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University of Connecticut
Japan Karate Association

The UConn JKA is dedicated to the study and teaching of traditional Shotokan karate-do. Our Chief Instructor, Robert Jacobs (7th dan), is one of the highest ranking JKA instructors in the country. The UConn JKA is affiliated with Shotokan Karate-Do International (SKDI), which is headquartered in New York City under the direction of Master Shu Takahashi, 7th dan. The UConn Karate Club was founded in 1972 and is a member of the Connecticut 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.

Our Fall training schedule is:


If you are interested in attending the Zoom classes, please contact us at

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

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 schools in the region. The SKDI was founded in 1968 by Master Masataka Mori, 9th dan (1932-2018). The UConn JKA 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 (7th dan), is one of the highest ranking JKA instructors in the country. 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 over 45 years of teaching at UConn, more than 180 of his students have attained the rank of shodan (1st degree black belt) or above.

Our Assistant Chief Instructor is Mike Jacobs (5th dan). He began his karate training at UConn in 1990 and is now a certified "A" Class JKA Instructor. Mike has placed first 13 times in kumite and 4 times in kata among Shotokan Karate-Do International Championships, and has won the "Outstanding Competitor" award for best combined kumite and kata performance 10 times.

In addition to our full time instructors, the UConn JKA 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), Abby Barrera (4th dan, Asst. Instructor JKA Montville), Maura Graham-Vecellio (4th dan, Chief Instructor JKA Wallingford), and Mark Rollins, (3rd dan, Asst. Instructor Karate Spirit). 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).

How to Reach Us

E-mail us at

Or click here to see all JKA Connecticut Dojo listings.