1. Where did Karate come from?

It is a popular misconception that Karate is a Japanese martial art when in fact it originated on the islands of Okinawa, south of Japan in historic times when Okinawa was ruled as a separate kingdom to feudal Japan. It was here that local styles of fighting were added to over many years through visits by locals to southern China, and by Southern Chinese who settled in Okinawa or traded with the locals.

2. Why are there so many different styles (Ryu) of Karate?

On Okinawa, there were 3 main styles named after the villages in which they were located - Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te. Over the years these 3 main schools of Okinawa-te merged and subdivided to become the 4 main styles of Okinawan Karate - Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Uechi Ryu and Shorin Ryu. From Okinawa, these Ryu moved across to mainland Japan where the people added to them with their own ideas and started their own styles. Today there are hundreds of different schools both traditional and non-traditional (eclectic). Another translation for Ryu is "family", and as in most families there are children, and these children normally grow up and leave home. Having grown up these children then start their own families.


3. I have a 5 year old child. Is he old enough to start lessons now?

There is no exact age when all children who wish to start Karate should start. It differs from child to child. We do recommend that parents/guardians bring their child along for a free trial class to further guage that child's interest.

Our classes run along traditional lines, and teach basic self defence, emphasizng self discipline, self motivation, co-ordination, flexibility, and assertiveness. They are not Play Group type 'After School Care'  Karate Lessons which many of the larger schools run.

Traditional training is not for every child. Like the adults, they must still do the 'hard yards' on a child scale. eg. pressups and situps must be done. If a child does not like these forms of supplementary training exercises, then that is good indication they are not suited to our lessons.

Your best bet is to try a school that just lets your child have fun, with 'real karate' and self defence not featuring at all.

4. How long does it take to get a Black Belt?

Between 4 - 5 years training regularly and attending 2 formal sessions per week, attendance at all senior rank classes, and successfully passing the written and physical tests. Some styles offer Black belt gradings within 2 years of training, but be prepared to pay for it, and your Black belt may only be the equivalent of a green belt in another style. You really have to ask yourself whether or not you wish to become proficient at a martial art or is it just an aspiration to wear a piece of sewn black cloth tied around your waist.


5. Do I need to wear a Karate suit (Gi) for my first class?

No, definitely not. A T shirt and sweat suit bottom combination is acceptable during the first sessions. However once you have joined up, you should look at investing in a Karate Dogi. Two reasons, you will feel a a sense of committment, and the Instructor will see that you are serious at learning Karate-do and perhaps spend a little more time on your technique.


6. Am I too old to begin lessons?

We have students training with us in their 40s, 50s and 60s. If you have no previous background in any form of physical conditioning or exercise, we expect you to initially start at your own pace. All ages are welcome, as are ex members and students from other styles who have not been active in recent years.

7. How much do lessons cost?

There is an annual registration fee of $30 and then a term fee of $70 for children/students and $80 for adults. A term lasts approximately 3 months - and basically coincides with  primary school terms.

There are 4 terms/year and fees are payable in advance of each term. Concessions apply for family groups. Term fees unpaid within 3 weeks of the commencement of the term will incurr a $10 penalty charge. We need your committment in order for us to help you succeed. What better way to show it than to pay upfront?

Some Dojos do charge more or less. You shouldn't judge the standard by the cost. Professional Instructors tend to charge more as they are making a living out of it and tend to have purpose built premises with higher overheads. One such person charges under 16 year olds $110 per term in comparison to our rate of $60 per term, and he is successful doing so. By and large the majority of clubs tend to run as non profit organisations. This in no way reflects on the standard or ability of Instructors or students. Its simply a matter of perception on the part of intending students.

8. Do you have women only classes?

No. Men do outnumber women in most Karate schools. Women are more likely to be victims of attack/assault from a male than any other species, so it is only natural to train together to get a better understanding of the others strengths and weaknesses.

9. Do I need to get fit and/or lose weight before I start lessons?

No, definitely not. Your capacity will increase over time, and you will eventually be able to keep up with the rest of the class.


10.I suffer from a disability or medical condition - does that rule me out from learning Karate?

No, not necessarily, but do seek medical advice before starting lessons if you suffer from any condition that may be affected by exercise especially if you have no recent experience of regular physical training in any discipline. Being confined to a wheel chair or being mentally challenged does not rule you out.

11. Which is the best style or club?

Which ever suits you the most, provided the Instructor has the credentials to teach you. You have to ask yourself a number of questions. Do I want to learn a traditional or non traditional style? Do I want to learn Kata and their applications if indeed these are taught? Do I just want to learn to fight in the shortest time frame?

If you simply want to gain a black belt ranking within the shortest time frame possible, then there are styles which cater for that. A black belt earned in 2 years at one club/style may only be worth the equivalent of a green belt in another style.Perception by intending students of who or which is best is normally the deciding factor. Its ironic that some students think that by paying more they are getting better instruction, when this is quite often the opposite.

12. What do I do if I want to start lessons?

Phone our enquiry number 04 383-6348, or Text Mobile 021-290-0016, or that of your nearest club, or email us to ascertain the location of classes, then come along for a free no obligation trial class. Try and arrive at the Dojo at least 10 minutes before the training session begins. Whatever you do, don't procrastinate. Instead of just thinking about it, do it!

13. What is the difference between traditional karate and sport Karate?

Traditional Karate assumes no or limited prior experience in Karate as a martial art and students learn the training syllabus from beginning to end, and practise it continuously with each session normally broken down into warm-ups, basics (hand/arms and feet), moving basics, Kata and Bunkai (applications), and the different forms of Kumite (free fighting) in addition to supplementary training geared towards Karate fitness and conditioning. Participants can continue to a ripe old age.

On the other hand sport karate emphasizes competition whether it be forms (kata), non contact or contact fighting. Like many other physical sports and disciplines, sport Karate has a limited competitive life time for the individual participants, after all age does creep up on its students. Sport Karate is certainly to be encouraged for younger participants wanting an outlet for their competitive side.

The uninitiated may be impressed to meet a Karate Champion, but before getting too excited about it or being totally in awe of the person, one needs to gain a better perspective on the whole matter e.g What were the rules in the tournaments/competitions they participated in?, Was it contact or non contact?, Was it Kickboxing?, Was it multi-style?. There is a plethoria of different style's and tournaments out there, Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, KickBoxing, Thai Kick Boxing (Muay Thai), some open, and some restricted to the styles own. Ironically all claim to have the best fighters. A hand full of fighters are able to learn the competition rules of another style or organisation, and are able to compete successfully "across the codes", however the majority are not as successful in the other's tournaments and vice versa.

At the end of one's fighting career, unless one becomes a professional trainer or coach, the future of the participants can end up no different to that of a retired sportsman. One then needs to ask, Was this the original motivation of that person to take up Karate in the first place?


14. I am unable to attend the next grading, will I be able to "double-grade" next time?

All students are expected show humility in their daily lives, and such a question displays the opposite tendency. It is good to be positive but it presumes the result of the grading before it has already happened.

Students are expected to practise Karate as one of their life priorities, the others being family and work. From a Karate perspective all are equally important.

Gradings are not tournaments where one's competitive urges can sometimes be satisfied. They simply allocate a rank to you based on your performance on the day and for the standard of training reached during the term. They are also a way to recognise seniority and contribution in the dojo, a "pecking order". Grading dates are set in advance, and students serious about their training are expected to attend. If it is not possible, then students are encouraged to give their best at the next scheduled grading.


15. Why did Sensei Young leave the IOGKF, the organisation headed by Higaonna Morio?

"It was time to move on. Immediately prior to the National Training Camp in Dunedin NZ in 1995 with Mr Higaonna in attendance I had been asked by Dennis May, the then NZ Chief Instructor for IOGKF to test for Yondan before Mr Higaonna. After much consideration I had decided earlier in the year to leave the organisation, as I felt that I was not learning any more, and there was this urge within to move on. Up to then, I had been a serving member of Rembuden for over 20 years, with an association with Mr Higaonna of slightly less. It was a decision that I did not make lightly and one that I have not regretted to this day.

When we first changed to Mr Higaonna's organisation, the senior members of Rembuden worked very closely with him on his visits to convert Rembuden to Okinawa Goju Ryu. In later years Mr Higaonna became more selective as to who he spent his time with in the NZ structure which was understandable given the size of the new organisation and numbers of students.

I can truthfully say the highlight of my time in Rembuden Karate is still when I was first graded Shodan under the new Okinawa Goju Ryu structure. On the 5th June, 1979, of 15 candidates from around New Zealand who presented ourselves for the Shodan Grading only two, myself and Steven Riley of Masterton were successful with the test which culminated in the traditional 40 man fight. My own grading had been delayed by about 12 months due to the transitional period involved in converting from our former style (Kyokushinkai) to Okinawa Goju Ryu but this was more than made up for at the end of the grading. It is ironic that some of those that failed the grading are now senior Dan grades with Mr Higaonna's organisation". 


16. Will I get hurt?

Any physical activity can lead to injury and Karate is no exception., but because we place such emphasis on keeping you safe, we hardly ever see any  injuries here.


17. Will this be really hard on my body? And is it violent?

Karate people are never the ones to start fights. But if a fight has to happen, they're ready to defend themselves. So Karate is not violent.  As far as the body goes.. the exercise involved may be tough for you at first. But you're welcome to go at your own pace. This isn't the army or anything. We're here to support you and see you succeed.

It may be a lttle hard on your body, but not so hard as to cause major injuries. Just hard enough for a great calorie-burning workout.


18. What is the best style of martial art?

People that ask this question immediately highlight their ignorance of the martial arts. There is no one best style. There are things that can be learnt from the techniques of all styles of fighting.

Grapplers will have an advantage over the kick boxing styles when it comes to choke holds and locks. However be aware that while you are applying a choker hold on your assailant, his friend may be hovering around you in the background.

Boxers in their element will have an advantage over the non boxers provided the latter is fighting in the boxers Miai (fighter's distance).

If their proficiency levels in boxing are the same, Kick Boxers will have an advantage over Boxers with their extra arsenal of kicking techniques not used by the boxers, eg. leg attacks, round house kicks, back kicks etc.

The list goes on. Think outside the square. Every form of fighting has something to offer the all round martial arts students, but initially do stick to your favourite style first to develop some form of proficiency in it.

The posers that chop and change doing one session here and there, do themselves a disservice. In the end they are not proficient in anything apart from a surprise attack on their unsuspecting victim.

The late Bruce Lee (Martial Arts Movie Star and founder of Jeet Kune Do) is often portrayed as invincible while he was alive and even in death by his countless fans. Why?, because he never lost any of his fights in the movies.

His original style was Chinese Wing Chun Kung Fu, and the proponents of this style say their style is the ultimate because Bruce Lee learnt everything from Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man , before he went out and developed Jeet Kune Do. Bruce trained with Master Ip Man for only 3 years.

No disrespect to Bruce, after all, Sensei Young attributes his start in Karate over 40 years ago to Bruce. He even has some of his books in his library. Then why did Sensei Young not learn the same style that Bruce Lee originally practised.

In 1975, there weren't any bonafide Kung Fu instructors around in New Zealand. As soon as Bruce Lee became well known from his movies, nearly every Chinese fruiterer of his generation suddenly came out of the woodwork and depicted themselves as Kung Fu Masters. Some of their students were silly enough to believe them.

Even today many grossly misrepresent themselves as Masters of Kung Fu. Sensei is related to some of them!!


19. I have discovered that the lineage of my present style has  Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate origins. I would like to learn a bit more about the Kata that we share, and what you refer to as the Applications, as my present club only teaches you how to perform the Kata but no applications. Do you welcome visitors who wish to pursue this aspect of training?

Traditonally, it was not ethical to train in 2 different styles of Karate at the same time. Although all styles of Japanese Karate originated in Japan and Okinawa proper, in the evolution of the styles, differences have developed between basic techniques, stances and Kata performance from one style to the next.

For one to train concurrently in 2 different styles where there are obvious differences, one would have to change the way you did things everytime you trained. eg. Seyunchin Kata in Okinawan Goju Ryu is performed differently to Japanese Goju Kai. Japanese Goju Kai came from Okinawan Goju Ryu. It is different again in Kyokushinkai which evolved from Shotokan and Goju Kai.

People choose a particular club for different reasons. For some, its because they believe it is the best style for training and fighting (Kumite), for others its the social networking aspects of the club and its size, or they just like the way they are taught and learn, while for others its because of location being close to home or work, and offers the convenience of just popping in.

Back to your original question, we would not orientate the session specifically around your desire to learn the kata applications, because our priority is with our fee paying members.


20. At present I study another style of Karate but am passing through town and would like to train with your club, do you welcome students of other styles?

See above. It depends on your motivation for wanting to train with us, especially if there is already a club that practises the same style as yours in town.

We are only a small dojo, and share a similar philosophy to the dojos in Okinawa. Our students range in age from 15 through to 67.

If you're interested in the origins of Rembuden founded by Sensei Jarvis, or Okinawa Goju Ryu, I'm more than happy to answer any of your questions or put you in touch with Sensei Jarvis directly.

Years ago, we used to get the odd call from people asking to come and train and 'kick arse'. Our response is still the same - you have to do the warm-ups, basics, and all the other exercises the class is expected to do and follow Dojo etiquette.

At my age (67), I'm not particularly interested in competition. We get the occasional nutjob that visits, then never comes back. It wasn't because we did Kumite that night, more the knuckle pushups.