Your First Lesson
On arriving in the dojo (training hall) you will be made to feel welcome and have the club rules and requirements to become a member explained to you. You may then be paired with a higher grade student who can help you through your first lesson. At the start time we will line up facing the instructor in descending order of grade (highest on the left, lowest on the right) and cross your arms in front of your body and go into the yoi (ready) position. When asked, you put your feet together (right foot into left foot) and go first into a crouching position then kneel (left knee down first). When settled, the highest graded student facing the Sensei says in a loud voice: “sensei, ni rei” (meaning, “respect to the teacher”). The class bows saying “oss”, to which the instructor responds “oss”. The instructor stands, keeping feet together and hands by the sides, and the class then follow to a similar standing position. The instructor then asks you to bow again and the session then begins.
A typical session will always start with a warm up which includes stretching routines and general conditioning of the body (sit-ups and press-ups included). The warm up is essential to prepare your body for the lesson but do bear in mind “if it really hurts then stop doing it”; listen to your body and make sure you are exerting right effort (not too much and not too little). If you have any illness or injuries which may impact the activity please let the instructor know before the lesson starts.
Once the warm up is complete we will often practice various techniques or kihon (basics) individually and, as you progress, these are combined into short combinations. In kihon training all the stances, blocks, attacking techniques and defensive moves that form the basis of Karate are performed. This is the fundamental building block to your Karate.
Following kihon, students may then be asked to pair off and practice one, thee or five step basic sparring (kumate) this is where basic defense techniques are drilled against pre-arranged attacks. This may progress to more advanced techniques which the partners practice over and over again until the concept has been grasped. The higher grades may practice semi-free style sparring, in which the attack is pre-determined, but the response is left to the individual or even full free style.
The final period is often spent practicing Kata which are forms ( longer pre-defined sequences of techniques). These are often performed one technique at a time to the count and then in a continuous flowing form without count.
At the end of the session we line up in the yoi position and when asked you put your feet together (right foot into left foot) move into a crouching position and then kneel (left knee down first) . The instructor will call Mokuso ( a Japanese term for mediation); here you close your eyes relax and clear the mind and focus on what you have learned during the lesson. After a short time the instructor calls oss, and the highest grade calls: “sensei ni rei” (respect to the teacher). The class bows answering “oss” to which the instructor returns the compliment. The instructor is first to stand followed by the class, keeping feet together and hands by the sides, this is followed by a final bow marking the end of the session.
At the end of the lesson please speak to the instructor so they can find out how you enjoyed the lesson, answer any questions you may have and take any feedback.