Monday, November 26, 2007

Welcome to Karate Class!

This letter contains some important information that you need to know about karate class. Please make sure that you fill out a registration form and sign a release form. You also need familiarize yourself with the page of Dojo Rules.

My name is Becky Givens, and I study and teach Shingo-ha Yoshukai karate. There are many different styles of martial arts, and each is different from the other. Even within the same style, different teachers will teach differently. My purpose here is to describe my style and my goals in teaching.

Shingo-ha Yoshukai karate is a traditional Japanese style of karate. We tend to emphasize the self-defense aspect of karate rather than the sport application. Tournaments are not the focus of what we do. Self-discipline and respect are built into everything we do in class; character is a major focus, and bullying is not tolerated. Because we are a traditional martial art, we use Japanese terms and etiquette in the dojo (training hall). We also teach some history and culture along the way.

Shingo means to unite heart, mind and spirit. Our dojo name is Shintaikan, which means a place to unite heart, mind, spirit and body. This is what my own study of the martial arts has done for me. I hold the rank shodan (black belt), and I have been teaching karate since September 2004. Martial Arts is a passion God has given me, and I have enjoyed passing it along to others. I am a committed Christian and I teach from that perspective; God is involved in everything I do and karate is no different.

Let me outline my vision for karate class. The first hour is a family class for all ages. I love seeing families getting involved together! The hour after the family class will be a continuation of the first hour, where interested adults and kids 12 and up will stay for another hour of training. This second hour involves much more contact and is more intense. It is not for everyone, and that’s ok. All students are expected to come for the family class, this first hour is for all of us to learn and practice the basics and to be a good example and help for the kids. You are welcome to come only one day a week, just realize that rank comes slower when you train less. Also, for whoever is interested, there are regular opportunities to train on the weekends at special clinics.
My goal for my classes is to provide the students with good exercise, to have fun, to build self-confidence and self-discipline, and to teach self-defense. We will do all this through the vehicle of traditional Japanese karate. I will be stressing to the children that the things they learn are for self-defense only. They are not to be hitting or kicking other kids, brothers or sisters. If I learn of such an occurrence, they will not be allowed back in class. Please help me enforce this. They need to know that I am serious when I say this, and that you as parents are in agreement. One of the most important things we can teach our children is the discipline of self-control (2 Peter 1:4-7) especially when angry (Eph 4:26). This brings me to the subject of bullies. I teach the kids 1) to pray – for the bully and for themselves; 2), to seek adult help and stay away from the bully, making sure to not antagonize them. Name-calling and getting picked on should be ignored, but if a kid is getting hit or hurt, 3) I want them to block and forcefully say "stop" or "no". If that does not work, 4) fight back. Chances are good that no matter who "wins" the fight, a bully will not attack a kid that has fought back. It is hard to think about our children hitting another child, but they need to have permission to defend themselves.

One of my other goals for the kids in this class is to teach my students to defend themselves against adults. We will cover some very simple things and do some role-playing dealing with strangers… basically avoiding potentially dangerous situations. We will also cover some basic escapes from grabs and things of this nature. Please take advantage of this as a time to teach your children how to stay safe. The library has some excellent children’s books on strangers and on good touch/bad touch issues. Kids need to be taught that no one has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. It is so very, very important to teach your kids that not all touch is good, and to trust their instincts. If someone makes them feel weird, they need to tell a parent. I would be glad to talk to you further on this subject if you would like.

In class we will talk about and practice karate basics (blocks, strikes, kicks, etc.), kata and self-defense, but these will only be remembered and perfected after much practice. Karate is not something that you can become good at in a short period of time, even with natural ability. It takes many years to develop the skills and knowledge of a black belt. Because we are a traditional style, it will take longer to achieve rank than some other styles of martial arts (such as tae kwan do), particularly for the children, but it is a fun and exciting journey along the way. I am looking forward to sharing it with you!

for Class info click here

Becky Givens, Sensei
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