As a followup to our original interview, we have even more to share! Thank you to all our readers for sharing. There are some excellent tips in here. And there are so many years of dedication – that is what karate is about.
Your rank: Brown belt
Any tips you want to share?:
I remember trying to repeat kata in a way similar to how I tried to remember La Macarena in grade school gym class. After I’d get the moves down, then it felt a little like acting class, pretending each move was a slowed-down Matrix-like fight scene. As I advanced in classes, it became second nature. The more complex steps and moves were built on fundamentals that I had drilled to muscle memory, so it wasn’t that difficult. All that remained was learning to feel the emotion behind every move; the slow steps, the sudden stomp, the deft block, the quick kick/punch combo, the glass-bending “”KIAI!”" It was very systematic (and, at that point, natural) in terms of learning the moves, learning the spirit, and putting it all together into a nice, presentable package.
The physical training aspect was different, with lots of stretching, knuckle-pushups, kicking a board, punching and kicking H-E-A-V-Y bags filled with what felt like concrete stuffed in a pillow. But you get used to it. The free sparring was really good once me and my buddy get to 1st kyu. Sometimes, somebody (especially I) would get a fat lip or a bloody nose. Painful, but it made me feel LIKE A BOSS.
When it comes to advancing through the higher ranks, it helps to play little games with yourself in your free time. If you’re standing around in line, stand on one foot and try to shift your balance to see how much you can take before falling over. Jog when you can (down empty halls, up and down stairs and so-on).
And always, always remember: YOU WILL GET HURT. If there is a statistic out there that shows this sort of thing, I’d wager $10 that 100% of people who get into martial arts suffer some sort of injury. Be careful, but don’t beat yourself up too bad if you get a rolled ankle, bloody nose or broken bone. Roll with the punches.
Black belt Shodan-Ho, one level below black belt 1st degree.
I had to perform many katas which took a lot of time and effort, too many to list along with many bunkais (applications of the katas). I was 15 at the time and it was an arduous task. The first time I failed but I tried again six months later and got the belt. It was a character building experience.
Your rank: The White Belt
What was your first kata like?:
The Kata was very fast and rhythmic followed by 30 seconds breaks after 10 minutes passed.The harsh part was the high kicks, swift punches and then combining them both in swift combos but over all it was worth it finally getting the belt after 7 months of training feeling like a champ.
You martial arts expierence: i did karate almost three years ago it was actually taekwondo and i reached the level of purple belt. It was a good experience for me because i had a rough home life and a lot of anger and frustrations and it was a great outlet for them
Your rank: yellow
What has it been like?:
lots of physical training, sprinting, jumping. to actually get the belt i had to break a few boards and perform a routine that matched the instructor exactly
Your rank: white belt
Is it hard to do karate?:
The training is very tiring. We end our training at around 10pm. After getting home, i would always fall on my bed, exhausted. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have the time to brush my teeth before falling asleep. The katas like in all other martial arts form is very rigid but rigorous. I haven’t tried taking any belt examinations yet, because it’s very scary (what if i fail?). It’s still an overall great experience.
Your rank: I was a yellow belt in Arashi-Do Karate
Is it fun?:
It was a blast doing the Kata practices with a good team of people. And the belt ceremonies were a blast to participate in!
Your rank and school: Third degree brown belt. American Kenpo Karate.
What was it like in the 80s?:
I studied under Sifu Ron Chapel who studied directly under Ed Parker in the early 80′s. It took me a little more than three years to achive brown belt.
The classes where very disciplined and regementated. I learned a lot things about body mechanics, distance management, balance, angling and striking points. Katas were taught and require as part of testing but the emphasis was mastering specific technique sets. As training progressed and levels achived, techniques were shown to be interchangeable depending on circumstances. Also there was lots of light to meduim contact sparring. Each belt testing level was increasingly harder. As part of my brown belt test I had the pleasure of recieving fairly powerful front front kicks to the stomach from all of the attending black belts including Mr. Parker himself. This was not for practical reasons other than a right of passage. I don’t know if this is still done today.
Your rank: I am a brown belt (2nd kyu)in Shotokhan karate.
How hard do you train?:
We train twice a week. The katas are progressivly harder and multiply as your rank increases. Getting the next bely is always rewarding. It showcases all your hard work and skills.
Your rank: brown
What is your sensei like?:
I started when I was 6 years old. My teacher was very nice, her name was Anna Devivi and she had participated in many international championships. She taught us about the values of karate, and that it was only to be used for defense. She taught us that violence is never to be used unless absolutely necessary. We would start our lesson by stretching our necks, arms and legs. We would then do many abs and squats and exercises for our thighs. She would have us race by walking low to the ground, or by jumping like frogs. When we would learn the kata, we would do one at a time, until we had mastered everymove and were able to do them perfectly. She would pause during the kata and go around fixing our postures. She was very serious about our training, and would not give out belts to anyone. After the end of the year, we would have to do exams in order to prove that we were worthy of a higher belt. So you could only get one belt per year. She also would not give black belts to anyone younger than 15, because she thought that younger children are not mature enough.