FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is TKC Dojo?

Traditional Karate Center (TKC) - Matawan Gojukan. It is where students learn and work to achieve their black belts. This is accomplished by practice and study of technical, theoretical, and philosophical ways of karate. 


We are accredited by the IKGA Headquarter in Tokyo, Japan and the USA National Karate Federation (US Olympic Committee, member).

Karatedo's ultimate goal is the improved development of the individual: mentally, physically, & spiritually.

What Are Our Greatest Qualities?

Our community, potential for positive self-improvement, and authenticity. 

  1. Community... we have wonderful people at TKC and it often feels akin to an extended 'family'. Students are taught respect, humility and tolerance toward all. Many become karate 'brothers and sisters' for a lifetime.
  2. Self-Improvement... Karatedo is NOT a sport - it is the implementation of a philosophical ideology rooted in Kaizen or, means of continuous, incremental improvement. For this reason, most students can extract better concentration, self-discipline and confidence. Those intangibles can carry over into other facets of one's life.
  3. Authenticity... TKC's credentials, programs, and lineage are all authentic. We teach Japanese KARATE - not any other martial art form misleadingly substituting 'karate' as a generic term in place of 'martial arts' to confuse consumers. Our IKGA karatedo curriculum comes from Japan directly. TKC founder, Michael Buttermark Shihan lived in Japan and studied at IKGA headquarters under its President for nearly four years and has now been very actively engaged in IKGA for 30 years. Our Olympic karate training adheres to WKF rules of competition. Our athletes have amassed 366 national championship medals/titles in 16 seasons of competition in the National Governing Body for Karate. TKC staffers have earned Referee, Judge, Coach licenses through the USA-National Karate Federation - member US Olympic Committee.

What is Goju-Ryu Karate-do?

Goju-ryu Karate-do is a classical, Japanese karate education. 


Karate means 'empty hand'; and Do means 'the way' or method. So, karatedo means 'the way of the empty hand' - your hands (and feet) are your weapons.


Goju-ryu translates to 'hard and soft style' and emphasizes opposing forces and ideologies. Philosophically, when forced... block soft and strike hard. Goju system is a fluid, circular martial art fighting system and has exquisite kata (forms).

Fact: The Karate Kid screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen stated that Mr. Miyagi was named after Chōjun Miyagi, the founder of Goju Ryu Karate-Do.  Also, the karate style depicted in the movies is the Goju Ryu style.  In this classic, 1984 movie, the wax on, wax off and other peculiar methods of training are actually demonstrated elements of Gojuryu's Tensho kata.  

Is Prior Training Necessary and is Karate Safe?

No prior training is necessary; and, anyone can study and practice karate. It is challenging, safe and fun for all ages and abilities. Karate has both combat action and non-contact facets.


"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to become great" - famous quote


"Karate offers something for everyone" - IKGA President Goshi Yamaguchi

What are Karate's Core Elements?

  1. Kihon is the 'basic techniques' of karatedo. All karateka learn through progressive series of basic karatedo building blocks - Tachi-waza (stances), Uke-waza (blocking), Tsuki-waza and Uchi-waza (punching and striking); Keri-waza (kicking) and more. IKGA curriculum has four series of exercises which cover stationary placement, moving, transition, and fighting concepts using basic skills. Kihon sharpens the mind, works the body, and serves as the foundation of all karate; it is the DNA of karate.
  2. Kihon Ido is the moving practice of basics. It's variety of transitions lend to deferent theories of fight science.
  3. Kata are traditional, sequenced series of 'one-person fighting' scenarios which serve as imagery training to sagely practice the fighting and defense applications of karate. Goju-ryu kata are as aesthetically exquisite as they are effective and dangerous to an attacker. IKGA curriculum has a total of 26 kata over four levels of development - Fukyu, Kihon, Kaishi, and Tokui.
  4. Kumite is fighting. All ages and skill levels can safely practice fighting because our skilled staff teaches it in progressive steps to build skills, concepts and confidence every step of the way. At TKC, we do not engage in full contact fighting. Students should strive to be strong and confident when confronted and resolute enough to act bravely and honorably under stress.
  5. Kobudo is weapon training.  This is a specialty that TKC does not focus on.  Periodically, our students train with limited, traditional weapons to enhance their karate (empty hand) skills.

How Long Until I Can Become a Black Belt?

Every person advances at his/her own pace. In our karatedo program we adhere to our Tokyo headquarter's international curriculum. Standards must be met to ascend the ranks to Black Belt. Black Belt diplomas from Japan are awarded strictly by merits of dedicated study and proficiency. All IKGA ranks are globally recognized and honored.

Mudansha (under Black Belt ranks) may be examined for promotion every 3 to 6 months according to their present rank, eligibility, and preparedness. Yudansha (Black Belts) may seek promotion opportunities in accordance with IKGA HQ and IKGA North American Bloc guidelines.  

NOTE: TKC students DO NOT have to do any of the following for promotions or memberships:

  1. No one is compelled to compete. Tournament play is optional. Conditioning and training for fitness are fantastic workouts that increase agility, speed, strength, timing, reactiveness, and quick decision making skills for everyone who tries it.
  2. Board Breaking is not a requirement. Very rarely, we offer board breaking training to emphasize the power and focus our students have developed.
  3. Weapon training is not our standard training curriculum. Weapons are an extension of the body and has a separate art form called Kobudo. TKC trains athletes' bodies to be the weapon. Karate, 'empty hand' (our hands/feet are the weapons) is our style of martial art. Each summer we engage in training with a weapon called Sai as a training supplement. Sai training helps students visualize and practice finer details of kihon 'basics' posture, direction, and focal points.