Important stuff

So you want to have a go at Seido Karate and not sure what to do? Here’s some important stuff about training, and answers for things you’ve always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask…

How do I start Seido Karate?
My child is 2 years old – is that too young to take up Seido?
I’m not a bendy 20-something…am I too old to take up Seido?
OK, I don’t need to be bendy or big or tough, but I’m sure I need to be fit…
I don’t have the white pyjamas you karate people wear…well I do, but mine have got lovely pictures of very cute kittens.
There’s a lot of yelling going on, and I keep hearing people say ‘wuss’. No one looks like a wuss to me, so what’s the story?
Did I just hear Japanese spoken in the training hall?
And now you’re all kneeling on the ground and bowing…
I’m really keen on fighting so when can I get my gloves on?
If it’s 3 years before I can fight, then how long until I get a black belt?
The head instructor has 6 stripes on his belt. What does that mean?

How do I start Seido Karate?
Simple as – just contact us, or arrive at the training hall on a Monday evening at 6.30 and talk to one of the instructors (the ones with the black belts). You can try a couple of classes before you pay anything.
My child is 2 years old – is that too young to take up Seido? 
Yep, I’m sure she IS very mature for her age, but best to wait for a few years yet. Seido Whangarei currently welcomes children aged 10 and over. At this stage (ie because we’re just a small club), the children train with the adults, so we can’t have wee ones dashing about getting hurt.

I’m not a bendy 20-something…am I too old to take up Seido?
You’re never too old to start karate. And you don’t have to be bendy (or big, or tough) because Seido is about working with your own abilities.

OK, I don’t need to be bendy or big or tough, but I’m sure I need to be fit…
Nah! But you most likely will get fitter. Karate will involve using muscles in different ways so you might be a bit achey for a day or so. You’re in luck, though, as one of the instructors is also a stretch/yoga teacher so chat to her about sorting those aches and pains.

I don’t have the white pyjamas you karate people wear…well I do, but mine have got lovely pictures of  very cute kittens.
That’s fine, as you don’t need them to start out, so just wear something comfy (and leave your shoes at the door). The white pyjamas (minus cutesy kitten pix) are known as gi, and the time to get yours is once you’ve decided karate is for you. Check out TradeMe for the cheapest, and once you have yours, then you can buy the Seido emblems through us.

There’s a lot of yelling going on, and I keep hearing people say ‘wuss’. No one looks like a wuss to me, so what’s the story?
‘Wuss’ is actually ‘Osu’. It’s a term of acknowledgement and respect, and means all sorts of things, ranging from ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Thanks’ to ‘Fabulous effort’, ‘I’m trying really hard’, ‘I’m really done with press-ups now’. The yelling is called ‘kiai’. It’s a big shout that does a few things: helps tighten the tummy muscles, good as a way to psyche up yourself and psyche out an opponent. Who doesn’t enjoy a big shout?

Did I just hear Japanese spoken in the training hall?
Yes, but don’t panic as you don’t need to learn a new language. Seido is a traditional Japanese martial art so the moves, commands etc are all given in Japanese. We always use English when you start out  so you’ll gradually pick up the terms.

And now you’re all kneeling on the ground and bowing…
We always start and end classes in a traditional manner where we acknowledge each other and express our thanks for training. Respect is key in Seido Karate, and this is one way we show it; saying ‘Osu’ is another. There are a lot of rituals around martial arts, just as there are when you enter a wharenui, or do yoga, or go to a church or mosque. None of the Seido rituals is religious – bowing is like shaking hands, and we do that a lot as well.

I’m really keen on fighting so when can I get my gloves on?
Mmm, you’re going to have to wait a while, as Seido students train for around 3 years before free fighting (kumite). By then, you’ll be able to control your techniques way better than when you first started. This helps keep everyone safe, but it’s also one of the features of Seido Karate. Seido’s founder, Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, wants this style to be for anyone, so waiting for a couple of years before sparring means folks get the chance to learn and develop at their own pace. Pretty excellent for everyone.

If it’s 3 years before I can fight, then how long until I get a black belt?
Usually it is about 5 – 7  years of consistent training – advancing through the grades, learning the syllabus, perfecting the techniques, growing as a person. But that’s a good thing – would you want a black belt after just a few months?

The head instructor has 6 stripes on his belt. What does that mean?
He is a 6th-degree black belt, and in the dojo we call him Jun Shihan Rob (that means ‘New Master Rob’). It has taken him over 30 years to get to that grade. There are actually 10 degrees of black belt (and 10 degrees of kyu grade before black belt). Our founder Kaicho (Grandmaster) Nakamura is a 9th dan, and in New Zealand there are two 8th dan (known as Hanshi or Senior Master): Hanshi Renzie Hanham who runs the Christchurch club, and Hanshi Andy Barber who heads the Nelson club. That is a LOT of years training….