Frequently Asked Questions

Here are responses to a few commonly asked questions may be just what you need to know. Please reach out if you have something more specific in mind.

It’s always a good idea to consult your physician and make sure you’re aware of any pre-existing conditions. Aside from that, there is no required fitness level you need to have before you can begin. All it takes is a desire to get started and the time and patience to start seeing the changes. If this is your first time or you’re getting back into it, you should expect to be sore after your first class. Don’t worry, it’s completely normal and it doesn’t last long.
When you come in for your FREE class, wear something comfortable such as a T-shirt and shorts or track suit pants. We don’t wear shoes so you also don’t need expensive gym shoes. Later on you’ll need a Karate Gi that will last you for many years to come. The Gi is the traditional uniform of Karate, and its main purpose lies in its functionality. A Gi has the advantage of being very robust and comfortable at the same time. It allows you great freedom of movement and as you see all the other Gi-wearing students, it becomes your first confirmation that you belong to a new martial family.
There’s a real advantage for beginning students to be able to see how techniques are performed by other students at various levels. New students are able to mimic what the other students and the instructor are doing. As we practice partner work, you’re paired with a more advanced student who can correctly show you what to do. This helps you learn at a much faster rate. You don’t need to worry about “getting beaten up by little 6 yr old Karate kids” – presently we only take students from 12 years and up to ensure a mature, relaxed and professional atmosphere that make our classes fun and effective.
Keep in mind, everyone isn’t looking to become the next great action hero star and the ability to protect yourself is not limited to youth or those who are highly athletic. Our goal for you is to help you become a better version of yourself. This can be done at any age. Kyoshi Suggs has been practicing Karate for 30+ years and in that time he has taught beginners from 5 years to 60 years old. You will learn the right methods to make yourself effective. As your knowledge increases and your body becomes stronger, faster and more flexible, all the benefits of your training (like better balance) will start showing up when you least expect it. Typically in scenarios outside the dojo.
There are many physical and mental benefits to karate training. Some of the physical are the following: strength, fitness, flexibility, balance and coordination and improved reflexes. Some of the mental benefits are as follows: ability to focus, confidence, stress management, and character development. Then there are the benefits not said but you feel. The familial connection, bond and respect you develop with your dojo brothers and sisters that can be extended to other martial artists and lasts a lifetime. There is also a general peace of mind in knowing that when you venture out of your home, you’re not automatically a walking victim.
The short answer is “YES” you can. As we grow older we all have some legacies of previous sports played or work related injuries. Your safety and physical health are a major concern to us when you train. Our general rule — your body knows best so listen to it. You get no points for secrecy. You must inform the instructors and your drill partners so we’re aware of anything that may upset your injury. We train you to work around injuries and limitations. Over time you may train yourself out of that condition. It’s always best to consult your medical practitioner before commencing training in any physically demanding activity.
The short answer is “YES”. We can use your other senses to teach you to protect yourself. Blindness and other disabilities that don’t affect your ability to think logically can be worked around. As part of their training, even our sighted students learn to function without their vision. We use your other available senses and sensitivity drills to make your self defense effective.
Kata, forms or patterns are an integral part of many martial arts. They are a particular sequence of movements that include attacks and defenses against one or several imaginary attackers and teaches you how to think in a martial context. Some forms emphasize hard and fast movement while other look more like moving meditation. They also develop some of strength, balance and a large majority of the benefits we realize through training. With Kata, the essence of the entire system is hidden in plain sight. In the beginning you understand it like a child but with time and effort you gain the deeper knowledge (bunkai) of the system.
The belt system in Karate is used to indicate the level of progress someone has achieved within the system as they develop their foundation. As a visible sign, the color of the belt indicates advanced practitioners from beginning students. This makes partner training easier and the newer students know where to look for peer guidance.

In most Karate styles, there are about 10 stages where students progress through colored ranking belts from kyu (indicating inexperienced student) to 1st Dan (indicating experienced practitioner). The ranks are as follows:

Belt Color Rank Title
10th Kyu Jukyu
9th Kyu Kukyu
8th Kyu Hachikyu
7th Kyu Shichikyu
6th Kyu Rokyu
5th Kyu Gokyu
4th Kyu Shikyu
3rd Kyu Sankyu
2nd Kyu Nikyu
1st Kyu Ikkyu
1st Dan Shodan
2nd Dan Nidan
3rd Dan Sandan
4th Dan Yondan
5th Dan Godan/Renshi
6th Dan Kyoshi
7th Dan Shihan
8th Dan Shihan
9th Dan Hanshi
10th Dan Seiko-Shihan