Frequently Asked Questions


Or "Simple Answers to Questions I've Heard."



What is karate? 


Karate is many things. At its simplest, it is a series of physical movements designed to thwart an attacker.  At it's metaphysical, it inspires enlightenment.  At the Ronin Dojo, it's a balance lying somewhere in the middle; lots of techniques with concern for its use.



Will I have to break boards or bricks with my hands and feet? 


Well, at the Ronin Dojo, not intentionally.  If you break any boards or bricks here, you probably missed your target, and you may have to pay to repair the damage.  Though performed at some dojo's as a means of confidence building, we do not require the separating of wood grains.  Not only can the breaking of these things cause injury, we have yet to see a tree or building make a threatening gesture toward one of our students.



Do I have to wear those funny pajama things? 


Well, if you're calling our white karate uniforms "pajama things", then yes.  The proper name for the uniform is a "gi" (like green without the "r" or "n",).  We utilize all white gi's and a colored ranking belt.  Since everybody wears the same uniform, you won't feel out of place.  Actually, they can be pretty comfortable.



How long before I become a Black Belt? 


Now there's a loaded question.  Some people have moved from a "no nothing white belt" to an accomplished black belt in three years.  Some have practiced for twenty five years before earning their black belt.  Most lie somewhere in the middle, around four to eight years.  It's amazing, but as you progress through the ranks, you'll actually find yourself putting off rank tests because you won't believe your ready.  You may even need some prodding to keep moving along.  But persevere, it will pay off.



What about the other belt colors, what do they mean and how long to get through each?


The ranking system now used by many dojo's and styles incorporates various colored belts which are associated with differing levels of skill.  There is no set standard as to which color associates with which level, nor what skills are required to move from rank to rank.  We at Ronin Dojo use this system; all levels below black are descending kyu's (pronounced "q"), while all black belt levels are ascending dan's (pronounced "don");

Color Rank Comments
White none You want me to do what?
Yellow 10th Kyu  Well that wasn't so bad!
Orange 9th Kyu The test was new, but I survived!
Blue 8th Kyu I'm cool now!
Purple 7th Kyu Now you want proficiency?
Purple with striped end 6th Kyu My feet don't move that way!
Green 5th Kyu Whoa, I can see black and smell brown.
Green with striped end 4th Kyu Now I can taste brown!
Brown 3rd Kyu I'm really cool now!
Brown with striped end 2nd Kyu I'm supposed to be how good?
Brown with two stripes on end 1st Kyu OK, now I'm getting scared.
Black Shodan-ho (probationary black belt) It's black, it's black, it's black!
Black with one stripe Shodan (1st dan) Now you want proficiency?
Black with two stripes Nidan (2nd dan) The journey has just begun, hasn't it?
Black with three stripes Sandan (3rd dan) Gotta' admit, it is impressive aint it?
Black with 4 stripes Yondan (4th dan) Stripes are not important.


I have heard of monks and temples with Kung Fu, is this a religion?


Though Kung Fu is largely associated with the Shalolin Monks, most martial arts - including Karate - is not based nor associated with any religious endeavors.  However, there are many aspects of martial arts protocol that can be confused with religious activities; bowing toward a symbol, honoring the senior instructor, repeating verses before and after each class.  Yet none of these is of a religious persona, rather, they are more like the activities performed at many higher learning institutions.  Bowing to the school symbol is showing respect to each student and instructor of the school, and all the masters who have brought forth this fine art to the public domain, not unlike a school song or cheer.  Bowing to other students and instructors is a showing of respect and a formal greeting, kind of like a handshake.  Formalities, not religion.  You decide what to believe.  We'll teach you Karate regardless.



Don't you get hurt a lot doing this? 


Though the opportunity for injury is definitely available, usually the most serious injury sustained is sore muscles and an occasional injured pride.  Now, that is not to say that people don't get hurt.  Injuries do happen, but happen infrequently.  As a matter of fact, one publication has stated that more people are injured each year at golf  than martial arts training.  At least we know our risks, golfers think they're safe.



What kind of shape do I need to be in... really good, right? 


Well, Karate can take all kinds.  One of the concepts of Karate is to help you get into shape, and then stay there.  However, one should ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN before starting any new physical activity.  Karate can be a physically demanding activity.  And though many of the techniques are simple at the beginning of your Karate career, the inefficiencies of your movements generate an increase in the cardiovascular workout.  



Will I learn all those secret death grip ninja things? 


Death grip ninja things...Hmmm, uh, No!  You can attempt to learn such things through books and perhaps even other dojos, but if they were as real and easy as many would have you believe, why would there be Karate?  What you learn are many of the hidden techniques buried within the masters' Kata's.  You learn many dangerous techniques not allowed during sparring competitions.  You learn simple self defense methods that can allow you an opportunity to escape to safety or defend your loved ones.  No... no death grips, (well not right away anyways).



Dumb-checks, numb-chucks, none-bucks, or what-ever they're called, I'll learn them too, right? 


Nunchacku's!  Let's get it right, they are not dumb chucks, (those are the guys not in karate).  These and many other weapons are taught at regular intervals during the weapons class.  You must be ranked at 7th Kyu or above to attend the weapons class.






the questions and answers on this page are not intended to represent advice or instruction.  they are opinions, and are intended to be a guide to seeking further information .  any information acquired here should be confirmed by the reader.


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Marysville, WA 98270