It's not unusual for anyone starting martial arts, or anything new, for that matter, to have a few questions. This page offers answers to some of these questions. As time goes by, more will be added, as more questions are asked.
- Do I have to do sparring?
- Do I have to do tournaments?
- Do I have to do full contact?
- Will I get hurt while training and competing?
- Do you do MMA?
- Do you teach weapons e.g. bo, sai, katana etc...
- How long until I get my black belt?
- I have been training in another Kyokushin club. Will you recognise my grade?
- I have been training in another karate style. Will you recognise my grade?
- I have been training in another martial art? Will you recognise my grade?
- What is my purple belt equivalent to in Kyokushin?
- What is the difference between karate and kung fu?
- What is the difference between karate and aikido?
- What is the difference between karate and judo/jujitsu?
- What is the difference between karate and taekwondo?
Do I have to do sparring? [Back to top]
Yes. It's karate, which is fundamentally a fighting art where the basic ultimate purpose is self defence. It is essential that this be practiced and tested. What other way is there to do this?
Do I have to do tournaments? [Back to top]
Yes. Following on from the previous FAQ, it's important that once you've learnt to defend against people who do things similarly to you, that you also learn to adapt your skills to different forms of attack and defense from other people and other styles. Tournaments are a safe and controlled way of doing this because there are rules and controls. While this does not represent a perfect test of your skills, it is far safer than than taking your test to the streets of downtown Sydney. You don't have to do full-contact tournaments, but again, for reasons stated above, it's highly recommended. Tournament participation is also required in order to grade - unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Do I have to do Full Contact fighting? [Back to top]
No. Full contact is NOT for everyone. However, depending on your age, skills, and maturity, and desire, you could start being introduced to more and more contact from about the age of 10 upwards. As a follow on from the previous two FAQs, full contact would be the next stage of learning to use what you've been learning in class. Normal points and freestyle sparring are usually non-contact or very light contact. While these both require great skills in timing, distance, and balance, thereby requiring the judges to decide that a technique COULD have caused damage had it made contact, you still don't really know if it really would have worked. This is where full contact sparring comes in. While still not the perfect test of your skills, it's about as close as it gets without being illegal! Here you test yourself, to see if you can both TAKE being hit, as well as hit hard enough to make your opponent show pain. Bear in mind, there are still rules that must be followed, even for this type of competition. Children may start a reduced version of contact fighting from the age of 11 and from blue belt up.
Will I get hurt while training or competing? [Back to top]
Yes, very likely. While we try to avoid getting damaged permanently for any number of sensible reasons, getting hurt is an inevitable and unavoidable consequence of training in the martial arts. You cannot practice punching and kicking and blocking without getting hurt and bruised. It's better to have this happen under the controlled conditions of a dojo, than having to learn how to deal with pain the first time an assailant in the street hits you. Pain is also what makes you appreciate the times when it doesn't hurt!
Do you do MMA? [Back to top]
No. The basic premise of MMA is to win a fight, and to beat the opponent into (often bloody) submission. The basic premise of Karate is to NOT lose. It is fundamentally self-defense. Yes, we compete in tournaments to win, even to the point of KOs, but it's nonetheless point oriented, and it doesn't (or shouldn't) exhibit the brutality that is found in MMA. If ever you've watched ANY of the Karate Kid movies - they're wrong both from the bad guys' and the good guys' point of view.
Do you do weaponry (kobudo or kenjutsu? [Back to top]
No. Not really. Once in a while, we do a little bit of work with a bo, but Kobudo (as traditional weaponry is known) is a completely different type of martial art from karate. Katana (swordsmanship - kenjutsu) is yet another whole kettle of fish These are usually taught as a completely separate discipline in itself. Kobudo, by and large, is based on farming/agricultural tools in keeping with the origins of karate, and swordsmanship is a Samurai thing, which is why they're taught as separate disciplines. Many martial arts schools profess to do weaponry, but for the most part, they probably don't have qualifications in it. But don't quote me on that.
How long until I get my black belt? [Back to top]
How long is a piece of string? It depends on how seriously you take your training, how much you train, how well you learn. A Kyokushin black belt is not easily earned and takes an adult a minimum of 4 ½ years of regular training - 2hr classes at least twice a week in the earlier stages, and 3-5 times a week as you start training for the black belt itself. Children are not awarded black belts under the age of 14 in the IFK as they don't have the physical and mental maturity for it yet.
In addition to actually being able to do the required techniques, there are two more conditions that must be fulfilled for each grading: minimum calendar time, and a minimum number of hours of training. If these conditions are met, your instructor may recommend you for grading if s/he believes that you are ready for it.
You might end up skipping a grade if you're good. But don't count on it. This option is also only available up to 5th kyu (senior yellow). After that, it's one grade at a time. As you get higher in your grades, tournament competition is also essential, and in the last few grades before black belt, you'll also be expected to officiate at tournaments.
I have been graded in another Kyokushin organisation. Will you recognise my grade? [Back to top]
Maybe, maybe not. If you have a registered black belt, you can be accepted at whatever dan grade you have, but you'd need to catch up on our syllabus before you can grade any higher. If you don't have a black belt, you would have to train with us for a while to be evaluated. The syllabus is different in the different Kyokushin organisations, and to be fair, the skill levels are often not the same for the same grades. You would also have to catch up on our syllabus content, and might be required to to attend a grading where you can be evaluated on what you've been catching up on, whereupon you might be downgraded, kept the same, or even upgraded.
I have been graded in another karate style. Will you recognise my grade? [Back to top]
No, not really. This is a case of comparing apples and pears. Both fruits, both similar, but still not the same. If you have a black belt in that style, we may see fit to recognise you as a shodan, or first degree blackbelt, in IFK Kyokushin as a courtesy to your experience, regardless of what your current Dan grade is. This is however subject to the approval of IFK Headquarters i.e. the board of the IFK. But you would have to train with us on a regular basis, and catch up on the syllabus. You would not be permitted to grade higher until you had learnt the entire syllabus up to your proposed new grade. If you have not yet got your black belt, you would have to catch up on the syllabus, be evaluated in class and your grade determined at a grading, based on your abilities and the instructor's recommendation.
I have been graded in another, non-karate martial art. Will you recognise my grade? [Back to top]
No. There is no real basis for comparison because they're most likely not even like apples and pears. More like apples and avocados: both fruits, but with nothing but the most fundamental similarities. Start humbly as a white belt, and work your way up. Any relevant skills and talents you bring with you will be recognised appropriately.
I have a belt in another Karate style that is green, or blue, or red, or purple? What's the equivalent in Kyokushin? [Back to top]
Don't know. Each style usually has its own colour range of belts, which may or may not be the same as ours. As a guide, consider that most karate styles have a system of 10 grades, or kyu levels, leading up to black belt. So if your style uses a 10 kyu system AND you know your kyu grade, that should give you an idea of the relative position that your grade. However, if you're planning on joining the IFKKA, it's not going to matter that much, since you'll be starting again as as white belt.
What is the difference between Karate and Kung Fu? [Back to top]
Apart from the obvious difference i.e. that karate is Japanese and kungfu is Chinese, the most significant difference is probably that in karate, techniques tend to be more linear and emphasise power. In kungfu, movements tend to focus on flowing techniques, with less emphasis on power. The circular movements are often meant to be trapping sequences to hinder an opponent's movement before being hit or disabled.
What is the difference between Karate and Aikido? [Back to top]
The basic principle of Aikido is to use the weight and momentum of the opponent to work against them. Other aspects of it also involve joint manipulation, sometimes quite violent, again mostly as a consequence of the attacker's own momentum. Joint manipulation works on the principle that when a joint such a shoulder or wrist is twisted, we are more than likely to want to move in the direction that minimises the pain. Karate on the other hand works on the principle that if you stop them from hitting you, it's less likely to hurt you. If that fails, then if you hit them back hard enough in the right places, they might be less inclined to hit you back again. Some karate styles incorporate some of the same principles that are used in Aikido.
What is the difference between karate and judo/jujitsu/BJJ/grappling? [Back to top]
Judo and Jujitsu are esssentially grappling arts. Where karate goes out of its way to avoid holding and being held by the opponent, judo and jujitsu can only be performed by holding the opponent, and either throwing him to the ground, or taking him down to the ground and putting him into some sort of immobilising lock using your arms and/or legs. Judo is the sport version, whereas jujitsu is the combat version, and can involve some very nasty joint locks that have to potential to permanently disable an opponent by damaging the joints. While judo and jujitsu are very good against single opponents, especially when on the ground, karate is potentially better against multiple attackers.
We do however incorporate some jujitsu moves and techniques in our training because there are useful crossover combinations to allow us to also defend ourselves at closer range or if someone has grabbed hold of us.
What is the difference between karate and taekwondo?[Back to top]
Karate is of Japanese/Okinawan origin. Taekwondo is Korean. Both are "kick and punch" martial arts. Taekwondo emphasises the kicking much more, and they have some incredibly impressive acrobatic kicks which may or may not be of practical use. While they have hand techniques, in my experience they rarely use them because of their fondness of kicks. They tend to give out black belts after a shorter training time than Kyokushin, and to much younger students.