STARTING YOUR KARATE JOURNEY
Updated: Jan 3
You've decided to start training karate. Pretty soon, all of the Japanese terminology and unique traditions will become second nature to you!
Here are a few bits of information to get you excited and informed about karate in general, the values of our school and what exactly Okinawan Goju-ryu karate-do is.
1. Karate is from Okinawa, not Japan
It's a common misconception that karate is from Japan, but it is actually from the small island nation of Okinawa (Japan did play an important role in karate's development and popularity in the West). Okinawa sits halfway between Japan and China and owes its fighting history to both cultures. Aspects of traditional Chinese and Japanese martial arts were incorporated into the existing Okinawan martial art known as "te". This combination of arts was tested, refined and ultimately became the art we know now as karate.
2. We practice Goju-ryu karate-do
"Do" is the Japanese word we translate as "way" in English. It has many meanings, but for our purposes we may interpret it to mean that we do not only practice the moves of karate, but the way, or essence, of karate. Karate-do is about more than learning physical self-defense skills. It is about seeking the true way of life through hard, dedicated training.
Goju-ryu is one of the oldest styles of Okinawan karate. Goju-ryu translates to "hard-soft school". We strive to balance our training by practicing hard, direct techniques a well as subtle, evasive ones. We apply the same approach to our values by striving to live with courage and determination as well as humility and respect.
3. A black belt is just a white belt who never gave up
Anyone can get their black belt, but that doesn't make it easy. A black belt is earned as a sign of excellent knowledge of karate, physical adeptness, emotional maturity and the visible manifestation of our values of respect, courage and humility. A person wearing a black belt has been entrusted by his/her instructors to "walk the walk" of karate. A black belt is not a trophy or a symbol of superiority. It is an acknowledgement that the person wearing it has persevered in his or her study of karate-do.
4. Karate is dangerous...
Karate was developed to injure, maim or kill an opponent/opponents who were trying to injure, maim or kill you! This is serious business! Our karate looks different to what you might see in the movies or in spectator-based martial arts. We train to avoid, deflect and (if left no other choice) effectively handle a physical confrontation. We train situational awareness and verbal/non-verbal de-escalation techniques as much as we train to kick, move, punch, block and throw.
5. ... but disciplined
Because the skills we learn are inherently dangerous, we train our minds and bodies to hopefully never have to use them in a real, life-threatening scenario. We do this by learning the values of respect, courage and humility in a disciplined setting so that we become mature, responsible members of our schools, families and greater society. This is the gift of karate-do: By learning how to fight, we train ourselves not to fight.
6. Your never stop learning
There is no such thing as a "perfect" punch, kick or kata. You are never done learning in karate and there are always things to improve on. Karate is a martial art, and in the same manner as you cannot paint the "perfect" picture, your karate is never "perfect". This is why karate-do is a way of life - it is a lifelong pursuit of excellence.
7. We are part of an national and international organization that strives to protect and promote traditional Okinawan Goju-ryu karate-do. Check out the link to discover the national body that Suncoast Traditional Karate is a proud member of! You'll also find plenty of useful info about the history of our style, our belt system, training tips and dojo ethics.