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Featured Article / Review
Ms. Atsuko Wakai Sensei Interview

剛柔流 Ms. Atsuko Wakai Sensei Interview


Original interview by Mrs. Teru Enomot...... full article
SF Gojukan: Beginning training
Welcome to Gojuryu Karatedo and your very first set of Karatedo sessions [roughly the first 4 - 6 weeks]. This early stage of training can be both stressful as well as an unforgettable experience. Likely you'll hear something you haven't heard before or find out something you didn't know. Even native Japanese speakers get something new out of early training sessions in Karatedo because training in Budo [martial arts] is a bit different than everyday life. Just like swimming or riding a bicycle, karatedo requires practice through repetition to become better and increase competence, so practice practice practice.

Goju Ryu Karate Do is a traditional Martial Art from Okinawa Japan. Benefits include; proper breathing, building stamina and body mechanics. Gojuryu is popular in competitions and effective for self defense. This course follows the principles and standards set by associations of which we are members of:
  • Japan Karatedo Federation Gojukai
  • Seiwakai Gojuryu Karatedo
  • Dai Nippon Butokukai
  • USA National Karatedo Federation [USOC]

Your Gi [uniform]
This is not our weird way of making you wear angry white pajamas, this is your uniform. Sometimes it's misrepresented with too much stuff or a lot of flash however for the most part Gojuryu Karatedo clubs keep it simple. Your Gi should be kept in order during training and your belt tied. You Gi pants should be tied in a manner that the strings do not hang out from under your Gi top [if they have strings]. Your Gi top is left over right and your "Mon" [logo] is over your heart. Tie tassles of your gi top together in the same way you would tie your shoe string.

Your belt
Unlike your uniform, it is traditional not to wash your belt. It is also sanitary and a smart idea to have it cleaned in the event is smells bad, gets mildew from sweat or just plain ol' dirty.

How do you tie your belt? There are a few ways however we chose a very simple way to start as seen below. Later you may want to change how you tie your belt based on how you like to wear it but still remember that when it is complete, both ends should be of equal length. Ask Sensei for additional help if needed.

 1. Center your belt around your waist.
2. Wrap your belt around you, pulling both ends out making them of equal lengths.
3. Tuck right end under both laps, then pull it slightly up and away
4. Pull both ends of the belt out, again making them of equal lengths.
5. The bottom end goes under the lap and back over top end, then loop back through the hole as seen in the diagram.
6. Pull both ends tight and be sure they are equal length

We would like to stress that you call your experience with us "training" and not simply note it as "class". This is to put our minds into the learning experience and not on the learning experience. In the next session you will build upon the basics of ettiquete you obtained in the first session.

Something to Remember
Everyone has their reasons for doing everything. Sometimes those reasons are motivational, sometimes required or mandatory, sometimes just out of pure luck and sometimes by mistake but there is always a reason. I came into my own interests of Karatedo because I needed to. Yes, but only by chance, I was getting beat-up on a daily basis when I was younger however that was by people clearly bigger than me. I say I came into Karatedo on my own because I needed a way out. I lived under circumstances that I needed to escape from. I say I came into Karatedo because I went on my own, I found a dojo, I signed myself up, I never asked for a ride and found my own transportation, I paid my own tuition [well as best as I could] and I bought my own equipement. It was something I needed to do, a way out of my particular living situation and I knew back then that only a stong martial art could teach me about a part of life that I was clearly missing. Some people join Karatedo to increase their endurance or help build cardiovascular health for heart reasons, some people sign up with the expectaton that Karatedo will one day save their life, some people join because they have always been clumsy and some people get involved because they have high risk jobs. I bring this up becuase I want you to ask yourself;
  • What is your reason for training?
  • What makes you want to get better, to achieve more?
  • What pushes you in life?
  • What pushes you when training Karatedo?
These points are what I want you remember when you feel you are loosing focus. When the day comes that you just don't feel like going to class, read through this page again, then get up and grab your Gi and bag. These are your reasons for continuing training and doing what you know you need to do. If it is for life preservation [Bujutsu], stonger mind [Budo] or sport competition [Shiai], it doesn't matter. These are your reasons and your reasons alone.

Etiquette
You've probably noticed alot of proper this and proper that. Do this correctly and do that correctly. It's not as much over-kill as it seems. Etiquette will relate to and should be practiced in every part of Karatedo training. Karatedo needs etiquette to stay organized. You'll be suprised how much it will rub off on you and help you focus on other parts of your life like organization or time management. Simply put, Karatedo without etiquette is just a fight. Yes, we're here learning to make a proper punch, kick, block and throw however there is so much more to it. Karatedo requires formalities because it is more than just one teacher with one student training. You'll notice that the smaller the class the less formalities and the larger the class the more bowing. For more information see 空手道 Reigi Saho-Reishiki-Etiquette.

Bowing in and out:
  • Everytime you enter the Dojo and training area you should Rei [Bow] and 'Onengaishimasu',
  • Every exercise begins with Rei [Bow] and 'Onengaishimasu',
  • Everytime you exit the Dojo and training area you should Rei [Bow] and ‘Arigato Gozaimashita',
  • Every exercise ends with Rei [Bow] and ‘Arigato Gozaimashita'
Seiza – Proper Seiza is:
  • Beginning with Musubi Dachi,
  • Hands flat to your side,
  • Left knee down to right heel,
  • Right knee down,
  • All toes still bent,
  • Adjust to all toes flat on floor,
  • Seated down atop of heels,
  • Hands just over knee – lap.
Zarei [seated or kneeling bow]:
  • Beginning from Seiza position with hands rested neatly on your lap,
  • Left hand down first - thumb and index finger form half a diamond pattern,
  • Right hand down next - forming left and right in a diamond pattern,
  • Bow head down two fists above the area of where you hands are located,
  • Attempt to not bring your seat off your heels.
  • Return in the revers order by bringing your right hand to your lap,
  • Finish by bringing your left hand to your lap.
  • The two hands should not move at the same time.
Yoi - Ready:
  • Beginning from Musubi Dachi,
  • Left hand over right hand,
  • Pull both hands to side into fists,
  • At the same time of pulling both fists to the side, spread heels to Heiko Dachi – remember this must be proper Heiko Dachi - Straight,
  • Fists must be pointed towards the ground.
Parents of little ones:
Yes, we know they are "just so cute" but please do your best to refrain from taking pictures during class. Also, absolutely do not tell your children or anyone else in class to pose or do anything of any kind during training. Everyone in attendance is hear to learn and distractions cannot be accepted. We recommend that you join class for a season to gain a better understanding of Budo and to asses if Karatedo is right for you or your child. Children have a short attention span naturally and it is all of our job to nurture their minds today so they may take care of us tomorrow.
  • It is the parents’ job to teach children left from right [use the pen method to reinforce in the dojo].
  • Often parents bring their children to Karatedo to learn discipline however children should be introduced to discipline in the home.
  • This home plan of discipline can be practiced – reinforced in the dojo.
Below are a few words you should review to help the your early experience go along a little better. You'll likely hear most of these in your very first class. A few you will never hear with the exception of being referenced to [like "Deshi"]. Try to remember them, practice the words at home, pronounce the words out loud and write the words down three times each. If you can or have access, pick up a Japanese pronunciation index card or paper or ask your Sensei! [see below]

Arigato Gozaimashita: Thank you very much [in closing].
Chudan: Middle.
Dachi: Stance.
Deshi: Student.
Gata: Group of Kata [forms].
Gedan: Lower.
Geri: Kick.
Gi [Dogi]: Part of a traditional Karatedo [and Budo] uniform. Please keep it clean and white.
Gojuryu: A very famous and unique style of Karate from Okinawa - Japan. "Go" meaning hard, "Ju" meaning soft and "Ryu" meaning style. Also written as "Goju Ryu" and sometime "Gojyu Ryu".
Hanza: Sit comfortably.
Hidari: Left.
Jodan: Upper.
Karatedo: Japanese Martial Art. "Kara" meaning empty, "Te" meaning hand and "Do" meaning way. Also written as "Karate Do" and in Europe "Karat do".
Kata: Prearranged pattern of movements / forms.
Kihon: Basic.
Kiotsuke: Pay attention, stand at attention. Do not slap your Gi. Hands rested at sides.
Kohai: Someone junior to you.
Migi: Right.
Mokuso: Close your eyes in meditation.
Mokuso Yame: End medition.
Mon: Club, Kaiha or Dojo logo. [This also refers to flags or symbols regarding heritage, etc].
Onegaishimasu: Thank you [in opening].
Rei - Bow.
Ritsu rei: Standing Bow.
Seiretsu: Line up.
Sempai: Someone senior to you.
Sensei: Teacher.
Seiza: kneel, left leg first when kneeling, ladies knees closer together, right leg first when standing.
Uke: Deflect, block.
Tsuke: Strike.
Yame: End, stop.
Zarei: kneeling bow, left hand first going down, right hand first coming up.

A reminder to please be ontime to training. How we hold our training is a reflection of how we go about life and sets the stage to junior participants.

The information above should easily flow into your next sessions [roughly the 2nd month] of training. Be sure to save this information for your future reference.

SF Gojukan Internal Site Links
剛柔会 JKF Gojukai
剛柔流 JKF Gojukai Shinsa
剛柔館 SF Gojukan
剛柔館 SF Gojukan 1st Class
剛柔会 SF Gojukan Director
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剛柔館 SF Gojukan EPS
剛柔会 SF Gojukan Schedule
剛柔館 SF Gojukan Shinsa
剛柔会 SF Gojukan Shinsa Doc
剛柔会 SF Gojukan Whitepaper
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