What to Expect/FAQs


What is Goju Karate?

Goju translates to “hard” (go) and “soft” (ju). Hard refers to closed-fisted, straight-line techniques using physical and external power.  Soft refers to circular and evasive movements as well as internal power. Goju karate originates from Okinawa, an island off of Japan. Combining the hard and the soft makes Goju a very effective—and beautiful—fighting art.

Do you have belts?

Classes at Brooklyn Goju are based on cooperation rather than competition, and are set up so students can learn and grow to their fullest, at their own pace. As such, we don’t wear belts or participate in tournaments; we set goals and evaluate our learning processes in other, very rigorous ways.

While we have a training protocol that helps us stay focused and disciplined, we try not to compare ourselves to others. Each of us comes to our training with a unique body and experience with physical activity, and with our own approach to learning. We advise you to try to stay focused on yourself and your training, including your starting point and your own personal goals. Above all, have patience.

We believe in the value of cooperation and try to create a supportive and respectful atmosphere within the dojo (the training space), in which we all help each other grow. We are all of different races, ethnic backgrounds, sizes, sexual orientations, and gender identities. We come from different economic classes and have different histories, and we are all here to learn. We have had different experiences with violence, and as survivors we may face different issues when training. We acknowledge our differences, respect them, and continue to work together to build a strong martial arts community.

How physically fit do I have to be to take karate classes?

You do not have to be an athlete to learn karate. The importance of the art is the practice: the energy, patience, and effort that you put into your training.

When you start training, please talk to your teachers about any disability or chronic injury that may (or may not) affect your training (you should also talk with your health care provider). You should certainly talk to a teacher if you might need medical assistance during class. If you develop an injury (whether it’s from training or not), talk to a teacher. We may be able to help you modify exercises. Never push yourself beyond what you can safely do. Perhaps those limits, over time, can be stretched, but pay attention to the messages your body sends you. If you have questions, please talk to a teacher.

How often should I train?

Two times a week is recommended. Also try to practice at home, if that is a safe place to work out.

Do you provide childcare?

We are not able to provide childcare right now, but talk to us about bringing your kids if that helps you get here!

What should I wear?

Please wear loose clothing — lightweight long pants and a solid-color t-shirt (without logos or writing) or a Brooklyn Goju (or CAE or BWMA t-shirt) to class. When you leave the changing area, you should be fully dressed and ready for class.

If you decide that you like training, consider buying a gi. For certain exercises, especially sparring work, this kind of loose garment made of sturdy material is useful. We wear black gis and you can buy one at most martial arts stores in the city or online. A gi usually comes with a white belt which you will not need, since we don’t use belts. You should wear a t-shirt under the jacket. To get a better idea of size, ask a student who is approximately your size to try on their gi. If you have difficulty tolerating the heat during warm weather months, you do not have to wear the gi jacket then.

All jewelry should be removed before you step onto the training floor. If you wear jewelry you cannot remove (such as a new piercing), bring your own medical or athletic tape (or other item) to cover it during class.

We generally train barefoot. Street shoes may not be worn on the training floor. If you need to protect certain injuries, disabilities, or to support your feet, please bring training shoes. Please leave your street shoes by the front door.


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