The approach of the Yokai Gumi differs from other martial arts schools in that we neither teach for competition nor do we advocate a good guy versus bad guy survivalist mentality. We promote an acceptance of pain and death. We emphasize the importance of maintaining integrity and intentionality in conflict and difficulty.
When a class goes well, students leave more capable of living with intention and taking care of those less capable and less fortunate than themselves. Being a part of this process is a great privilege.
The instructors teach with heart and humor. They accept your physical and emotional limitations whilst pushing your edge, and come up with alternative excercises when injured. There is a deep sense of comradery amongst practitioners. We love to see each other grow in our practice. The classes focus on tactics and agency in a variety of situations, and give no illusions about the brutal nature of the violence it teaches. As a survivor of sexual assault with PTSD, I have found that, while triggered in class occasionally, I have become less easily triggered outside of it. Since beginning my practice, I have found that I view my fears and experiences more pragmatically, and am less prone to anxiety attacks. I am grateful for my experience in the dojo.
Dedicated Instructors that teach with humor and heart, who meet you where you are at physically and emotionally, yet still push your edge.
A simple list of reasons the Yokai Gumi school is a great place to train. 1) COMMUNITY - I've had the privilege of training at many schools and with many instructors at this point in my martial arts experience, and few have had such a diverse cast of students and teachers alike. This school is also well connected with other schools, and other martial arts communities. It is a joy to meet new people with different perspectives who are interested in getting stronger with you. 2)VARIETY OF CLASS MATERIAL - There is so much to learn with the Kurai Kotori Ryu system/Yokai Gumi school. For those looking for a challenge, or something not commonly offered, the classes explore a wide range of techniques. Including, but not limited to, acrobatic maneuvers, unarmed techniques, weapons training, and strategy. My favorite has been the sickle (Kama) training. 3)APPLICABLE LESSONS -Many lessons have included analyses of modern day situations. Falling, escaping pursuers, and engaging with potential violent scenarios. Seeing how traditional techniques can apply to modern problems is satisfying. -I've seen students ask questions about videos they have seen, techniques they are performing, or concerns they had with possible scenarios, and they have always had their questions answered with enthusiasm and understandable breakdowns. 4)AFFORDABILITY -The Yokai Gumi school clearly values people, and providing a space for students to train a valuable skill set. They are willing to have conversations about payments, and don't have strict contracts. Highly recommended school for those who are looking for a great community, challenging but equally rewarding classes, and a style of martial arts not commonly offered.
The group is welcoming and a good experience for people of different abilities and backgrounds.
New students are asked about their goals, whether they are in any immediate danger, and about any medical limitations which could affect training. Following this, students spend a couple weeks learning the first dozen basic techniques, as well as working in with the general class on whatever those students are working on. The first dozen techniques represent the full range of difficulty — by variety — that a student will experience in the course of training. Usually, a student will encounter a serious personal aversion to one or more of them. It is how that student deals with that difficulty that helps them come to an understanding of whether or not this training is a good fit for them.
I am a menkyo kai practitioner of the art, with over twenty-five years of practice supporting my instruction.
No one is turned away. In general, though, students pay about $50/mo. or $10 drop-in for classes. For occupational practitioners and organizations seeking specialized training, pricing starts at $75/hr. and is negotiable.
Instructors in this, and most classical disciplines — I find, are practitioners who are eventually asked to teach. I was asked to teach by several individuals and groups and eventually opened a school.
I have worked with children and adults, hobbyists and professionals, and complete beginners and experts. I especially enjoy working with those who have a specific ambition which they are serving. It's also really nice to work with skaters, dancers, and athletes — who come with transferable skills to build on top of.
Know what you are looking for and why. Then hold your motivations and assumptions to a little bit of scrutiny. Many people considering martial arts training come with false notions that one style or another is better, that there's some kind of a hierarchy of martial arts — when the truth is that people get out of styles what they put in.
Look for a school that you believe you can build relationship with, a place that resonates with your personality. You can get good any place where people are honest and where you're encouraged to be honest with yourself.
Are you in danger? Ask that question in earnest. I've had students who showed up to class after an incident that made them uncomfortable that they wanted to do something about — but not much. On closer investigation they were being stalked by a violent predator, or were tolerating a life situation which could have easily resulted in their death. Come to clarity about what prompted this search for you. With luck, you're looking for personal development and community. Just make sure you know.