Shotokan Karate Classe in Baltimore, Maryland

What Karate-Do is

Kyu Ranks

There are nine  kyu ranks. A beginning student is considered "no kyu". After 3-4 months of  training, the student may be eligible to test for 8th kyu. If that test is  passed, the student is then eligible for testing every 3-4 months until the 1st  kyu is reached. After 1st kyu is reached, another year of training is required  until the student is eligible to test for 1st Dan.

No kyu-white belt

8th kyu-yellow belt

7th kyu-orange belt

6th kyu-green belt

5th/4th kyu-purple belt

3rd/2nd/1st kyu-brown belt

Dan Ranks 

1st (Shodan) - one year between  1st kyu and Shodan 

2nd (Nidan) - two years between  Shodan and Nidan  

3rd (Sandan) - three years  between Nidan and Sandan  

4th (Yondan) - four years between  Sandan and Yondan  

5th (Godan) - five years between  Yondan and Godan; over 30 years of age  

6th (Rokudan) - six years between  Godan and Rokudan; over 36 years of age  

7th (Shichidan) - seven years  between Rokudan and Shichidan; over 43 years of age 

8th (Hachidan) - eight years  between Shichidan and Hachidan; over 51 years of age  

9th (Kudan) - nine years between  Hachidan and Kudan; over 60 years of age  

10th (Judan) - 10 years between  Kudan and Judan; over 70 years of age

Karate-Do  "The Way of the Empty Hand," is a path to self development.  Karate is  best known as a method of self defense, but self defense is only a  by-product of true Karate training.  Karate-Do is a martial  way or  BUDO, that leads to the development and coordination of body, mind and spirit.  The Japanese characters for BUDO are literally translated as a way to stop violence and so, proper training in Karate-Do leads to a lifestyle of non-violence through the development of character, harmony, compassion and respect for others.

Shotokan Karate-Do is one of the four major styles of Japanese Karate. It was first brought to Japan from Okinawa by Gichin Funakoski in 1917 and was brought to America in the late 1950's. Shotokan stresses the maximum development of each technique through constant repetition in order to develop the ability to end any conflict with one blow.


Shotokan classes are 1 to 1 1/2 hours in length. After thorough warm ups, class time is divided into three sections. During the first third of the classes, the emphasis is placed on the practice of the basic stances, punches, blocks, strikes and kicks of Shotokan. This training is called KIHON and forms the "vocabulary" of Karate.

After Kihon practice, students learn to apply the basic  techniques in fighting situations during sparring or Kumite practice. At the beginning of their Karate training, students practice  pre-arranged sparring in a safe, controlled fashion. As students advance  in rank and ability, pre-arranged sparring becomes more complicated and  more closely simulates realistic self defense situations. Eventually, students are introduced to free style sparring. Regardless of the type of sparring, safety is constantly stressed and no contact is allowed. Kumite training could be considered the "prose" of Karate.

The final and most important aspect of the karate training is forms practice or Kata. Kata consists of between 22 and 65 movements arranged in specific sequences and they simulate defense against attack from four to eight imaginary opponents.  Kata contains many techniques that aren't normally practiced during Kihon or Kumite and so, are a repository of  techniques.  There are 26 Kata in the Shotokan syllabus. Students learn Kata at the rate of one in every three or four months  during the first 2 years of training. Additional Kata are taught  as students progress in rank until all 26 are mastered by the rank of the 5th  Degree Black Belt.  Because Kata are practiced endlessly, the movements of each Kata become second nature to the student. When this level of development is reached. Kata becomes a form of moving meditation. Kata can also be described as the "poetry" of Karate because of it's aesthetic nature.