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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT KARATE

What is karate-do?

What do the words "karate-do" mean?

What type of karate does the American Shotokan Karate Alliance teach?

Where did the name of the style "Shotokan" come from?

What is the goal of karate?

Can anyone learn karate?

How long does it take to learn karate?

How long does it take to get a black belt?

How long will it take before I can learn to defend myself on the street?

Will karate help me get into shape?

How do I choose a karate school that's right for me?

Will karate benefit my child?

Do I have to wear a karate uniform (gi)?

How do I get colored belts?

How can I get more information about karate?


What is karate-do?

Karate is a weaponless means of self-defense, which consists of techniques of blocking or thwarting an attack and punching, striking, or kicking.
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What do the words "Karate-do" mean

The word "Karate" is actually a contraction of 2 Japanese words, "kara" and "te." "Kara" means "empty" and "te" means "hands." "Do" (pronounced like "bread dough") means "way ." So, Karate-do literally means "the way of the empty hand."
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What type of karate does the American Shotokan Karate Alliance teach?

American Shotokan Karate Alliance member clubs teach the Shotokan style of karate, which is the authentic, original karate from Japan. It's techniques are self-defense based, and their effectiveness comes from body control, rhythm, timing, and agility.
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Where did the name of the style "Shotokan" come from?

"Shoto" was the pen name of the founder of the style, Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi's students named his first dojo, or training hall, the "Shotokan" or "Hall of Shoto."
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What is the goal of karate?

The most important goal of karate is to strengthen people mentally and physically through strong, disciplined training, so that better harmony among people is realized.
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Can anyone learn karate?

Women, men, and children aged 7 or older who can safely engage in moderate physical activity can learn karate. You are never too old to begin karate training.
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How long does it take to learn karate?

You can learn a great deal in even one day. However, there is really no limit in the learning and mastery of karate techniques. The more you practice, the more you will improve. In classes at ASKA clubs, karate students are taught the most basic techniques during the first three to four months. After this introduction, they are separated into different classes for more advanced training.
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How long does it take to get a black belt?

First degree black belt in karate is awarded to those who have mastered the basic techniques. With regular, consistent practice, students generally attain the rank of first degree black belt in two to five years, with three years being average.
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How long will it take before I can learn to defend myself on the street?

Each person is different, physically and mentally, so it is difficult to predict how fast or slow they will progress. A person can learn a great deal about self-defense in even one lesson, but it usually takes from six months to one year to be prepared for a common self-defense situation.
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Will karate help me get into shape?

YES! In our classes, students not only learn self-defense, awareness, and self-control, but they also attain high fitness levels from the vigorous training. At the same time, students are allowed to progress at a rate that is most comfortable for them.
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How do I choose a karate school that's right for me?

The American Shotokan Karate Alliance encourages you to visit other schools before joining ours. Take a close look at the facility and the personality of the instructor. Very carefully observe the atmosphere created by the instructor because this is where the attitude of karate is taught.
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Will karate benefit my child?

Karate produces lifelong committments to health and personal integrity. The ASKA teaches respect for self and others. Observe the eagerness of our children as the respectfully approach the practice floor and instructor to join their friends in disciplined and meaningful learning. Parents tell our instructors of improvements in their children's attitudes toward responsibilities at home and school. Karate provides the tools for strengthening both the mind and the body. The ASKA teaches children to exercise their self-control.
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Do I have to wear a karate uniform (gi)?

ASKA member clubs usually do not require beginning students to purchase a karate gi. Any loose-fitting clothing that allows freedom of movement will suffice. A gi is required by the time of your first ranking examination, which is at least 3 months after starting training. The gi allows for maximum movement and helps contirbute to the serious tone of the class.
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How do I get colored belts?

There are nine rankings below black belt represented by the colors gold, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and brown. (Some ASKA member clubs may add stripes, use different colors, or award them in a different order.) At least 3 months of regular training is required for each of these rankings. Your instructor will tell you when you are ready for ranking, and an examination fee is charged.
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How can I get more information about karate?

We recommend two books, which can be ordered online by following these links:

  1. The Complete Idiot's Guide ® To Karate by Randall G. Hassell and Edmond Otis
  2. Shotokan Karate: Its History & Evolution by Randall G. Hassell

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