Sunday, March 20, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where do you train and at what times?

A. We train in the Scout Hall, Old Road, Tuam – this is straight up the hill in front of Glynn’s Hardware and on the right hand side, behind the FCA barracks. We train every weekend: Friday 18:00 – 19:30 (senior grades), Saturday 12:00– 15:00 (senior grades); Sundays 11:30 – 13:30 (various grades, by invitation).

2. How much does it cost?

A. Classes are five euro each. This allows us to cover the rent and upkeep of the hall and the cost of new equipment (kick shields, gloves etc.) Annual membership is thirty euro per student, with family reductions available. This can be paid off in weekly instalments of as little or as much as suits people. Membership helps fund having guest instructors and helping members attend competitions and courses. Any profits made after costs are accounted for are simply reinvested in the club, as we are run on a totally non-profit basis.

For those interested in training with us, we provide an initial lesson free of charge and with no pressure or obligation to join thereafter.

3. Do you need to be very fit in order to do Karate?

A. Absolutely not! In fact, doing Karate is an excellent way to get fit! Karate is indeed very physical, but students are gradually eased into training and their strength and fitness is built up gradually. Full allowances are made for people with existing medical conditions such as asthma etc. and we can readily accommodate everyone who wishes to give it a try!

4. I don't have a Karate suit, do I need to buy one before I can train? If not, what should I wear?

A. No. You don't need a Karate suit (a “dogi”) in order to train if you are a beginner. Generally, students get their suits after their first grading (for white belt – generally after 5 or 6 months training). Suits are readily available locally from Elvery’s Sports for 20 to 30 euro. For a higher quality suit, generally bought after several years of training, just ask your instructor for recommendations at any class.

Beginners are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing, preferably something light but durable such as a sports tracksuit.

5. Do I need to train twice a week?

A. You don't have to train twice a week, although we recommend it in order to help speed your progress through the grades. Of course, the more often you train, the quicker you will progress and the quicker your body will adapt to Karate. Just as with any skill, you only get out what you put in. All our students are strongly encouraged to do some small amount of practice throughout the week – even just 5 minutes a day – in order to help develop their abilities at a reasonable pace.

6. Can I compete in competitions?

A. Yes. Although the club tends to be focused primarily on self defence as opposed to sports Karate, we have been very successful at competition over the years, including instances of first, second AND third places in a large national tournament all being won by our club members. The IJKA hold competitions at both national and international level on an annual basis. In addition, students are advised about other “open” competitions that may be taking place around the country throughout the year.

7. Is there full contact in training, am I likely to get hurt?

A. In training, we use control when sparring which means, effectively, we pull our punches and kicks slightly so as not to injure one another. However, using control does not mean not hitting. Any strikes to the stomach area are expected to make contact with a measured degree of control and the person being hit will be trained to tense in order to avoid being hurt. This is done to teach control of breathing and to strengthen and condition the body and mind.

Karate is a martial art – we are teaching you how to fight to defend yourself if the situation demands it – and so getting hit is of course a part of this process. As with everything however, this is something we build up gradually. As you progress through the grades, body conditioning will become more and more a part of your training. More senior grades are duly advised to buy a mouth guard in order to protect teeth and gums during more intensive training. Hand mitts can be supplied by the club but are not initially necessary. Injuries are actually quite rare in Karate, as a large emphasis is placed on developing both physical and emotional control to prevent injury to oneself or one’s partner.

8. How long does it take to get to black belt?

A. In theory, you are allowed grade every three months and there are twelve grades until black belt, however it is very unusual for someone to have completely mastered their syllabus in only three months. Also, as you progress up the ranks your syllabus will become steadily more complex, thus requiring more time to learn. In general, it will take a diligent student eight to nine years to become a good black belt. While many groups and clubs will “fast track” this process if you are willing to pay them enough, we refuse to cheapen the standard of our Karate and quality of instruction for base financial gain.

It is important to note that Karate is not merely about collecting ranks and coloured cotton belts. It is a method of self defence and physical and mental improvement. Grades are not the ultimate objective; they are simply markers of progress and goals to work towards in your training.

Inside the dojo - "the place for following the way"