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Testing Essays

Senpai will notify students who will be testing in the summer in early August.  Those students need to submit an essay to Senpai by Thursday, April 20. 
  • Your essay should be typed, and should include your name, date, and title of your essay. You can bring it to training, or e-mail it to Senpai as an attachment (preferred).
  • For white belts through purple belts, your essay needs to be a minimum of one paragraph. For brown belts, the essay should be a minimum of one page. For dan ranks, the essay should be a minimum of two pages. Just write enough to address your chosen topic.
  • The point of the essay is to get you thinking about karate and how it relates to your life and what it means to you. This isn't meant to be a dissertation on karate topics, but rather to engage you and get you to consider how karate fits into your life or how the principles we learn in training can help you both inside and outside of the dojo, or to get you to think about your physical training outside of the dojo. The essay won't be used to see whether you are right or wrong, but rather to gain some insight into how and why you train so that the overall club needs can be better addressed.
  • If you would like your essay to be considered for posting on the club blog, please let Sensei know when you submit your essay.  Many of the essays that have been received already would make great additions to the blog if you're willing for your essay to be made public.  But this is up to you.
  • There are many different topics below. You may select the topic that most interests you, but you should choose a different topic each time you must write an essay.  If you would like suggestions as to which topics might be best for you to think about, please ask Sensei for suggestions.  

Relating Karate or Karate Philosophy to Your Life

  1. Pick one or more of the five Dojo Kun principles and explain what it means to you, or how it applies to your life in and out of the dojo.
  2. Pick one or more of the twenty Niju Kun principles and explain what it means to you, or how it applies to your life in and out of the dojo.
  3. Discuss why you train, and how it makes you a better person, whether mentally or physically.
  4. Discuss how training helps you in your everyday life, and what you get out of training.
  5. In his book, Karate-do: My Way of Life, Funakoshi discusses six (actually five) principles or rules for Karate-do. Choose one and explain why it is important to karate and your everyday life.
  6. Think about the adages tsuki no kokoro (a mind like the moon) and mizu no kokoro (a mind like water), and discuss how they relate to kara (as in karate) and you.
  7. The great paradox in martial arts is that we are constantly attempting to achieve the way to gentleness, but our means for doing this is through learning to fight. Discuss this paradox.
  8. Discuss the differences between karate-do and sports, and relate this to why you train.
  9. Discuss the mental aspects of karate training, and how these skills translate to everyday life.
  10. Discuss the importance of etiquette in karate training, and what role club members have in making sure that etiquette is properly followed in the dojo.  How does karate etiquette transfer to your daily life?
  11. Pick one of the following sets of words, discuss their meanings, and relate the meanings to your karate training.
    1. Karate Do (kara, te, and do)
    2. Sensei, Senpai, and Kyohai

Thinking More Deeply About Karate Technique

  1. Pick one of the twenty six Shotokan kata, describe what the name of the kata means, and how that kata helps you to further develop your technique and understanding of karate.
  2. There are five ways to develop power from the hip: translation, rotation, elevation, vibration, and snap. Discuss at least two and how they relate to karate movement and everyday movements.
  3. Discuss the importance of kihon, kata, and kumite in training.
  4. Discuss the importance of hips and posture to karate-do and everyday life.
  5. Discuss one or more types of kumite (sanbon, kihon ippon, jiyu ippon, etc.), what this type of kumite is teaching students, and how it fits into the progression of training.
  6. Discuss the importance of stances in karate training, and why we need more than one stance. 
  7. Pick any karate technique (any block, kick, strike, punch, ...) and examine this technique in more detail.  For example, you can explain the technical components of how this technique works, how this technique can be applied to self-defense situations, etc.  
  8. Discuss how karate training helps with self-defense. 

Learning About the Greater Karate World

  1. Pick a Shotokan karate figure, such as Master Funakoshi, Master Nakayama, Sensei Okazaki, etc. and give some background information or history about them.
  2. Read a karate article (either online or in a magazine), read a club blog post, read a karate book, or watch a karate video and give a short review and what you learned from it to apply to your training.