The Kodokai is one of the few places in the USA where one can learn true, bullshido-free, Karate straight from Okinawa. The head instructor at the Kodokai is Sensei Dennis Branchaud, an 8th dan in the Ryukyu Hon Kenpo style of Seikichi Odo and Shigeru Nakamura (Although, Branchaud-sensei rarely uses the term "kenpo" in order to avoid its negative connotations in America.). Dennis Branchaud learned Karate while stationed in Okinawa in the late 70s while serving in the USMC. In addition to Karate, the Kodokai also teaches Kobudo, a martial art using traditional Okinawan weapons and Udundi, a relatively obscure style which resembles Aikido (More info on the website.).
The Kodokai is big on kata. This is most likely because one of the goals on Seikichi Odo was to preserve the Okinawan kata. Every class has a kata portion to it, and this is usually teamed up with continuous, flowing bunkai.
Contact sparring typically occurs as a weekly class at choice times of the year. As the instructor is a critic of "point sparing", the sparing of the Kodokai is heavy contact, and features the use of bogu armor as a safety precaution.
In addition, in the intermediate level classes, "one step sparring" is a relatively common occurrence. In this exercise, two people are partnered together, one being offence, the other being defense. The person on offence attacks the defender however they please with one move while the defender must avoid and deflect the attack. The emphasis here, however, is not on simply remaining stationary and blocking, but rather to move yourself into a favorable position to counter attack.
In addition to sparring, it is also relatively common to work on a variety of drills, be they joint locks, throws, escapes or blocking drills.
The Kodokai is equipped with a number of punching bags. The punching bags range from free hanging heavy bags to tear drop bags to speed bags to stationary bags. In addition, the Kodokai also posseses numerous striking pads and shields for practicing strikes with a partner.
Other equipment includes numerous weights and dumbbells, and the makiwara, a traditional Okinawan striking surface. One unique aspect of the Kodokai is the fully articulated life-sized human skeleton it possesses. This is used to show how the techniques taught effect the human body.
The Kodokai is approximately 5000 sq. ft. There is a main workout area in addition to a practice area which can be utilized at any time.
Classes are typically 15 people. Class is usually started by one of the senpai (black belt level students) who leads the class through the warm-up. After this, Sensei usually takes over, but occasionally he may take over roughly half-way through the class.
The senpai and sensei assess everyone in the class. You can expect atleast one visit from sensei a class to help you improve.
The Kodokai has a plethora of friendly people who are always willing to help and support one another.
A solid 10. The Kodokai specializes in striking techniques. All classes, after the warm-up begin with repeating striking. In addition, most classes include time for striking the punching bags.
The Kodokai features few grappling techniques. While there are a few, this is not a main focus of the Kodokai. Minimum grappling and ground fighting is taught, but there are numerous throws, joint locks and escape maneuvers taught.
The Kodokai teaches numerous Okinawan weapons. The weapons instruction is mostly kata and bunkai, but there are occasional partner drills as well.
Overall, if you are looking for legitimate Karate that has not been corrupted by Bullshido and a traditional atmosphere, the Kodokai is one of your best bets outside of Okinawa.
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