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An Ideal Karate Experience
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to join the best karate club you could imagine? Not everyone wants the same thing out of a karate club, so there are going to be different opinions about what would be great about a club. Here’s my vision of what someone might write about their experience if they attended the best karate club imaginable.
One of my friends at work is attending this karate club and invited me to come and participate in one of their practices. He found out that I have been doing Shotokan Karate for many years, and thought I would enjoy getting a workout in. He was enthusiastic enough that I was pretty sure he was just infatuated – likely to turn bitterly disappointed later on. I figured “What the heck?” I said, “Yes.” and I went with him to his next practice.
I drove into the parking lot of a dance studio. Apparently they borrow the space from the dance instructor on slow nights. I walked up the stairs, and was met by a smiling person who handed me a one-page flyer telling me about the club. It had some basic rules, some information about the instructor, and what to expect. There was a weekly schedule, and of course a link to their calendar. She said, “Tonight is sparring night. We won’t do any kata or basics much tonight. Just lots of sparring drills. Wear your black belt. We don’t care about rank much here.”
I stepped inside. There was a sign on the changing room door that said, “Women.” The women came out, and flipped the sign over to say “Men.” We went in and changed.
When we came out, there were people warming up around the room. The instructor clapped his hands, and said, “OK folks. Let’s start. We stood around him in a semi-circle. He immediately started demonstrating some techniques and had us make two lines, partner up, and start moving through the drills slowly. No stretching, no pushups, no sitting around looking important pretending to meditate. 100% efficient.
We did the drills with ever-increasingly complexity. As time passed, the complexity was combined together into some semi-free work in which we picked attacks randomly and the defender had to interpret faints and put up a substantial defense against incoming techniques. Attackers were encouraged to overcome these defenses if possible.
The instructor clapped his hands again and asked us to gather around for a last time. He thanked me for visiting. Everyone clapped at the end of the lesson.
It was over. The women headed to the changing room. We waited outside. Steve came over and introduced himself. No fake machismo. No pretending he was the king and everyone had to be brought before him.
Steve explained that he offered sparring on Thursdays, kata on Tuesdays, and basic training on Saturdays. He said that I could choose what to attend when I wanted. The club offered a monthly cash fee payable in advance or a nightly fee based on attendance up to the equivalent of $10 more than the monthly fee. He said I could loosen things up and get more aggressive with the brown and black belts next time.
Steve asked me what I was looking for. “Just some exercise. Something to take away the evening stress.”
“That’s cool. Are you looking for technical advice or to learn any new kata? Competition? Application?”
“Not right now, no.”
“OK. Cool. I wont bother you with that stuff right now, then. We’ll get you a workout anytime you choose to come by. Come anytime. You are welcome here as often or as unoften as you like. ”
I grabbed my things and I took off. No salesman called me at home. I was not offered the Black Belt plan. I wasn’t told I had to re-earn my rank. I didn’t line up in any particular order. I didn’t have to join the organization. The instructor asked me what I wanted, and offered up his lessons as a service.
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