The way of Karate

Aidan and Olivia are both 10 years old. Aidan started Karate classes last year, Olivia in 2019. Photo by Barbara Oehring.

By Teresa Cannon

There’s a new Karate School in the Gully, the Golden Cobra Martial Arts Inc. Named after the cobra, the school aims to replicate the way of the cobra with its subtlety, alertness and pride to stand up to challenge.

Instructor, Mark Knowles, explains that the school places emphasis on the deeper meaning of Karate by fostering self-confidence, character development and practice of the moral principles: benevolence, courage, honour, justice, loyalty, politeness and truthfulness.

Founded by Sifu Trevor Gorringe 40 years ago, the school was led by Trevor, and later his son Jason, until 2015, when it became a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. Mark is clearly proud of what he claims is its ‘almost unique’ status. ‘Being not-for-profit, we can keep costs down,’ he says. ‘We’re a family focused school’ and he explains further how classes are organised and timed to suit different members and ages of families. Costs are tapered so each additional family member pays less.

The origins and development of Karate are fused in history, legend and myth. It seems Karate may have developed from the early Greek Olympic sports. These techniques made their way to India and China where warlords aimed to develop skills to protect their dynastic masters. Around the 1400s such skills were taken up by the Ryukyu, the Indigenous people of Okinawa. In the 1600s, when weapons were banned in Okinawa, the martial art was named Karate, meaning empty hand.

Later in the 20th century the skills spread to Tokyo and other parts of Japan before becoming a global practice. The meaning of Karate, ‘empty hand’, is deeply important to students. While more advanced students may use weapons to develop agility, extra force and refinement, the notion of empty hand relates to one of the core aspects of Karate – humility – a concept stressed at the school. The student, in training and in life generally, approaches others with ‘empty hands’, signifying openness with no wish to harm.

Karate is comprised of a series of Kata, a range of moves and stances which Mark compares to a dance. Movements include Geri (kicks), Uke (blocks) and Dachi (stances). Practice and perfecting the Kata develops many useful attributes including muscle strength, focus of mind and ability to concentrate.

To reinforce the ethics of Karate, students follow a Creed that deepens in meaning as they progress. Part of the younger students’ Creed is: I will use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and my fellow human beings and never to be abusive or offensive.

Further information is available at:
85 Station St, Ferntree Gully, VIC 3156
(03) 9754 7892
enquiries@goldencobra.org.au
https://goldencobra.org.au/

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