Would you like to learn more about our form of karate, our dojo, and how we train? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you don't see what you're looking for, please contact us.

What do our students think of our classes?

“We feel very fortunate to have found you.  I've bounced around a few dojos, and can honestly say I haven't seen a group of people that exemplify the spirit of karate in such a positive and nurturing way.  Every lesson we learn, work hard, and feel better for it.  Thank you both for wisdom, education and patience.” ~N.B. from an email to instructors

"We just got started with Ueshiro, and so far, we are pleased! If you become members, you can take as many classes with them as you want. And it's really fun that the whole family can participate together." ~E.K. from a NextDoor discussion

"...we’ve been going to Ueshiro for a year now and we love it. It’s a great place for the whole family to practice together. Really affordable, and great teachers and community.” ~L.B. from a NextDoor discussion

Who are the instructors besides Kyoshi Kaplan?

  • Sensei Barb Schaefer began studying Shorin-Ryu karate with her family in 2009 and presently holds the rank of San-dan (3rd degree black belt). She previously studied Shotokan karate in graduate school and lived in Japan for 4 years, so enjoys the ongoing reconnection to her Japanese “roots” via karate, calligraphy, and art.  Outside of karate, she loves exploring new places and cheering on PSU's women’s volleyball team.
  • Sensei Anne Burgevin started training in 2010 to encourage her two daughters to learn self-defense. She is a San-dan (3rd degree black belt) as well as a creative writer, haiku poet, teacher, and naturalist who can be found on the web at anneburgevin.com. She is happiest while outdoors, on the karate deck, or spending time with her family and friends. Her karate and writing students also hold a special place in her life.
  • Sensei Tracie Pletcher joined the Ueshiro Okinawan Karate Family Dojo in 2004. Tracie was drawn to this dojo because of the family-oriented classes and the convenience of the location. She has stayed with it through many life challenges, and in the spring of 2017 Tracie had the privilege of watching son James receive his Sho-dan (1st degree black belt). She was recently promoted to San-dan (3rd degree black belt). Tracie enjoys the combination of calm focus with energetic exercise -- a yin and yang balance we should all strive to find. In her life beyond karate, Tracie is a licensed massage therapist and partner at Dragonfly Therapeutic Massage and Day Spa.
  • Sempai Noah Kaplan started training in 2001 when his Dad motivated him to begin at a young age. Since then, he has achieved the rank of Ni-dan and has taken his training with him. Noah has since moved to New York City and joined Kyoshi Mackay's dojo, but remains an honorary member here. He appreciates the rich tradition and can-do attitude that karate fosters, and tries to apply this to all aspects of his life, both work and play. Off the deck, Noah enjoys designing video games, playing soccer, and learning the flute.
  • Sempai Ben Kaplan started karate at age five to help burn his excessively high energy, and has since earned the rank of Sho-dan. As he matured, Ben found ways karate could be applied to the mind and the real world. The karate-do (being ready for anything) mindset integrating with the Mushin (having an empty mind) mindset naturally applied to school and also his hobbies such as basketball, content creation, photography, and building/repairing electronics.
  • Sempai Mike Musser, Ni-dan

What ages can train in your dojo?

Anyone 5 or older is welcome.

Do I need to join with a family member?

We welcome families and friends to train together, but you may also join as an individual.

Where can I learn more about Shorin-Ryu Karate?

The Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA website contains a wealth of information including sections on basics, kata, history, and videos. Additionally, the Red Book contains hundreds of questions and answers about Shorin-Ryu's history, practice, and theory. If you'd like to review our dojo rules and list of Japanese terms used in our classes, please click here.

What do your students think about training as a family?

There is no innate reason why family members of different generations cannot take part in karate training. The physical and mental benefits associated with karate training - which includes increased fitness, focus, and self confidence extend across the lifespan.  As evident in the quotes below, there are also family strengthening properties associated with training together as a family. This is also a chance to explore and enjoy a shared interest, and in so doing contribute to a sense of closeness within the family.

"Training in karate as a family is a fun and exciting experience. Having a support person (someone who makes sure you are still training or takes you to karate) is stressed when your family participates in this. You always have someone to go with and work your kata (dance-like movements) at home. It also brings my family and me closer together." ~ 12-year-old girl who trains with her parents, 2 brothers and sister; 7 years of training.

"In this world of busy schedules, family time gets more and more limited. Training together allows for one more time that we can be together as a family, not only on the deck, but even just the car ride to and from the dojo" ~ Mother, 40-year-old, who trains with husband and her 4 children ; 1-1/2 years of training.

"It is a fun family sport that everyone should enjoy. I like to be able to do workouts with my Dad and my little brother. The thing I like best about karate is that we are all in one dojo, working together as a team." ~ 10-year-old boy who trains with his older brother and father; 2-1/2 years of training.

"It is a great confidence builder for young children to see children (with more experience) providing training and assistance to adults (with less experience)." ~ Father, 37-year-old, who trains with his 2 sons; 2 years of training.

"We can talk a lot now. It helps us bring back memories. We can be together and have our own little family thing" 8-year-old girl who trains with her 12-year-old brother and parents; 2 months of training

To learn more about the benefits of family karate training, see the article, "The Family that Trains Together Stays Together: Karate training as a pathway toward family unity".

Here's a fun article about Kyoshi Kaplan

"[Matt Kaplan] brings generations together in his personal time. A black belt in karate, he runs a family-oriented dojo in State College where most of the students come in intergenerational pairs: parent and child or grandparent and grandchild. He got the idea after seeing parents drop their kids off at youth soccer and then go off to play soccer or softball in an adult league. 'Parents are always saying they want more time with their kids,' he says. 'Why not learn a martial art together?' "

From Cherie Winner's Mending the Gap article in the Penn State News, May 18, 2018