You only need a t-shirt and something loose like trackie bottoms to start. We can supply naginata and even some armour (when you are ready).
After a few weeks you may want to buy your own hakama (trousers) and keiko-gi (jacket) – see the ‘Buying Equipment’ section for more information.
For the first few months you will be learning to hold the weapon, basic etiquette in the dojo (class) and basic ‘en-guard’ positions called kamae. You will also begin to learn the first of the ‘kata’ or set forms of movement, called Shikake-Oji, which encapsulate traditional methods of using the weapon. Finally, you will begin to engage in practice with other who may be wearing armour (bogu). Initially, you will simply be practicing cuts on them, but after three to six months you will gradually be introduced to wearing armour yourself. However, if injury, disability or age mean you feel the armour aspect of the displine may be too diffucult, it is not compulsory… discuss your needs and capabilities with your teacher.
Practice may include a variety of exercises which aim to refine your technique and build speed and stamina. Cutting at targets presented by your teacher (uchikomi) and performing a set series of cuts (called uchi-kaeshi) are two regular exercises. As you gain in experience, you will also learn to ‘open’ targets using specific techniques and to defend against attacking moves and counter-attack. Finally, when you have reached a reasonable level of proficiency, you will be able to engage in free-sparing (jigeiko) with an opponent and enter competions (shiai). You can also enter kata competitions (called engi).
PS – In most clubs the first session is free – so why not give it a try?