SENSEI KEN LARKMAN
President & Senior Instructor
Sensei Ken Larkman is an internationally published freelance writer, journalist and entrepreneur who has been practicing/teaching karate for more than 40 years.
Larkman Sensei began training Fukien White Crane Gung-fu and American-style Kickboxing in 1978 but he switched to training Shotokan Karate in 1985, due to a knee injury. He began teaching karate in 1988 and founded three karate schools in central Alberta, all now run by former students. He switched to Shōrin-ryū Karate in 1998. His hobbies include: computers; reading; and, bonsai.
A childhood illness has left him with many problems with his legs, knees and feet that often make training Karate difficult.
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A small karate school in the old Okinawan style
Foothills Karate & Kobudo Club Ltd. was founded in the year 2000 by Sensei Ken Larkman as a way to continue his practice in traditional Karate and to introduce Calgarians to the practices of Shōrin-ryū Karate and Okinawan Karate.
In the Okinawan tradition, the karate school (dojo) is small and classes are kept small. Many of the Okinawan masters (current and past) had only a handful of students at a time and their training space was often much less than that the martial arts schools typical in the West. A small karate school means the instructor works directly with all students, knows everyone’s name and ensures gets very personal instruction. Okinawan dojo were often attached to the master’s home and were much more casual than their Japanese counterparts.
Benefits of a small karate school:
- We don’t sell karate, we teach it. That which is given must be earned. Monthly fees keep the lights on but effort and sweat drive our krate school.
- We are a teaching school. Those training at the dojo are being trained not only to learn the essentials of Okinawan Karate-do, but are encouraged to learn how to become teachers in Shōrin-ryū Karate.
- Our senior instructor teaches all classes himself. Sensei Larkman teaches just about every karate class himself so your children know exactly who will be teaching them.
- All our instructors and assistant instructors are adults.
- We don’t have a front desk or receptionist or sales staff. We do business instructor to student or instructor to parent.
- We don’t “chase” students. We put the responsibility on the student to keep up their training. We don’t phone or harass students.
- Lower cost of involvement. Compared to other professional martial arts schools, we are between 25% and 50% less expensive — or more. No “upgrades”. No contracts. No annual dues or memberships. No penalties for late payments or NSF.
- We focus on a single martial art. Which is all you need. Shōrin-ryū Karate is a complete self defense system has weapons, kicking, punching, striking, grappling, break-falling, ground fighting, etc..
When looking for a karate school, prospective students should ask or know the following:
- Visit more than one school to find one that fulfills your needs
- Ask yourself what you want to achieve from the training?
- Does dojo allow you to observe a class or take a free lesson? If so, take advantage of it to get a better understanding of the style.
- Does the dojo require a contract? Monthly tuition? Testing fees? Association fees? Any other hidden fees? Is a uniform required, and what is the cost?
- Ask about the style(s) being taught. For example: The history of the style? The ratio of kicks to punches? Are there grappling techniques? Do they offer sparring? Is it a ‘hard’ style or ‘soft’ style?
- How long has the instructor been teaching, and how long has he/she been training in the martial arts? With whom has the potential instructor studied, and for how long? What education does he/she have other than martial arts? Are there any other instructors who will be teaching classes?
- What occurs during regular class time? (Meditation, basics, kata [forms], stretching, two-person training, etc.)
- Ask about rank examination procedures/requirements. How often do students test? Is testing required? What is expected during the tests? (Kata, sparring, basics, etc.)
- Does the instructor show a real interest into in each student? Do classes begin & end on time? Do classes seem organized? Does there seem to be mutual respect between the instructor and the students?