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The Meaning of Karate-Do (Posted: 17th September 2019)

Literally, the translation is something like “The way of the empty hand.” The Japanese kanji character for “Karate” was first used to describe the style of self-defence fighting developed on Okinawa during the Japanese occupation. It was illegal for the Okinawans to have weapons, so they trained in secret to develop effective ways of using what they had available to them (farm implements and their own bodies) against the sword carrying soldiers.

The kanji character was made up of two parts: the first ideograph was the sign for “Chinese” (Kara), and the second ideograph was the sign for “hand” (te). Together, the kanji read as “Chinese-hand,” citing the location where the style originated. Later, when Master Gichin Funakoshi introduced the Karate system to Japan, around the time of the First World War, he changed the first part of the kanji to another ideograph meaning “empty” (also Kara), and added the suffix “Do,” meaning “way, or path.” The “Do” comes from a Japanese warrior tradition, called “Budo,” or “the way of the warrior.” The tradition represents the learning of a martial art as a journey, which occurs along a “path,” or a “way.” It is meant to signify that the learning of martial arts techniques alone is not sufficient — it is a way of life, an entire philosophy of how to be in the world.

The “empty hand” of Karate-do refers to several things simultaneously. It points out that this style of fighting uses body parts as weapons, rather than a gun, say, or a sword. It also points to the way the karate student is ideally “empty” of distracting thoughts during a confrontation, indicating a degree of focus and concentration on the task at hand that is enhanced by continuous and consistent training.

But it also refers to the “empty” hand that covers the clenched fist. In Karate, it is the left hand that covers the right. This plays on the meanings of left and right in Japanese culture. The left side is the pure side, the part of the person, or society, that is peaceful and just. The right side is associated with the baser, but no less important, things in life — like aggression and violence. To be powerful, you need both sides — they balance each other, like Ying and Yang. Purity and justice need force to assert themselves in the world. Force needs purity and justice to temper its application. One of the fundamental lessons of the way of the empty hand is to develop the proper balance between these two elements.

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor

Back to School (Posted: 16th September 2019)

Now that everybody is finally back from their summer holidays, it’s time to get back to the Dojo and resume training.

This year has been quiet over the summer period and now that the nights are drawing in, there is every chance that your child will benefit from the exercise that a Karate class provides. We have noticed that there are one or two stragglers who have not yet managed to put in an appearance although we had expected them to do so.

Another matter that I am concerned with is the number of lessons that some students have attended in the month; regular attendance is essential to provide progress for a student whether they be a child or an adult. Every member should target a minimum of twelve lessons a month in order to progress to the standard required to adequately pass a grading. Although the qualifying number of lessons can be stretched out over a greater time period, this isn’t the ideal way to go about things.

It needs serious dedication to get to the top, so if you want to get there, in any walk of life, you have to put in the effort. Now’s a great time to start – don’t wait for it to become a New Year’s Resolution!

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor

10 Things to Know Before Your First Karate Class. (Posted: 15th September 2019)

The typical gym routine — running on a treadmill followed by lifting heavy objects — can get pretty monotonous. If you’re looking for a new way to spice up your workouts, why not try throwing some roundhouse kicks into the mix? Karate classes are a great way to not only get in shape, but learn how to look after yourself in the process.

  1. You will work really hard — which means lots of calories burned.

When you first start with Karate, the body is working in ways it hasn’t had to in the past, providing an overall boost to your strength, cardio and dexterity. Taking in all the details and techniques you’re learning can distract your mind from how hard you’re actually pushing your body.

  1. Karate is for everyone, big or small.

Despite what you may think, not everyone who takes Karate is a blood-thirsty behemoth. In fact, there is typically a huge diversity of students. Whether you’re six feet tall or you’re shorter then the average fifth grader, self-defence is accessible to anyone.

  1. You need to do your homework before going.

There are a ton of Karate schools with a variety of classes to choose from so what’s one of the best things to do to prepare before taking a class?  – “Homework!

Picking the right club and style is crucial for starting your Karate studies off on the right foot, so do your research – we pride ourselves on our hard-earned reputation and the skilled tuition offered by our instructors

  1. It’s important to go in with an open mind.

In order to gain the full experience of a class, you should leave all of your preconceptions behind.  Remember that one technique you learn that day may help you in the time you actually need it.

  1. You will get a demanding workout while learning how to look after yourself.

I think it goes without saying, but Karate classes will give you a serious advantage come a street brawl. There is a chance you’ll get into a physical altercation at least once in your life, so it’s only smart you know how defend yourself in case someone breaks out the fisticuffs.  Karate is a self-defence martial art first and foremost.

  1. You will get a bump or a bruise every now and then.

While the classes are very safe, accidents do happen. I’m not saying you’ll leave the class looking like a month-old banana, but this is a contact sport, so don’t be surprised if you hit your funny bone once or twice. The whole point of Karate is to avoid the things that give you bumps and bruises so the better you get, the less that will happen.

  1. You’ll get more out of it than just sore shoulders.

Having a tough time handling stress? Do you have a hard time controlling your breath during a tough workout? These are just a few of the issues you can expect to tackle in a Karate class. Your ability to handle stress, pressure and pain and to make a clear, conscious and positive decision will be lightyears ahead after learning Karate. In other words, you can expect to learn some unexpected lessons during class.

  1. There’s no slacking in Karate.

To fully experience Karate, attending a class every couple weeks won’t work. Studying the art takes time, and practice is crucial if you want to see real results. It’s really important for people to understand that Karate is a lifestyle and not a hobby. You are learning new lessons and are tested every day. Consistency is really important. You’re missing out if you only attend occasionally. You have to look for a quality school and look to be a quality student.

  1. You’ve got to gear up.

Just like in most martial arts, the right equipment is essential for protecting yourself and others. Karate is no different, but the amount of equipment needed is minimal. It’s worth checking to see exactly what you should come with.

  1. Expect to become a part of a community, not just a club.

Without a doubt, the most important aspect of Karate is the sense of community that develops within the Dojo. The camaraderie between students and the instructors is key.

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor


Student of the Week (Posted: 14th September 2019)

This week’s Student of the Week is Logan. For his application and concentration during the lesson, the senior instructors feel that he is the most fitting person to win this week’s award. Well done Logan!

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor

Top Ten Health Benefits of Karate (Posted: 13th September 2019)

Not only is it a great activity that keeps participants physically active, but it also instils a sense of achievement and ethics as you practice and practice and work your way up to earning a black belt. Even if you have no previous experience in martial arts, it is still a great activity to pick up even as an adult. :

  • Total body workout: Karate is a high-aerobic workout that uses every muscle group in the body. Your stamina, muscle tone, flexibility, balance and strength will all improve through it.
  • Healthy lifestyle: Due to the total-body nature of a Karate workout, tons of calories are burned during every class. However, you’ll also find that your natural eating signals become better regulated, so food cravings will disappear and you’ll eat less as a result.
  • Self-confidence: Due to the goal setting, positive encouragement and respect for values that are part of all Karate programmes, the greatest benefit usually reported by Karate students is greater self-confidence. You become more comfortable in all situations – whether you’re in danger or simply doing a task that takes you beyond your comfort zone — and you’ll discover you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
  • Improved cardiovascular health: Research has found that the only real way to improve the status of the cardiovascular system is by participating in activities that stress the heart, such as martial arts.
  • Weight loss: A one hour session of moderate intensity Karate can burn between 500 – 1000 calories.
  • Improved reflexes: Research has found that by participating in martial arts, you not only improve your reflexes while performing the activity, but actually experience faster reaction times during all activities of your life. This is very important in a number of daily activities, such as driving.
  • Focus and stillness: As we like to point out, behind the punches, kicks and knees, a true Karateka learns to sit with himself and see where his weaknesses are. As a martial artist, you will learn what it is to be still, challenged and focused.
  • Teaches great morals and values: Karate wisdom has it that after consistent practice, one becomes less impulsive and aggressive towards others. Patience, insight, and calmness are considered pre-requisites of good Karate. This reminds students of the right attitude, frame of mind, and virtues to strive for inside and outside the studio.
  • Muscle tone: By participating in Karate, you can greatly improve the amount of muscle mass you have in your body. The higher your muscle mass, the higher your metabolic demands will be, and subsequently the more calories you will burn each day, thereby helping prevent obesity and promote weight loss. High levels of muscle mass also lead to increased agility, thereby preventing falls as you age.
  • Better mood: Researchers have found that participating in a regular exercise routine is one of the best ways to improve your mood. Performing Karate is not only a good way to relieve stress and frustration, but may actually help to make you happier. The endorphins released by physical activity appear to be active in your body for as many as four hours after exercise.

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor


What Happens on your First Lesson (Posted: 12th September 2019)

What will you wear?

Well, to begin with, you just need to wear something nice and loose fitting, a jogging suit or similar is fine.  If females are thinking of joining just remember to  wear something to protect your modesty. We recommend a plain white tee shirt. Traditionally, we do not wear anything on our feet; bare feet are the order of the day! When you are ready to you can purchase a Gi (Karate suit).  We always have these in stock; buying from us means that you can try them on to get the correct size for you and we are really competitive on price.

What is the cost?

To begin with, you need only pay the cost of the lesson. You will not have to immediately shell money out for a Karate suit, but eventually you will need an association licence (which also contains your mandatory insurance) and club membership.  Both are renewable annually.

How do I win my belts?

At approximately three-monthly intervals we have a grading (which is a form of examination), if you come up to the required standard you will qualify for your next colour of belt. You must attend a minimum amount of lessons before you will be invited to take part in a grading.

How often should I train?

Ideally twice a week. We find that those who train regularly don’t have a problem remembering the moves that they have been taught and therefore are a lot more content in the lesson.

When can I begin?

If we have vacant places, straight away! There is no time like the present. We find that the best way to learn is to go straight in at the deep end, no need to watch, just try it and see if it’s for you!

Beginners Course

We like to separate our newcomers from the more experienced students to begin with. This gives them a chance to go at their own pace and to become relaxed in their new surroundings.  As soon as we feel that they are ready for the transition, however, we will integrate them into the class proper.

Posted by Sensei Stewart Procter | 7th Dan Kyoshi | Chief Instructor