Class Notes 7/18/2011


This article is the class notes for 07/18/2011. It contains:

1) Home Dojo
2) Shorinkan Kata
3) Teaching Other Instructor’s Students
4) Uniform Rules
5) Other Black Belts

Home Dojo

This is the first of a few class notes taken while practicing at my home dojo in Elkhart Indiana. I have been at this school since I was eight years old and routinely visit when I am in the area. The school, United Martial Arts Academy, is run by Sensei Richard Hooven, a fourth degree blackbelt in Shorinkan Shorin-ryu.


While I was home, we worked on some Shorinkan Kata. It was interesting to see all of the new faces after not being home for a year. We went over most of the basic katas (Naihanchi, Pinan, Kihon) and two unique katas. The first was Shinpo Matayoshi’s version of Hakatsuru as it was taught to Tadashi Yamashita and then to us. The second was a kata my instructor refers to as “Heian Nidan”. It is a compilation of pieces from each of the Pinan Katas. It is my opinion that it was probably taught to his instructor by someone of the Japanese Karate lineage (Shotokan) and was originally meant to be “Heian Dai” (The Greater Heian). Since Heian is only the Japanese pronunciation of Pinan, if I ever teach this kata I will instead refer to it as Pinan Dai.

Teaching Other Instructor’s Students

Something that is worth keeping in mind if you instruct people at a different dojo, it is always best to do it the way they need to learn/perform it, unless the head instructor says otherwise. I am always in the unique position that I know how the students there are being taught and I also know how I perform the movements myself. I personally draw the line at black belt. Once an individual has earned their black belt, then I will teach them different variations of how to do something. Until then, I teach it exactly as the head instructor wants it to be taught.

Uniform Rules

Last thing I think would be worth highlighting is the difference in uniform rules at my personal dojo and my instructor’s dojo. At his dojo, during the summer months, it is acceptable to wear Gi pants and any t-shirt that is either Karate or Military related (he is a former Marine). At my school, I push for either our issued athletic gear (shorts and a t-shirt) or a full Karate Gi. I rationalize this as either a day to get used to fighting in normal clothes or a day to practice traditional karate, but never a day to simply feel more comfortable. This is not to say my instructor is wrong, he has to pay the bills, I do not.


It was great to be back home and working with a large room full of experienced karateka. Black belts need other black belts to help push them to learn and grow. When you are the only one in a room full of newer karateka, you have to look to outside sources for help and mentorship.

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Theodore Kruczek is the founder and head writer of the Okinawan Karate-do Institute. He is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu with more than 14 years of experience. This site was created as his way of both teaching his own Karate and learning about others.

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