What to expect.
Starting a new school, job, sport or club is always an experience that begins with feeling nervous and uneasy. Karate is not exempt from these feelings, quite the opposite. Karate's traditions were forged in a culture from half way around the world, hundreds of years ago, and therefore don't feel normal for most who begin the art. This is completely normal, and part of the wonderful experience gained from karate training. As children, we often begin new things, meet new friends, and regularly have new "first time" experiences. As we get older, we are exposed to new things less, and often get used to avoiding that "new experience" uneasy feeling. This is why beginning karate as an adult is far more difficult to convince yourself to do, yet the benefits those who are strong enough to persevere through their nervousness gain are equally rare.
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Not knowing what to expect is the biggest contributing factor to nervousness about starting karate, so here is some general information.
Karate classes will generally begin with a warmup. Contrary to martial arts movies, a warm-up is not a test of will, or a grueling and painful experience. It is used to put some fluid into your joints, and prepare your body to practice karate while avoiding injury. Whatever you may have seen on television, you will not have to do 500 push ups, we will not hook you up to some contraption designed to tear your legs apart to the splits, and you will never be forced to injure yourself at any Karate Kawartha Lakes Class.
The average class will consist of the following components:
Basic techniques are exactly that. The basic principals of a movement. In karate, as with any physical skill, repetition of the movement will cause muscle memory, and although a student may not understand the learning that happens during this training, it is a vital component of practice at ALL levels. Basic blocks, punches, stances, kicks, transitional movements and posture is the foundation of all karate. Once these foundations are strong, more advanced techniques and application will come easy.
"Karate is like paddling upstream.
If you stop, you move backwards."
Free Sparring - Kumite
Kumite is the controlled use of all techniques unscripted with a training partner. This part of training is usually uncomfortable for beginners, but is very quickly enjoyed and practiced. The intention of this type of training is to further the students understanding of application of basic movements at a faster pace, and to improve reaction time, speed and fluidity of technique, and increase the confidence and comfort of the participant within striking range of an attacker. In this training, both students will seamlessly transition from attacker to defender, and students learn distancing and timing, which are the most important components in effective combat.
Partner training is the next step in practicing basic techniques. Students will combine certain pre-arranged basic techniqes with one side acting as an "attacker" and one side as a "defender". This training ranges in speed, power and explosiveness proportionate to the rank of the students, but is important to gain experience and feel the action of the basic principals the students practice individually with the benefit of resistance from a partner.
"There are no symbolic moves in kata,
every technique must be performed as if real."
Sensei Masaru Shintani
Kata are fixed sequences of techniques, designed to develop with students as they progress their understanding of karate, and teach effective movement, balance and defense while developing speed, and power within proper movement. Onlookers watching a kata might think they were witnessing a type of dance, and in many instances (unfortunately) they would be correct. Beginners will often see kata as basic and boring, likening it to almost punishment training. This could not be further from the truth. Kata, is the single most important aspect of karate training, especially at higher ranks. The deepest understanding of karate principals and effectiveness are revealed through intense kata study and practice. When kata is practiced, it is the most realistic training, and the fighting concepts in a single kata will take a student more than a lifetime to master.