Frequently Asked Questions to help you to decide what to do next.
Q. I've had a few trial I've had a few trial lessons and would like to join, what do I do next?
Ans. Ask for a membership pack and complete and return the two application forms to your instructor along with your membership & insurance payment.
Q. I can only attend once a week, will I still be able to learn karate & grade etc?
Ans. The recommended minimum for training is twice a week, some students have been known to reach brown belt by training only once a week but they were young, fit and exceptionally bright. Yes is the answer but you will require double the commitment, train at 100% and need to practice & revise constantly at home. It is unlikely that you would ever have enough experience or stamina to achieve Shodan (Black-belt) level. (NB: most of the books I have recommended advocate the same 'minimum of twice a week regime')
Q. How much does it all cost - what are all the fees?
Ans: Please take a look at the Introduction Page
Q. How do I decide on which Karate Club to join?
Ans: Confusing isn't it? Be careful - Please take a look at the Which Club? Page
Q. I've joined what next?
Ans. Soon after your application forms have been sent away you'll receive your Karate Suit (Gi) and belt along with your membership book; inside which you will find your licence (insurance). At this point please make sure you ask for a new starters pack. You will need to sew on your club badges before your first grading and insert a photograph into your membership book.
Q. What do I do if I cant attend a lesson for some reason?
Ans. Please ring/text or email the instructor as soon as you can so that he can tell you if there are any changes for the week ahead. If you have access to the internet you can check times and venues on the clubs home page.
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Q. Im a little shy or feel nervous that I wont know what to do in front of other students.
Ans. There will be others in the same position so you wont be alone. I said the same thing many years ago when I first started.
Q. How long does it take to get to Black Belt?
Ans. If all goes well and you attend regularly then on average about 2.5 to 3 years if you train regularly say twice a week. Gradings are every 3 months from the date you join; there is a 6 month period between 1st Kyu and the Shodan (Black Belt 1st Dan) exam.
Q. What can I do to make my training easier?
Ans. Ask your instructor for recommended videos and books that you can study at home to aid your training. In any event, never feel embarrassed about asking questions.
Q. Does Shotokan Karate really work as a tool for Self-Defence?
Ans. I did a lot of research before starting this martial art and found it to have the right balance in all the aspects of a true self-defence system.
Q. Will I get hurt?
Ans. I don't know you and therefore can't guarantee anything. Some of my students have received the odd bruise and strained muscle and I've broken a few ribs here and there. It is officially a non-contact sport and provided that everyone you come into contact with applies the same degree of care and intelligence as you do then you should not get hurt. Karate is a fighting art and obviously training involves some physical contact. This is carried out in a controlled manner and injury of consequence is unlikely. Karate injuries are no more common than knocks collected by participants of any contact sport.
Q. Will it help me loose weight and keep fit and supple?
Ans. Again, I can't offer any guarantees but if you do the same exercises that I do and don't change your diet then you should loose a few inches here and there. One point to remember is that muscle is heavier than fat and so you may actually put on weight and yet look slimmer. Our stretching routine should help you keep or make you suppler.
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Q. I'm getting on a bit and work in a sedentary job, I can't even see my feet let alone touch them, is it safe to suddenly start a rigorous exercise routine?
Ans. I asked the same question when I started. Visit your doctor first and have an MOT (or fitness & health assessment) and listen to his/her advice. I wouldn't expect you to do a hundred sit-ups in the first lesson. Some of the things that may affect your training and which can be checked out at your local GP or nearest NHS "Walk In Centre" are;-
Height & Weight (Body Mass Index BMI) & Body Fat Index measurements.
Your current daily routine - jogging, swimming, walking & cycling etc.
How active or inactive your job/work is.
Past injuries and physical ailments - have they now become disabilities, how will these effect the range of movement of your body?
Whether your a smoker - lung capacity.
Your State of mind - 'Healthy body, healthy mindí Maintaining a positive outlook - current stress levels.
Your reason for wanting to improve yourself, your fitness & strength, suppleness etc. What do you hope to achieve?
More on Health - click here
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Q. How will I benefit from karate training?
Ans. Regular training will bring a thorough knowledge of this traditional fighting art. Training should not, however, be seen as merely learning self-defence. Karate is much more than this incorporating it's philosophy as a way of life.
Q. Who can practice karate?
Ans. Basically anyone of any age or gender capable of physical movement and understanding simple instructions can benefit from karate. The Shotokan Karate Association (SSKA) has no upper age limit. You don't need to be very fit to train. However, if you suffer from any medical condition, or are unsure, you should seek medical advice before starting. You should tell your instructor if you suffer from an illness or injury.
Q. What does training consist of?
Ans. The classes are run by an appointed instructor, known as
Sensei. Warm up & stretching exercises will be followed by explanation & demonstration of
moves and techniques for students to follow. Training consists very broadly of:
Kihon: Basic skills, the practice of single and combination techniques
Kata: A system of moves and techniques, linked together, in set patterns. The basis of fluid fighting skills
Kumite: Working with a partner to practice skills in a fluid environment, freestyle sparring
Q. How do I make progress?
Ans. Karate, as with many martial arts, has a grading system,
based on regular testing with recognition by award of coloured belts. Students
join as a 10th Kyu and, if successful, then progress gradually to 1st Kyu.
Thereafter gradings are for black belt recognition starting at 1st (Sho) Dan.
Gradings get further apart at black belt level. There is a set syllabus and,
assuming regular training and learning, a student may take kyu gradings every
three months. Students require permission to grade from their club instructor
before taking their examinations.
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Q. How do I join?
Ans. Try training for a couple of weeks to see if you like it
then ask for a membership application form
to join the SSKA.
Q. How often should I train?
Ans. To make progress training should be at least weekly. It
can sometimes be difficult for students to accomplish the requirements of the
grading syllabus without regular training. As a rule a student of "average"
ability should expect to train a minimum of twice a week (depending on grade) to
be able to keep up with the syllabus and fitness.
Q. Do I need Insurance?
Ans. Yes. All Association members must hold a current licence
which can be obtained through the SSKA. This is annually renewable and includes
personal grading records and an insurance certificate. Forms are available from
your SSKA instructor. This licence forms part of your personal insurance.
Q. What if I am already a practicing karate student?
Ans. Practicing Karate students are always welcome to train with the SSKA either as visitors or those seeking to become members. Existing Shotokan grades are generally honoured depending on the time since the student last trained.
Q. Will karate conflict with my religion?
Ans. Karate is not a religion, the act of bowing to other karate-ka (students) is a sign of respect and tradition.
Q. How old must I be to become an instructor?
You must be at least 18 years old to become an instructor. (click here for an application form)
Q. Can I take a Double Grading?
Ans. Yes you may, but you will have to pay for two grading fees - currently starting from 2x £26.00p & a lesson fee of £11.00p.
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Updated: Thursday, 23 October 2014