Note: The Sensei requires a free 30 minute private lesson that includes an orientation before attending any classes. Please call Zac at 360-600-1477 to schedule your free lesson.
Q: What is the martial art program at Naydenov Gymnastics all about?
A: It is about providing men, women and children of all ages with a safe, fun environment in which to develop valuable skills of self-protection, character development, and fitness, while learning Japanese martial arts.
Q: What do the participants learn exactly?
A: There is a very specific curriculum in the program that incorporates three martial art styles, which are karate, Okinawan weapons, and jujitsu.
Q: What is karate?
A: Karate is a method of self-defense whereby the practitioner uses strategically aimed strikes with the hands and feet to subdue an assailant. Because there are numerous martial arts that share this concept, the term “karate” is often used generically to describe any fighting system from the Orient. Technically however, it is only accurate when referring specifically to the indigenous fighting arts of Okinawa and Japan. Other Asian countries have different names for their arts.
The two characters that make up this word literally translate to “empty hand”. There are two meanings inherent in the phrase. The first is that practitioners of the art learn to defend themselves without the use of weapons, that is, with their bare or “empty” hands. The second embodies the idea that karate students should strive to “empty” their minds of any desire to use martial art skill toward malevolent or unethical ends.
There are actually hundreds of different styles of karate, each with a unique philosophy. The style studied in this program is known as “Shotokan”. Founded by legendary karate master Gichin Funakoshi, it is one of the most widely practiced of all karate styles. Shotokan is distinguished from other karate styles by the use of deep, wide stances, predominantly linear movements, and the fundamental concept that quality of technique is better than quantity.
Q: What is jujitsu?
A: While karate is a martial art that concentrates on striking, jujitsu is a grappling art. The study of jujitsu incorporates escaping from various holds, chokes and grabs, as well as throwing, joint bending, and choking techniques as a means of dispatching an attacker. The word is written with two characters:
ju = gentle, supple, or yielding
jitsu = art, technique, or method
Jujitsu, therefore, is the “gentle art” and emphasizes controlling and repelling an assailant without excessive force. Like karate, jujitsu has many different styles. Students learn techniques from both classical Japanese jujitsu, and modern Brazilian jujitsu.
Q: What are the weapons?
A: “Kobudo” is the word for weapon training, referring to the Okinawan weapons listed below.
Bo: A five or six foot tapered wooden staff used primarily for blocking and striking an opponent at long range.
Tonfa: A wooden rod with a handle fixed at a right angle. Used for blocking, striking and trapping. Used in pairs.
Sai: A three pronged metal truncheon used in pairs to block, strike and disarm an adversary.
Nunchaku: Wooden flail consisting of two sticks connected by a short length of rope. Used to block, strike, and ensnare an assailant.
Kama: A sickle used in pairs to block, strike and cut an attacker. A weapon of deadly seriousness, and only used by highly advanced practitioners.
All of these weapons were originally derived from common farm implements. Their usage grew into a dynamic martial art in response to a governmental edict banning weapons in Okinawa during the 1600′s, and have since become a unique part of Okinawa’s tradition and history.
Students do not begin weapon training until they have attained the rank of blue belt, 5th kyu.
Q: Why three styles? Isn’t one style good enough?
A: While all martial art styles have valuable things to offer, they all have limitations and weaknesses. No single martial art style covers everything a well-rounded self-defense practitioner should know. The essence of good defense lies in understanding the distance ranges of combat. The art of karate teaches the practitioner to protect him or her self within kicking and punching range. Jujitsu teaches proficiency in the grappling range, and kobudo develops skill in fighting in the ranges provided by basic stick/club type weapons. It is the mission of the program to provide the most comprehensive self-defense training available, while preserving the integrity of the arts. It is the opinion of the instructor and creator of the program that the combination of these particular arts is what best addresses the holistic needs of a good self-defense system.
Q: Aren’t martial arts dangerous?
A: Not according to a U.S. Government survey based on data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, from a sample of hospitals that it considers statistically representative of the nation. The study ranked martial arts significantly lower in number of injuries per year than more than twenty other sports including football, basketball, baseball, bicycling, soccer, hockey, gymnastics, dance, swimming, and even golf. Safety is always a priority in class, and even minor injuries are rare. Martial arts are a contact sport, so naturally the possibility of injury is always present, but safe practice and common sense make injuries avoidable.
Q. Who is the instructor?
A: The instructor’s name is Zac Hanks. As an established expert with twenty five years of training in Japanese martial arts, he is referred to by the title “Sensei”, meaning “one who has been before” or more colloquially, “instructor”. Sensei Hanks created the entire curriculum for the program, and oversees all instruction, lesson plans, promotions, private lessons, specialty seminars and extra-curricular events.
Sensei Hanks holds many competitive karate titles in fighting, forms, and weapons. He has also received much acclaim for his success as a children’s coach, and as a nationally certified referee.
But for Sensei Hanks, competition has always played a secondary role to teaching, which is where his passion truly lies. Now in his twelfth year as a professional instructor, Hanks has shared his martial art knowledge with thousands of men, women, and children of all ages. Says Hanks:”The beauty and discipline of the martial arts often has a magically transforming effect on people. It gives one a true sense of one’s self, and brings out things in people they never dreamed possible. There is nothing more gratifying than being an integral part of that transformation.”
Q: What are students expected to wear, and where do I get it?
A: All students practice in a traditional, all-white karate uniform known as a “karate-gi”, or simply “gi” (pronounced with a hard “G”). Sensei Hanks keeps a wide variety of sizes on hand at all times.
Medium weight gi – $25.00 in children’s sizes, $30.00 for adult sizes.
Heavyweight gi – These uniforms come in a variety of fabric weights and are between $50.00 to $200.00. They are definitely a good investment for the serious student.
School emblem – $5.00
All uniforms come with both jacket and pants and a white belt.
Students are encouraged to purchase and affix the school emblem to the left breast of their gi.
Q: How do I properly put on the karate-gi and tie the obi (belt)?
A: Traditional karate-gi pants have a drawstring waist with loops in the front. The string is drawn tight and tied through these loops. The jacket is then folded across the chest by placing the right flap in first and tying it to the corresponding left jacket tie, then the left flap goes over the right and ties on the right side. Remember, always the left flap over the right. Jacket ties should be tied with no slack. The obi, or belt, encircles the waist twice and ties in the front with a square knot. Females are permitted to wear a t-shirt beneath the gi, but males must not.
Students are expected to have their gi and obi properly tied before class begins, and are encouraged to seek assistance from Sensei or a high-ranking student to learn how to do it correctly.
Q: What if I studied martial arts elsewhere? Do I get to wear my old belt in class?
A: The program curriculum is unique from all other schools. It was specifically designed only for this program and is not in use anywhere else. Sensei Hanks brings his personal, eclectic mixture of knowledge and experience to the program. Furthermore, rank requirements can vary widely even in schools of the same style, and are by no means standardized or universally recognized. For these reasons, students with previous martial art experience, regardless of style, must still start at the beginning of the curriculum as white belts, and test for all subsequent ranks. Previous training will aid a student in learning the new material more quickly, but martial art rank is only meaningful under the instructor that grants it.
Q: What is the student handbook and why should I have one?
A: The student handbook is an essential study resource for all serious students. It contains all the school rules, the entire curriculum from white belt to black belt with all associated Japanese vocabulary terms, the history of the martial arts and various other essays, outlines and diagrams concerning the program. No one can realistically expect to absorb the copious amounts of information required to advance in rank without a student handbook. Student handbooks sell for $20.00.
Q: What is the youngest age that children are permitted to start lessons?
A: Sensei Hanks has set the age cutoff for the children’s class at six years old. He will currently take students ages four and five in private lessons only. Sensei does not feel that three-year-old children are mature enough to understand martial art instruction.
Long ago, Sensei offered a specialty class for four and five-year-olds but demand was not sufficient to justify keeping it open. This trend seems to be shifting now, so it is possible that with enough requests, Sensei may be persuaded to reopen the “tot’s class”, as it was called.
Q: When can I/my child start classes?
A: The martial arts are a season-less sport, and are geared for life long learning. Classes are ongoing, so students can sign up at any time.
Q: How can I contact the instructor if I have other questions?
A: Sensei Zac Hanks can be reached at: 360-600-1477, or by e-mail: email@example.com.
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