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Frequently Asked Questions



As a parent, you’re probably wondering what age your child should start learning karate. Some parents want to expose their children to the benefits of karate as soon as possible, but children that are too young may not be physically or mentally ready yet to learn the art of martial arts.

At Goju Ryu karate club, we believe that age 4 is the suitable age for children to start learning karate since children younger than this haven’t yet developed the focus and self-control needed to get through an entire class.

Even within the same age group, children tend to mature and develop at different speeds. In order to be sure you can bring your child to a tester class to determine whether your child is ready to become a karate kid or you should wait a little bit.

Why should I practice karate?

The benefits of karate practice are myriad. Physically it enhances strength, coordination, stamina, balance, and flexibility. It is well documented that regular exercise can improve both the quality and longevity of your life and that it makes people feel happier and more alert. There is also evidence that exercise can help cognitive brain function. Everything that you do in your life becomes a bit easier because of your karate practice.

Karate trains the mind as well as the body, resulting in improved self-awareness, discipline, confidence and willpower. Not only will you become more confident that you can defend yourself, but your confidence to tackle all of life’s trials will grow.

One of the translations of the Japanese symbol for martial arts (the “bu” in “budo”) is “to stop conflict”. This is a philosophical goal for a martial artist but does not only apply to external conflicts. Karate training results in feeling less conflict within yourself as a result of what’s usually referred to as increased “inner harmony” and “inner strength”.

Do I need previous martial arts experience?

No, most of our new members have no previous experience. If you have experience in karate or some other martial art, of course, you’re also welcome

How often should I practice?

Beginners (and advanced students for that matter) should establish a regular and consistent training schedule in order to learn techniques efficiently and not develop too many bad habits. In general, the more you train the faster you’ll learn. Three times a week is a reasonable target for beginners to aspire to. Two times a week is OK, but learning is slower. Progress is very slow and bad habits become rampant at practice levels below two times per week.

It is important that beginners not expect instant results! Karate takes patience and perseverance – it takes years to become proficient no matter how often you train. You must also balance training with your life. Don’t neglect other things due to excessive training.

What do I call the teacher?

Instructors are addressed as “Sensei”. Sensei is a Japanese title of respect (sort of like “Sir” or “Mister”). It means “teacher” and is literally translated as “before birth” which infers that the instructor is someone older than yourself. In this case we are speaking of “karate age”. In other words, an instructor is someone who has more karate experience than yourself. Sensei and “Master” are titles which people use to refer to or address someone else. It is considered very improper to refer to oneself as Sensei or Master.
“Sempai” (“senior”) is another term of respect that is often used when addressing someone who is not an instructor, but is senior to you in karate experience.

What’s all this bowing about?

Bowing is a gesture of kindness and respect for another person. Common among Eastern cultures, we have no real equivalent here in the West. Bowing is both a greeting and an acknowledgment of another person’s worth. Karate students embrace a philosophy that all people are worthy of respect. Learning to respect others is paramount to correct understanding of martial arts. Great physical and mental power must be offset by making a habit of putting other people before oneself, otherwise, karate students might easily become bullies. So as we gain strength with potential to harm others, we also endeavor to become kinder people.

Bowing and other forms of martial arts etiquette are training tools to help the karate student make kindness a habit.

What are the belts (ranks) in karate and how long does it take to reach them?

Beginning students first go through the “kyu” ranks. Students typically rise in rank by one kyu every 3 to 6 months. Kyu ranks and the color belts that go with them are:

White belt – 8th kyu, 7th kyu

Green belt – 6th kyu, 5th kyu, 4th kyu

Brown belt – 3rd kyu, 2nd kyu, 1st kyu

Six months after students attain 1st kyu, they may then start testing for “dan” (black belt) ranks. Students who train regularly typically require 3 to 5 years to reach the first level (Shodan) of black belt. Each succeeding black belt level requires increasingly more time to attain. For example, it generally takes at least 2 years to go from Shodan (1st degree) to Nidan (2nd degree), at least 3 years between Nidan and Sandan (3rd degree), and at least 5 years between Sandan and Yondan (4th degree).

What are the dojo rules?

There is a lot of etiquette (for example, bowing) associated with traditional karate, but few rules. The line between the two is often thin. Karate etiquette is based on respect and kindness toward other people, while dojo rules are more for safety and not disrupting the class.

Some of the steadfast rules are:

  • No shoes may be worn on the practice floor (we practice in bare feet).
  • Fingernails and toenails must be trimmed to a reasonable length (otherwise they become dangerous weapons to your partners).
  • No jewelry (including rings, watches, and necklaces) may be worn during practice. This is also primarily for safety reasons.
  • Exceptions may be made for simple items that could not hurt a person or be accidentally pulled off.
  • No talking during class. Raise your hand if you have a question/comment. Some quiet instruction/advice between students is OK if brief.
  • Students may not enter or leave class without an instructor’s permission. If you are late, you must wait at the side until you are acknowledged to enter the class. If you wish to leave for any reason, you must raise your hand first.

SANCHIN – The foundation for Martial arts

SHIKOKAI ICHI – The shadow fight with tiger basic movements

SHIKOKAI NEE – The shadow fight with tiger advance movements

SHIKOKAI SHAN – The shadow fight with tiger group fighting movements

KEHAN ICHI – Basic hard and soft training with one man kumite

KEHAN NEE – Basic hard and soft training with two man kumite

KEHAN SHAN – Basic hard and soft training with three man kumite

KEHAN SHI – Basic hard and soft training with four man kumite

KEHAN GO – Basic hard and soft training with five man kumite

KEHAN ROGOU – Basic hard and soft training with six man kumite

FOKE KATA – Basic with breaking Movements

JOTHE KATA – Basic four corner kumite

GEKISAI DAI ICHI – The Secret animal Movements

GEKISAI DAI NI – The animal advanced movements

GEKISAI DAI SHAN – The animals soft and hard movements

SAIFA – Breaking and Locking the opponent

SEIYUNCHIN – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

SHISOCHIN – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

SANSEIRU – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

SEIPAI – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

SEISAN – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

KURURUNFA – Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

SUPERINPEI – adv.Animals Death and Traditional Touch Movements

TENSHO – Soft and Hard foundation Death and Touch Movement