Karate is the art of unarmed self-defense. Karate-do is a Japanese phrase meaning kara—empty, te—hand, do—way, or the way of the empty hand.
Karate is a centuries old martial art, formally introduced in Japan by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Since the 1950s, karate has been practiced throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Karate is an excellent exercise, utilizing 90% of the body muscles. The mental aspects are as important as the physical. The main objective of karate training is development of character, although karate is also a practical and effective self-defense system.
Men and women of all ages can learn the art of karate. Children can begin as young as 5 years old. Training at ISKF Santa Monica dojo is highlighted by personal, individualized instruction in small class settings. Equal emphasis is placed on the mastery of basics (kihon), form (kata), sparring (kumite) and self-defense techniques. Instruction is safe, professional and easy to understand.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Shotokan karate?
Our school follows the traditional Shotokan style. Shotokan karate is one of the most widely practiced forms on the world today, and one of the most traditional. Introduced to Japan from Okinawa by Master Gichin Funakoshi, Shotokan puts heavy focus on kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring) to develop a range of powerful and dynamic techniques. The designation “Shotokan” derives from “Shoto,” which was the pen name of Master Funakoshi used when writing poetry.
What is the ISKF?
The International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) is one of the largest and most prestigious karate organizations found in over 40 countries. A non-profit organization established in 1977, the ISKF encourages the sound development of its members so that they may benefit physically, morally, and spiritually from the art of karate. Our goal is the promulgation of true Japanese karate-do as espoused by the founder, Gichin Funakoshi. We are dedicated to upholding the principles of Master Funkoshi’s Niju Kun and Dojo Kun: seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor, respect others, refrain from violent behavior.
What is the ISKF’s philosophy of karate?
Karate is not a sport or a game of points; it is a way of life based on Bushido. In true karate, the body, mind and spirit—the whole person—must be developed simultaneously. Through intense practice, the physical and mental aspects of karate can be brought together. The result is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through the core teaching of Zen, the basis of Bushido, and the cornerstone of the Shotokan karate philosophy.
Can anyone practice karate?
Yes! The only real requirement is a disciplined commitment to work hard and train patiently. As long as that commitment is there, karate is for everyone—regardless of age, sex, or ethnic background.
Do I need to be in excellent physical shape to start karate?
Not really. Since karate will gradually improve your fitness, your starting point is less important than the effort you put into it along the way. Our traditional focus on the basics and on the correct form make it easy for beginners to train together with experienced individuals yet still progress at their own level of fitness and expertise. If you are less fit, your progress at the start will simply be more moderate; as your fitness improves, so will the pace at which you advance.
What is expected of me if I join?
Four things. You are expected to be committed to your karate training, and to attend classes on a regular basis. You are expected to give your karate training your maximum effort, and to work hard during practice. You are expected to demonstrate the respect, humility and courtesy upon which karate’s long-standing tradition is founded. And of course, you are expected to pay your membership dues and other fees.
What will training involve?
A typical karate practice session usually begins with a comprehensive warm-up, followed by the various training exercises. The exercises are divided up into three main categories: kihon (basic techniques), in which you learn the basic blocks, punches, kicks, stances, etc. of karate; kata (forms), in which you practice and physically remember the various kihon learned; and kumite (sparring), where your kihon and kata techniques are matched against a real opponent. As your skill level increases, so will the difficulty of the exercises. Of course, there will be times when you are taught theory, dojo etiquette and the more philosophical aspects of karate.
What are the benefits of karate training?
Karate has tremendous benefits for body, mind and spirit. Physically, karate is good for the heart, strengthens bones, builds muscle, creates resilience, develops hand-eye coordination, and makes the body less susceptible to sickness and injury. Mentally, karate helps develop patience, discipline and perseverance, understanding and open-mindedness, as well as concentration and focus. Spiritually, karate builds confidence, develops self-control and increases calmness and peace.
How long does it take to learn karate?
It’s really up to you. The more you practice, the more you will improve for your entire life. There is no limit to mastering karate, no “final destination” at which you can arrive. There are benchmarks along the way, however. In the ISKF, you progress through a series of belt levels (9th to 1st Kyu). After that, you receive a black belt, and progress through another 9 degrees of black belt (1st to 10th Dan). A student with no prior training joins the ISKF as 9th Kyu, and is eligible to take ranking examinations every 3–4 months of training. Since there are 9 examinations you must pass to attain a 1st level black belt, the 1st Dan requires a minimum of three years of diligent training. It takes several years to attain each subsequent Dan. At these higher levels, you will see that karate is not just something to be learned, but something to be lived. And that takes a lifetime.
Do I have to wear a karate uniform?
Eventually, yes. To begin, you may wear something you can stretch in, such as a T-shirt and stretch pants. Uniforms (dogi) are available at the dojo.
How do I become a member of the ISKF?
Joining the ISKF requires filling out an application form and paying the appropriate fees. The ISKF offers two kinds of membership: Group Membership, for those wishing to affiliate their dojo or karate group, and Individual Membership, for people interested in joining the ISKF as an individual.
When can I start?
Start at any time that is convenient for you. Training is ongoing.