1. What do I call the teachers?
To show respect for their experience and the amount of time they have devoted to the Art, we ask all students to address Adult Black Belts, regardless of whether they are teachers or not, as Sensei, Sensei +first name or “Sir” (regardless of whether they are male or female.)
2. How do I enter a class if I am late?
You are always welcome in class even if you are late. If you are late, please wait by the door in meditative horse stance, and a Sensei will come to welcome you and bow you in. This again, encourages common courtesy. It also helps the staff tremendously in terms of keeping attendance; attendance is very important to us and we like to acknowledge that you are with us.
3. What do I do when I enter or leave the dojo?
When you enter or leave the dojo, for whatever reason, when you reach the doorway, face the centre of the room and bow. You may then enter or leave. This shows respect for the dojo.
4. May I use the washroom?
Of course. But please inform a Sensei so that we know where you are, in case of emergencies. Please ensure you bow in and out of the room at the doorway.
5. Are classes serious?
Hmmm. That depends on what you mean. Yes, we take our Art very seriously. But that does not mean you can’t have fun. If you don’t laugh at least once a class, then we’re not doing our job of sharing our love of the Art. But having fun does NOT mean misbehaving, horsing around, or intentionally hurting someone. We expect our students to have fun but be focused on the task at hand.
6. Will I get hurt?
Easy answer is yes, but little bruises do heal. For the most part, we promote “light” contact on each other and heavy contact on the drill pads. But, as you work towards your Black Belt, the contact on each other will be slightly more than “light” contact during your gradings because by then you should have the muscle control to allow you to strike with accuracy and pressure without causing injury. On occasion there can be more serious injuries if you slip and fall but that is the same risk as for any sport.
Once you start sparring, you will be required to wear a helmet (preferrably with face shield), sparring mitts and sparring boots. If you so choose, you can also wear a chest pad, arm pads and shin pads. We normally pair up relatively equal sparring partners so that no one is overwhelmed; when this is not possible, the stronger partner will be “nice”. Sparring does not begin until Orange Belt level so that you may develop muscle control before you have non-choreographed interaction with the other students.
No one comes to class hoping to be hurt, so please don’t come hoping to hurt anyone. This is Family Karate…open to people of all ages, physical and mental abilities, and goals. If you’re hoping to join the MMA and be a professional fighter, then we’re not the right studio for you.
7. Do I have to participate in Tournaments?
There are plans to usually have at least one tournament per year with participants from all the associated schools. However, you do not need to participate if you do not want to. Having said that, it can be fun to “benchmark” yourself against your peers occasionally. As well, our tournaments are NOT just sparring tournaments; there are competitions for the forms, sets, and self defenses as well, that you may find very enjoyable. The tournaments are also a great way of meeting other like-minded individuals who could become close friends.
8. What are the details for Belt Gradings?
The black stripes that are awarded at the end of classes when certain components of the students’ programs are completed successfully are RTFMA’s way of celebrating small goals towards the next belt level. The Grading is a celebration of what the student has accomplished and as such we encourage extended family members to attend, video tape, take pictures, etc. Students eligible for grading will receive a formal Letter of Intent to Grade prior to the grading. It is important that students attend all classes between the Letter of Intent and the Grading as practice gradings will occur to help you prepare for your grading.
9. Do I have to be “fit” to join in?
Definitely not. We encourage people of all mental and physical abilities to join in. Each student works at their own pace to achieve their own goals. You do not need to compete against anyone except yourself. We encourage you to participate in the cardio portion of the classes to your own abilities and modify the exercises to fit your needs. Obviously, getting off the couch and into the dojo will help improve your fitness level, but to what degree is entirely your own decision.
10. Is it wise to join my children in class?
Definitely! We started Karate together as a family so that we could have fun together and do something active a couple of evenings per week. We all participate at different intensity levels. Our children are just as much our cheerleaders when we achieve a goal as we are for them. It’s healthy for children to see their parents set and achieve goals. And yes, sometimes the children will advance far more rapidly than the parent(s) and that’s healthy too.