View Full Version : how do i tell if a shotokan dojo is good?

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lord shorty
9/20/2008 7:34pm,
we spend time stretching before and after class and are instructed to stretch every day so we can get into a lower or longer stance easier and kick higher or more accurately without injury.

its just me, the sensei and one other guy who is a brown belt they have slowed down their training during our classes to get me up to speed.

we do some body conditioning and will gradually do more, we are encouraged to stretch and do body conditioning on our own time.

he thinks kata is useful for sharpening the mind and learning how to control ones weight, but he thinks partenr or group exercises are the best and as soon as i get techniques and kata better we will focus more on partner exercises.

i have seen no free sparring yet. im not sure if i have to be a t a higher level or hwat.

we do an exercise where i know what the opponent will do and i have a choice of how to counter.

so here is what i see that we train:

reflexes with one on one drills

focus with kata


learning how to generatwe power with body and bone alignment and energy from the "tandien" or whatever its called (karatekas will know this temr and I suspect it is similar to what other styles talk about too)

this is all i know

should i ask him something to see what training will be like as i get more advanced?

he thought cross training in bjj would be a very good idea by the way. he thought he was a bit too ld for it though

9/20/2008 7:35pm,
Welcome to Bullshido, the best Martial Arts forum on the entire Internet, lord shorty. Seriously, you won't regret your choice to join us. We're a great bunch of folks, except for Hannibal. And Sirc. And TaiGip. And MMA Kid. And... well, you get the point.

9/20/2008 7:54pm,
To be serious, if you have to wait to be a "higher level", as in a higher belt than white, in order to spar is a little ridiculous. If trained properly, I think anyone after about 4-6 months can "master" the basics of fighting.

If they won't let you spar until later, that's understandable, but if they make you wait until your next belt, or another year, I would consider leaving.

I say "master" loosely, because in reality, to learn the basics of any technique should take only a little while, while actually using it in a sparring situation will really show if you have mastered a technique.

Also, I believe there are much better ways to learn to, "...sharpening the mind and learning how to control ones weight..." besides kata. If you want to do kata, that's fine, but there are much better ways to learn basics in the martial arts from what I have experienced.

It's a good sign that the sensei encourages cross-training. That attitude will seriously help you progress through the martial arts and in fighting skill. If he thinks he's too old for BJJ, he is very mistaken. In fact, bjj would probably be better for him at that age, since you can go full force and have a very low risk of injury.

Good luck in your martial arts training!


9/20/2008 8:11pm,
We do an exercise where i know what the opponent will do and i have a choice of how to counter.

I believe this exercise is called either 2-person form, or 1-step sparring.

If i am correct, your partner does a pre-determined move, and you react with a choice of pre-determined moves.

This is a very traditional way of teaching technique, where it is believed that repetition of techniques with a partner that just lets you perform without resistance will make you better.

I think you are better off leaning a technique and where it's used with minimal non-resistance training (only a few minutes spent doing so in this method), an then having you partner move around trying to make an attack, while you react with whatever technique you are working on.

I am not too sure if you get what I mean, it's kinda hard for me to explain, so just watch these vids, about "aliveness".

They are really helpful. Enjoy!

This vid explains what "aliveness" means, and its principles:
YouTube - Words of Wisdom PT 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL05Es8LVAQ)

This one explains progressive resistance and the "I-method":
YouTube - Training & the i-Method - Matt Thornton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-g6JTQDWNc)

This last vid explains about sensitivity and timing:
YouTube - Timing & Sensitivity Drills - Matt Thornton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAUaeo6QeCo)


lord shorty
9/20/2008 10:01pm,
Thank you Zoa... interesting.

lord shorty
9/20/2008 10:45pm,
good videos zoe

what is a good way of asking my teacher if they do this?

by the way my sensei and the brown belt do sparring that looks alive but it still isnt free

9/21/2008 1:52am,
good videos zoe

I assume you mean ZoA, or you could be reffering to somebody else. :dink:

what is a good way of asking my teacher if they do this?
Ohh boy! This is gonna be a long post so just hang in there.

Many traditional teachers might be offended if you ask them to train in a different way, or if you are curious to train in other methods (methods meaning sticking to the same style, but training in an alive manner as shown in my videos).

Since your sensei had no problems with you cross-training, I don't see why not.

But a word of advice to you: You can easily tell how they train by comparing their methods of teaching to your bjj training.

Though they both focus on a different aspect of fighting, this is what I mean.

In your bjj class (after warm-ups) you are a raw beginner, the same goes for your shotokan.

In your bjj class you will be shown a technique, you will then perform this tech., first by just going through the motions without resistance.

The time spent doing this should only take up about 1-15 minutes, including the time it takes for your partner to do the same tech. to you, of the whole class time, assuming you have an hour and a half through 2 hours in each class.

After that,you will do the tech. again, but this time your partner will resist you, in other words, if you were trying to throw him, he would do his best to stop you. This way, you can train under pressure to truly test your skill.

This will go on until you have learned several techniques, around 10, in about a month or two.

By this time in your bjj class, you will start to spar (called "rolling" in bjj). This way you can encompass all that you've learned in bjj and put it to the test.

To sum it up for you, here is how any good MA training goes, regardless of style:

1. Warm-ups/conditioning

2. Introduction of technique

3. Repetition of said technique with non-resistance for a few minutes in class.
(if more than 20 minutes is spent doing this, it is not helping you)

4. Technique is used while partner resists
(the resistance should start light, then as you get better, becomes stronger)

5. Repeat steps 1-4 until you have learned several techniques

6. After steps 1-4 finish with sparring/rolling/randori/whatever you call fighting.

If this is not done in your shotokan class, I would suggest leaving.

Resistance training does not include 2-person form, 1-step, or any step sparring.
This is because the attacker/partner is never resisting you.

You can learn techniques without the need of a set pattern like stated above.

by the way my sensei and the brown belt do sparring that looks alive but it still isnt free

If they do point sparring, where there is little to no contact, it is not alive.

I have no friggin' clue to what you mean by "free". Does this mean you have to pay a fee each time to spar in class?

Anyways, good luck to you!


9/21/2008 7:19am,
there's nothing wrong with not dumping white belts directly into free sparring. christ. yes, they should get there as soon as they're judged ready. no, there's no set schedule for that.

shorty, how long have you been training, and how large is the class? is this a commercial dojo, or a small club?

zen, you should really have a non bullshit style field, especially if you're answering questions in newbietown.

9/21/2008 9:41am,
Goddammit everyone should be forced to watch that first video before they can log onto this board the first time.

9/21/2008 12:25pm,
Well that sounds a lot like the Shotokan course I took. If you're asking if it's a good SHOTOKAN school, then I'd say it fits pretty well into SKA (http://www.ska.org/) Criteria. Most SK schools don't do free sparring. My teacher told us there was only one tournament a year where SKA schools compete in LA. SK schools' focus is definitely more on kata and technique than free sparring.

Does this make it bad? Not necessarily. However, at this point it falls on the student to find free sparring sessions to test out his/her skills. They won't find these in SKA.

lord shorty
9/21/2008 12:36pm,
\by free sparring I meant sparring where we resist each other and anything goes (except nut kicks or real dislocations or punching through someones chest)

sorry, zen.. i meant zoa

9/21/2008 2:14pm,
Goddammit everyone should be forced to watch that first video before they can log onto this board the first time.
While being a long term fan of Matt and live training, when he says 99.9% of martial arts schools train dead, he's just wrong. I could take him on a tour and he'd stop saying that.

Kajukenbo Self Defense Institute in Honolulu spends 100% of time in class (get there early and warm up on your own, if you need to warm up) doing improvisational responses to attacks. No drills, no lines, no kata, and the only instruction I got was when a partner took the time to show something. Universal Kempo does exactly like BJJ when ground training regarding increasing resistance in drills. The American Kempo here spars full contact with gear to tapout, etc etc etc. Matt is preaching.

That said, the OP's Shotokan sounds pretty dead.

9/21/2008 4:32pm,
I'm not sure Kajukembo falls into the category of traditional. If anything the were one of the first truly progressive MAs and if their focus had been competition instead of street they very well may have invented MMA a few decades early. I'm pretty sure he was talking about your local TKD/generic Karate school but I agree he's painting with a rather broad brush.

9/21/2008 5:52pm,
Yeah, I agree, Matt is using a bit of hyperbole. I know the schools he is talking about. Around here in Logan it's about 1/2 decent these days, used to be a better ratio but some schools died; in Hawaii most schools seem pretty good for "getting it on."

Here we got a bs Bobbie Lawrence Karate crap school and cult wing chun on the weak side. Then Kyu Shin Ryu TMA karate dojo (spar rarely, but real), and a newish 'Westside BJJ' + mma .

Lord Shorty's dojo sounds a little lite to me, but legit, and if he cross trains BJJ he'll be way ahead, having learned clean striking skills. The only thing that really scares me is the emphasis on stretching. Hold-the-position stretching is only for after workout, static stretching weakens and increases injuries if done wrong, or before hard workouts.

9/21/2008 6:47pm,
zen, you should really have a non bullshit style field, especially if you're answering questions in newbietown.

There's nothing wrong with confusing the newbs by having a bs style field.

I just can't troll them.:5headset:

If you really want to know what styles I have trained in, they would be TKD, HKD, and judo.

From my experience in TKD and HKD, I can honestly tell you most of the stuff I learned from them were not alive.

In my judo training, I got a taste of what aliveness is, and I loved it, but my judo teach had big mental/control issues, and we did not do randori or resistance training,so I left.

Before all this I went to a judo school in Overland, MO. with the mental judo teach from my school to show me what judo was like. At that school we did exercises, spent a few minutes to learn techniques, and spent the rest of the time sparring and doing resistance training.

From just that one class of judo, I could easily tell that basically all the TKD and HKD I learned was not helping me, simply because the training method was not alive.

This is what I base my term for proper training as. Of course it will vary from school to school, but the emphasis on resistance training and sparring will stay the same.

9/21/2008 6:52pm,
Goddammit everyone should be forced to watch that first video before they can log onto this board the first time.

Agreed. Someone should post it as a readme.