- PICKING THE
- WHAT TO
- For many
people who have an interest in learning karate the first
questions is often, where do I start?
- One of the
best places to start is with family and friends since
they would be a trusted source of information. So ask
around. You may be surprised by what you discover, since
many people who practice martial arts especially often do
not make a point of taking about it. Humility after all
is one of the hallmarks of a good karate-ka.
- If asking
family and friends fails to provide you with the answers
you are looking for then the next logical step is to look
in your local phone book, or on the internet. Most dojo's
will advertise in one way or another so locating a few
dojo's in your area should not be all that difficult.
- It should
be noted, however, that the size of a dojo's
advertisement does not necessarily have any relationship
what so ever to the quality of instruction that you will
find there. The ad may be splashy just to get your
attention and it may also make all kinds of claims and
promises that on the surface may seem enticing to you
but, delivering on those claims and promises can
sometimes be another matter altogether.
- Once you
have located a few schools that interest you be sure and
visit all of them. In most cases no appointment is
required. In fact dropping in unannounced will give you
an opportunity to view the facility in its true light, as
opposed to finding out later that it had been "cleaned
up" just for the benefit of your appointment.
- If you
decide that a particular school interests you then say
so, and ask for as much information as is available,
including a copy of any contracts they may want you to
sign in order to join. If you have any concerns about the
content of the contracts consider consulting your lawyer
and having them read over all of the documents prior to
sign anything. When you feel that you have found a good
school spend a bit of time there before signing up. In
most cases a reputable dojo will allow you to watch, or
even take part in a class that is suitable to your level
of expertise. By observing a few classes, or by taking
part, you can get a an up close look at the dojo, the
students, the instructors, and how things are run.
- Do not be
concerned just because you are a beginner. Someone will
in all likelihood be assigned to guide you through the
steps needed to get you into the class and to help you
through the rituals that usually take place prior to the
start of any training. You may find that the class is
taught by the Sensei (Chief Instructor) or by one of the
more senior students in the dojo but, who teaches the
classes can often depend upon the size of the dojo and
the number of qualified people on hand.
- If at all
possible try to attend a class in which the Sensei (Chief
Instructor) does the teaching, since it is his or her
methodology and personal preferences, that will form the
basis for the manner in which all of the instruction will
be given in that particular dojo. Once you have made a
choice and selected a dojo your next task will be to
chose the program that you feel is best suited to your
current level of commitment.
students will sign up for a three month beginners course
for example, while still others convinced that they have
made the perfect choice will opt to sign up for a year,
or perhaps even a longer term, one that may ultimately
take them all the way to their black belt grading. It is
not unusual for these longer term contracts to offer some
sort of incentive, often in the form of a substantial
discount in price, to those students wiling to make this
type of commitment up front.
- If you are
sure about your choice of dojo, and sincerely believe you
will still be training three or four years from now,
signing a longer term contract is often the most cost
effective way of amortizing the total amount you will be
asked to pay. But be sure this is the school and the
program for you since refunds are not always given if you
have second thoughts later on.
- No matter
what dojo you join, or which program you select, there
are certain things that you should come to expect from
any dojo you join. First, the staff and all of the
instructors should all treat you with the same courtesy
you would offer to anyone seeking to do business with
you, or with your employer. While it is true that karate
is a physically demanding art form, where a high level of
personal discipline is expected, and while there will be
times when you will be pushed to work harder and harder,
it should never the less be done for all the right
reasons, and with respect.
the dojo, the public areas, and the overall surroundings
should be clean, well kept, and reflect a high level of
personal care and the training program you are on should
have some type of structure. This is essential in order
that your progress can be measured and evaluated over a
specific period of time affording you a reasonable
expectation of continued advancement.
- Today in a
Shotokan dojo the means of measuring a students progress
is the colour belt, or kyu belt system. These various
coloured belts are a visual symbol of a students
advancement and they are used as a way of indicating a
students place within the dojo society at any given time.
The colours and the number of belts in the kyu system
will vary from style to style, but, for the most part
between eight to ten levels would not be considered out
of the ordinary.
- While I
could go on at great length lastly I would suggest that
you make sure that you are going into karate with your
eyes wide open. By that I mean do not be swayed by what
you see on television. Karate you see in movies and on
television for the most part is for entertainment value
only. Authentic Shotokan karate-do on the other hand has
a long history and a world wide reputation, no only as a
martial art but, also as a means of enhancing the
character, as well as the moral and spiritual development
of the students who practice it.
- So do your
homework, then pick a dojo and join the rest of us on a
road that will take you to places you never thought you
- From my
point of view after more than 30 years on the karate road
the journey has always been well worth the effort.
- Picking the
right path to walk is one thing,
- staying the
course, however, is often for the few.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."