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Self Defense class at San Antonio Shitokai

Frequently Asked Questions About Karate

We're glad you're here! If you are seeking answers to common questions about karate, then your journey has already begun. This page is dedicated to answering many of the frequently asked questions we receive from prospective karate students and parents of young learners, and we hope that you find the answers to your own questions here. We also provide a brief glossary of terms at the bottom of the page, so if you see a word or phrase on our San Antonio dojo website that you are unfamiliar with, you may find the definition here as well. We understand that each person has a unique perspective on karate, and therefore some of your questions may be different from those on the page. We invite you to please contact Sensei Jim Hamman with any questions, needs, or concerns you have that are not addressed here.

We are here to help and happy to share our knowledge with you!

  • What is Shito-ryu karate?
    This is the number-one question we receive! Shito-ryu karate was founded in 1934 by Kenwa Mabuni in Okinawa. It is one of the original styles of karate and one of the six recognize karate styles. Shito-ryu karate is distinguished by physical speed, a strong stance, and an economy of movement. The karate style is known for combining half-hard and half-soft circular movements and a multitude of katas and techniques.
  • How old does my child need to be to begin learning karate?
    This is an excellent question, and the answer depends on the ability of the learner to concentrate and stay focused. Our karate classes are 45 minutes long, and many four- to five-year-olds will begin to lose focus after about 30 minutes. Our youngest class is open to five- to eight-year-olds; however, if your four-year-old has a 45-minute attention span, he or she is more than welcome to try a class.
  • Can I try a class before signing up?
    Most definitely. In fact, we highly recommend it, so please feel free to get in touch, schedule a karate class at our San Antonio dojo, and have some fun while you learn karate!
  • How long is each class time?
    Each class time is different according to age. Pre-K kids are a half hour 5-8 & 9-12 year olds have forty-five minute classes Teens and adults have one hour long classes
  • Do you teach traditional karate?
    Most karate dojos say they tech traditional karate. We teach Shito-ryu, one of the traditional or major styles of karate from Okinawa. We continue training with instructors and black belts from other Shito-ryu dojos under Koshi Shoko Sato, who oversees Shito-ryu karate in the United States and most of South America. We are part of the USA Shito-Kai and the World Shito-Kai.
  • Do I have to sign an annual contract?
    Our contracts are month to month. We do encourage you and your student to participate for at least three months to decide what level of commitment your student has. When a student signs up for three months, they receive a complementary gi.
  • What do I need to wear to my karate classes?
    As with other karate classes, students wear a white gi to work out and practice. You will be issued one upon enrolling in class.
  • How often should I practice karate?
    You get out of life what you put into it, and this idea is no different when it comes to learning karate. The amount of practice can vary, depending upon your goals and what you want to get out of karate, but most students should attend practice twice a week and practice about 10 minutes a day at home. Younger students should attend practice at least once a week, and teens and adults should attend practice two or more times a week.
  • Can both girls and boys (or men and women) participate in the same karate class
    From our personal experience, karate is for everyone. Typically, about half our students are female.
  • How many students are in each karate class?
    We start adding more karate classes when we average about 20 students in a class over a period of a month. We've taught classes of over 40 students, but the average class has about 12 to 16 students. Advanced classes can be a little larger, and sometimes we have advanced karate students helping with some of the beginner and novice classes.
  • Will karate classes help me get in shape?
    We like to think that karate is fitness with a purpose. Adults over 30 usually lose about 20 pounds in the first four months, and adults over 40 usually lose about 30 pounds in the same length of time.
  • Do I have to be physically fit to begin learning karate?
    No, but you should be physically fit by the time you are a black belt.
  • Can you get hurt while practicing karate?
    Yes, but you can get hurt while participating in any physical activity. Karate begins and ends with respect, and we encourage and practice control and safety in everything we do. The most common injury we see is pulled muscles from not warming up properly.
  • How long does it take to feel confident about defending yourself?
    Usually about three to six months. We don’t teach people how to fight (as an aggressor), but we do teach and focus on self-defense.
  • Do I have to spar in class or compete in tournaments?
    Yes, everybody will spar in class. We believe sparring should be about speed, timing, distancing, and control. It's about self-defense first and foremost. Sparring is not about beating each other up, but about helping our partners become better. Yes, San Antonio Shitokai trains and supports those students who wish to compete in karate tournaments, but nobody has to compete.
  • How long does it take the average person to be a black belt?
    Your average person does not become an Eagle Scout, a concert pianist, a published author, an actor, a rock star, or black belt, but with hard work and dedication, it usually takes four to five years.
  • Is there a process for transfer students coming from another karate style?
    We welcome all who want to study Shito-ryu karate and anybody who would like to work out with us. The answer to the question is yes, but you will need to discuss it with the head instructor.

When you are learning about martial art, it is about respect. - Jackie Chan

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