Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of martial art is this?

The style of martial arts taught in this class is named Yoshukai Karate. It is a Japanese style of karate. Literally translated, Yoshukai means "training hall of continued excellence". We simply state our motto as "Strive for Excellence". In Japan, our style of karate is known as "the Actual Fighting Karate" since our Grandmaster pioneered the art of Full Contact Karate sparring. 

What kind of training can I (or my child) expect?
Participants in this program will receive rigorous physical training through the practice of basic exercises and stretching (push-ups, sit-ups, etc.), basic martial arts techniques (kicking and punching), open hand forms (memorization of set movements), weapons forms (memorization of set movements utilizing traditional martial arts weapons), self-defense techniques, breaking techniques, and sparring/fighting techniques. Participants will also be required to learn Japanese terminology and martial arts history. The underlying theme in all the training offered in the class is the idea of respect. All students will be required to learn respect and discipline so that they can succeed not only in this martial arts class but in their daily lives as well. 

How is discipline handled within the class?
Participants that break the class rules or fail to follow instructions are given a verbal warning. Continued misbehavior may lead to further warnings or the assignment of extra physical exercise such as push-ups, sit-ups, or isometric exercises. If a student continues to misbehave, they may be removed from class for short period of time until they can prove they are willing to behave. Extreme cases may result in the following punishments: suspension from class, demotion in rank, expulsion from class. 

What equipment is needed to get started?
The only things that participants need to get started are a set of workout attire - sweatpants or shorts with a length 3 inches above the knee and a t-shirt (tank tops, sports bras, and bare chests are not permitted), a mouth guard (these can be purchased at most retail stores that sell sports equipment), and an open mind. 

Where can I order a uniform or equipment?
All of these things are ordered through the chief instructor. Uniforms are not required until the student wishes to participate in a formal rank test for promotion. Uniforms from other styles are permitted, but a Yoshukai uniform will eventually be required if the student plans on participating in any Yoshukai tournaments or functions. Sparring equipment can be purchased at any time from the chief instructor. There are several different sets of gear. Pieces can be purchased individually or in specially priced sets. See one of the class instructors for more information. 

When are participants eligible for rank promotion?
All incoming students are regarded as "White Belts" or beginners. Once a student has proven that they have learned the rules of the dojo and the rudimentary techniques and stances of Yoshukai, then they will be eligible to test for 10th kyu or the "Basics Belt". This is a white belt with a yellow stripe down the middle. There is no fee for this test (note: the belt must be purchased) and it is done informally by one of the class instructors. One of these individuals will take the participant(s) eligible for basics testing and ask them to perform the required movements. If the participant(s) can perform them, then they are promoted from "White Belt" to 10th kyu. There is a very small belt fee.  Students who pass this test will also be asked to join the World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization (WYKKO) which also includes a yearly fee. Eligibility for testing after this point requires that students be members of the WYKKO, demonstrate a firm knowledge of the items required for promotion, possess a good attendance record, and demonstrate a good attitude both in class and outside of class. All belt ranks above 10th kyu are earned at formal rank tests. 

What is a formal rank test?
A date and time is set outside of the normal class schedule (always on a Saturday). Students are broken up into groups based on age and rank. A panel of black belt judges then evaluates the students' basic martial technique, knowledge of the forms, and mental attitude. No one is guaranteed promotion, but all participants are eligible (i.e. it is not a contest between students; each person is evaluated individually upon their own merits).  Rank tests are held 3 times per year. Skipping ranks, except for rank transfers and for 10th kyu to 8th kyu (see below), will not be permitted. 

hat is the WYKKO?
The World Yoshukai Karate Kobudo Organization is the only Yoshukai group sanctioned by the founder of Yoshukai Karate, Grandmaster Katsuoh Yamamoto. There are many Yoshukai organizations, groups, and schools, but only schools within the WYKKO are recognized by Grandmaster Yamamoto as legitimate outlets for his teachings. The co-directors, Shihan Hiroaki Toyama (8th deg.) and Shihan Mike Culbreth (7th deg.), oversee all aspects of Yoshukai training in the United States. This helps preserve the integrity of the style and uniformity within its members. Membership in the WYKKO is required for students to advance beyond the rank of 10th kyu. Members also receive packets that include a membership cards, an organizational patch, a 10th kyu certificate, and various other items. Members will also be added to the WYKKO mailing list and will receive a quarterly newsletter as well as invitations to various WYKKO tournaments and events. As a member of the WYKKO, you will be allowed to train at any WYKKO official dojo (for a short time) free of charge. 

What if I have experience from another style?
Yoshukai karate recognizes the rank certification from any style of martial art. To be eligible for rank transfer, students must provide proof of certification, submit to 10th kyu certification, and show that they have been inactive in their martial arts training for a period less than 2 years (less than 4 years for a black belt). Depending on their rank and skill, students may also be required to test for a lesser Yoshukai rank before testing for a rank above their current level. 

How many ranks are there?
Yoshukai karate ranks are based upon the traditional Japanese kyu system developed in the 1950's. Although different styles use different colors, traditional Japanese martial arts consist of 10 levels (or kyu) before reaching black belt. Our belts are as follows: 

White Belt/10th kyu (White w/ yellow stripe. Beginner level.)

Yellow Belt - 9th kyu (Yellow with no black strip. For children 10 or under who cannot perform Kihon Kata Shodan and Ippon Kumite #1)

Yellow Belt - 8th kyu (Yellow with one black stripe at the end of the belt. This is the normal testing level for adults and children over 10.)

Yellow Belt - 7th kyu (Yellow with two black stripes at the end of the belt.)

Blue Belt - 6th kyu (Blue with one black stripe at the end of the belt. Students will begin to learn the nunchaku weapon.)

Blue Belt - 5th kyu (Blue with two stripes at the end of the belt.)

Green Belt - 4th kyu (Green with one stripe at the end of the belt. Students will begin to learn the bo weapon.)

Green Belt - 3rd kyu (Green with two stripes at the end of the belt. Students will begin to learn the sai weapon.)

Brown Belt - 2nd kyu (Brown with one stripe at the end of the belt.)

Brown Belt - 1st kyu (Brown with two stripes at the end of the belt. Students will begin intense training for their Black Belt Shodan certification.)

Shodan/1st degree - (Black Belt certification. Usually only one student out of 500 attain this rank.)

Nidan/2nd degree - (Eligible after 2 years at Shodan level. Usually only one student out of 1000 attain this rank.)

Sandan/3rd degree - (Eligible after 3 years at Nidan level. Usually only one student out of 2500 attain this rank.)

Yondan/4th degree - (Eligible after 4 years at Sandan level. Usually only one student out of 5000 attain this rank.)

Godan/5th degree - (Eligible after 5 years at Yondan level. Usually only one student out of 10000 attain this rank.)
All ranks above 5th degree up to 8th degree are by appointment of the Grandmaster of Yoshukai Karate. All ranks above 9th degree are awarded by the Government of Okinawa. 10th degree is the highest rank a traditional martial artist can receive.