Welcome to the WKA!
Welcome to the Washington Karate Association’s Bellevue dojo! Please don’t hesitate to approach head instructor, Sensei Arai, or any of the instructors, if you have a question. You might hesitate a little if you run to Hanshi Thiry first…to help you tie your belt, for example. To help you share the priorities, let’s review some standards of operation. Most of these rules should be in your hands, now as a member.
You’ve enrolled in either Kinder Karate classes or a longer program that allows unlimited classes. We want you to use the dojo! The more a member attends, the better. Many stay for consecutive classes.
Clearly, for most, the first weeks are tentative. No worries. We know you’re new. We are aware of your class attendance and levels. We ensure that private or semi-private classes will help you acclimate into the class as quickly, and as seamlessly, as possible. We know a lot about positioning because we have that experience. You will soon learn to trust Sensei Arai, Sensei Burke, Shihan, and Hanshi as your dedicated advocates.
Without a Gi, we’re clear of a newcomer status. Even with a Gi and a white belt, we understand the variances of learning curves depending upon attendance rate. One of the great things about our pedagogy, is its ability to cultivate all ranks with an eye on sophistication and detail. We haven’t as many promotional levels as most other martial arts systems, so be careful about comparing ranks among systems. The belt levels are a simple gauge for instructors who are responsible for reasonably inculcating specific information at each level. Within each level, you will not attend promotions for grades. In other words, our promotional system is more deliberate than most. Additionally, Hayashi-ha Shito-ryu has a very broad and comprehensive system of information. Be patient with learning. Sensei will help prepare each member for promotional requirements.
It’s important that you attend white belt classes; but don’t be reluctant to immerse yourself in challenges. As a beginner, Sensei Arai will apprise you of those classes that are not appropriate to attend. These are the ones that are the most ambitious and fast moving. Please, however, feel free to come and observe Hanshi Thiry’s Friday night Kata class, for example. When we feature special seminars, begin to participate as soon as possible. Attend and participate in WKA tournaments. It is critical to your development to test skills under the sport umbrella for the confidence and lessons it will bring. These expanded learning experiences begin as an orange belt.
We know you’re eager to purchase/order a Gi. It takes time to receive one. We have our own specifications for a Gi that have a heavier weight cotton and should last many years (for adults) with appropriate care. We will go over the care with you and how to sew on your patch. Please do not alter the Gi without consulting Sensei Arai.
To Parents of Members
The Washington Karate Association is known for its long experience teaching even the youngest children. For 50 years, we have cultivated children from the age of three and a half. One of the great pleasures of these long relationships is to track children’s special challenges and talents and witness their successes throughout life. There will be ups and downs, changes in your life, but the dojo will remain a touchstone for children who forge long, solid relationships with others that share a special bond, and an unusually high work ethic.
For parents of the youngest children, please allow us to help them acclimate. Peer pressure and teenagers as example, are the best tool. Whatever happens, the idea is to ensure good habits of deportment. Our Kinder Karate program teachers are superb. It is the most teacher intensive program we have; most of these instructors and helpers have grown up within the dojo having enrolled as little children.
While we invite parents and their guests to observe classes, please do not distract the youngest students by talking to others seated or at the door. If you leave during class rather than wait in the waiting room, please try to return in time to greet your child in the first weeks. After a short period, they learn to trust their new environment.
Children should identify their own shoes, place them together neatly, gather their belongings, and thank the teachers for class. As they grow, we would like your child to eventually open the door for the parent, and take full responsibility for equipment, enact manners at all levels within and beyond the dojo. Getting your child to class on time helps teach that lesson as well. Children are almost fearful of entering a class late because of the scrutiny they imagine. If you have a time crunch on certain days, just let us know if it will be a regular occurrence. Rushing into class late can affect learning as they take time to re-orient.
Most of all, we care about your child’s safety. Those under 12 years of age must not run out the door without an adult. The roadway is crowded and dangerous to navigate at busy times. Park the car, if possible; or, have another passenger come in to escort your child. If you have a substitute adult to pick up your child, please let us know. Ours has been an extremely safe environment for 50 years! Help us keep an eye on our youngest members.
Sensei, Shihan and Hanshi share information in the context of classes. This goes beyond technique. You are the beneficiary of a legacy of insight that is shared only with WKA or IHSKF members. This is your information. No matter what is observed on YouTube, for example, the intricacies require careful development. We don’t share these details outside of our system schools. As instructors, we have been National USA Coaches and will occasionally have elite athletes appeal for assistance. Even so, we do this sparingly on behalf of the American team or our IHSKF members who are national team members throughout the world. Proprietary information has made us one of the most respected authorities on Karate in the world. We ask discretion because you will have worked very hard to obtain such information---never share WKA information without permission from Sensei Arai, Shihan, or Hanshi.
We also do not allow participation at unsanctioned tournaments. This is for your safety---and theirs. Many of our techniques will prove too strong and/or untrained referees are not capable of monitoring a competitor’s safety. If you have interest in sport development, this will come naturally and we will guide this ambition appropriately. Never participate in a strange dojo thinking that that’s okay. Not all schools or instructors are the same. If you are travelling, wish to attend another WKA or system school (or other), we have connections all over the world with reputable dojos. Simply request a recommendation from Sensei, Shihan or Hanshi!
Again, we welcome you to the WKA! We are as enthusiastic to explore this journey together.