Club Profile: Kashima-Shinryu

Kashima-Shinryu is a classical Japanese Samurai martial art that works with a variety of weapons and empty-handed techniques in precise forms of motion. Since the late 1400s, Kashima-Shinryu has been headed by 19 different headmasters. The martial art consists of entirely pre-ranged forms with varying combat distances — from zero to ten feet.

Instead of “feeling out” like most martial arts, Kashima-Shinryu is intended to “come together and win,” according to Mark Taper, the instructor of Kashima-Shinryu/MSU. The goal is to effectively diffuse the fight and bring your opponent to the ground in 1.1 seconds.

The club, under the tutelage of Mark Taper since 1992, works with a variety of body types to teach people how to effectively defend themselves. Currently, Taper’s youngest student is 16, and Taper himself is in his 60s. The weight range of students is also diverse since Kashima-Shinryu is not a tournament martial art and therefore doesn’t require weight classes.

Taper enjoys teaching students in part to learn more of the art himself. He explains that he has a vested interest in his students because better students allow his personal training to be more effective.

The reasons students enjoy Kashima-Shinryu are varied. Taper groups his students into three types: The engineers, who enjoy the precision and withdrawn thought characteristic of Kashima-Shinryu; Asian culture fans, who are drawn in by the history and tradition; and policemen and bouncers, who like the crisp efficiency of the technique.

The club normally meets three days a week; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Hoseaus Fitness Center dojo room, and over the weekends for more advanced students. Anyone is welcome to try a class or come watch to see if Kashima-Shinryu is for them.