What happens in a typical class?

When you arrive at the hall (dojo, doe-joe) you get changed into your karate suit (gi, gee). If it’s your first time just turn up in something loose and comfortable. See the FAQ section.

When the class starts you line up in grade order – with the lowest grade (that’ll be you if it’s your first time!) at the back left and the highest grade black belt at the front right – and face the teacher (sensei, sen-say) to whom you bow (rei, ray) when asked.

We then do some warm up exercise (junbi undo, jun-bee-un-doe) which is basic PE stuff like jumping on the spot or push ups or even dodge ball.

After that we do basics (kihon, kee-hon) which is the first time you will do some proper karate. These are things like punches, kicks and blocks but all done standing in line rather than against an opponent. We might also do some supplementary exercises (hojo undo, hoe-joe-un-doe) using some special equipment like a wooden rod embedded in a stone (chishi, chee-she).

Next comes practising our kata (ka-tah) – the form or pattern – which is the bedrock of karate and consists of a series of moves which simulate – albeit in a dance like way – the self defence techniques that we later use in our applications (bunkai, bun-k-eye).

Goju ryu has 12 kata but the first one you will learn is called gekisai dai ichi (geck-ee-sigh-die-ee-chee). See the introduction to kata section for more on this.

Applications are where you get to work with another karateka (karate-kah, student) to try out predetermined karate moves and see if you can make them work under controlled conditions.

Later on you might try some kakie (cack-ee-ay, pushing hands), kumite (koo-mi-tay, sparring), renzoku (wren-zoo-koo) continuous two person straight line applications) or randori (ran-door-ee, free practice). Most commonly we do ippon kumite (ih-pon-koo-mi-tay, one step sparring) because it allows you to practice your karate easily and safely.

At the end of the session we line up again and once more bow to our teacher (sensei rei, sen-say-ray) and also each other (otagai ni rei, otto-guy-nee-ray).

If all the above sounds complicated and intimidating don’t worry as someone will be there to help and guide you. We’re a friendly lot and unlike some karate clubs we like to keep things fairly light and informal.

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