The prime directive of this club is to provide a place where one can learn and practice a fighting art. This is accomplished in a step by step process of Kihon (basic techniques), Kata (forms) and Kumite (basic three-step, semi and free-style fighting). Novices start learning basics and then gradually forms plus the various steps of fighting and self defence. At the first black belt level (Sho Dan), students are expected to demonstrate basic skills, several forms and adequate fighting ability. This will lay the groundwork for moving to the advanced levels of perfecting one’s fighting and self defence skills which can be applied in real life situations.
Like one’s journey through the various school levels, the same happens at Eastern Karate and many other dojo’s. As in elementary school, a student starts at the white belt level and moves through the elementary stage up to blue belt (4th Kyu). This stage can be challenging but most students make it this far.
The brown belt stage has three levels (3rd to 1st Kyu) and is like High School where entry to this stage requires adequate knowledge & ability as one does not get automatic admission because these three levels are the start of a more advanced stage so knowledge & ability must be demonstrated.
Passing out of the brown belt stage requires the equivalent of a high school diploma & as before, a student must have the required knowledge & ability before receiving admission to the Sho Dan (Black Belt) fraternity.
Once Sho Dan is achieved, it is customary to add a year of training requirement to advance higher so to get the second level (Ni Dan), one must study & train for two years and for the third level (San Dan), three years of training is required. In the Japan Karate Association this stage is equivalent to getting a bachelor’s degree, and San Dan graduates become instructors upon graduation. To the best of the author’s knowledge, only one Canadian, Malcolm Fisher has ever completed the JKA Instructors Program. He and others around the world who have ever done this will state this was one of the toughest journeys they have ever been on.
In many orthodox karate organizations, one is usually formally tested & graded up to the fifth level (Go Dan) which is equivalent to a Masters degree. After that there may be requirements like a thesis for Ph D candidates where one has to present a paper demonstrating their knowledge of karate. Dedicated years of training & service to karate can mean being awarded Dan levels after Go Dan which is equivalent to receiving an Honours Degree.
As stated, at Eastern Karate the prime directive is to learn a fighting art, not Hollywood or sport karate. Karate was developed on the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) as a fighting art for self defence and that heritage has evolved over time into other versions of karate but here we maintain the tradition of what karate originally was.
There are some who observe old style karate and claim it does not reflect reality, learning rote basics does not do it but as the video demonstrates, establishing a foundation enables one to adequately defend oneself should the need arise.
The man in the video is John Johnston, a veteran of forty some years in karate, he started training at age 20 back in 1971 with the Karate Union Of Great Britain (KUGB) and it’s chief instructors, Hirokazu Kanazawa & Keinosuke Enoeda who were legendary and fearsome karate masters. At this time, Sensei Johnston teaches at several dojo’s in Britain using his concept of Adaptive Karate.