Helpful Answers to Frequently Asked Questioned
How soon should I be at the dojo before class?
Students should arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the beginning of class to ensure they have time to change into their gi and belt, use the restroom, or put personal items away in the locker room.
What do I need to wear to participate in class?
Once you have enrolled and receive your student gi, you are expected to use it in every class. All students must wear a plain, white gi free of garnish, tears, or stains. You are required to wear a WIKF patch on the left side of your gi. You may not wear jewelry (other than wedding bands), and fingernail and toenail length must be trimmed to an appropriate level for safety reasons.
You are required to bring and train in your belt at every class. It will carry the tears, sweat, and memories of your hard training for many years to come.
Male students are required to wear a cup/groin protector as some classes will involve contact work. You may choose to wear a plain white shirt underneath your gi. Female students must wear an appropriately colored sports bra, and may choose to wear a plain white shirt underneath the gi as well.
When sparring, all students must have a mouth piece, gloves, and head gear depending on your age and rank. You are not required to use shin pads or insteps unless you are in competition. Students who normally wear glasses must wear safety goggles during sparring sessions or may wear corrective lenses.
How do I tie my belt?
Many students struggle to tie their belt when they first begin training. Please ask a peer student or assistant instructor (brown belt) for help so that you may enter class with a correctly tied belt.
What can I expect from a typical class?
The class starts with warm-ups that prioritize cardiovascular development and dynamic flexibility. Students lined up in front each lead the class with a various exercise, allowing that student an opportunity to lead a group and present a movement. The instructor will then take over, bow the class in, and teach new or revisited material, such as techniques, kata, or kumite drills. This may involve whole group instruction, with partners, or individually. Depending on the size, rank, and needs of the class, the class may also be split up into smaller groups and led by assistant instructors. Discussions may also be included that cover various topics, such as the history of Wado or karate-do, kata/kumite principles, or other concepts. Some instructors may also choose to finish the class with an intense exercise or cool down before bowing the class out.
I showed up late! What do I do?
Go ahead and put on your gi and belt as promptly and quietly as possible. Then, stand at the back of the class, step down onto one knee (in a lunge), and raise one hand. Wait on a black belt instructor to respond and allow you into the class.
We understand that lateness can happen. However, frequent tardiness is rude to the instructor and students, interrupts the pace or planning of the training session, and demonstrates a lack of commitment to your training. Frequent tardiness will be addressed by a black belt instructor or assistant if it becomes a problem.
I showed up late, but I feel like practicing on my own. Can I do that?
Schedules class give you the opportunity to train with fellow karate-ka under the guidance of an instructor who aims to increase your knowledge and understanding of Wado curriculum. Therefore, there are few exceptions in getting to “train on your own” when a class is in session.
What if I need to get water or use the restroom during class?
Instructors may choose to allow kyuke or a break that provides time for water. It is asked that you use the restroom prior to or after class; however, we recognize that you may need to excuse yourself during class, which is particularly common during children’s classes.
There’s a lot of bowing… I don’t know when to bow. Help!
There’s a saying: When in doubt, bow! Bowing is an example of courtesy, and bowing when it is unnecessary would never be considered rude. It is rude to ignore a student who bows to you, and it is also rude to not bow to a higher ranking student or instructor when approaching him or her for a question.
How often should I practice?
It is strongly suggested that you attend two classes a week to develop a routine in your training. This provides you with practice, repetition, and exposure to the full WIKF curriculum. Some students choose to attend more than the minimum amount due to their schedules.
Of course, you can (and are encouraged to!) practice outside of class…in appropriate situations. If you want to train in the dojo, please note that scheduled classes have priority to the tatami (for example, adults preparing for a rank exam must give precedence to a children’s class unless they have permission from the instructor). Also, it is required that a black belt must be present if jiyu kumite takes place outside of a scheduled class or competition practice. Do not bring individuals who are not students to train with you in the dojo.
Can I train outside of the dojo?
Again, we encourage students to develop a habit of persistent practice. However, recognize that you represent the Academy of Classical Karate, your Sensei, and the WIKF outside of the dojo. Choosing to practice karate “for fun” or to “show off” is both disrespectful and dangerous.
Am I required to participate in tournaments?
No, it is completely optional to compete in tournaments. Many students have successfully learned the curriculum and been promoted without competition experience.
I want to start competing, how can I start?
WIKF Texas team practices are allotted for members of WIKF Texas who joined at the beginning of the year. There is a day of commitment in January; after that time, only those students who joined may participate in tournaments. However, we invite those who are interested in competing (and had missed that window) to participate in the annual Suzuki Cup, open to all students at the Academy of Classical Karate. In addition, you are welcome to watch a team practice or volunteer at the Suzuki Cup to see how tournaments function. Also, ask someone on the team! They would love to share their experiences.
Can I try private lessons?
Yes, most black belt instructors are available to provide private lessons, even to individuals or small groups. They may center those individualized sessions on competition training, curriculum, or rank exam preparation. Prices and availability depend on the instructor. Private lessons do not replace in-class training nor are they meant to teach you material that is beyond the requirements for your upcoming or current rank.
When do I get to test?
That is determined by the Sensei instructors. They evaluate your attendance, effort in class, and time at a particular rank. It is not appropriate to approach an instructor and ask to be tested. Usually, most karate-ka test every 6-8 months, with the time span increasing to about a year once reaching sankyu (brown belt).
I think I am ready to test but haven’t been asked to test yet. How can I get on a test?
An appropriate way to approach this is by asking, “What can I do to improve and better prepare for the next rank?” Instead of demanding an instructor to test you, approach him or her and inquire on how to progress. That instructor may take the opportunity to evaluate your current knowledge and execution of techniques to determine if you need to learn any missing curricular material, need more time to settle in your current rank, or if you are actually ready to test for the next rank. Again, attendance, effort, and time in rank are tracked and influence your ability to get on a rank exam.
I’ve been asked to test. What happens now?
Children in the kids classes will be given a testing letter that must be signed by a parent to ensure that the student is performing well in school and demonstrating good behavior. Then, they need to choose a mentor (brown belt assistant) and uke (partners) to prepare for the test. You will need a minimum of two partners: one for ippon gumite (self-defense) and two for bunkai (kata application). Uke should be similar to your rank and age to ensure that they are familiar with the material.
Adults will receive a test preparation form that they need to provide to their mentor. If testing for a brown belt rank, you must have a shodan or nidan-ranked instructor as your mentor, with few exceptions. You are also responsible for finding uke to help you prepare. You should not feel limited by an uke’s gender, although you should take size and rank into consideration.
I’ve been asked to be an “uke” for a test. What does that mean?
This is a special honor; this means that the test candidate has a lot of trust in you and your ability to help him or her succeed on the rank exam. You will be asked to serve as a partner during partner drills, such as sanbons, ohyos, or ippon gumite, or bunkai. You are expected to help prepare the candidate outside of class, and will also receive feedback from the mentor, which can help your own training. It can be extremely disrespectful to refuse helping as an uke just because you don’t “feel like it” or like the person, especially if that candidate is testing for a high rank. On the contrary however, if you know that you cannot commit to being an uke due to a schedule conflict or other extenuating circumstance, you must communicate this to the test candidate and mentor immediately. Not showing up on the day of a rank exam could sabotage that candidate’s assessment.
I want to help the dojo, what can I do to be more involved?
The best and easiest thing you can do to help your dojo is to refer it to your friends and neighbors. Students who refer the dojo help keep a steady flow of good hardworking students in the dojo and keep the level of training solid for everyone. Your reference of our dojo means a lot to us and we hope you enjoy the dojo so much you want your friends to know about it!
As you progress in karate rank you can help the dojo by leading by example. Show the new students how to behave in the dojo, what a good training partner looks like and how to properly maintain and care for their equipment and the dojo.
Around 4th kyu (Blue Belt) you might can ask to be part of our Junshidoshi Program. Junshidoshi are assistant instructors who help in a variety of ways including mentoring students, leading portions of selected classes and volunteering to help tutor kids with school work. Being a Junshidoshi is not easy, but it is an important piece to the dojo and to our karate development.