In addition to self-defense, students of our martial arts program learn skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
We encourage self-respect AND respect for others.
We nurture leadership skills, rewarding students who develop and model those skills by inviting them to participate in our Junior Instructor Leadership Program.
"Sensei Mark has developed one of the most comprehensive children's programs available. Through various facets of the youth program he teaches not only Shorin Ryu karate technique and discipline, but also self-confidence, sportsmanship, the development of self-esteem, humility, cooperation, respect, and friendship that the students take from the dojo into all aspects of their lives.
– Scott A. Kramer Sensei, Charlotte Shido-kan
Mark, I could not have removed the smiles from the kids' faces tonight even if I had a chisel. They were beaming with pride. That does a lot to warm the hearts of parents. Thank you for helping them fulfill their goals, even surprising themselves along the way. – Lori
"The Holt Dojo, especially Sensei Mark, has played an important part of Drew's life. Karate has given him focus and discipline, which is difficult for him. He really enjoys the students and teachers at the Dojo. He feels good when he is there. The weekly discipline sheets are helpful to all of us as well, because he doesn't want Sensei to hear that he has a "P" (poor rating) in any area. We are so glad that we found this Dojo and that it continues to play an important part of Drew's life." – Pam and Bill
"Everyone at the dojo is so welcoming and caring. Karate has made me grow as a student and has made me feel more confident. Sensei Mark is a wonderful teacher. He is very nice and very good at what he does. I love Karate, and I couldn't imagine my life without it." – Isabel (Youth Program, 10-13 year olds)
Parents' Frequently Asked Questions
At what age can my child start?
We have classes for children ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old. Classes are grouped according to age and rank. Upon reaching 14, students are advanced to the Adult Karate program.
How often do the classes meet?
Beginning students meet twice a week. Upon advancing to a yellow belt, students are encouraged to participate in our sparring program once a week as well.
How long is the program?
Our Youth Karate program runs year round, and new students may begin at any time.
What do the students wear?
Our students wear the traditional white karate gi (uniform) with an obi (belt). The color of the obi indicates a person's rank within the Shido-kan system. Rank promotions are achieved when students are able to formally demonstrate the skills required for their learning level.
Do the children actually hit or kick each other? How safe is it?
At the heart of traditional Okinawan karate are the principles of peace, harmony and respect for others. After learning this philosophy and earning the rank of yellow belt, students may participate in sparring class—with supervised kicking, punching and evasion in full protective gear on a padded floor. We take safety seriously. As with any sport, injuries can happen, be they are rare in our Youth Program.
Will karate make my child violent?
No. Sensei Mark teaches students strategies for dealing with adverse situations without violence. As mentioned above, traditional Okinawan karate is based upon the principles of peace, harmony and respect for others. One of the primary goals at this dojo is the perfection of character through discipline and self-control, which includes knowing when and how to "walk away."
What if my child isn't very athletic?
The students in our program come in all shapes, sizes and athletic abilities. A child's ability to excel in karate has much more to do with their interest than with his or her level of fitness at the time of enrollment. "Our son was not very competitive—almost too polite for most sports. Karate is perfect for him because he progresses at his own pace. We are impressed with the improvement in his strength, agility, self-discipline and most importantly, his confidence. The lessons learned from Sensei Mark are valuable in all aspects of his life. We could not be happier with Sensei Mark and his staff." – Bill and Becky
Will karate help my child at home and school?
"I am very happy with the development of my son since he started at Original Okinawan Karate of Holt. The improvements are seen in every part of his life. I rarely help him with schoolwork now. Before, I had to help him for hours almost every day. He has matured beyond what many adults could ever do. He started eating better, exercising and is now stronger than I... He is now the type of person the world needs more of." – Curtis
"I am very happy with Sensei Mark's classes, both for adult and children. My two children attend the youth beginner class, and I attend the adult beginner. My children and I have experienced a sense of accomplishment as well as increased physical strength. The discipline and focus they are learning thru karate has enhanced their studies at school and their respect for others." – Barbara
"Words cannot adequately express how completely satisfied we are with this karate program. Our eldest two children attend the program two days a week and look forward to going each and every time. Not only do they learn the physical art of karate, but they also learn many valuable life lessons. They are taught to love and respect others and to think of others first, which for us as parents is a first priority in raising our children. They learn the skills of focus and self-control, which will assist them to become well-adjusted children/adults. We are impressed with the discipline that is maintained during instruction, which is essential for them to learn, progress and mature. We have noted a significant improvement in their self-esteem and self-confidence.
"The Original Okinawan Karate of Holt program is Greater Lansing's best-kept secret. This program is a rare find based on our past experiences. Sensei Mark's personal integrity is beyond reproach. The combination of discipline, love and care he exhibits is remarkable and so much appreciated. What our children are taught through this program reinforce the lessons we are teaching at home. We would highly recommend this program without reservation and feel blessed to be a part of such a wonderful experience." – Will and Deb
"As parents, we are always looking to expose our children to a variety of activities to enrich their lives. Our children, Thomas and Adam, joined the Holt dojo this fall. We were attracted to karate and the Holt Dojo for a number of reasons. First, karate is a wonderful way to develop fundamental skills such as, balance, coordination, strength, power and focus. While many sports can develop any one or even a few of these skills, karate is one of the few activities that a child can engage in that develops such a complete set of skills. Secondly, character training such as discipline and respect that the Holt Dojo fosters is an extension of what we are attempting to accomplish in our home. In class, the students are held accountable for their behavior, effort, attitude and their respect for others. What more can a parent ask for! Thomas and Adam are required to turn in discipline sheets that rate their daily behavior. These forms are completed each week by me and are given to Sensei Mark. This has definitely changed the boy's behavior. I never knew they could do so many jobs to help around the house
Sensei Mark has a true gift for getting the most out of his students. Thomas and Adam are encouraged to achieve the goals that are set for them. The boys are continually striving to reach new levels. They are handed nothing. They have to earn each belt through practice and hard work. This has built a great deal of confidence in our children. They are learning that if they work hard enough, they will be rewarded. We have been very impressed with the Holt dojo to say the least. Our children are challenged but they love it! We never have to ask them to practice even Julia, our 2 year old, puts on her gi and practices right along with the boys. She can't wait to start!
"The atmosphere at the dojo is very friendly. From the moment we came through the door, we have felt a part of this karate 'family.' Sensei Mark is truly a remarkable person and an extremely talented man. I know it seems too good to be true, but if you come out to visit the dojo you to will become a believer, just like us!!" – Tim, Melissa, Thomas, Adam and Julia
"Having been a Holt resident for over 22 years and driven by the Original Okinawan Karate Dojo hundreds of times, little did I know what was hidden behind those walls.
"After raising four children and being involved in various sports programs with a variety of experiences both good and not so good, I am thrilled to say that I have found the best possible program for my 12 year old son.
"Matthew began attending classes at the Original Okinawan Karate Dojo in May of 2011, and what we immediately encountered was a very professionally run establishment with an extremely warm, welcoming atmosphere. Every child, regardless of skill level, is received with such enthusiasm by Sensei Mark as well as the entire dojo "family."
"Sensei Mark maintains an environment of complete respect and order. In this environment the kids are able to immediately focus on the task at hand. He is a very gifted teacher, and through his compassionate instruction, brings out the very best in his students.
"I have been so thrilled to witness the growth in my child. His confidence and self-respect have increased in a life-changing way. Matthew is having fun and being challenged both mentally and physically. As his mother I am so thankful to see him involved in an activity that will lend to his ability to focus and make good choices for an entire lifetime.
"I can't say enough about the Original Okinawan Karate Dojo—my only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner!!!" – Rebecca
"We have been incredibly pleased with our children's experience in Mark's program and can't say enough good things about him. He is more concerned about developing good character than giving out belts or winning competitions." – Matt and Liesl