The art of Shindo, a weapon-based extension of the Wado Kai style of karate, was established by Hanshi Masaru Shintani in the early 1970s but it wasn’t officially recognized and taught within the Wado Kai karate style until the early 2000s.

Martial art disciples at the South Calgary Wado Kai Karate Club kick up the art of Shindo, a style of fighting that incorporates short sticks. Produced by Stephanie Hagenaars.

The Wado style of karate, founded by Master Hironori Otsuka, has been around since 1939. The form combines Otsuka’s experience of jiu-jitsu with a Shotokan karate style. Wado, or “way of peace and harmony,” is one of four major karate styles to come out of Japan. The word karate means “empty hand.”

Although the Wado style mainly focuses on moves and strikes of empty hands, the Shintani Wado Kai Karate Federation uses short sticks called Shindos to complement their training.

A three-foot-long dowel, just over an inch wide, is used by people who practice karate, also known as karate-ka, to perform strikes, blocks and takedowns. There are many reasons why students of the art pick up the sport — from personal development to curiosity; exercise to family time.

“I like practicing Shindo because the staff gives me an indication of how well I’m doing in my karate,” says Tom Elford, a Nidan, or second-degree black belt, within the Shindo program at the South Calgary Wado Kai Karate Club.

“It tells me if I’m leaning too far forward or too far back … I have to be more aware of my surroundings when I’m using a weapon like a staff like this as well.”
53075102 797694390582385 2442320989523017728 nDarren MacDonald (left) and Hunter Reboul, both advanced-level ranks with the Shintani Wado Kai Shindo program in Calgary, Alta. Practicing the art of Shindo is an extension of karate, helping students perfect their form, strength and karate knowledge. Photo by Stephanie Hagenaars.
Shindo is taught in Wado Kai clubs across Canada. Here in Calgary, the South Calgary Wado Kai Karate Club’s youth and adult programs practice Shindo in dojos (place of practice) throughout the city.

Because the art is a complement to the Wado style, many of the same movements are used, including tai sabaki, or twisting movement, to generate power. Many of the strikes and blocks are the same as well but modified to be used with a Shindo.

“If done well, [the arts] should be very similar,” says Darren MacDonald, an advanced-level rank with the South Calgary Wado Kai Karate Club Shindo program. “Shindo is supposed to be an extension of your karate.”

For more information about the Shindo program, visit or

Editor: Sam Nar |

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