Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have to register my hands as deadly weapons?

Not likely.  You may often hear this talked about in some circles, but it is just an urban legend.  If you commit a crime you will get finger printed, have your picture taken and placed in the police database as someone who has broken the law.  The practice of Karate is not illegal and actually promotes good citizenship.

How long does it take to get a black belt?

Everyone wants the black belt and at Simba Dojo, we want you to earn it.  How fast you achieve your goal can vary tremendously depending on many factors including your ability and how much effort you put into your training.  We do not give out belts at Simba Dojo.  You earn them through your mastery of the skills.  We do not socially promote our students and each promotion is determined by a panel of judges.  The colored belt is just a marker of a journey one decides to take.  Ultimately, karate is not about the belt you wear and the focus should be on the continued development of one’s character.

Does my previous rank from another school transfer over?

Not necessarily.  If you earned a kyu or dan from the Japan Karate Association we will not dispute this.  At Simba Dojo we follow the guidelines set forth by the JKA concerning rankings.  This practice better prepares the student for testing with JKA for dan (black belt) ranks.  If you earned belt rank from another Shotokan school, we do not take that from you, but we will have you start at the 10th kyu with us.  We will then allow you to test out to your kyu potential at your first grading.  So then, you have not wasted time and money at another school if you transfer over.

If you were studying something other than Shotokan Karate, you will find there are some differences in the kata and training, but may seem to be somewhat familiar.  This is because each family of karate systems have adopted certain kata from older systems and have changed it over time.  After generations, the separate families who have trained in karate have evolved karate in slightly different directions.  This is why we start everyone out in the 10 kyu though you may have intense experience in another school.  Your previous training should excel you in the practice of karate at Simba Dojo and should never be considered wasted time and money.

How do I get a gi?

Simba Dojo students are required to wear a traditional white karate gi.  The gi should be a kimono-like wrap around gi, not the pullover type used in TKD.  We ask that students do not wear gis from other dojos.  There should be no markings, patches or school advertisements on the gi.

There are many ways to obtain a student gi.  You can purchase them online through one of hundreds martial arts suppliers such as Cenury Martial Arts.  It has been our experience, however, we often buy the wrong size and it can be difficult to exchange them.  We recommend that you buy your gis at Karate Mart at 1411 W Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013, were you can try on the gi before you buy it.  Prices will vary from around 25 dollars depending on size, material and brand.

Alternatively you can buy an official Simba Dojo gi from us.  These gis run about 110 dollars each depending on several options.  Please contact us for exact price.  We put a lot of thought into choosing a gi to represent our dojo.  We wanted a high quality, traditional Okinawan gi that was affordable.  We wanted a gi that was comparable to those worn in Japan, not the typical gi found in American Dojos.  Our gis are cut to traditional Okinawan standards and are designed differently than the “American cut” gis you order online or buy locally.  Okinawan gis tend to be a little longer at the torso, keeping the gi tucked in the belt during heavy practice.  The sleeves and legs are cut a little shorter with heavy stitching giving that classic pop sound when you punch and kick.  They are made from high quality 100% cotton material with durable stitching that should last for years.  We have these gis custom embroidered with Japanese Kanji that reads lion spirit to represent our dojo in the customary manner that you will find in Japan.  Additionally we can have your gi customized with your name in Japanese on the bottom lapel.  Our gis are comparable to the much more expensive Japanese gis that cost up to four times more!  After wearing these gis for years, I have a difficult time going back to my older gis which are thinner and just feel (cheap) less durable.

Why don’t you provide karate gis as I have seen other schools advertise?

There are several reasons why we do not offer student gis upon sign up.  First, schools who do offer a “free” gi are not really providing it free.  Generally they will want you to sign a contract with them which allows them to add in the cost of the gi into the tuition many times over.  We do not use long term contracts.  Secondly, these schools often plaster their gis with advertisement for their school.  Simba Dojo prefers beginning students wear the traditional white karate gi without patches or extra advertisement to represent our practice in karate.  The only exception to this rule is the professional gi we offer.  It has kanji embroidered on the lapel that reads Lion Spirit, which is the kanji we chose for the dojo.  These gis are high quality and made in the traditional way that you will find in Japanese dojos.  Thirdly, gis come in many different qualities and prices that reflect those qualities.  Prices range from $15 to many hundreds of dollars.  It is not uncommon to spend $400 on a good Japanese gi.  Instead of buying cheap gis in bulk from a Chinese company we give some room for the student to choose their own gi.

Do I have to wear a karate gi?

Not necessarily.  We do encourage everyone to wear a karate gi, but, while you are evaluating the class you may come to class in loose fitting clothes that you can work out in.  We ask everyone be in a gi before your first belt testing.

How do I join?

Just come to class!  We will walk you through the process.

How much is the tuition?

In general, we charge an average of 50 percent less than the local martial arts studios.  We have lower overhead and our mission is to give back to the community and make karate available to everyone!  Each location at Simba Dojo has a different fee structure as we have different contracts with the entities involved.  Please call us or see each location for details on fees.

What style of karate do you teach?

Here at Simba Dojo, we practice and teach Shotokan Karate.  Shotokan is probably the most widely taught and politically involved family of karate systems.  The Japan Karate Association is the largest martial art organization in the world.

Is Karate the same as Tae Kwon Do?

Though Tae Kwon Do (TKD) and Karate may share some of the same characteristics and have crossed lineages, they are two different martial arts.  TKD is a Korean Martial Art, while Karate is from Japan.  The traditions, language and focus of practice is quite different.  It is very easy to get them confused, and often martial arts clubs will take advantage of this confusion in their marketing strategies. 

Is karate a religious practice?

Karate is not a religion.  It is a martial art, though many people who practice karate also engage in religious practice of all kinds.

Why do you bow in class?

The tradition of karate was developed in Japan.  Bowing is a tradition practiced in many Asian cultures to acknowledge the other person, just as we in the United States may shake hands.  We continue to use the tradition of bowing in the Dojo as a way of showing mutual respect toward each other and our tradition.

What is the youngest age that you take?

We do not set minimum age limits to our classes as not all children will be ready to engage in the practice of karate at a particular age.  We have worked with children as young as 3 with success, but again it depends on the child.

What is the oldest age that a person can practice karate?

Simba Dojo does not set any limits to age.  Each person is different and will have different abilities.  Each practitioner should do a self-assessment and decide for themselves if they will benefit from the practice of karate.  Though we may challenge our students to reach their greatest potential, we do not make you do anything you feel uncomfortable in doing.  We welcome students of all ages!

Can you fix my kid?

No.  To fix something implies that it is broken.  We do not start with the conception that one is broke, instead we prefer to think that we are in the business of building rather than repairing.  Certainly there is much to be gained in the practice of karate.  We emphasize etiquette, respect, courtesy and honesty within the dojo and outside the dojo. We also encourage each of our students to strive to be the best they can be.

Can I try out the class before I actually join?

Of course!  We always offer the first class for free!  We would like to offer all the classes for free, but we have expenses just like everyone else.

I am out of shape, will I be able to do karate?

Most likely.  We will challenge you, but you will always be in control of what you do and how much you do.