practice called, ukemi. Ukemi is the study of receiving a defensive response by avoiding scripted harm to your body by falling, flipping, or adapting momentum to flow with the defender’s energy. The defender practices a role called nage.  Nage is the person who “throws” and expresses the ethical conduct exemplary in aikido to administer a technique that is deflective or re-routing in nature such that the offender is scripted to no longer be a threat.

No previous martial arts experience is required to learn. This IS NOT a self-defense activity.

*Current aikido practice is heavily adjusted to properly observe COVID health precautions around contact and close proximity. 

Iaidō – Japanese Sword Drawing (class)

Iaidō employs the use of a “real” Japanese sword to explore and train in the attributes of the scabbard as it is worn on the hip. Modern training swords called iaito are predominantly used by students new to the art since they are not sharp and dulled such that they cannot cut in the way of a “live” blade. Iaito are metal in nature and designed to give students the authentic sensation and heft of a genuine sword.  Wooden abstractions are not sufficient for study in iaidō as proficiency in drawing the blade from the scabbard and poising the hilt correctly in the hands to cut accurately in the air are defining of this art.

Iaidō practice consists mainly of solo movements imagining an opponent in increasingly complex scenarios called kata. Students are taught the fundamentals, culture, and etiquette surrounding the Japanese sword so that consciousness and respect are always keenly observed.

*Current iaidō practice is heavily adjusted to properly observe COVID health precautions around contact and close proximity. 

More information about classes is available on TheHub and CEL-1 credit is available.

More on the Budō Ed. Program

The Budō Ed. program design is intended to work with students over the scope of several semesters and multiple years. The Budō Ed. program is a national affiliate of multiple national martial arts organizations—membership to certain clubs help support our standing and accreditation. Serious students, after the appropriate amount of time and preparation, have the opportunity to test for rank within those various organizations. Casual students have the ability to sample a class for a single semester with beginning instruction. Students coming to Hampshire with preexisting experience may find a compatible discipline to continue their interest in martial arts or opt to take advantage of certain outreach resources to find off-campus locations for their specific art in the Pioneer Valley.

 NOTE: Not all martial arts are represented in Western Mass.

Students will be immersed in the culture of Japanese martial arts through study and practice of its customs, etiquette, history, philosophy, and spirituality. Budō, generally meaning, "The Warrior's Path," is a concept reserved for describing those who pursue excellence within themselves before embarking on a spiritual path.


At the end of the Second World War a statement from three prominent political powers—the U.S., Great Britain, and China—devised the Potsdam Declaration, which called for Japan’s immediate surrender under strict specific terms. Believed to be the heart of the Japanese military, Japanese martial arts were prohibited from being practiced unless they conformed to certain terms that made them less esoteric and more palatable to the West.  Any aspect that drew direct inspiration or honored samurai warrior culture was considered outlawed and required reform. Certain Japanese weaponry, the wearing of hakama (the samurai’s pleated pants), specific hairstyles, and even entire belief systems rooted in Zen, Buddhist, and Confucianist philosophies were reconstructed by western authorities that instead promoted sportsmanship, physical feats of strength, competition, and measurable scales of progression that were evident appraisals of one’s “skill” e.g. the colored belt system.

A great amount of history and spiritual content was lost during those times in the 1940s but even to this day, budō culture struggles to glean the admiration of certain audiences when compared to the glamour of mixed martial arts and tournament exhibitions. Budō martial arts have survived in the modern day but risk being distorted or forgotten entirely. Living connections to these arts’ history still teach future generations. Venerable teachers are the custodians of budō arts now, but it is the young students of today who have the means to carry these traditions into tomorrow.

Founded in 1973 by Hampshire’s first martial arts director, the late Dr. Marion Taylor, (1938 – 2014), programming expanded to include classes in Shotokan Karate, Aikidō, Kyūdō (Japanese Zen Archery), and Iaidō (Japanese sword drawing). Reorganized as the Hampshire Budō Education Program, students will receive experience and training that spans beyond physical realms. Classes and clubs are informed by literary resources, student research, mentorship opportunities, leadership training, and more.