Dave's World

Welcome to the Isshinryu Karate-Do at MIT dojo

Created: Wed Sep 3 13:11:40 EDT 2003
Last updated: Wed Sep 1 09:27:41 EDT 2004

Welcome to Isshinryu Karate-do at MIT. This is a student's perspective on the club. It is meant to have material for beginner students, ranging from "I've yet to show up to a practice" to "I've been coming for the past two months". This is meant to be a supplement to the main (and canonical) isshinryu karate-do at mit page; look there for definitive answers.

Table of Contents

How is this club different from the dozen-plus other martial arts clubs on campus?

In the world of martial arts, there are two sweeping generalizations that can be made: there are external martial arts and internal martial arts. "External" is styles like karate (all types), tae kwon do, judo, aikido, kung fu: the focus is on doing something to someone else. "Internal" is styles like tai chi and chi gung: here the focus is on developing your chi (energy) and working on your own body.

Within external martial arts, there are two sub-generalizations: hard versus soft styles. Hard styles are about punches and kicks; soft styles are about sweeps and throws. (There are some styles that are a combination of both: many "jujitsu" styles are like this.) Karate schools tend to be hard styles; we're one of them.

Our primary focus is on technique. It's kinda like an academic focus on martial arts. We're pretty middle-of-the-road about everything else.

Some clubs are all about self-defense; we're not. Some styles emphasize kicks over punches; we prefer a balanced approach. Some styles are about speed over power, or vice versa: again, we prefer a balanced approach. Some clubs are way more hardcore than us (300 pushups each class! Yeah!); we're not. (Yes, we do pushups. Not 300 each class.) Some clubs are way more formal than us; some are way more informal than us. Some use weapons; we use weapons, but only for advanced students. Some have lots of sparring; for us, our sparring is completely optional, and the point is more a mental exercise (for all but the most advanced students, sparring is non-contact and is without pads).

What are classes like?

At the start of class, we have a formal start (we'll explain it when you first show up). Then we do warmups for about 15-20 minutes, both stretching and strength exercises. From there, it depends on what the senseis (teachers) want to do. Usually we work on basic techniques (called "charts") and more complicated groupings of charts. Sometimes the whole class works on something together; other times, the class splits up, with some people working with the senseis, some working with each other, and some working by themselves. The senseis then float around working with everyone individually. The class then has a formal end.

Can I come watch a class? When can I join?

Come to any class to watch or join. We take beginners whenever they drop in. Check the main page for the schedule, or email us at isshinryu at mit.edu.

Is there a way I can get automatic reminders of when workouts are?

Yes, two ways.

Email gets sent to isshinryu-reminder at mit.edu every morning of a workout. To add yourself, type:

blanche isshinryu-reminder -a $USER

You can also get a zephyrgram reminding you 30 minutes before a workout. To get these, type:

zctl add isshinryu \* \*

The official webpage gets automatically updated, so it's almost always reliable.

The uniforms and bowing and all that stuff looks intimidating. What's up with that?

We follow a style of etiquette that is different from the usual USA etiquette. The point of the atmosphere (etiquette, uniforms, etc) is to create a learning atmosphere based on mutual respect. Because having a good learning environment is important, we want people to learn the etiquette. But we expect that it'll take people time to learn the nuances, since it's something that people pick up by osmosis.

Personally, I don't correct other people in what I perceive to be lapses of etiquette, because that would be rude, which goes against the first rule of mutual respect. I place much greater emphasis on another student's desire to come learn than whether or not they remember some minutiae of etiquette.

The Gory Details

If you're really really curious or really really bored, you can read the gory details on what goes on in a class. :)

Notes on warmups.

Once you reach 9th kyu (yellow belt), you'll be asked to lead warmups. People are often confused on how to do so well, so I wrote a small primer on leading warmups.

David Leung, dcltdw at mit.edu