The idea of joining our club to start-out in JKA Shotokan Karate may seem a bit daunting to most aspiring martial artists. After all, everybody else in the class is likely to have more experience than you - the black belts always look a bit frightening - but it is actually a lot easier than you may think: it just requires you to turn up and join in; a tracksuit and T-shirt will do.
You will be given an introduction into the basic Shotokan techniques, probably by one of those scary black belts (who may turn out to be human after all), and then you'll join the beginners in their quest to become a skilled martial artist.
We have put together a short introduction into karate, the Japanese terminology that is regularly used in JKA Karate, as well as some guidelines as to what we find important in our club and what you can expect when you join our club:
What is Karate?
First and foremost Karate is a Martial Art: it is the Art of Empty Hand Fighting. Karate as we know it today is fairly young, but its ancestry is firmly rooted in ancient oriental history. And it is because of this that Karate is a lot more than just fighting. Karate provides our modern society with an excellent form of physical exercise, in which, unlike most modern sports, both sides of the body are, as much as possible, equally trained and developed.
Contrary to popular Western interpretation this does not mean that practicing Karate will make you a better a person, but one cannot progress in the study of Karate as a Martial Art without the simultaneous development of ones inner strength and character. For the advanced student the Art of Karate touches on all aspects of their day-to-day life; it becomes a Way Of Life.
"Karate-do is a Martial Art for the development of character through training,
so that the karateka can surmount any obstacle, tangible or intangible."
(Masatoshi Nakayama, Chief Instructor, JKA 1955-1987)
Dojo etiquette and rules
Club notes for new members
Etiquette is one of the most important aspects of Karate: it forms the basis for a good and solid karate club and it is the measure by which others will judge the reputation of the club, its members and the instructors. It is the responsibility of all club members to see that a high level of respect and etiquette is maintained at all times when training, visiting other clubs, participating in competitions or attending training courses.
Remember that this is your club and that the basis of any good club is formed by its membership. Your support and regular attendance is very important to both you and the club.
Correct Dojo Etiquette
Dojo etiquette must be observed at all times. Bow when entering or leaving the dojo. You must have respect for both your instructors and your fellow members, whatever their grade may be, by bowing when spoken to or when speaking.
Members should at all times pay attention to personal hygiene when training; it is that which reflects the character of the student. Karate Gi's should be washed regularly, finger nails and toenails should be short and clean to avoid injury to other members. Long hair should be tied back and items of jewellery such as earrings, rings, necklaces, wrist bands and watches should not be worn when training as they may cause injury to fellow students.
The club will not tolerate any misbehaviour such as constant talking, laughing, joking and not paying attention to the lesson that is being taught, either before or during the lesson.
Students who consistently disobey the dojo etiquette will be asked to leave the club and their membership will be terminated.
When members enter the dojo before a lesson they should commence limbering up exercises or practicing karate techniques that need improvement. The club will not tolerate students standing around in little groups, talking or laughing, as this impedes those students who wish to limber up properly. On the command to line up, do so quickly and in a straight line, with the highest grade to the right hand side. Students in the back row are to line up directly behind the students in the front row. Stand with your feet together and your hands at the side, then follow the instructor.
From the moment that you enter the dojo to the time that you leave it, you must give 100%, both physically and mentally, to the Art. When training, keep your mind and spirit on what you are being taught and what you are doing: you must have a positive mental attitude towards your karate.
With regular training and understanding of karate, there is no reason why students cannot reach their own goals through hard work and dedication. Many students will have different abilities throughout their training, but the emphasis on Attitude, Etiquette and Discipline should all be the same.
Injury or the feeling of being unwell during training should be brought to the attention of the instructor, who will arrange for the first aid personnel to take charge of the incident. No other member should be involved in the matter and students should carry on training regardless.
Students are urged to arrive approximately 10 minutes before the training starts, to give them time to limber up and practice techniques. If a student arrives late for the lesson, then he/she must limber up at the side of the dojo and wait for the instructor to allow them to join in the lesson.
Regular attendance, as previously stated, is very important to both the students and the club.
Students who consistently fail to attend the regular training sessions will have their membership terminated. The rules of the JKAE and the club state that students have to train a minimum of twice per week, every week.
The club will organise grading sessions with an interval of approximately 4 months. Sensei Y. Ohta, 7th DAN JKA, supervises these grading sessions. Those students who have reached the required standard and have regularly trained throughout the grading period, will be eligible to grade. If at any time that student is stopped for grading, it is in the interest of the student to train harder to reach the required standard.
Cost of Training and Membership
A monthly training fee applies to all members. This must be paid on the first training session of the calendar month, either in cash, by cheque (payable to Stevenage Karate Club) or by standing order. Stevenage Karate Club constantly endeavours to keep the cost of training to a minimum and the club offers cost reductions to families with multiple members.
Karate Gi's and License Forms can be obtained from the Club Secretary.
What Can Be Gained From Karate
Karate provides our modern society with an excellent form of physical exercise, in which, unlike most modern sports, both sides of the body are equally trained and developed. But karate does more than that: through diligent training karate can have a very positive influence on the development of the character and the personality of its dedicated students. This is emphasised by the following six concepts; they lie at the heart of good karate, they are the very foundation for the development of good karate:
If you train hard and sincerely, then whatever your age, you will gain much in terms of physical and mental health. One cannot progress in the study of Karate as a Martial Art without the simultaneous development of ones inner strength and character.
The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of ones character.
• Seek Perfection of Character
• Be faithful
• Respect Others
• Refrain from Violent Behaviour