Frequently Asked Questions


What does the word “KARATE” mean?

“Karate” (pronounced “Kah-rah-tay”) is a Japanese word that means empty hand and refers to a karate student’s ability to offer a defense without the use of weapons.

What style of Karate do we teach?

The style of Karate is referred to as Shotokan or JKA Karate (Japan Karate Association).

What is special about Shotokan Karate?

Shotokan Karate is known for fast, powerful kicks and punches; its deep, driving stances; the friendly discipline of its classes; and its good form.

Why is good form important?

Good form means that you know how to use your body in a way that will allow you to get the most power from it.

Is Karate for Women and Children?

Yes, most definitely! Karate is for all individuals — small, tall, young or old. The Midwest Karate Association’s youngest students are 5 and our oldest is 82.

Will I be able to defend myself physically?

Students of Shotokan Karate, knowing that they can handle themselves in a physical conflict, feel confident, and thus are able to avoid most confrontations without resorting to a physical fight. If there is no avoiding a fight, Shotokan karate is a proven method of physical self-defense.

Is Karate good for my health?

Yes. Because Karate involves both stretching and cardiovascular exercise, it is extremely good for your health. Furthermore, unlike many other activities, Karate uses almost all muscle groups. This means that your body becomes very well balanced rather than overworked in specific muscle groups.

Will I get a new rank every three months?

No. You must earn your rank. Shotokan is known for its high standards. Almost everyone will not pass at least one test. Sometimes you’ll decide that you need more time to prepare for a test. Your time is valuable and the high standards of Shotokan make your training time even more valuable. As you advance, you’ll discover that these high standards mean better karate.

Why is this non-contact Karate, wouldn’t contact Karate help me
learn to “take-a-punch?”

No. You cannot be conditioned to “take-a-punch” like the kind you are trying to do with Karate. The average heavyweight boxer punches with 600 pounds of force per square inch. An advanced Karate black belt can punch with a force of 2000 pounds per square inch. When you are new to Karate, you can be fooled by the feeling of contact. Even a weak blow (by Karate standards) can hurt a person. If you become satisfied with such techniques, you will never learn how to use all of your strength.

What is the goal of Karate Training?

Goals are personal things and people take Karate for a variety of reasons such as self-defense, physical fitness, fun, competition, and confidence. Gichin Funakoshi, founder of modern Karate, said “The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory nor defeat but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”

What is a Karate Master?

A Shotokan Karate Master is a student and teacher of Karate who has trained seriously for at least 16 years (usually much longer) and has been awarded a fifth level black belt by other Karate Masters. A Karate Master has an exceptional level of skill and understanding, and has shown a dedication to the spirit and tradition of Karate.

Robert Fusaro, founder of Midwest Karate in 1958, received his 7th Dan in 1993. He is one of the highest ranking non-Japanese masters in the western hemisphere.

Joel Ertl, Chief Instructor for Midwest Karate Association of St Paul, received his 6th Dan in 2004 from Master Hidetaka Nishiyama.

Anita Bendickson is a 5th Dan. She is one of only three women 5th Dan’s in the United States in the AAKF. She received her 5th Dan in 2008 from Master Hidetaka Nishiyama.

Midwest Karate Association St. Paul

762 E 7th Street
St Paul, MN 55106
(651) 771-7901

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E/B Productions
Instructional DVD’s and downloads

Sensei Joel Ertl and Sensei Anita Bendickson bring top level instruction in the art of traditional Japanese Shotokan Karate right into your living room. Learn what karate students from all over the world have discovered and start improving your karate today!


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