About the Club

As a part of SKA and its more than twenty southern California dojos (schools), we participate in regional special events such as the Nisei Week tournament, Special Trainings, exchange practices, and classes with well-known instructors around southern California.

More broadly, we are affiliated with more than one hundred dojos around North America in regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New York, Chicago and many other places, as well as in thirteen countries including France, Israel, Switzerland, Japan, and China (Hong Kong). Students relocating to one of these places after graduation can be assured of opportunity to continue their training.

We adhere strictly to the instructional system created by Master Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate. Therefore we do not, for example, award non-traditional colors of belts, award black belts higher than Godan (5th degree), invent new kata (forms), or place emphasis on flashy techniques at the expense of effectiveness.

California Institute of Technology is located in Pasadena, California and is well known for its academic achievements. However, getting a highly respected diploma and interacting with Nobel laureates are not the only rewards offered by Caltech. The Caltech Karate Club was established in 1957 and is the oldest university Karate club in America. The Caltech Karate Club is also part of the Shotokan Karate of America. The club provides a unique opportunity to study Shotokan Karate at very high level that is undoubtedly attractive for beginners as well as for more experienced karateka. Caltech's PE44 classes (i.e., Shotokan Karate) are closely affiliated with the Caltech Karate Club. Formerly the class and the club were held at the same time, in the same room, with the same instructor, however, as of 2012 the PE class and club are conducted separately.

Sensei duties for the club are currently shared between two SKA godans (fifth degree black belts) who have been training in Shotokan karate for many years. Their names are Kei Teramoto and Frank Lee. For a number of years they have trained directly under Mr. Ohshima, the shihan (chief instructor) of SKA. We are very lucky to have Kei and Frank here to continue the tradition of great instructors at Caltech. Kei also serves as instructor for the PE44 introductory Shotokan Karate PE class.

Through the study of Karate, you can learn to develop physical and mental strength, confidence and discipline. You will find that Karate is much more than just the ability to take care of bad guys. Karate-Do can become a way of life (in fact, that is the meaning of "karate-do").

In addition to serving the needs of Caltech students, the Caltech Karate Club offers introductory and intermediate classes to members of the local community (note: 16 years of age or older).

Club Membership, SKA Membership, Dues and Fees

It is important to realize that membership in the Caltech Karate Club and membership in the SKA are two distinct memberships (for a chart, click here).

PE44 is part of the Caltech physical education curriculum. If you enroll in PE44, you are automatically a member of the club for the given quarter. Students enrolled in PE44 do not need to pay club dues.

Club Membership: The club membership fee is as follows:

The "club year" coincides with the Caltech academic year. If you pay for 10 months, you get 2 free. You can pre-pay any number of months. If you can't afford it, see a club officer. However, if you are just curious, and want to know more about karate, come and practice with us for free for a few practices to find out what karate is and if you are interested.

Our practices are held in the Caltech Brown Gym or the Braun Gym (depending on the day). People not affiliated with Caltech are required by the gym to pay a $10 facilities charge for every practice they attend.

SKA Membership: You don't have to join the SKA to learn karate from us, however, it is strongly encouraged. SKA members enjoy many privileges. For example, as a member, you can practice in other SKA dojos, join special trainings, take the Kyu tests or Shodan tests and hold rank in the SKA, participate in tournaments and many other exciting SKA events. For beginners, the membership fee is $75 per year, renewals are $100 per year. You can find a membership application here. Contact the club captain for more information.

SKA Ranking System

There are three colors of belts in SKA: black belt, brown belt, and white belt. The black belts (called "dan") are further classified into 5 ranks: Godan (5th degree black belt, the highest in SKA, also the highest rank awarded by Master Funakoshi), Yodan (4th degree), Sandan (3rd degree), Nidan (2nd degree), and Shodan (1st degree). Below black belt level, there are 8 ranks called "kyu": brown belt is from 1st Kyu (the highest) to 3rd Kyu, white belt is from 4th Kyu to 8th Kyu. White belt and brown belt ranks are awarded on the basis of kyu tests. Prior to the first kyu test, ungraded members are also white belts.

Kyu tests are conducted twice a year at Caltech; once in April and once in November. The tests are scheduled as close as possible to the following dates: November 10th, to commemorate the anniversary of Master Funakoshi's birth; and April 26th, to commemorate the anniversary of Master Funakoshi's death. To take a Kyu test, one must become both a member of the club and a member of SKA. However, everyone is welcome to watch the Kyu test and join the party afterwards.

To take a Shodan (first degree black belt) exam, one must first be a 1st Kyu brown belt, attend at least one SKA special training, and finish 5000 Bassai (a kata of intermediate complexity).

Club Officers

For questions contact:

Mailing List

We have a mailing list for anyone interested in what is going on with the Caltech Karate Club. If you would like to subscribe to this mailing list, please contact us at shotokan[at]caltech[dot]edu