In Japanese Dojo means “the place where the way is studied”. Although for beginners Dojo is nothing more than the place for physical exercise, it should not be considered as a gym. Spirituality is supposed to pervail the atmosphere in the Dojo, because it links spiritual and physical elements of selected martial art. In the Dojo, cleanliness and order always predominate. Besides style insignias, the Dojo must not contain anything ostentatious to distract the mind.
Honbu Dojo of the Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do in Greece is located in Athens, in the area of Paleo Psychico inside the “Panayotopoulos High School”.
The “Panayotopoulos High School” was founded in 1891 and since then is offering high-quality education to Greek students. The school is under directorship of Mr. Alkis Panayotopoulos, holder of a PhD in History from the University of Oxford.
Being a karateka himself, Mr.Panayotopoulos was aware of the positive effects of karate practice. In order to improve the students’ physical and mental development he included karate practice in the school’s curriculum.
Soon upon arriving in Greece sensei Dimitrijevic met Mr.Panayotopoulos and their friendship resulted in the establishment of the Shotokan Club “Ippon” within the “Athletic Association of the school”. The club adopted the main idea of the Kase’s approach, which is that Karate-Do should have a profound meaning to one’s life.
In 1992,Sensei Taiji Kase, came to Greece for the first time to teach and from then came annually until his death in 2004. The Honbu Dojo Athens is the sole representative of the Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do in Greece.
Practice in Honbu Dojo Athens is carried out in three levels, three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Each September new members are accepted in the Beginners class. Their basic education lasts one year. Once the class is formed, no new members are accepted. Beginners learn basic karate techniques, kata and prearranged kumite. At the same time great emphasis is given to their proper mental and self-disciplined attitudes. Information about the positive impact that karate practice has to the vital bodily functions is given importance. The principles and the historical background of the Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate-Do and other martial arts based on ancient Budo concept are explained.
All those who successfully pass the “Beginners course” go to Intermediate class. There the experience in karate training is achieved. The training program in this class is scheduled to lead to the black belt level. Besides the continuous improvements of basic techniques, more advanced kata are learned, along with the practical meaning of their elements and strategies. Some forms of prearranged and semi free kumite are also often practiced. Great emphasis is given to the vital importance of proper breathing from the lower abdomen and its influence on further mental and spiritual development. Several years of diligent practice in this class are required in order to extend the basic physiological abilities and achieve more genuine karate experience.
Mostly black belt holders and very advanced brown belt holders practice in this class. More than five to seven years of serious practice is required in order to be able to follow training in this class.
In fact, the real Karate-Do practice begins when this group level is achieved. Most of those who come to that level have accepted Karate-Do practice as their life philosophy and they are determined to continue karate practice all their lives.
That is why the importance of inner strength, effectiveness, breathing, concentration and adequate mental attitude is strongly emphasized in this class. The most advanced kata and their application are analyzed and all forms of prearranged and free kumite are practiced. It is here that gradually everyone begins to understand that human body has physical and physiological limits. The only way to go beyond these limits is to search for inner energy as the highest form of human physical and mental harmony, as well as spiritual development. Finally, it is in this class that everyone begins to look for their own, unique approach to the Karate-Do, by trying to express and improve their own character through this Budo Martial Art