Frequently Asked Questions
1. What should I wear or bring to class?
If you’re a beginner coming to your first classes with Teen Kenpo, you should wear athletic clothes that you feel comfortable moving around in. Typically students practice karate in bare feet, so you need not worry about footwear. Once you’re ready to commit to the class, you can buy a gi package for $35, which includes a gi (black karate pants and top), a white belt, and possibly a Teen Kenpo Karate Association t-shirt.
2. How much does it cost to participate?
There is no charge to participate in Teen Kenpo at McNiel. You will need a gi and white belt to start. If you choose to purchase the Gi Package, please make checks payable to McNiel Teen Kenpo Karate Association, and indicate your Mustang I.D. on the check (if you have one). Checks are greatly preferred, but cash is accepted.
3. How is a typical class structured?
Class begins promptly at 4:15 pm on Tuesday and Thursdays. A typical hour-long class begins and ends with a bow to the teacher, or master. Students line up in two lines by rank facing the front and salute the head instructor. Class begins with 20 – 30 minutes of warm-ups and group exercises. Students are then split into instruction groups by belt rank and work on martial arts skills, which may include kicks, punches, blocks, forms and techniques appropriate to their rank. At the end of class, students line up again and salute the head instructor. We bow upon entering and leaving our dojo (i.e. – the room or gym).
4. What if I arrive late to class?
The club expects students to arrive on time to class out of respect for themselves and their instructors, all of whom are volunteers. If you must arrive late, you should walk to the front of the class and wait for the head instructor to acknowledge you. Once this instructor has acknowledged you and bowed to you, you may join in the class’ activities.
5. Do you actually hit each other? Will I get hurt?
The instructors at Teen Kenpo are committed to having class be an educational and safe experience for everyone. Beginning karate students are expected to make little or no contact with other students when practicing to ensure that no-one gets hurt. If ever you are uncomfortable with the level of contact in class, you can let your fellow student and/or an instructor know, and he or she will make adjustments. The level of physical contact you will make with other students will increase as you gain experience and greater levels of control over your strikes. Once you reach an intermediate level, you will be expected to demonstrate that you can execute your self-defense techniques effectively and in a very controlled manner. The emphasis is on learning from one another, improving skills, and making sure that no-one gets hurt in the process.
There will be no free sparring.
6. What is Kenpo? How Does It Compare to Other Martial Arts?
Some martial arts are more "martial" and some are more "artistic." We like to say that Kenpo has a great blend of both.
Kenpo focuses on practical self-defense techniques for attacks that might be encountered in any street situation. We practice for attacks such as a grab from behind, an arm pinned behind your back, a punch, multiple punches, a push from the front, and so on. A kenpo student learns a wide-ranging set of self-defense moves in response to these attacks, which can be used and adapted in any situation.
In addition to the practical self-defense aspect of kenpo, there is also an artistic aspect. Students learn katas (or forms) which are choreographed sequences of martial arts moves that allow for self-expression and creativity. Practicing katas helps students to master stances, transitions between moves, flow, timing and so on. Katas will be the main focus of instruction. The katas will be varied styles to learn different types of self-defense strategies.
7. I have participated in Kenpo elsewhere. How will your club compare?
Teen Kenpo Karate is rooted in Parker Kenpo under the Tracy System of American Kenpo, but has evolved somewhat to meet the needs of the students. If you have studied kenpo elsewhere and come to our club, you will most likely notice that our stances are a bit different than what you're used to and that our techniques are differently named. Although, the content of most techniques and katas remains the same.
8. How Fast Do Students Advance? What are the belt ranks?
Student progress is marked by the belt system. Progress depends on the individual student in the amount of time and effort they devote to learning the art. Students test for and advance to a new belt rank once their instructors see that they have mastered the skills and techniques required at that level. The course is designed such that all beginners who attend regularly should receive their first belt (yellow) within the first six weeks. The next belt (orange) is typically attainable in about 3 months, but after that it depends on the student. The belt order is white, yellow, orange, purple, blue, green, brown (3rd to 1st) and black. Progress is marked by the belt system, which takes the beginner from a white belt through a variety of colors until black. Testing for each new level, generally every three months, is a good exercise in setting and achieving goals.
Once students reach intermediate rank (blue), they train to become assistant instructors. At Teen Kenpo, it takes four years or more to achieve a black belt.
9. Do you compete with each other or in tournaments?
No. We do, however, may perform demonstrations from time to time for student groups on campus.
10. What will I learn in the first couple classes?
You will learn some really cool things in the first classes! You will learn blocks, kicks and strikes, how not to get hit by a punch, and also how to kiyai, or yell at the top of your lungs. Within the first couple classes, you'll go home knowing how to defend yourself against an attacker on the street.
11. Do I have to be athletic or particularly strong to do karate?
Not at all! Kenpo Karate is designed to work for all different body types and athletic abilities. Kenpo relies on technique, not strength or athletic ability.
12. What if I can only come to 1 of 2 classes each week?
Students are grouped by belt rank. It is difficult to teach a class when a student's attendance is inconsistent, as it holds back the progress of the entire class. Please make sure you speak with an instructor if you cannot attend on a regular basis. In general, the student should try to average more 80% attendance a semester in order to keep from falling behind.
13. What Do I Need to Do In Order to Get Course Credit?
Teen Kenpo is officially a club sport, but there exists optional classes for additional instruction.
14. Why do you guys like Kenpo so much?
People love Teen Kenpo for a lot of different reasons, and these are just a few:
It's a great workout and keeps me confident.
Yelling, hitting and kicking pads are amazing stress relievers.
It's great to know that I can defend myself if I’m attacked.
It feels so good to finally master a difficult move or understand a technique.
I build a lot of trust when practicing karate with others, and those others often end up being great friends.
Sometimes you just need a class in your week that's NOT intellectual.