Frequently Asked Questions

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. There are several associations of karate that maintain standards for ranking. We follow the curriculum as outlined by The Japan Karate Association. Japan Karate Association is the largest martial art organization in the world. We believe we are using the best curriculum to prepare you If you wish to test for your black belt with any of the major karate associations.

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 can be somewhat 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!

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. Stamina and skill build with time and practice. With dedicated effort who knows what you will be able to achieve!

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. Many of our students are on the honor roll in school and are leaders in the community. This is a reflection of the hard work they put in inside and outside the dojo.

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.

How much is the tuition?

The costs of participating with Simba Dojo is very reasonable.  There are no hidden fees, no contracts, and no 'extras' that you have to buy other than what is listed below.  Anything not listed below would be considered optional activities and not required by us.

AAU Membership:  $18 per child and $40 per adult per membership year, September to September (Required)

Tuition:  $30 per Month per student (Required)*

Uniform:  Price varies from $30 for the cheapest quality to several hundred.  We will help you pick out the right options for you.

*Note:  Due to operation cost reductions club dues are now 50% off!  $30 per month per student.  All club fees are due at the beginning of each month.  If there is a problem or issue, please come and talk to us!  Our goal is to keep everyone on the floor and progressing in the art of Karate-Do!

How do I join?

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

What if I am not a resident of the Verrado Community?

That is OK you do not have to be a resident to come to our classes! The Verrado Assembly allows us to take on students from outside the community! We have students from Buckeye, Goodyear, Avondale, Glendale, and Phoenix! We have also had visitors from outside the state and the country visit our club and participate in our classes!

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.

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 and do everything in our power to keep the tuition as low as possible. Secondly, the gis that are given away are usually promotional items, bought in bulk, an advertising medium and are not of the highest quality. 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, but you do not need to spend that much on a quality uniform.  We recommend that you wait and talk to us before your first gi purchase.

Can I wear my old gi from another school?

You may wear your old gi if it is a plain white gi without any school emblems, patches, or advertisements. It is generally considered to be in bad taste to attend a dojo with a gi from another school unless you are representing that school in a competitive event. In addition, wearing a uniform that is consistent with a school’s standards helps build community, team spirit and makes for better pictures!

How do I get a gi?

Once you decide to keep up with your study in karate you will want to invest in a gi. A gi is your single most important purchase in the practice of karate. We prefer that you purchase a gi through us in order to maintain club spirit and standards, however, we leave the decision to you.  If you decide to purchase a gi on your own, please maintain club standards.  Simba Dojo students wear the traditional white karate gi. The gi should be a kimono-like wrap around gi, not the pullover type used in taekwondo. 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.

Karate gis are made out of different fabrics.  Most of the less expensive gis are made from polyester cotton blends.  This material is very durable and will last many years.  However, the synthetic materials can get very hot and do not breath well.  We recommend you purchase a 100% cotton gi.  Cotton gis may cost a little bit more, but well worth it.  They are more comfortable to wear, breath easier and do not keep in moisture like the synthetics. You will be much happier with a cotton gi and remember a well taken care of gi can last many years.

Alternatively you can order a gi through us.  We do not make a profit on the gis and sell them at our cost. We generally do not stock gis and have them made to order. These gis run between 40 to 110 dollars each depending on options.  Please contact us for exact prices.  We offer a couple of different grades of gis ranging from the less expensive American cut student model to a more competitive Okinawan cut gi. We put a lot of thought into choosing a gi to represent our dojo. Not all gis are made the same and we are currently working with gi manufacturers to produce our own line of Simba Dojo branded gis.  These new branded gis should be available in December 2020!  If you need a gi before then, we can help you with that as well with the same quality and prices.

The American gi: This is the standard student grade gi.  They are made with a lighter grade 100% cotton 8 oz. material that is breathable and very comfortable to wear.  This is an ideal gi for beginning karate students without spending a lot of money.  It is an American cut design, meaning that it is tailored to American standards of clothing.

The Okinawan gi: 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% 10 oz. or 12 oz. cotton material with durable stitching that should last for years. 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.

Our Logo:  The kanji we have adopted for our club simply reads Lion Spirit.  This Kanji is placed on the breast of our gis.  We offer several strategies of placing our club insignia on the gis ranging from screening to embroidery.

Customizations:  If you wish we could have your name embroidered on the lower lapel of your gi.  This is an extra charge and the gi is not refundable if this service is ordered.

Does my previous rank from another school transfer over?

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.

Will I have to register my hands as deadly weapons?

Not likely. You may often hear this talked about in some circles, but for the most, it is just an urban legend. The practice of Karate is not illegal and actually promotes good citizenship.  If you commit a crime, however, you will get finger printed, have your picture taken and placed in the police database as someone who has broken the law. Criminals who are trained in the martial arts may experience scrutiny by the courts and held to a higher standard due to the nature of their crime.  Breaking the law, however, has nothing to do with the practice of karate, so no, you will not have to register your hands as deadly weapons in most of the United States.

The exception to this is in the US territory of Guam.  In Title 10- Health & Safety Division 3- Public Safety, Chapter 62 in their statutes  states, "Any person who is an expert in the art of karate or judo, or any similar physical are in which the hands and feet are used as deadly weapons, is required to register with the Department of Revenue and Taxation."  To register, you are required to do this in person and pay a $5 fee.  I think most of us will not have to worry about this, unless we show up in Guam!

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.