I have never practiced any martial art before. Is experience required to start practicing?
No. Beginners are always welcome, regardless of previous martial arts experience.
When is the best time to start practicing?
Anybody is welcome to start practicing at any time. Our group practices continuously. There is no concept of sessions or semesters.
Since your practices are not broken up by rank, won’t I be holding up the more experienced members if I join, since I don’t know karate?
No. This is a common concern, but it is not a valid one. While beginners focus on becoming comfortable with the basic technique or form, the senior members will concentrate on more complex or subtle aspects of the technique. The same goes for kata (forms). For kumite (sparring), senior members strive to work with beginners just a bit above their current level. This way, the beginner is not overwhelmed by the experienced senior, and the beginner is pushed out of their comfort level just a bit, so that they can learn. This teaching method contributes to a safe experience, and fosters growth in the beginner. All of our current members started practicing in this fashion. The fact that we are all practicing together shows that this system works.
I used to practice with another Shotokan group, and I would like to resume my training. Would I be able to retain my existing rank while practicing with your group?
All SKA members wear either plain white, brown, or black belts according to rank. SKA generally recognizes black belts from other styles, but such ‘foreign’ black belts do not become SKA black belts until they pass an SKA dan test and become members of SKA’s Black Belt Council (BBC). SKA is a 5-dan system. The instructor will appropriately place black belts from 8-dan or 10-dan styles in the line-up.
All other belt colors will be asked to wear a white belt at practice. Junior members will be placed at a new rank after their first SKA kyu test. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will have to start all over again from the beginning. At our rank tests, the seniors conducting the test do their best to place each student at the level the seniors feel that student is currently at, so rank promotions do not always get awarded in sequential order. An advanced student may be promoted to a higher rank after their first rank test. The seniors conducting the grading will do their best to honestly evaluate each student and award the level demonstrated during grading.
Please feel free to contact an instructor if you would like further clarification.
I would like to start practicing with Southwest Chicago Shotokan. Where do I show up for practice?
Make your way to the practice location (address on the home page). When you turn onto Village Lane, proceed straight ahead, and you will pull right into a parking area. The building we practice in will be on the right hand side. It has large windows, and a wooden floor. Find an instructor, and he will show you where you can change.