There was some method in this madness. Grace and Kendo were already going to classes there (they were a month or two in) and enjoying it. Kendo was trying to persuade me for a while that I'd enjoy it, that it was something we could do together, but I wasn't really convinced. Eventually though curiousity got the better of it and decided to give it a try.
The club that we go it is called Isami Ryu Karate Jutsu. The kanji (Japanese character (although technically I think they're Chinese adopted into the Japanese language)) for "Isami" is:
it translates (more or less) as: - to be in high spirits, cheer up, courage, bravery, heroism. "Ryu" is the Japanese term for school or way. Thus, Isami Ryu.... The school of the Rising spirit. How can that not be a good start to your karate career?
Isami Ryu is a small, local club with some pretty hefty British karate weight at the top of it. As well as being an excellent instructor, our Shihan, Dave Clare is Chairman of TKGB (Traditional Karate Great Britain) and holds Dan grades in more disciplines than you can shake a bo stick at. There are two other instructors, Sensai Chrissy (who takes the Little Dragon's class that Grace belongs too.... one of Gracie's most favourite people, ever) and Sensai Helen (who seems to have a secret copy of my list of "fitness things I least like to do in a warm up" and is not afraid to use it ;)). They both hold 3rd Dan Black belts and like Dave are both amazing instructors.
The class that Kendo and I attend together is the adults only class on a Sunday. Two hours of child-free time together (not something we get that much of). As well as the 3 instructors there are generally only a handful of other students. Kendo and myself, Cairan (a brown belt - who is Senpai for Gracie's class), another woman (Louise) and two guys (Mike, and Jon (you can read a bit about Jon's karate journey here)). So, a pretty small class. Practically one on one black belt/lower rank tutition. It's great.
Isami Ryu is a traditional style karate taking influences from several karate styles It also incorporates some holds and controls (hence the "jutsu"). A great explanation here for the difference between Karate-justu and Karate-Do. In a nutshell though, Jutsu means "practical art", Do means "way". From my (albeit limited) understanding..... karate that actual has a practical application. Self defense for the "real world", not for someone to judge you in a competition. That suits me fine. I'm never going to compete. I might one day have to defend myself against attack from some nutjob. I know what I'd rather know.
The grading system for Isami Ryu is similar to other traditional karate styles:
9th Kyu - White belt, Yellow tip
8th Kyu - Yellow belt
7th Kyu - Orange belt
6th Kyu - Green belt
5th Kyu - Blue belt
4th Kyu - Red belt
3rd Kyu - Purple belt
2nd Kyu - Brown belt
1st Kyu - Brown belt, black tip
Then your Black belt grades.... 1st Dan to 5th Dan.
There are "inbetween" grades called Kyu-Ho where you're awarded the next colour tip onto your belt (for example, 6th Kyu-Ho is Orange belt, green tip (the step between orange and green belts).
So, what was the point of all that? That's Isami Ryu 101 for you. What's the point of all this? Well, a record of my journey. Something to look back on way down the line and see how my feeling and ideas and experiences of being a Karateka have changed. I've been at it a little while now, so you might have to bare with my while I play a little catch up. Hopefully it'll be worth it.