Spoilers for anyone on thinking of joining the University of Toronto Karate Club (UTKC), join and stay in it for a while. People may be a bit distance at first, but they'll warm up to you and you'll have an amazing learning experience and make quality friends here. That's what happened to me when I joined back in early 2010. After five years of being in the club, I can safely say you'll get the opportunity to practice real, no-nonsense, karate, surrounded by great genuine people.
I always think that joining the club has been one of the best decisions of my life, and you’ll see that as a common trend among the members. So join, train hard, be patient with yourself, and watch yourself grow throughout the years. You won’t regret it.
Joining the UTKC has been the best decision of my undergrad. Probably the most important thing I’m learning from it is how to endure and overcome adversity.
I had no prior experience and knew no one in the club, but was eager to try something that would motivate me to exercise and teach me a practical skill at the same time. My life didn’t have much stability; all of my habits (eating, sleeping, studying, etc) were very irregular, so I also knew I needed more discipline in my life. I got all of this and more from karate.
To be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking for friends when I joined. I soon found that there’s a certain bond that comes from the sweating together, the (occasionally) bruising each other, the yelling in unison (kiai 気合), and at times the sense of rivalry, that’s indescribably powerful. I played team sports for all my life before university, but I’ve never felt more among friends than I do here.
Oftentimes, people from other karate clubs come to train with us when they visit Toronto, and many of them say the same thing: this club is special. I think this is not only because it’s a community, but because it emphasizes values along with technique. The movements are truly imbued with a sense of purpose beyond mere martial application, and students learn skills and ethics that serve them throughout their lives. In the words of Gichin Funakoshi, founder of our karate style, “the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.” The UTKC embodies this conviction absolutely.
I started practicing karate with UTKC when I was in second year. Joining the club without knowing any martial arts was a little intimidating at first. But the atmosphere at UTKC is extremely welcoming and encouraging. It did not take long before karate became an important part of my life – I absolutely enjoyed every moment spent in the karate dojo! Although there are many great club events every year, summer camp has to be my favourite. Each summer we spend the long weekend training (and sweating) at a campsite far away from the city. Apart from practicing karate, there are tons of remarkable moments as we prepare meals at the campsite, make S’mores around the bonfire etc…. And as Tominaga Sensei always says: “Surprisingly good food during summer camp!”
Over the course of my 3 years at UTKC, I have built strong bonds with other club members whom I trained and laughed with. With the help of my senseis, senpais and fellow club members, I am no long the beginner who was intimidated by the unfamiliarity of the karate dojo. Instead, I am now a proud senpai looking forward to welcoming anyone who is interested in learning and experiencing the Japanese culture, self defense, or simply some form of physical exercise!
I stayed in UTKC after dabbling in various dance and fitness classes. There was something special about the work ethic, historical legacy, and commitment to excellence that people demonstrated here. The workout is phenomenal; it’s got lots of stamina, full-body movements, and coordination. Karate is still hard after all these years, but the skills you learn make it worth the while. Plus, UTKC is full of interesting people from diverse backgrounds who have bonded through a love of karate. To this day, I’m proud to have trained under Tominaga Sensei.