Picture 1) Karate Camp in Pennsylvania
Picture 2) Sensei Gharavi (right) next to Master Okazaki at a Dan Testing
Picture 3) Sensei Ghavarvi (center) leading class at The Tyson’s Dojo.
All pictured by Sensei Gharavi.
Meet the Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club !
By Hemil Garcia Linares
I recently trained at the Fairfax Shotokan Karate School ran by Sensei Gharavi who holds a Go-Dan (5th Dan) in Shotokan Karate. The experience was amazing: the way it happened, my arrival to the Dojo, and the training itself, which was a lesson for life.
Before I go on with my story I would like to share some background about Shotokan Karate.
Shotokan (松濤館 Shōtōkan?) is a style of karate developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing “karate do” through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.
Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, which continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements (in particular the notion that competition is contrary to the essence of karate) led to the creation of different organizations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokan (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single “Shotokan school”, although they all bear Funakoshi’s influence.
As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate do.
(Please click the underlined names to find all the sources)
It’s worth to mention the effectiveness of Shotokan Karate in diverse scenarios such as International Karate Tournaments and in Mixed Martial Arts. UFC Champion Lyoto Machida is a Black Belt in Shotokan Karate and his father is Brazilian-Japanese Karate Master Yoshizo Machida.
About Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club
The dojo is ran by Sensei Gharavi who has a vast experience teaching martial arts. He kindly allowed me to visit his Dojo in McLean, VA and train with him.
Students can train two times before signing up and will have a great opportunity of practicing traditional karate that is focused on three essential parts:
- Kihon (basics techniques)
- Kata (forms)
- Kumite (sparring)
Classes are open to anyone above six years old and in some classes all groups can train together under one instructor.
Students below black belts can participate in kyu test every three or four months and the testing is supervised by Master Okazaki or by an ISKF certified from ISKF headquarters. Dan exams for black belts are held in Philadelphia under the supervision of Master Okazaki.
A little bit of history about Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club
“Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club” was officially established in 1990. However, for many years prior to our official establishment as a club, our students practiced karate at various locations such as recreational facilities, universities, high schools, sports facilities, etc. under no specific name. Around 1990 we decided to become an official karate club, adopted a name (Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club) and joined the reputable International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF) under the leadership of Master Teruyuki Okazaki, 10th Dan.
Our club started off with a hand full of serious and dedicated karate students at the Fairfax County Government Center located in Fairfax, Virginia. Today the Fairfax County Government Center dojo remains the headquarters of Fairfax Shotokan Karate Cub with additional dojo locations at Tyson’s Sport and Health Club in McLean, Virginia and the World Bank in Washington DC.
Since our official establishment in 1990, several karate practitioners reached the rank of black belt and a majority of them have continued training with Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club today.
How can I get in contact with Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club?
You can contact Sensei Gharavi directly at 703) 989-6300.
For your convenience Shotokan Karate of Fairfax has three locations in Northern Virginia
Fairfax Dojo Headquarters: 12000 Government Center Pkwy. Fitness Center – Suite 114 Fairfax, VA 22035
Tysons Dojo: Tyson’s Sports and Health 8250 Greensboro Drive McLean, Virginia 22102
St. Theresa Karate Club:
Contact Sensei Gharavi: 703) 989-6300.
My experience training with Sensei Gharavi
I planned id advance to arrive to the McLean Dojo and right before I left Centreville a heavy rain started. My Gi got wet right before I could get inside my car. I went inside and grab whatever clothes I could and tried to get on 66 West.
Traffic around 6.30 pm going east is typically normal, but the rain rain, 66 was a jammed. There was a car accident and people were driving at 10 miles per hour.
I was able to arrive at the Dojo at 7.45 pm.
When I got inside the Dojo, Sensei Gharavi gave the welcoming and I was impressed because at least twenty people (children and adults) were training even though typically when there is a heavy rain or snow, sometimes people prefer to stay at home.
It was a please experience to observe than the colored belts and black belts were training together. The colored belts did their forms first and then they sit and observe the black belts. The black belts then realized all the forms starting from the beginners and went all the way through the advance forms.
To me that was a sign of humbleness and also leadership by example. A Black belt to me is a continuous student and by doing colored belts katas is showing that he/she remembers his/her first months of training.
Sensei Gharavi kindly took time to train with me since my style I practice differs from Shotokan. Still the punches and the kicks looked familiar and of course the blocks.
He went easy on me since he notice I told him that I had injured my calf three weeks before visiting his Dojo and I was still recovering.
At some moment when we were practicing punches and blocks our arms collided which is very typical in Karate.
I consider my self to be a strong person and probably due that I can also sense when someone has strength and power. I put probably 50% of strength while doing the exercises and I could tell that Sensei Gharavi was going light on me because he was training with me, but also supervising his Dojo.
I felt nothing, but pure and solid strength on his upper body and arms.
Long time ago I learned while training with a Black belt that Karate practitioners develop a natural strength due to the core training: punches, blocks, push ups, and abs.
When my arm collided with Sensei Gharavi’s arm I remembered the time I was training with a high rank black belt who is an acquaintance of mine. I remember asking: Do you lift weights? Do you go to the gym? The Black belt said, “no. I just do Karate.”
Observing the colored belts and the black belts training with the same intensity gave me the clue to the success of a Karate Dojo: discipline and hard training.
At Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club, children and adults have the opportunity to mingle and learn from each other under the wing of a well-rounded instructor, Sensei Gharavi.
When I finished training a child who was six years old came to me and said, “So you are the new guy? Welcome!”
Sensei Gharavi also spoke to all his students after class stating that he felt proud of them because even though there was tremendous heavy rain, no matter what, the students showed up at the Dojo almost as it was the most beautiful night with a perfect summer breeze. That shows not only respect to their head instructor, but commitment and humility in the path of Karate-do.
If you are a resident of Northern Virginia, Maryland or DC, you should definitely visit Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club. You will not be disappointed.
You can learn more about Fairfax Shotokan Karate Club at their website:
http://www.fairfaxshotokan.com/ or by reaching Sensei Gharavi at 703-989-6300