A TYPICAL CLASS
The class starts right when the student enters the dojo. Upon entering the dojo the student bows to the front of the dojo saying “konbanwa” (good evening) and then proceeds to take off their shoes, socks and coat. Unless they are brand new students they are required to wear a white gi (karate uniform) with the Shorei-Kan patch over the left breast. If the class is not already in session the student should go and bow to the individual black belt instructors. The student then does a quick warm up to loosen up and then practise the techniques they have learned until the formal class begins. If the class is already in progress, the student proceeds to the front corner of the class, kneeling in “seiza” (formal kneeling position) bowing and saying “onegai shimasu” (please teach me). The chief instructor will acknowledge the student and permit them to join the class.
There is also certain dojo etiquette that everybody should adhere to. Once in the dojo there should be :
- No idle chit chat
- No chewing gum or eating food
- No leaning on walls
- Shoes should be pointed to the wall in neat rows
- No wearing of jewelry
- No swearing or cussing
- No aggressive play or fooling around
Remember, Shorei-Kan is the school of politeness and respect, act accordingly. Shorei-Kan Canada instructors teach in traditional setting with a friendly atmosphere and they expect everyone to adhere to the rules on their own.
Upon the call of “shugo” (lineup) the actual class begins. The students line up in neat rows with the most senior belt on the left, and then going in descending order to the right and to the back. This allows the junior students to see and copy their immediate seniors rather than students so far above them that they get discouraged. The command “seiza” (formal kneeling position) is now given followed by “mokuso” (close eyes and meditate). This is the time to clear the mind for the practise of karate. Then comes the commands of “mokso yame” (open your eyes), “shinzen ni rei” (bow to the shrine) this is not religious but rather paying respect to all the previous masters for whom without their dedication and teaching there would be no karate. Next we here “Shihan Ni” (or sensei ni, depending on rank), bow to the chief instructor, “shidoin ni” bow to the other black belt instructors. When bowing the students say “onigai shimasu” (please teach me). The students then all stand in order of rank starting with the chief instructor.
After the opening ceremonies the students start the warm up exercises, usual led by a senior belt appointed by the chief instructor. The exercises start by warming up the extremities and working towards the heart. The exercises start slowly and increase in intensity as the body gets warmed up and then decrease to a cool down period. The students are asked to give a hundred percent but never so much as to injure them selves and only as much as they are individually able. The warm up lasts about twenty minutes for adults and ten minutes for children. After the warm up there is usually a couple of minutes rest period.
Next comes ten minutes of “kihon” (basics) where students practice the basic blocks, kicks, strikes and stances. Basics are very important for they are the foundation of karate and no matter what level the student has achieved their basics can always be improved. By always trying to improve and giving one hundred percent the repetition of basics is never boring.
Now we get to what a many students would call the fun stuff, self defence. Students line up one on one and learn different techniques which include blocks, counters, grappling, joint locks and pressure points. Depending what level the students are at they could be practising very easy and basic self defence to very street wise one step block and counter. They learn different ways of moving and side stepping attack. Sometimes they practice what we call magic circle where the defender is in the center of the circle and each student on the outside uses a different type of attack. The defender in the center has to quickly perform a counter and then be ready for the next attacker. All moves performed can be traced back to techniques in the classical katas.
It is now time for the main event, the study of student subjects for their level. The subjects include kata, bunkai and kumite as well as some Okinawan weapons (Kobudo) at higher levels. The students break into groups of their own rank and are assigned a black belt instructor by the chief instructor. Senior colored belts also get to teach junior students under black belt supervision when the opportunity presents itself, that way students not only learn the art of karate but also how to teach and handle themselves in front of a class.
When the class is just about over “shugo” is again called and all students line up as in the beginning. Sanchin or a kata known by all students may be performed at this time. The same procedure is then followed as in the opening ceremony with the added part where the students also turn to one another splitting down the center in front of the Chief instructor and bow to each other. Instead of saying “onigai shimasu” the students now say “arigato gozia mashita” ( thank you for teaching me). Class is then dismissed