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Last update: 10/25/16

University of Connecticut
JKA Karate Club

The UConn JKA Karate Club is dedicated to the study and teaching of traditional Shotokan karate-do. Our Chief Instructor, Robert Jacobs (6th dan), is the senior ranking JKA instructor in New England. The UConn Karate Club is affiliated with Shotokan Karate-Do International (SKDI), which is headquartered in New York City under the direction of Master Masataka Mori, 9th dan. The club was founded in 1972 and is a member of The Japan Karate Association.

Training at UConn

Beginner and advanced classes for men, women and children are held at Hawley Armory Gymnasium (near the library at the center of the UConn campus in Storrs/Mansfield, Connecticut). Visitors are welcome to come train with us or observe classes.

The training schedule is:


KARATE-DO (The "empty hands way")

The "kara" of karate means "to render oneself empty". Master Gichin Funakoshi, the "Father of Japanese Karate", wrote, "The student of karate-do must render his mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately toward anything he may encounter". Karate's roots go back to the Shao Lin and other ancient fighting arts of China, where physical training methods were used to build the endurance and strength required to carry out the rigid discipline of the religion. These arts eventually spread to Okinawa and then to Japan where karate was refined into its present-day form. In 1955, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) was established with Master Funakoshi as chief instructor. The JKA trained and sent instructors throughout the world, which is one the the primary reasons karate is as well known and popular as it is today.

Master Gichin Funakoshi

As a form of physical exercise, karate is almost without equal. Utilizing all parts of the body, karate training increases the strength, speed, stamina, coordination, reflexes, and balance of the karateka (student of karate). It is the ultimate art of unarmed self-defense. Like knowing how to swim, you always have it with you. However, Master Funakoshi saw karate not only as a means of conditioning or self-defense, but also as a way to build character and mental discipline. The karateka is taught not only the physical techniques, but also how to use his skills with wisdom and discretion. Among the many mental benefits of karate training are improved self-awareness, confidence, discipline and emotional control.

The Japan Karate Association
and the UConn JKA Karate Club

With millions of members in over 200 countries, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) is the largest martial arts school in the world. The JKA teaches karate in the traditional Japanese way, emphasizing strong stances and powerful basic technique as well as mastery of kata (form) and kumite (sparring). In the United States, the JKA has a main school in each region which trains instructors and ensures the maintenance of high standards in all of the JKA branch schools. Shotokan Karate-Do International, which is based in New York City, is headquarters for all JKA clubs in the region. It is under the leadership of Master Masataka Mori, who is 9th dan (9th degree black belt) and one of the highest ranking karate masters in the world. The UConn JKA Karate Club was founded in September, 1972 and is dedicated to the continuation of traditional karate-do as a physical and mental discipline designed to improve the overall quality of the student's life.

Master Masataka Mori

THE DOJO KUN ("School Code")

The Dojo Kun (in brown type below) is recited at each practice (the black type is a more literal translation of the original Japanese). It serves to remind students that karate-do is not just about training the body, but also about perfecting character and attitude. It also reminds students that the physical and mental strength learned through karate must be accompanied by a moral code of respect and restraint.

Strive for completion of character
Defend the path of truth
Foster the spirit of effort
Respect the principles of etiquette
Guard against impetuous courage

See also Sensei Funakoshi's Twenty Precepts (the Niju Kun)
And more on Funakoshi's ideas on how to practice karate from the JKA Boston webpage . . .

Our chief instructor, Sensei Robert Jacobs (6th dan), is the senior ranking JKA instructor in New England. Jacobs began his karate training at UConn in 1973 and became its instructor in 1976. He is a certified "A" Class JKA International instructor. Jacobs is twice (1979 & 83) Shotokan Karate-Do America mens kumite (sparring) champion. In national championships (AAKF) he has competed on many teams with 1st place wins in kumite (1985) and kata (1990 & 1991). He also competed in two world championships (JKA Shoto Cup, Tokyo 1992 and ITKF World Championships, Montreal 1993). He now judges in national and world competitions (including World Shoto Cup Championships in Philadelphia 1994, Osaka 1996, Paris 1998, Sydney 2006 & Pattaya 2011).

Jacobs continues to teach karate-do in the strict, traditional fashion - emphasizing that the development of spirit and character are as important as that of technique. In his almost 40 years of teaching at UConn, over 160 of his students have attained the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt) or above.

Our Assistant Chief Instructor is Mike Jacobs (4th dan). He began his karate training at UConn in 1990 and is now a certified "A" Class JKA Instructor. Since 2003, Mike has placed first in kumite 9 times and in kata twice among Shotokan Karate-Do International Championships, and has won the "Outstanding Competitor" award for best combined kumite and kata performance 9 times.

Our other full time instructors at UConn are Ryan Jacobs and Melissa Jacobs (both 3rd dan). Both have been training for more than 20 years and are "B" Class JKA Instructors.

In addition to our full time instructors, the UConn Karate Club has produced many alumni who have acheived JKA Instructor status (see Membership Roster for full list), many of whom now teach at other JKA schools. Among those who visit UConn regularly and occasionally instruct here are Andrew Bakoledis (5th dan, Chief Instructor JKA Montville), Maura Graham-Vecellio (3rd dan, Chief Instructor JKA Wallingford), Mark Rollins, (3rd dan, Asst. Instructor Karate Spirit) and Abby Barrera (3rd dan, Asst. Instructor JKA Montville). All are veterans of regional and international competition and bring a rich diversity of teaching experience to UConn.

Instructors Andrew Bakoledis, Mike Jacobs and Alumni Joe Vincente were on the U.S. Kata Team that made the finals (top 8) at the 2011 JKA World Shoto Cup Championships (Pattaya, Thailand). See YouTube videos of the team here: Semi-finals - Kanku sho and Finals - Meikyo).

Schedule of UConn and Regional Events
July 6
July 9
Sept 7
Kyu Examination for Rank @ UConn
Sept 17-18
Sept 23
Special Training and New Member Party @ UConn
Oct 7
Video Workshop & Party @ UConn
Oct 22
Oct 30
Instructor Training @ New York
Nov 4-5
Nov 20
Instructor Training @ New York
Dec 2
Special Self-Defense Training & End of Semester Party @ UConn
Dec 7
Final Practical Exam for AH 1200 (Written Exam Due)
& Kyu Examination for Rank @ UConn
Dec 11
Instructor Training & Dan Examination for Rank @ New York
Semester Break
Training as Usual @ UConn

How to Reach Us

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