If you have previously trained in a martial art, any martial art, we think you will enjoy what we are doing. Our training can be quite a culture shock if you have previously studied Karate.
Most people have pre-conceptions. They have a belief about what Karate is all about, what Shotokan looks like, etc. You have to train with us to know what we do. Kick-boxers tell us that we hit hard, Aikido people tell us we flow pretty well, one senior Karate sensei tells us that what we do is Ju jutsu (on account of all the throws and locks we practice), while another Karate man couldn’t believe his luck on finding a “traditional dojo, at last”. If you can find it in yourself to try us out without preconceptions you might just like it.
You must be aware that every teacher is different, and so there are not even two Shotokan Karate Clubs within the same association that will have exactly the same teaching methods. Yet Shotokan practitioners who join us, even with advanced grades, regularly tell us that we have something beyond what you find in most clubs.
It’s not just that we have full-time centres with matted floors and equipment to hand; it’s more about what we are teaching.
Some people come to us and ask if we do kata (formal sets of movement/patterns). The simple answer is that we do. It’s more complicated than that, though. You see, kata hold all the secrets of self-defence, so when we do kata we are also re-enacting the response to being attacked. We can show you why most of the applications taught in most Karate books don’t work, and why ours do.
We’re not worried about how pretty a kata looks to win a competition; only in that the move becomes a learned response to an attempted assault.
We do the traditional kumite that you might see elsewhere, and we also examine the “flinch-responses” that you are more likely to use over and above a “set technique”.
Every lesson is different, don’t judge us on just one, and please – DO ask questions. Without your questions we can never be sure which parts you didn’t understand and which parts you did.
When it comes to accepting the grades of other groups... Well there are no hard and fast rules. Any grade awarded by another sensei can never be "taken away". That said, you might not want to wear that grade if it is incongruous with the training you will receive from us. The best route is to be humble and let us tell you when you've reached a high standard. We recognise most associations grades in Shotokan Karate when their students come and train with us. It's not something to worry about.
If you're concern is that you've forgotten so much since you last trained then let us put your mind at rest. If your ego can forgive you for what you've forgotten then so can we. We'll just help you to remember it, too!
Try it with an open mind – you just might like it. 01626 360999. email here .
John Burke sensei has produced books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help people understand how Karate can be applied. You can find them on sale here. www.bunkai.co.uk
Karate Academy, Newton Abbot, Torquay, and Ashburton
head office: Karate Academy, King Street Studios, King Street, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 2LG. United Kingdom