Most people are basically familiar with what karate is (a martial art), but there's so, so much that people don't understand - even people who are signing for classes! If you're interested in learning the art of karate at a dojo like H S Lee's Karate School, here are a few myths you should know beforehand.
Karate involves breaking a lot of bricks or boards
If you hear someone say they're a student of karate, you might be tempted to ask how many boards they've broken. It's an iconic image thanks to television and movies, but it's not entirely accurate. This practice is called "tameshiwari," and very few karate students actually practice it. In fact, most dojos don't incorporate it at all or reserve it for advanced students. Why? Attempting this practice without plenty of training is a great way to get injured. Advanced karate students sometimes use tameshiwari as a physical manifestation of years of training - showing that they've broken through plenty of mental and physical barriers just like those boards.
The black belt is the ultimate goal
Envisioning a black belt as the "ultimate goal" for a karate student is wrong for a few reasons. One, if a student sees a black belt as the ultimate end, they may stop training once they achieve it. And if they stop training, then years of mental and physical progress would quickly be lost. In addition, a black belt alone isn't even the highest level that can be achieved. Many people who earn their black belt see it as only the beginning of their real training, as there are 10 levels of black belt to achieve.
Karate really isn't about self defense
Many people envision karate as the ultimate self defense weapon, with a blur of strikes and kicks that will leave an attacker in a heap on the floor. But most dojos are more about physical activity and mental preparation. The majority of today's karate isn't about self defense - at least not practical self defense. That's certainly not to say it's not useful in a physical altercation, but that isn't the primary goal of training.
Karate utilizes a bevy of weapons
This is one instance where speaking Japanese could help. The name karate literally translates to "open hand." Martial arts movies may popularize someone whirring around with katanas or nunchucks, but those weapons belong to other disciplines. Of course, many people also learn these other disciplines in addition to karate. Just don't expect to channel your inner ninja turtle when you sign up for karate classes.