FOREIGNERS who studied martial arts in their home country have a few opportunities to continue with it in Slovakia. There are also plenty of classes for beginners.
The most popular and most widely taught martial arts in Slovakia are karate and judo (džudo). They were brought to this country in the 1970s and since then clubs have been established in almost every Slovak town.
Around 25,000 Slovaks, 70 per cent of whom are children, regularly practice karate, which originally comes from Okinawa.
Judo, a Japanese martial art developed from ju-jitsu (džu-džicu), enjoys popularity among 4,000 Slovaks. But even though there are over 40 judo clubs active across the country, many are not interested in adult beginners. This partially applies also to karate clubs; only a few will train those without any previous experience in the field.
On the other hand, all karate and judo clubs claim to accept anybody experienced, no matter what level the person is at. Students should have no problem continuing on to the next level, assuming they successfully complete the previous one.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, a number of new martial arts started to develop in Slovakia. Aikido, ju-jitsu, and kendo iaido were brought here from Japan, tae kwon do arrived from Korea, and wing-tsun came from China. Chinese martial arts are generally called wu-shu. In the US, the name is used as a synonym for kung fu.
The martial art that has spread the most among ordinary Slovaks is aikido. Ju-jitsu is mainly practised by policemen and bodyguards. Kendo iaido and tae kwon do are the youngest martial arts in the country, and are just beginning to develop.
The main condition for studying any of the martial arts mentioned above is that you need to be in good health. Most of the teachers are Slovaks who speak English, but you may also find Japanese and Chinese experts teaching the classes. The language used during the classes is usually the language of the country of origin of the martial art in question, and the teachers use Slovak or English to explain the individual movements.
The length of a course varies from club to club. It can last three months, six months, a year, or it can be for an unlimited period of time. The courses usually start with the new school year, which is in September or October, but the applications must be submitted a month or two in advance. Most of the courses consist of two-hour classes given twice a week.
The classes are mainly held in gyms (telocvične) or in local cultural centres (miestne kultúrne strediská). Because renting a gym is more expensive, expect this to be reflected in the price of the course. And remember that you need to wear a special outfit for your class, which you will have to buy.
The most popular martial arts courses
Karate: ŠK (Športový klub) Ekonóm, Na Barine 15. Tel: 0903/447-460. Sk800 for three months
Judo: Športová Hala Mladosť, Trnavská 39. Tel: 0904/941-449. Sk360 per month
Aikido: Kurilla Dojo, Sokolská 1B. Tel: 0905/612-928. Sk500 per month
Tae kwon do: Telocvičňa, Nevädzová 3. Tel: 0907/743-685. Sk480 per month, Sk1,200 for three months
Ju-jitsu: Ju-jitsu klub Profesionál, Galvániho 14. Tel: 0903/787-851. Sk500 per month
Kendo iaido: Klub Shinbukan, Halašova 54. Tel: 0903/445-344. Sk200 per month
Wing-tsun: Základná škola, Karpatská. Tel: 0905/513-437. Sk500 per month
Karate: Športové združenie TJ Metropol, Štúrova 32. Tel: 055/6220-395. Sk300 per month
Judo: Budo klub, Zvonárska 15. Tel: 055/6234-101. Sk200 per month
Aikido: Aikido Dojo, Štúrova 20. Tel: 0907/421-089. Sk50 per lesson
Tae kwon do: Ilyo klub, Petzvalová 4. Tel: 0907/946-153. Sk400 per month
Ju-jitsu: Cassovia klub, Miškovecká 22. Tel: 0904/559-679. Sk1,000 for three months
Kendo iaido: Centrum voľného času Domino, Popradská 1. Tel: 0905/747-664. Sk100 per month
Wing-tsun: Základná škola, Park Angelinum 8. Tel: 0905/696-407. Sk500 per month
24. Feb 2003 at 0:00 | Kristína Havasová