Frequently Asked Questions

What Style of Karate Are We Studying?

It is the martial art form known as SHOTOKAN. This is a traditional Japanese martial art that was developed by Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. You can see his picture hanging on our dojo wall. Shotokan as it is practiced today is divided into three parts: kihon, kata, and kumite. Together, these three practices help create a more rounded martial artist. They teach students how to do basic movements, how to put them movements together, and how to use the techniques in real life situations.  

Shotokan, a martial arts discipline, originated in Okinawa, modified and transformed into a way of life by Sensei Gichin Funakoshi.


Karate-Do's literal translation means "Empty Hand-Way or Road". Karate involves the use of self defense technique where no weapons are needed, except for hands, feet or other parts of the body.
Sensei Funakoshi's philosophy stressed that, "fists should not be used needlessly and that one should "strive to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle". Shotokan Karate as it is known today is practiced through the 3 K's: Kihon, Kata, and Kumite.

Kihon: the basic stances, blocks, strikes, and kicks that are practiced one at a time in the beginning, then moving up to multiple moves. They are also practiced in static stance first, then while moving.

Kata: pre-arranged sequences of attacks and defenses. Their purpose is to teach the martial artist the proper way to move while performing the techniques and how to put multiple techniques together. A student practices on imaginary opponents. There are required katas which must be learned before a student can be promoted to the next belt rank.

Kumite: the one on one and the one on many fighting that is practiced. The purpose of kumite is to teach the student how to perform his/her techniques with a live opponent.

What Are The Rules Of The Dojo?

It is my philosophy to ensure that all students perceive themselves as successful and competent. This can be achieved by the warm, enthusiastic, and stimulating atmosphere provided here in the dojo. As your Sensei, it is my job to teach the martial arts discipline through a structured approach. Students learn what is expected of them and how to reach their own maximum potential through my teaching. It is through consistent attendance, practice, focus, appropriate behavior, and positive attitude/effort that a student is promoted. In accordance wit my karate-do philosophy, there are dojo rules and regulations. These rules are designed to help with the smooth running of the dojo. It is expected that these rules will be reviewed and followed by all students and parents:

1) All students are expected to bow upon entering and exiting the dojo as a sign of respect. Also, show respect to your Sensei, Sempei, and fellow students by bowing and greeting with the response, “Oss”

2) All students are to remain standing at attention at the beginning and ending of class and to take part in the reciting of the DOJO KUN

3) Students are expected to wait to be dismissed by Sensei or Sempei at the end of class

4) All footwear must be taken off BEFORE stepping on the mat

5) Students must place their footwear, bags, and gear in the cubbies or under the benches

6) No eating or drinking on the mat..no gum chewing during class

7) All jewelry must be removed before the start of class

8) For health and safety, fingernails and toenails must be kept clean and neatly trimmed

9) Long hair must be tied back into a ponytail

10) Gis must be washed on a regular basis. Belts do NOT get washed

11) If needed, students are only allowed to wear the designated school t-shirt under their gi as this is considered to be part of our uniform. No other t-shirt is acceptable

12) Please refrain from talking loudly while class is in session. It is distracting and disrespectful to your fellow students.

13) Please refrain from using cell phones in the dojo. If you must answer or make a call, please do so outside the dojo.

14) Please let Sensei or Sempei know BEFORE class begins if you need to leave before the end of training. Unless directed by Sensei, a student should remain in the class until the completion of the final bow-out.

15) It is expected that all students who arrive early for their class will begin stretching and warming up on their own

16) There is to be NO running around on the mat, climbing on poles, pretend fighting, etc. before class begins. Students who demonstrate unacceptable behavior will not be allowed to participate in their lesson.

17) Please notify Sensei or Sempei regarding any medical conditions (including skin infections/eye infections), medications being taken, or changes in medication

18) The instructor, whoever it may be, should be treated with the respect that you yourself would expect as common courtesy. If you cannot find it in you to show respect to a person who is taking their time to teach you, then you do not belong in a karate dojo. Never question his/her direction; never speak in class unless asked by the instructor. Such obedience develops a bond of trust between the instructor and student, which improves mutual receptivity, simplifying and speeding the learning process.

19) Please be sure to use the toilet prior to training. Also, please try to remember that it is not good for the body to train on a full stomach, so avoid eating for at least one hour before class starts.

What is the Dojo Kun?

These are the karate precepts that are recited at the end of class. Please practice reciting them at home.

Seek Perfection Of Character

Be Faithful

Endeavor

Respect Others

Refrain From Violent Behavior

How Do I Count In Japanese?

1= ichi
2= ni
3= san
4= chi
5= go
6=roku
7=shichi
8=hachi
9=ku
10=ju

What Are Some Of The Common Japanese Words That I Will Hear In Class?

These are some of the words that you will often hear…

Sensei = Teacher
Yoi = ready
Rei = bow 
Oss = greeting, showing sprit & respect 
Hajime = begin
Yame = stop 
Mawatte = turn around 
Hai = used for affirmation as in ‘yes’
Kiai = a shout or yell to show spirit
Jodan = head level 
Chudan = mid-section 
Gedan = lower body 
Gyaku-zuki = reverse punch 
Oi-zuki = lunge punch 
Ura-ken = backfist 
Tettsui = hammer fist 
Morote-zuki = 2 hand fist punch 
Yoko-geri = side kick
Mikazuki-geri = crescent kick
Mai-geri = front kick 
Mawashi-geri = roundhouse kick 
Gedan-bara i= down block
Shuto-uke = knife hand block
Dojo Kun = precepts/rules of the dojo 
Karate = empty hand 
Gi = uniform 
Obi = belt

 

How Do I Tie A Karate Belt (Obi)?

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Overview

One of the first things a beginning martial artist learns is how to tie a karate belt. A karate belt does far more than hold your uniform together. It is a symbol of rank, accomplishment, and respect. To tie a karate belt incorrectly would be dishonorable and an insult to the martial art.

 

Step 1

Make sure that the karate belt is the proper size. You will not be able to tie a proper knot if the belt is too short. If the belt is too long, the ends will hang down to your knees and get in the way when you move.

Step 2

Open the karate belt and find the center fold. Place the center fold on your belly button while holding both ends out to the sides.

 

Step 3

Wrap the ends of the karate belt around your back and around to the front again. Make sure that the back of the belt lines up together so it is smooth. Check that both ends of the belt are the same length by pulling the ends forward and lining them up together. Adjust the belt if the ends do not meet. It will be impossible to do this later.

Step 4

Pull the left end of the karate belt under the center of the belt over your belly button. Pull it up and out. This end of the belt should be pressed against your body while the other end is away from your body.

Step 5

Form the shape of an "X" with the ends of the karate belt in front of you. Point both ends toward the ground. The end of the belt that you pulled under should be on top.

Step 6

Thread the top end through the loop and pull it through to the other side. Pull the ends in opposite directions to the sides.

Step 7

Yank both sides hard to create a tight knot. If you do this correctly the knot will not move or loosen. Make sure that the ends of the belt line up and are of the same length. If they are not, you must start over.

 

It is important to keep your gi (uniform) clean for class. Be sure to wash it but NOT the belt!

What Should I Expect From My Child's Participation In His/Her First Karate Tournament? What Should I Take Along?

Participating in one’s first karate tournament is an exciting time for all. It gives your child the opportunity to hone his/her fighting skills, compete in kata against others, and foster good sportsmanship. However, it can also be confusing and overwhelming for a beginner competitor. I would suggest that you do not pressure your child to bring home the gold medal. He/she should feel comfortable with the idea of competing in this event. It is a wonderful learning experience which teaches dedication and perseverance. Your child should feel proud of his/her achievements thus far and remember that competing in tournaments is supposed to be fun. You might want to consider having your child participate in a small tournament (Ex. Local level or within the school) before participating in a larger event. This, of course, should be discussed with Sensei. There is nothing more wonderful to see than the comraderie of our students-cheering each other on, patting each other on the back, and even consoling teammates who have not placed in an event.

As for what to take along to the tournament, EVERYTHING! It is necessary for kumite events to bring along your child’s sparring equipment: headgear, mouthpiece, sparring gloves, and shinguards. For boys, please make sure he is wearing an athletic supporter/cup. Chest protectors for girls are also suggested. A roll of sports tape is also a good idea. It is wise to take along something for your child to eat and drink due to the possible length of stay at a tournament. Small snacks, such as peanut butter and crackers, nutrition bars, fruit, bagels, pretzels, and either a sports drink or water are items you might want to consider. As the day rolls on by and blood sugar levels drop, the crackers and other carbohydrates are a great ‘pick me up’. Try to stay away from carbonated drinks and dairy products. Don’t forget to bring your camera for those “Kodak moments”. Also, if your child has the school warm-up jacket, school cap, etc. have him/her wear it.

On the day of the tournament try to arrive early in order to ‘check-in’ your child at the registration table. Your child will feel more comfortable when he/she sees familiar faces and runs off to be with fellow students. Generally, the students will group together to stretch and warm-up in a designated section of the gym or lobby area. After registration is completed, look for other dojo families and try to sit with them. You can keep all of your child’s belongings with you until sparring gear is needed. Kata competition usually takes place first, then kumite. It is not always easy to figure out which ring your child will be competing in for the events. You will have to wait and listen to the announcements as each division is called. Usually the divisions are grouped according to age and sex.

After the competition, it is important to praise your child regardless of the outcome. As far as we are concerned, all of our students are winners for taking part in competitions. Some tournaments will give out certificates or small medals to all participants. Others will not. You might consider purchasing a small token gift for your child (younger students) as a way of rewarding his/her efforts. The most important thing to remember is for your child to have FUN!!!!

What Should I Eat Before A Competition?

Each person has individual food preferences when it comes to pre-competition eating. Some prefer to eat nothing, while others perform better when they have a light snack or small meal. There is no single food that will ensure top performance. The pre-competition meal’s goal is to ensure adequate energy in your system to allow you to fully exert yourself without any discomfort or early fatigue. Eating too much can have adverse effects such as nausea and cramping. Eating too little food can cause headaches, hypoglycemia, and lightheadedness. You need to be sure to eat your meal early enough to digest it before the start of the competition. That means that if you are eating a full meal, eat it 2 or 3 hours before the event. Remember that you can’t just eat well only on the day of the tournament…your meal should be similar to what you are eating the rest of the week. Complex carbohydrates are great for the day of the competition. It is best to cut down on your fat and protein the day of the event because it takes longer for this to be digested.

With morning events, eat a hearty, high carbohydrate meal and bed-time snack the night before. That morning, you can eat a light snack, such as two slices of toast, to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you from feeling hungry. With afternoon events, eat a hearty breakfast and a light lunch. With evening events, eat a hearty breakfast and lunch, then perhaps a light snack 1 or 2 hours prior. Always eat familiar foods prior to competition. This is not the time to try eating anything new!

High carbohydrate/low fat food suggestions:

Breakfasts: cereal, low fat milk, banana, toast, juice, muffin, bagel, French toast or pancakes.

Lunches: sandwich without mayonnaise, soup, crackers, thick crust pizza (no meat, single cheese)

Snacks: crackers, bagels, pretzels, banana bread, turkey sandwich, biscuit, nuts

Dinners: spaghetti, rice, potatoes, vegetables with small serving of chicken or fish

How does Shotokan Karate differ from other martial arts?

Shotokan Karate emphasizes strong punching, kicking and striking techniques from a foundation of solid stances. It is generally considered a “hard” style with direct forms of blocking and attack, as opposed to the more circular techniques of “soft” styles such as varieties of Chinese Kung-fu. While Shotokan incorporates sweeps, take-downs, throws and joint locks, they are not as typical of the style as they are in Judo or Aikido. Shotokan is very similar to other major Japanese and Okinawan styles such as Goju, Wado-ryu and Shorin Ryu. There are also similarities to Tae Kwon Do, a Korean style, although the latter tends to emphasize kicking techniques to a greater extent than Shotokan. Keep in mind that the above comments are only generalities and that a true study of these issues would take a lifetime!

What is a typical class like?

Karate training can be broken down into three parts: basics, form and sparring (in Japanese, kihon, kata and kumite, respectively). After a period of stretching and warm-up exercises, basic punches, kicks and blocks are practiced. Forms, or kata, are a pre-set sequence of defensive and offensive moves in which the student is required to demonstrate proper positioning, power and timing for a variety of techniques. As a student progresses in rank these forms become more complex and varied. Sparring can consist of either pre-arranged block and counter combinations, or free sparring. The wide range of techniques in the Shotokan system assures that no two classes will ever be the same.

What are the benefits of karate training?

In addition to the physical conditioning of a strenuous exercise program, the karate student will improve in speed, power, balance, agility, stamina, endurance and flexibility. Even more importantly, the student will develop mental focus and concentration, along with a fighting spirit and the inner strength to face and overcome any problem. The atmosphere of the dojo fosters discipline, respect and courtesy, aspects of character which carry over into every day life. And finally, it is an extremely practical form of self defense.

Self-confidence

Coordination

Fitness

Quickens reflexes

Builds stamina

Develops composure

Relieves stress

Focus and concentration

Deeper insight into one's mental capacities

What are the standards for rank promotion?

Candidates for promotion are required to demonstrate a degree of technical competence appropriate to their skill level. This includes basic techniques as well as the kata for their rank. Sparring is judged on application of technique, focus and overall spirit. Promotion testing generally occurs every three to six months, but is entirely at the discretion of the Sensei.

How long does it take to get a black belt?

The only honest answer to that is that it takes as long as it takes. Frequency of training, dedication and natural aptitude are all factors which will determine your rate of progress. However, it should be remembered that karate training is an ongoing process, not aimed at an ultimate goal. There is always room for improvement and even the most advanced students continually strive to better themselves.

Do students participate in tournaments?

The sport aspect of karate can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the martial arts. Students of the International Karate Center participate in tournaments at all levels, from in-dojo and with other members of our association, to State, National and International competitions. We are proud of the many Champions that our school has produced. Participation in tournaments is strongly recommended, but not required.

What is the risk of injury?

Students are always given techniques appropriate to their level of training, and beginners are required to demonstrate basic proficiency before they participate in sparring. Protective equipment for head, mouth, hands and feet is worn during sparring, as well as chest protection for female students. All sparring matches are supervised by an Instructor. These precautions keep injuries to a minimum, but karate is a physical martial art and a certain amount of “wear and tear” is always a possibility.