Article 1 - About Karate Training

Hello to anyone out there in Cyberspace who is looking for a Shotokan Karate School in Edmonton, Alberta,  whether you are presently a student of Shotokan, or brand-new to karate, and looking for a place to learn martial art.

In this space, I intend to sound off in some detail about karate practice, based on my 35 years of continuous training and instructing experience.  Our dojo is a very well-established one, having been in continuous existence since 1985.  There are people training here who have been in Karate for over 20 years.  I have always wanted to do Karate as an educational endeavor, rather than a business, so I have never worked very hard at marketing our dojo, having been heretofore content to work with small groups of dedicated people.  However, as many of you may know, change is in the wind in the world of Shotokan, and so with the help and encouragement of my senior people, I have decided to get with the 21st century, and use the Internet to publicize our dojo.  I hope some of you find this website interesting enough to come and experience Karate training with us.

Shotokan has been taught continuously in North America since the Fifties, and yet, I am continually dismayed by the misconceptions about Karate that I see whenever I talk to people about practicing martial art.  I conclude that we have not done a very good job of explaining the character of what we do day-in and day-out in a Shotokan dojo, so I’d like to put in my two-cents-worth on the subject in this medium, and hope that it benefits at least my own students.

To begin with, both present and perspective students of Karate should clearly understand that Shotokan requires dedication of your time. And this will be time taken from your leisure time, or your time above and beyond that part of your life given to earning living, family duties, and other interests.  To get down to specifics: when you take up Shotokan training, you will expect to increase in ability and knowledge of Karate as time passes, and you will expect to pass examinations for the  various colored belt ranks that we use to mark this progress.  Shotokan is a physically demanding skill, and you must train diligently to first acquire, and then to maintain the physical skills that are the hallmark of our style of Karate.  Thus, beginners should dedicate at least two nights per week to come to the dojo, and this schedule will enable you to progress through the first year or so of your training, up to about the rank of orange or green belt.  Then, you must be prepared to dedicate at least three nights per week to come to the dojo, and this schedule you should expect to maintain for as long as you are involved with Karate. If you wish to become involved with competition Karate and /or higher levels of black belt ranking, then you must train more than three days per week as competitions or examinations are approaching.  Ask any athletic trainer what he or she thinks is the minimal amount of time that is necessary to build and maintain athletic skills, and I believe most will say “at least 3 sessions per week”.  Karate is first and foremost an athletic discipline. Expect to spend a lot of leisure time practicing your art.  As the old boxing trainers say, “you gotta bring some to get some.” And I always tell my students that “the hardest thing about Karate is getting to the dojo.” If you are prepared to come to the dojo on a regular basis, then I believe your experience of Karate will be more deeply rewarding than you ever imagined.

We say that the most important part of traditional Karate training is character development, and I think that those of us who set ourselves up to teach Shotokan have paid life service to this dictum, without doing enough to explain what it really means.  Following on what I said above, Karate character development starts by giving the activity its due, that is, dedicating your time to improving your art.  Do this over the long term, and you will give order and direction to your life, and feel a great satisfaction at having “measured up” to a demanding and uniquely rewarding discipline.  And, you will “find yourself” in a way that nothing else in your life can give you.  Parenthetically, I would like to say that this is my primary motivation for teaching Karate:  I am enormously gratified by watching good people “find themselves” by measuring up to the challenge of learning Karate.  Much more needs to be said about character development through Karate, but I’ll take it up another time.

Shotokan Karate is also about sporting competition, and we hold regularly scheduled tournaments, where students can measure their progress against other Karate athletes, in a controlled environment of intense but friendly competition. Karate sparring, or Kumite as we call it, is not “fighting”, as it is sometimes called, since fighting is about rendering an opponent physically and/or psychologically unable to continue a contest.  Rather Kumite is a way of testing our abilities against other athletes in a competitive environment without seriously injuring one another. It is a particularly challenging training method, and is practiced from about brown belt and up.  I like sport Karate as a training device very much, and at our dojo, we pride ourselves on providing an atmosphere where Kumite can be used extensively and over the long term of a student’s Karate career.

Shotokan practice should also be about self-defense.  That is, to say, I believe that a few years of dedicated practice should give a Karateka some real ability to defend himself or herself against criminal attack.  Now, it is possible to maintain a dojo atmosphere in which students learn character, gain and maintain physical fitness, increase their technical abilities in Karate, participate successfully in sporting competitions, and so forth, and yet do not develop much useful self-defense skill.  This would, I believe, still describe a good Karate school.  However, I would like to try to provide an atmosphere in which students are learning “practical Karate” in addition to the above, and I am trying to put the experience of myself and my senior people in the service of this task. This requires a lot of unpacking, and I shall say more about this in future articles.

Author: Sensei Kurt Taylor

Copyright © 2009 Fudoshin Karate Club All Rights Reserved.

3 Responses to “Article 1”

  1. Anonymous says:

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  2. Anonymous says:

    WOW, i like your blog theme, content is very interesting, bookmarked, regards

  3. eric verstappen says:

    I am happy to read we do have a lot of the same intent in practicing karate. I used to train in Holland for about 12 years and have moved to northern alberta last year. I get a lot of information from you website and would like to some day attend a training in your dojo. thanks for all the good info. eric

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