Genjikai Karate and Tai Chi of Ft. Worth TX
I guess the first thing to do is establish how qualified (or not) am to review the dojo. I've been studying Genjikai Karate-Do off and on with sensei Nishida for seventeen years now, though in actuality I've probably only been able to devote half of that time to study. During that time I've attained the rank of 3rd Kyu (of 10). I have not trained in Tai Chi with sensei Nishida, and so I will state outright that I am unqualified to speak about the training. Thus, I will omit it for the most part.
Sensei Nishida has been studying Karate since the age of seven, and has been studying Karate for more than 50 years now. A native of Tokyo, he first trained in Okinawan Goju-Ryu and later one of Mas Oyama's students. I believe that he was among Oyama's first students as by fifteen he already held a dan rank from Oyama and from his birthdate (1946 I believe) that would predate the Opening of the Kyokushin Honbu in 1964. However, I cannot currently verify this. In any case, he came to America in 1970 and has studied and trained here ever since. In 1980 he opened the first Genjikai Dojo in the basement of the caravan of dream night club in Arlington Tx, which he then managed. The current dojo is in Ft. Worth TX and contact information may be found at the bottom of this review as well as on the website(also at the bottom). During his career he has won more than three hundred tournaments and awards and is a highly respected member of the DFW Karate community as well as the Japanese community in the area. Recently he has also begun studying Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu with the Aikijujutsu Roppokai which he travels to about twice a year.
Classes meet M-F at 7:30 for advanced classes, and from 6:30-7:30 TR for basics and MWF is Tai Chi. Up until recently childrens classes were still held, however they're not currently on the schedule, so I won't speak as to their existence. I would imagine they still exist though, as sensei has always enjoyed and worked best with children.
Formal sparring is done once a week on tuesdays during which ippon kumite is practiced before full free sparring commences. Separate sets of free sparring are performed for punching and punch/kick sparring. Grappling techniques for sparring are taught, however they are not the focus of sparring (though grappling does, inevitably, occur). While there is always the statement of "Go light" from sensei, sparring intensity ranges from moderate to heavy depending upon the two opponents.
Generally little equipment is required except the occasional kick pad or target, however these are always provided, and are always in excellent condition. Sparring is done with a light amount of protective gear, and while students are required to bring their own, if you forget something there's always a few spare readily available.
Gym Size: 7
The dojo is a double commercial suite on the second floor of a commercial complex. The majority of the space is devoted to the practice area with two bathrooms, a small office, waiting room, and massage room in back where sensei Nishida performs Qi Gong healing. the whole place is carpeted and the practice area is lined with mirrors all around so that you may see how you are doing from all angles. Within the last few years, sensei Nishida has opted to remove his trophies from the dojo and store them elsewhere, instead decorating the dojo with pictures of his students, teachers. He also maintains a garden both inside and out of the dojo which he maintains regularly.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 10
The class size is usually small (15 people at most, normally 6-9 for beginner classes and 3-6 for advanced classes) and sensei Nishida teaches all classes personally. Because of the class size, he makes sure to pay personal attention to each student during practice for each exercise, and is not afraid to make corrections (or in the case of some of us, bop us occasionally with a kick pad). Instruction always begins and ends with meditation and bowing. Beginner classes usually consist of 20 repetitions of all kihon striking and blocking techniques while standing in sanchin stance, 20 repetitions of all kicks, and waza with blocking and striking techniques. There is also often Sanbon kumite practiced, as well as a large emphasis upon kata. Advanced classes generally follow a similar sort of pattern with an extra emphasis placed upon different types of ippon kumite and more advanced techniques including grappling. Kata is also almost always practiced in advanced classes.
While some of us may be arrogant from time to time, the atmosphere of the dojo tends to ward such things off, and because we are a relatively small group, everyone tends to view each other as friend. People may razz each other on and off, but I've never had an occasion where I did not feel entirely comfortable in the dojo. Sensei Nishida is probably the kindest and happiest man I have ever met, and yet still for some reason I find him slightly imposing to talk to. Not because of anything bad, but because he is just such a calm and centered person that it can be intimidating to be in his pressence on occasion. Intimidating is still the wrong word however. Any question I could ask of him he would answer honestly, and there are no questions which I feel he would be unwilling to answer. He's quite wise and has always given good advice. I respect him quite highly and feel very humble in his presence. I think this is the way with most of the students, and so we all maintain a bond that doesn't disappear. I've gone away for years on end and returned to smiling faces who remembered me and had wondered and worried about what I'd done. It's often felt more like home than where ever I lived at the time.
Striking Instruction: 10
I'm sure that everyone gives their striking instructors a 10. I imagine it means almost nothing at this point, however I've recently begun studying with a Karate Club local to where I'm finishing college, and though the sensei who teaches there is quite skilled, there is an ephemeral difference between the two that goes beyond personal preference. at Genjikai we are taught striking in all different situations. Formal practice of is done in someway. everyday in all classes. Sanbon Kumite is practiced with both blocking techniques and striking techniques back and forth, and students are matched to practice according to skill level so that the practice is equally about both partners. Ippon kumite is practiced with blocking, striking, and movement technques. And of course Jiyu kumite is a weekly occurence with advanced belts being required to spar in order to advance. Though there is little emphasis on tournament, students from the Genjikai dojo perform well in tournament sparring and sensei Nishida has won many tournaments striking. As stated before, all classes are instructed by him, and so all instruction comes from him.
Grappling Instruction: 4
As it is a Karate-Do school, there isn't a whole lot of attention given to grappling techniques, all though they are practiced fairly regularly during ippon kumite in advanced classes. Most of it is light contact and very controlled.
Weapons instruction: 2
There will occasionally be a special weapons class given, though most of the weapons training that occurs these days is in his Tai Chi classes. Things have been this way for about ten years, when sensei Nishida decided that his focus was hand to hand, and while he still requires that his shodan learn a weapon for nidan, he maintains that they should do so somewhere else, not only to study with someone more qualified, but also so that they may enlarge their knowledge of Karate-Do.
Since there's no mention of it elsewhere, I'll say here that the fundamental technique taught from moment one through forever is proper breathing. The first techniques taught are ibuki and Qi Gong breathing techniques which are practiced everyday without fail, and sensei Nishida always makes sure to put an emphasis during training upon proper posture and breating.
In conclusion, I have a very high level of respect and love for this dojo. I've been training there as much as I could since I was six, and because of the standard that I have learned it has been difficult for me to find other places to study while I've been away. Sensei Nishida told us when we earned fourth kyu that he expected all of us to be as competent, prepared, skillful, and honorable as any other schools shodans, and having looked into training in other places, I have begun to understand what he meant. The average time to shodan in the school is ten years, and the shortest time I've known anyone to complete it in is seven.
Genjikai Karate and Tai Chi
Makio Nishida, Master Instructor
5801 Curzon Ave., 2M
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Last edited by paladinmt; 3/28/2008 10:26pm at .