Picking the right dojo

The first step on the karate road.

For many people who have an interest in learning karate the first question is often, where do I start? One of the first places you might start is by talking with family and friends. So, ask around. You may be surprised by what you discover. Since many people who do practice karate actually don't make a point of taking about it. Humility after all is one of the hallmarks of a good karate-ka.

If asking family and friends fails to provide you with the answers you are looking for, then the next logical step is to look in your local newspaper, the phone book, or search on the internet. Since many dojo's will advertise in one way or another you might easily locate a dojo in your community, or perhaps the surrounding area. 

Once you have located a few schools that interest you consider visiting all of them and watching some classes. As this will give you a closer look at the dojo, the students, and how things are run by the Sensei (Chief Instructor). After all it is likely to be his, or her, methodology and personal approach, that will form the basis for the style of instruction at that particular dojo.

Once you have decided on a dojo ask about membership fees, get copies of any contracts and or agreements that you may be asked to sign, and read them over carefully. If after reading over all of the documentation you have any concerns, then consider having your lawyer read them over and give you their advice prior to signing, or agreeing to anything. After all, once you do sign up refunds are not always given if you have second thoughts and want to quit later on. In fact, if you do leave for any reason you may still find that you are in fact nevertheless obligated to meet any financial terms that you originally agreed to.

After signing up you will find that from your first day onward your progress will be measured and evaluated. Today in a traditional Shotokan dojo for example, one of the means of measuring a student’s progress is the colour belt system. These various coloured belts are not only a visual symbol of a student’s advancement, they are also an indication to the student of their place within the dojo society at any given time. The colours and the number of belts in the system may vary from style to style, but, for the most part between eight to ten levels would not be considered out of the ordinary.

But, enter into a karate dojo with your eyes wide open. By that I mean do not be swayed by what you see in the movies, or on television, for the most part it is for entertainment value only. Traditional karate on the other hand has a long history not only as a martial art but, also as a means of enhancing the character of the students who practice it. So, do your homework, then pick a dojo, and join the rest of us on a road that will take you to places you never thought you could, or would go to.. 

Remember: "Picking the right path to walk is one thing, staying the course however, is often for the few".