Questions

How do I start Seido Karate?
Is Seido Karate suitable for my child?
Where can I learn more about the origins and philosophy of Seido Karate?
What do I wear to my first class?
Do I need to be fit? Or able to touch my toes?
Whoa! Are those press-ups on the knuckles?
What’s with all the shouting? And that ‘oos’ noise?
What about the bowing at the start and finish of a class?
It sounds like you’re all speaking Japanese. Don’t tell me I have to learn another language to do karate?
I’ve heard of black belts, but what about all the other coloured belts?
So it might take 4 or 5 years to get to black belt?
When can I start fighting?

 

Answers

How do I start Seido Karate?

Check out our timetable and then come along and watch a class. Talk to the instructor or students, or contact us to see about joining up.

Is Seido Karate suitable for my child?

Absolutely, but only if your child is aged five and over. Many children love the chance to try karate. It helps their fitness, coordination, and also their self-discipline and confidence. Seido Wellington has a separate children’s programme so your child can train with others of her or his age and ability.

Where can I learn more about the origins and philosophy of Seido Karate?

You’ll learn a lot as a student at Seido Wellington, and we have a small library of books. The best place to learn more about this style and its founder, Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, is on the website for Honbu, Seido headquarters in New York.

What do I wear to my first class?

Shorts or track pants and a t-shirt are ideal – no shoes as there is no footwear in the dojo (training hall). Most people buy their karate uniform (or gi) once they’ve decided to continue with training.

Do I need to be fit? Or able to touch my toes?

Karate is a good way to get fit, but you don’t need to be fit to start training. You’re likely to sweat and pant, but that is all good! You might use some muscles that you’ve never used before, but your body will soon get used to the exercises. And many people who have been training for years still can’t touch their toes (or not without bending their knees)…

Whoa! Are those press-ups on the knuckles?

Sure are! Believe it or not, some folks love them. We’d be lying if we said that at some point karate wasn’t going to get a little uncomfortable and physically challenging. But working through the discomfort (some might even  call it pain) is a great way to push ourselves to overcome hurdles. Press-ups on the knuckles are one of these ways, with the added bonus of exercising the muscles and joints that are used in punching.  There is a whole world of variations on press-ups, and if you’re over 16 years of age, you’ll get introduced to these on your karate journey.

What’s with all the shouting? And that ‘oos’ noise?

The shout is called a ‘kiai’. It gets rid of all the air in the lungs and tightens the tummy muscles so that the technique is strong and focused. It psyches up the person doing it, and psyches out the opponent as well. ‘Oos’ is actually ‘Osu’. It is a general term of acknowledgement and respect, and means many things – yes, no, thanks, ‘I’m trying really hard’, ‘I can go harder’, ‘I’d like to stop these press-ups now’…

What about the bowing at the start and finish of a class?

There is nothing religious in the bowing. It is a way we acknowledge the ‘spirit’ of the club and everyone who trains or has trained. Respect is central in Seido Karate and bowing shows that. It is also why we shake hands when we have partnered someone in class, and sometimes at the end of class too.

It sounds like you’re all speaking Japanese. Don’t tell me I have to learn another language to do karate?

We use Japanese terms to describe many things: body parts, the types of techniques, and also to count. Seido’s founder, Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, is Japanese, and of course, karate has its origins in Okinawa and then Japan. It might be a little strange at first, but you will soon pick it up.

I’ve heard of black belts, but what about all the other coloured belts?

Beginners (10th kyu) in karate wear a white belt (obi) – a sign that they are new to the martial art. Each promotion (or grading) brings a different colour (or tip of colour) to the belt. There are 10 ‘kyu’ grades, each with a different belt:

10th kyu: white belt

9th kyu: white belt with advance black tab

8th kyu: blue belt

7th kyu: blue belt with advance black tab

6th kyu: yellow belt

5th kyu: yellow belt with advance black tab

4th kyu: green belt

3rd kyu: green belt with advance black tab

2nd kyu: brown belt

1st kyu: brown belt with advance black tab

At the start and if you’re training well, you’ll move through the  grades every three months or so until you get to green belt. After that, promotions may occur every six months until you get to 1st kyu. An invitation to attempt your black belt might come about 18 months after you’ve reached 1st kyu.

So it might take 4 or 5 years to get to black belt?

Yep. There are 10 levels for black belt (or dan grades), and in Seido Wellington, you’ll see black belts from shodan (1st dan) up to rokudan (6th dan). In New Zealand there are two hachidan (8th dan, known as Hanshi): Hanshi Renzie Hanham who runs the Christchurch club, and Hanshi Andy Barber who heads the Nelson club.

When can I start fighting?

Seido Karate introduces sparring at 4th kyu (green belt). You would have been training for 2 or 3 years by then, which means you’ll be able to control your techniques better than when you first started. This is a way to help keep everyone safe, but it is also one of the features of Seido Karate. Seido’s founder, Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, wants this style to be for everyone, so not introducing sparring for a couple of years means that everyone gets the chance to learn and develop at their own pace. Sparring becomes a good way of challenging ourselves to overcome some of our trepidations. People can be nervous about fighting, but the environment is very controlled.