About the Carbondale Park District Karate Program

The martial art of karate developed on Okinawa, an island located between China and Japan. Today’s karate has evolved from the pure self-defense system of its origins into an art that values cultural preservation, athletic competition (organizers included karate in the 2020 Olympic Games), and an art that embodies and emphasizes personal growth.

Along the way, karate practitioners have developed many ryu, or styles, each with unique characteristics.

Carbondale Park District students learn a style of karate called Isshin Shorinji Ryu Okinawa Te, created by Soke Robert Murphy. The late Shihan James Chapman brought Isshin Shorinji Ryu to the Midwest. Today, Shihan Scott Francis at Dojo Dynamics leads the Midwest branch of the system after succeeding the late Shihan Tom Heriaud. You can find out more about Isshin Shorinji Ryu by reading our study guides and historical documents.

Chris Wissmann has taught the Carbondale Park District karate program since 2013. He started training in karate in 1984 under Shihan Heriaud and went on to study, among other martial arts, aikido and Moo Duk Kwan under Guido Bernstein. He earned his third-degree black belt in Isshin Shorinji Ryu under Shihans Heriaud and Francis in 2019, and his fourth-degree black belt from Shihan Francis in 2023.

Carbondale Park District students learn a combination of traditional and modern sport karate and related martial arts (including western boxing and aikido) at the Lakeland Center at 925 South Giant City Road.

Carbondale Park District students must complete an eight-week beginner session to develop the technical and fitness basics they will need to thrive in the advanced classes. Beginning karate classes run Mondays at 5:30 p.m. and advanced karate classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

Our Curriculum

We not only teach our students how to defend themselves, but when—only against true threats, and as a last resort, after exhausting all realistic nonviolent alternatives. Without these values, karate becomes a destructive, not protective, force in our lives.

With that in mind, you will start by learning a series of individual blocks, punches, kicks, and other techniques. Don’t worry if you’re not strong, fast, coordinated, flexible, or athletic—you will develop those attributes in our Carbondale Park District karate classes.

You’ll not only learn the biomechanics of karate techniques (how to perform them with maximum efficiency, speed, and power) but how to employ them for strategic purposes (what each technique tries to achieve and the positions from which they best help you to defend yourself). Then you’ll learn how to combine those techniques to make them more effective.

We do not require that you participate in the few tournaments in this region. If you choose to do so, our karate classes will thoroughly prepare you for competition. Our students always perform extremely well in tournaments.

We encourage our students to cross-train in the Park District’s aikido and jujitsu programs, taught by Senseis Rob and Karen Gallegly and Sensei Mark Hurling, respectively, or to arrange a free self-defense course from our combined martial arts programs.

Isshin Shorinji Ryu Kata and Belt Requirements

Within a few weeks of starting karate with us, you’ll begin learning formal exercises called kata.

Kata form the building blocks of karate. Kata consist of a series of choreographed techniques performed against imaginary opponents.

Students earn promotions by demonstrating:

  • Excellence in kata and individual techniques;
  • Their knowledge of karate terminology and history;
  • Their ability to apply their skills; and eventually,
  • Their teaching abilities

The requirements for each belt promotion may seem daunting and hard for beginners to understand, but students work at their own pace, learning what they can during each class, practicing on off-nights, then reviewing and expanding their knowledge in the next class. It can take time, but with hard work, dedication, and attention to detail, everyone can make significant progress.

Those with karate experience, including current and prospective students, may wish to know which kata we learn and some of our other requirements for each belt rank we award. We provide that information below.

Yellow Belt – Seventh Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Yellow Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • 8 Point Soft Block
  • 14 Point Hard Block
  • Empi Kata, Each Strike
  • Taikyoku Ichi, Third punch second set of three punches
  • Taikyoku Ni, Third punch second set of three punches
  • Taikyoku San, Third punch second set of three punches
  • Verbal test

Yellow Belt Black Tab – Sixth Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Yellow Belt - Green Tab

Kata, Kiai

  • Taikyoku Shi, Last punch in punch push punch set
  • Taikyoku Go, Grab and punch, after elbow strike
  • Cusumano, no kiai
  • Verbal test

Green Belt – Fifth Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Green Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Pinan Ichi, Last lunge punch, last knife hand
  • Pinan Ni, Spear hand, last high block and punch
  • Pinan San, Spear hand, last backfist
  • Verbal test
  • Written test
  • Physical fitness test

Purple Belt – Fourth Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Purple Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Pinan Shi, Backfist, knee strike
  • Pinan Go, High X block and punch, leap into hook stance
  • Tokumine No Kun (Bo Kata), Strike before groin attack
  • Yotoha No Jo (Jo Kata), Downward strike after turn into kibadachi, final strike
  • Verbal test
  • Written test
  • Physical fitness test

Brown Belt – Third Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Brown Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Sanchin Dai, First single punch after second turn
  • Sanseru, Last pickup technique
  • Cusumano No Tonfa
  • Guriiru No Tanto Migi
  • Guriiru No Tanto Hidari
  • Verbal test
  • Written test
  • Physical fitness test

Brown Belt – Second Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Brown Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Seisan, First backfist from cat stance, before executing front kick from cat
  • Seiuchin, Vertical punch, first backfist, second uppercut, last backfist
  • Nijushiho, First elbow, punch to prone opponent, under punch, last “u” punch
  • Kusanku Sai, Stab after first soft block, stab after last groin strike
  • Verbal test
  • Physical fitness test

Brown Belt – First Kyu

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Brown Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Naiuhanchi Ichi, Last block and punch
  • Naiuhanchi Ni, First release or throw
  • Naiuhanch San, Last backfist
  • Jute, Third palm heel, last cross “x” block and side block, last eye and throat strike
  • Cusumano No Nunchaku
  • Verbal test
  • Physical fitness test

Black Belt – Sho Dan

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Black Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Wansu, Fake punch, first punch set, elbow strike
  • Shiho-hi, Second punch to prone opponent, first fake punch, second hammer block and side kick
  • Cusumano No Kama
  • Verbal test
  • Special project
  • Physical fitness test
  • Teaching duties

Black Belt – Ni Dan

Carbondale Park District Karate Program Black Belt

Kata, Kiai

  • Chinto (Gankaku Sho), Jumping front kick, thrust punch after second forward sequence, kneeling punch
  • Sunsu, Roundhouse kick, third lateral empi strike, right front kick from tsuro no iwa dachi

Register Now for Our Carbondale Park District Karate Classes

If you need more information about the karate program, please use our online contact form to email the instructor directly.

Sign up for karate or any other Park District classes online at anytime, or call the Lakeland Center at (618) 549-4222 during business hours. For updates about our karate program, including announcements about upcoming beginner sessions, visit the Carbondale Park District karate Facebook page.