Frequently Asked Questions


1.  What type of Karate is this? Traditional?  Sport?  Cardio?

Zendokan Karate is not sport Karate.  In fact, this is one of the things that founder Michael Kelly did not want to see happen to Karate.  There is no competition and the Motion is not a bouncy-type of motion where the objective is to tag an opponent for a point.   

As well, it is not traditional Karate in the sense of it being practiced as it was 80 years ago.  Today, practitioners wear shoes and the style has evolved from the original Okinawan style.

The style certainly does engage students in a good cardiovascular workout, but this is not the main goal of practice.

The style is very direct with its main focus being defending oneself by responding appropriately, directly, and resolutely to any threat by using various motions, blocks, strikes, kicks, locks, and throws.  It is practical, not Hollywood-pretty.


2.  Will I get hurt in practice?  Do you practice with full contact?

Although there is always the possibility of injury in any martial art, sport, or physical activity, injuries are very rare in our style and we strive to ensure safety during practice.

While there may be some incidental contact on blocks and in certain techniques, there is never any direct striking that is meant to hit and injure a training partner.  All students develop the ability to stop short of making contact yet still make the motions powerful and realistic.  We do have some striking targets that allow students to make contact with various techniques.

3.  Do you practice kata or sparring?
The ZDK training employs several different types of practice, including individual practice, partner practice, and practice with multiple opponents.  Kata is used to develop specific skills and takes on a different dimension as opponents are added to show each kata's application.  Other sets of techniques have students respond to attacks from opponents, which also leads to more free form 'sparring'.

Students are encouraged learn from all types of training.  Indeed, the same techniques and training exercises will mean different things to different individuals - and even to the same individuals at different times as their own understanding, ability, and insight changes.

4.  Do I need a uniform to start?  Do I need any other special equipment?
All you need to start is loose clothing and a positive attitude.  A good pair of running shoes is recommended though not entirely necessary for your first few practices.  Later, you will need to acquire suitable garments to wear for practice.
5. I noticed that Kenshokan teaches both Karate and Iaido.  Why is this?
Many people study more than one martial art and find them to complement each other.  There are a number of students who practice ZDK Karate and do Iaido.  The study of one art serves to benefit the other.  People find the study of both to be very enriching.
6.  Do I need to be in really good physical shape before starting Karate?
No, you do not need to be a paragon of fitness.  The better your physical fitness level, the easier you may find techniques to perform.  Though we do work to develop overall fitness, this is not the main goal of the training.   You do need to be prepared for a good workout that includes warm-ups and conditioning as well as a range of motions.  You will probably find that your overall health, fitness, and flexibility will improve from the training.   If you have concerns or doubts, please consult a physician.
7.  What age should I be to start practicing?
The ages of people practicing Karate vary greatly.  In general, we consider it to be adult Karate because of the nature of some of the techniques and because of the attitude and focus required.  As a general rule, we say about 14 years old is the minimum age, but for such students, we usually request a parent join, as well.
8.  I have a physical disability.  Can I practice Karate?
There is a good chance you will be able to practice with us.  There have been many people who practice our style  with some sort of physical exceptionality or limitation.  Techniques can be modified and you might be surprised at the adaptability of the human body.  A positive attitude will go a long way!
9.  What styles and techniques are taught at the Kenshokan Karate dojo?
We teach Zendokan Dharma Kumiai Karate.  A description of the style can be found in the Overview section of this website. 
10 I am such-and-such a level in such-and-such martial art.  Do I need to start at the beginning or can I get advanced standing?
All students starting in Zendokan Karate are at the same level - beginners.  If you have experience in another martial art, you may learn some techniques more easily than other students or may be able to focus differently.  Regardless, we all start as beginners.
11.  Is your Karate style better than this other style or that other style?
All styles are really just different paths on the same journey.  There are a lot of similarities between these paths as well as some significant differences.   What you learn on any path should transcend it.  Students need to find a style, an instructor, and a community that works for them and enriches their lives.  Many people have found these things travelling the ZDK path.