A Final Word of Advice for Those Seeking a Good Karate School

My advice to those looking to join a good karate school is to use some common sense and to educate yourself prior to visiting any karate school. Visit several schools prior to joining any one school. Even if you are relatively sure that a particular school is the school for you, visiting other schools will go a long way in educating you and will only serve to reinforce the fact that you are in fact making the right choice.

Below I have listed some of the most important areas that one should be aware of when looking for a good karate school. Do not be fooled by quick talking martial artist who claim to be masters, and will also claim to make you one as well. Nothing is free and if it sounds too good to be true, you can almost be certain that it is!

Decide Why You Want to Study Karate.

What are your short term and long term goals? Are you looking to practice karate as a sport, self-defense or simply as a means of keeping/getting in shape? Do you want to learn legitimate karate or are you only interested in collecting belts or in becoming a trophy collector? How long are you considering to train? Are you serious about legitimate karate training or are you simply looking to make black belt as quick as possible even if the rank is worthless? These are important questions and questions that you must answer honestly to yourself before you choose a school!

Our School's Head Teacher is a Real Karate Master. (Right!)

I could not tell you the times I have heard this one! Some teachers claim to be a Master, 10th Degree Black Belt. It is important to know that in Okinawa where karate developed and in Japan where karate arrived over 80 years ago, standards have been set by all of the leading martial arts teachers on the islands. These standards require that a person must be at least 60 years old in order to even be considered a 10th degree black belt. This person must have also studied the martial arts for at least 50 years minimum. These standards were set many years ago and those who abuse or disregard these adopted standards are totally ignored and are not considered to be legitimately ranked martial artist. It is also interesting, but sad to know that in the Southern United States we have more people claiming to be 10th Degree Black Belts than all of those legitimate 10th Degree Black Belts in Okinawa and Japan combined. Most people do not know the difference between a legitimate 10th Degree Black Belt and a person simply claiming to be one, but you can be assured of this, if a person is claiming to be a 10th Degree Black Belt at an early age (Below 60 years of age), they have either promoted themselves or they have paid someone else to promote them. In the United States this would be the same as someone studying medicine or law for a short couple of years, claiming to be a Doctor or Lawyer and then having certificates printed up and opening for business. The only difference is that we have laws governing standards for Doctors & Attorney certifications, but a martial artist can claim what ever rank he wants to claim and generally the public will never know the difference. There is an old saying. "When a martial artist claims to be a Master, this is the 'Ultimate Proof' that he is not!"

We will make you a Black Belt is Only One Year! (Right!)

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Most traditional karate styles teach a complete syllabus and require a minimum time in grade (rank). Normally, this minimum time in grade is 3 to 4 months for each kyu (Grades or Ranks Below Black Belt) grade with approximately 3 to 5 years required to make 1st Degree Black Belt. Approximately, one to two years is required to advance from 1st Degree Black Belt to 2nd Degree Black Belt with the time span increasing as the student advances through each Black Belt grade or rank. Any shorter time span than the ones listed above will only lessen the depth of knowledge and as well as the skill level of the student and therefore is not considered to be good for the student. There are many factors which determine how long it will take for any student to reach the level of black belt. Some of these factors are; The amount of time a student is able to devote to their training, both in the dojo and individual training outside of the dojo on their own. How well a person is able to learn and retain both the information and skills they are being taught. The number of classes a student is able to attend. Most people want to progress as fast as possible and this is only natural, but remember this, progression is not the belt that you wear around your waist, it is the knowledge that you possess and the ability you have to apply that learned knowledge. When and if you are ever attacked, the attacker will have little regard for the belt that you have acquired in karate.

I have heard this statement many times by Senior Martial Artist, "It is better to be the best white belt in the world as opposed to the worst black belt." There are basically two reasons for the wearing of the colored and black belts as worn in most martial arts schools. They are used to hold the uniform top together and to insure that the teacher knows the proper level of instruction to impart to each student and basically that is it. Since one of the main goals of Karate is to perfect the character of it's participants and not simply just to teach the physical side of the arts.

Rank, Knowledge, Maturity, and Skill Level do not always arrive at the same time.