I have a curriculum all my friends use in their To-Shin Do dojos, from white belt through 6th Degree. 7th and 8th Degree are somewhat special, worked out between each individual student and me.
My current major project is a rework of 4th and 5th Degree. The old curriculum was designed in the late 1980s. It emphasized defenses with and against a Japanese sword. That is what I studied in Japan in the 1970s.
However, I want to bring it all more in line with modern threats, so the Shihan and I are revisiting the principles taught from the sword kata. Our plan is to hang on to the principles for how to win, but redirect our training to more relevant unarmed against knife, club, pistol, and multiple attackers standing and on the ground.
Sure, if you absolutely love the sword, you can still study those kata at that point. But we will reassign the skills to be learned for 4th and 5th Degree from antique to modern for the majority of our students.
It is important to understand that the principles – those deeper points illuminated behind the mechanics of the kata – are not at all changing. Likewise the secrets of properly holding and positioning the body (“knees bent, spine straight, hands up and out, strong voice”) are not changing. We are updating the manifestation of those principles. But… we are nonetheless focusing on the details of how to respond to attacks in a way consistent with good old fashioned ninja taijutsu.
What makes taijutsu effective is timeless. But cultural relevancy can change and evolve, and growth never stops! It is my most sincere hope that this news is exciting to you.