Kenkojuku Style Karate in Durham NC
This is my adult program, so in the interest of being impartial I'm not rating the school myself. If people from this site wind up trying a class they should rate it.
Kenkojuku is the Okano style of Shotokan, supposedly staying more similar to Gigo Funakoshi's style compared to the JKA, formed 5 years later, which became Nakayama's version. It's traditional for Kenkojuku-style Karate to do jiyu-kumite (continuous free-sparring) instead of ippon/sanbon point-sparring like their JKA cousins, and some of the katas are done slightly differently, but it's still Shotokan.
Personally, I'm not very ceremonial; pretty much we just bow in & out and say osu when it hurts. We do wear gis which can be ordered for through the club at a discounted price. Either Karate or Judo gis are acceptable. Since Judo and Karate are included together for one $70 fee, if you can only afford one gi, you'll get more for your money with a gi your can grapple in.
Kata isn't covered during normal class time. I will teach it (and other traditional elements) in private or small-group lessons to people who are interested, but normal class is jiyu kumite-oriented Karate. Kata is not required for any rank tests until black belt.
Class is adult-centric, but teens can participate with parent permission.
Visit the website and our Facebook page for pictures, videos, to check the instructor's credentials & lineage, to get directions, or to learn more about the program in general.
Everyone on this site knows a lot of traditional martial arts schools spend too much time punching the air and doing compliant partner drills or kata. This program has no dead practice beyond an occasional 5-10 minute line drill. For the most part you will hit pads, practice live drills with a partner, and free-spar for 30 minutes every class fairly hard (new people start light and build up of course) with SuperSafe-type "space helmets" for protection. Once in a while we'll do RBSD type drills that I think are good and specifically applicable to Karate.
Usually there will be a smidgen of straight conditioning each class, because it's part of Karate tradition, but for the most part I believe you're coming to class to learn Karate not do pushups; do your straight conditioning on your own time. Normal class should be a good cardio workout.
There are focus mitts, thai pads, belly pads, resistant bands, a crash pad, etc., the only thing we lack are heavy bags. We have loaner gear for newcomers, but, once they decide to stick with it, people are expected to buy their own gear that must meet specific club specs for safety. Everyone has to use the same SuperSafe type helmet which is bought through the club at a discount.
Gym Size/Student Instructor Ratio:
We are now part of Bushido Judo School in Durham NC. We've just moved from Raleigh and classes are small at the moment. The floor has a firm surface good for footwork that still has excellent padding for taking falls on. The area is ideal for about 14 people to work out on and not fall all on each other.
We have a relaxed, modern atmosphere with barely any ceremony, but you're expected to be a good training partner, be polite to people, and have good hygiene. We don't chat or b.s. during class time, but we have a good time and aren't grimly serious either.
The Shotokan way is to focus on basic, high percentage techniques and hone them to a high degree of competency. Beginners can expect to lean how to punch and kick with power as well as parry attacks. In this Karate there is a strong focus on evasive footwork, countering, and feinting.
Open hand strikes and more sophisticated kicking techniques are covered at an advanced level. Everything you are taught in class is something that can be practiced in sparring. Leg kicks and knees are practiced and used which maybe isn't typical for Shotokan, but yes they're there.
As of right now, we don't participate in competitions, but plenty opportunities to spar with people from other systems/schools are made available.
Shotokan has some basic takedowns and unbalancing techniques, but is primarily a striking art. Students are encouraged to crosstrain in Judo (located on-site and included in your fees!) to learn grappling if they want to become a well-rounded martial artist that can punch, kick, throw, and grapple.
Weapons are not part of our curriculum.