Enrolling in a martial arts school is not like joining a gymnasium or health club. Martial arts training is rooted in ancient traditions designed to improve a student’s life on a physical and spiritual level. Martial arts training helps you calm down, control your behavior and respond to the challenges of life in a relaxed manner. In the dojo, you are not competing against other students but rather you are competing against yourself. The martial arts challenge you to learn more about yourself and how to conquer your fears and limitations. Wherever the art is taught or practiced, both teacher and student should preserve the traditions that create an atmosphere of respect and reverence for the art.
Study of the martial arts involves concentration and an open mind. Therefore, it is important when entering the dojo to empty your mind so that you will be able to absorb what your teacher has to offer. It will be hard to learn if you are distracted and worried about what other people are doing or about work or family problems. This is why many schools start their classes with meditation. In the martial arts, meditation is not a religious practice, but a process of emptying the mind so that you may learn without distraction.
The atmosphere in the dojo is one of respect. Respect your instructor and your classmates. While proper respect is to be shown to higher ranks, you should strive to help lower ranked students and encourage them in their training. Proper courtesy should also be shown to all visitors and guests of the dojo.
Beginning martial arts students should become familiar with several basic terms used in our School. As you progress in the martial arts, you will learn more advanced terms as they become relevant to your training.
Dojo: A dojo is the training hall where karate is practiced. You may use the term dojo when referring to the School.
Sensei: A Sensei is your karate instructor. As a form of respect, address your teacher as “Sensei.” Make sure you bow to your Sensei when you address or speak to him or her.
Kata: A kata or form is a series of techniques performed against one, two or a group of imaginary opponents.
Kiai: A kiai is a yell commonly associated with practitioners of the martial arts. The kiai brings power to a blow or strike and is also used to confuse an opponent.
Gi: Traditional pajama-like karate uniform worn with a belt designating one's rank.