Getting started is pretty easy. The following guidelines may help too:
- After viewing this website, determine exactly what it is you are looking for in terms of your training.
- Visit other dojo, sit in on their classes, and talk with their Sensei. If they push a sale or mention anything about contracts (black belt contracts or guarantees for a reduced or upfront fee, etc..), RUN! The only contract you should have is a monthly fee for classes. You pay for the month, you train for the month. No one can guarantee anything…especially a black belt!
- Be wary of association fees and registration fees. Also be wary of paying for a certificate from abroad. A piece of paper with foreign language is okay, but it doesn’t necessarily confer legitimacy. As with any degree, the proof is in the pudding. Look at the quality of instruction.
- Don’t fall for the shiny bells and whistles. Look at the quality of instruction, not the trophies or badges on display. That’s all hype!
- If you still haven’t found your ideal dojo, call up Sensei Hessam…he’s a pretty friendly guy. If he doesn’t pick up, leave a message and let him know when you want to come and watch one of his classes.
- Come and quietly watch class. Make sure to take off your shoes, before entering the dojo!
- If class seems interesting, and it might be something for you, talk to Sensei about his expectations and a free trial. Trying out a class or two…or three, for free, will further help you in determining if this school of karate is for you.
- Once you’ve decided that Shoshin Karate-Do International is for you, the rest is easy…you just pay for the month and train for the month! Sensei will either get you a dogi (uniform), or will point to places where you can get one on your own.
- That’s it. Pretty simple!
What are some expectations of Sensei Hessam and Shoshin Karate-Do International?
- First and foremost training is serious. It is expected that students come to the dojo to learn and to be serious. If you want to be entertained, or have a good time, or participate in a “fun” family activity, you wont survive in this dojo.
- The training is austere and repetitive. Again, we approach the art of Shotokan karate-do with the utmost seriousness. This attitude can not only potentially save your life, but it is also the means to achieving the zen expression of “mushin no shin”, or simply “mushin”, the mind without mind. In combat, mushin is necessary, but mushin, derived from countless repetition also combats the barrier of a soul addicted to being entertained. Breaking that barrier, leads to self-awareness and growth in character.
- Building on seriousness and repetition, the third pillar of your training is facing, and crushing your ego. This is the beginners mind ethos of our school, and the structure and instruction here inevitably leads the practitioner to face their true self. Character development requires a purity of spirit and intention. Facing yourself, and your flaws, leaves you a choice to either fight on to crush your ego with more training, or quitting.
- Be prepared to be told what to do, to follow the rules, and to be constantly corrected. This not only helps your physical technique, but more importantly is a dagger to the ego. The ego, in its desire to preserve itself will ignore, resist, or justify the correction, thus preventing the character from developing. As my sensei said, “there are only two people who are never corrected… the one who is perfect, and the one who is not worth it…and I’ve never met anyone who was perfect! Correction is a good thing!”
- One of the differences between karate-do and karate-jitsu is that we control the technique. Sensei Okazaki would say, “hitting is easy. Even a baby can hit. But to commit 100% percent (mentally, physically, spiritually) to a technique and stop that technique millimeters from its intended target, that is skill.” At Shoshin Karate-Do International, hitting for the sake of hitting is not tolerated. That kind of contact is the ego manifesting itself. However; light contact by mutual consent, for the sake of physical development or correction, is part and parcel of traditional training.
- Lastly, I’m not looking for tough guys, or physical perfection. What I’m looking for is found in the Japanese proverb…”Fall seven times and stand up eight“. Each time you stand up (physically, mentally, spiritually, morally, etc…) my hope is that you will gain some part of the dojo kun listed below.
- Seek perfection of character
- Be Faithful
- Respect Others
- Refrain from violent behavior
Dojo Kun (Expanded)
- Strive towards achieving the peak of eloquence in your character. It is a noble and personal duty.
- Observe and protect your path with sincerity and truthfulness.
- Consistently nurture your spirit to put forth its truest effort.
- Cultivate a gentle regard for others by being mindful of the principles of civility, good manners, and etiquette.
- Prohibit and restrain your ego from the pride that leads to recklessness and impetuous actions.