Traditional Okinawan Shido-kan Karate

What do we teach?

The Shido-kan style of Okinawan Shorin-ryu Karate-do (“empty hand way”) is part of a cultural tradition more than 600 years old which came from the islands of Okinawa, Japan. Shorin-ryu is descended from Shuri-te, which originated around Shuri, the ancient capital of the Ryukyu kingdom. Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te are the three major historical branches of karate-do.

Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan


Atlanta Family Karate is under the direction of world-renowned Head Master SEIKICHI IHA, Hanshi, 10th Dan, the director of both the United States Shorin-ryu Karate-Do Association and the North American Beikoku Shido-kan Association.  There are more than thirty Shido-kan dojos  (schools) throughout the United States under the direction of Iha Sensei, the highest ranking master of Shorin-ryu Shido-kan, which is headquartered in Lansing, Michigan.  For a history of Shorin-ryu and the lineage of the Shido-kan style, please refer to our History page.


Your Instructor

Judy Knupp
Tournament Hangzhou, China

Judy Knupp, 2nd Dan, has over 25 years of training in traditional martial arts (Japanese, Okinawan, Chinese) and has taught Shido-kan karate for nine years.  She jointly established, managed and taught classes at Shidokan of Mahwah (New Jersey) from 2005 to June 2012, at which time she returned to her hometown of Atlanta to establish Atlanta Family Karate. Sensei Judy began her study of Shido-kan karate-do in 1995 under the tutelage of Sensei Dave Senek, 7th Dan and Sensei Mike Senek, 6th Dan. She continued her training under Sensei Mitch Cooperman, 6th Dan at their Mahwah, NJ school.

She has been privileged to receive instruction from Sensei Iha, 10th Dan, at annual training seminars in Michigan and New Jersey.

Sensei Judy attended Garden Hills Elementary School,  graduated from North Fulton High School (now Atlanta International School) and Georgia State University, in Atlanta, GA.   She began her martial arts training in college which she continued throughout her adult life while balancing the demands of family and a successful banking career in NYC/NJ.    Sensei Judy has devoted all of her time to teaching karate since 2005.  She and her husband, John Knupp, Jr., who also grew up in Garden Hills, live in Ball Ground, GA.  She is pleased to have her husband assist in classes. Sensei Judy and her husband have three children.


How is Shido-kan karate taught?

Since karate is stressed as a martial art rather than a competitive sport, emphasis is placed on kata, the “heart of the art”, and blocking, kicking, punching and striking skills (the Basics).  Promotions to higher ranks are based on knowledge of the required Kata, Basics and other material required (see below), regular class attendance, a minimum number of classes between belt promotion.  The same curriculum is taught to all students but the testing criteria for belt promotions will vary by age.

KATA, or forms, are specific patterns of movement which combine various techniques of defense and offense in a rhythmic sequence.  They are the foundation from which the student assembles concentration, power, speed, balance and control.  Because the philosophy of this style is based on peace, each kata begins with a defensive maneuver, followed by an offensive one.  Kata are performed individually.  We teach 19 katas from white to adult black belt.

KUMITE– two-person exercises for practicing basic punching, kicking and blocking techniques as well as prearranged, controlled sparring drills that enhance timing, reflexes and throwing skills.  We have 16 Kumites that are included in testing requirements, generally starting in the mid-level ranks for youth.

BUNKAI– after attaining reasonable proficiency, the student learns the analysis and applications of the kata movements.  Bunkai teaches the applications of the kata in two progressive steps, first as Bunkai, or analysis, and then as Oiyo Bunkai, in a group with three to four partners.  This group is referred to as a “Han”.  There are 7 bunkai that are taught, usually starting at the mid-level ranks for youth.

Free Sparring – Students engage in carefully monitored and regulated free sparring with emphasis on control as well as respect for one another, learning from and helping one another.  Sparring (with contact) is introduced only after the student has learned basics and non-contact sparring skills.  Protective equipment which is required and available from your instructor when the student is ready for contact sparring, includes: Headgear with a protective shield, mouthpiece, handgear (mitts), and other optional equipment such as chest, shin, feet protectors.

Progressively more complex kata, kumite and bunkai are taught as a student advances through the belt levels. Each training session includes warm-ups, stretching and conditioning.