Haverhill Shotokan Karate-Do

Membership Questions

  1. Why should I join a martial arts club?
  2. Why should I join this club in particular?
  3. I'm a beginner. Should I be intimidated?
  4. What is the meaning of the word "karate?"
  5. How fast can I get a black belt?
  6. How do I join the club?
  7. What equipment do I need?
  8. What is a typical training class like?
  9. Can I injure myself?
  10. Do I have to go to tournaments?
  11. What is the dojo etiquette?

Q: Why should I join a martial arts club?
A: Master Funakoshi's precepts says that "the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the character of its participants." Karate is beneficial both physically and mentally. You will improve your physical fitness and flexibility, have a better understanding of body dynamics, a greater awareness of your surroundings, and a greater ability to defend yourself. Most importantly, karate will build your self-confidence in everyday life.

Q: Why should I join this club in particular?
A: Our club has a long history. Sensei Robert Harb founded the club in 1981. Select the "About Us" link for more information about Sensei Harb. The karate we teach is Shotokan, with a rich mix of Shorinji-Ryu kicks, which descends from Master Kazumi Tabata. Master Tabata is a student of Master Isao Obata. Master Obata was a student of Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern karate.

Q: I'm a beginner. Should I be intimidated?
A: Some beginners may feel uncomfortable with the idea of practicing karate in front of more advanced students. However, all club members were beginners once themselves, and remember how that felt. You will notice that our instructor gives corrections at every belt level. All students, not just beginners, are working on improving their own techniques. As a beginner, it might take some time to become comfortable with training, but your techniques will quickly improve.

Q: What is the meaning of the word "karate?"
A: Kara means "empty" and Te means "hand(s)." So karate-do can be translated as "the way of the empty hand." This expression refers to the fact that this art of self-defense makes use of no weapons, only bare feet and empty hands. The suffix "do" in the word karate-do emphasizes that karate is a path to self-knowledge, not just a study of the technical aspects of fighting.

Q: How fast can I get a black belt?
A: Your progress in karate will correspond to a progression in belt level. Your progression will depend on your commitment to improving and on how regularly you train. Progress can be made quickly, if you have the right mentality. The earliest you might hope to reach black belt level in karate is three years, but generally it takes longer.

Reaching black belt level is not the aim of karate. Indeed, it is only the beginning of your journey in karate, since it represents the mastering of the basic techniques. Humility - understanding that one is never finished with learning is one of the important aspects of Shotokan karate.

Q: How do I join the club?
A: You can come to a training class anytime you like. Please see our "Class Schedule" link on the menu bar for class days and hours. You should watch at least one class before you decide to join. After that you should pay the monthly dues to become a member of the club.

Q: What equipment do I need?
A: You only need a karate gi (uniform) initially. For tryout and beginning classes, you can wear any loose fitting clothing. If you decide to join the club, we can advise you on how to purchase a karate gi (uniform) at a retailer, or online, if you prefer.

Q: What is a typical training class like?
A: We typically do 20-minutes of warm-up and stretching. We practice KIHON (basic techniques): stances, blocks, punches, kicks, stepping, shifting, and combinations of these techniques, concentrating on breathing (IBUKI), and locking at the end of a technique, ect.

We practice KATA (forms, or prearranged moves): these are traditional sequences of techniques against several virtual enemies.

We practice KUMITE (sparring): practicing GO NO SEN (block and counterattack), or MIRIKI ( shift out of range of the attack and counter), SEN NO SEN (attack when your enemy has committed to an attack mentally, but not physically, i.e., you felt their intention to attack). We also practice DEAI (utilizing an opponent's opening created by his/her intention to attack).

Q: Can I injure myself?
A: When train with a strict light contact form of sparring. All reasonable efforts ae taken so that the risk of injury is minimized, particularly by gradually teaching the ability to control your techniques. You cannot train if you, or your partner is injured. It is very important that you clip your nails (hands and feet) to avoid injury. If at any time during training you feel dizzy or nauseous, then you should let the instructor know immediately and discontinue physical activity until you feel better

Q: Do I have to go to tournaments?
A: No. But, if you do, you will improve your karate.

Q: What is the dojo etiquette?
A: Courtesy is very important in the philosophy of karate. For this reason, there is a dojo etiquette of common behaviors, which express our courtesy for the Sensei, and for our fellow karateka. Some of these are:

1. Bow when entering and when leaving the dojo (training room).

2. Bow to your training partner before you begin a sequence of exercises and when changing partners.

3. If you are late to class, please kneel at the dojo's entrance until you receive the instructor's acknowlegment, at which time you should bow to the instructor and join the class.

4. Karate ends with courtesy also. We show this by ending the training as follows. We line up shoulder to shoulder in order of rank from right to left. The senior student announces "shomen ni rei": bow to the front. Then the senior student announces "sensei ni rei": bow to the instructor. While bowing, all students say: "domo arigato gozaimashita": thank you very much. Finally, the senior student announces "otagai ni rei": bow to each other.

The words "hai" (yes) and "ous" (I acknowlege) are often used to acknowlege that you heard what the instructor said. The word "ous" (pronounced "oss") is also used when greeting the instructor and other karateka while bowing.