By Mark Ellis
Physical fitness is an important part of staying healthy. It is also extremely beneficial for dealing with the stress of everyday life. In a hectic city like Tokyo good exercise can go a long way towards keeping you sane. There are all kinds of sports facilities around the city. Some of them are extremely expensive while others are relatively cheap. Private gyms, for example, can run you up to 20,000 yen a month in membership fees. Public gyms, on the other hand, can be as low as 500 yen a day and are pay as you go with no monthly fees.
The problem with private or public gyms is that they are mostly geared toward an all-Japanese clientele. Of course they are. This is Japan. As an expat, however it is sometimes difficult to follow what’s going on. Even if your Japanese ability is irreproachable it still takes a lot of energy to do things in a second language. Also the gym is normally set up so that each individual trains alone or one on one with an instructor. For the most part you are isolated from the other people who are working out unless you get lucky enough to meet a friend who always goes to the gym around the same time you do.
In Tokyo, there is a martial arts school called Shin Kali. This is the perfect place to get a workout and also find a community. At Shin Kali they teach the art of stick fighting, self-defense, and physical training. Lessons are taught in English and Japanese.
Shin Kali was born from Filipino martial arts, Kali, which is a general term used to describe weapons based fighting. Although there are many styles of Kali, Shin Kali takes traditional Filipino martial arts and fuses it with modern concepts and fighting styles. In Japanese the word “Shin” means new. Shin Kali is a new style of Kali.
I know there are probably many people who are reading this article that may feel it is better to take up karate or Judo since they are, after all, in Japan. This might be true. If you are the type of person who finds comfort in doing what everyone else does then Aikido, Judo, Kendo, or Karate are traditional Japanese fighting styles that will not disappoint you.
If you are the type who likes to do things off the beaten path, if you already have martial arts training and would like to expand your capability, or if you are just the curious type then Shin Kali just might be the right thing for you. Along with self-defense they also teach security training, as well as beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of fighting. The classes have both men and women. They are serious but at the same time the instructors emphasize having a fun and fulfilling experience. What’s also interesting about Shin Kali is that there is a strong comradery between the students that develops as they train together, go to seminars, and travel abroad for tournaments.
Classes are offered every weekend in Tokyo and Yokohama. For more information visit their website