Choosing the Right Club?

Your most important step in your karate career will be to choose the right club. Pick the wrong one and you could waste many years of hard practice and lots of money because not all karate clubs are good. Not all black belts are properly trained coaches, and karate instructors are not obliged to belong to a competent association.

·        The club you choose should be a member of a long and well-established association like the SSKA.

·        Visit the prospective club and be suspicious of those that do not allow you to watch the training. If you’re able to question members of the club directly, without interrupting the lesson, all the better.

·        Is the instructor a black belt? What grade (or Dan) are they? How long have they been teaching? Are they clean and well turned out? Do they treat the students with courtesy? How many different coloured belt students are there? If there are Brown and Black belt students present, it's a good indication that the club will have been running a few years.

·        Are the instructors fully qualified in first aid and does the club operate within the guidelines of a Child Protection Policy and does it have an Equal Opportunities Statement? From 12th October 2009, are they registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority?

·        Do they accept children below the age of five, when MOST insurance companies WILL NOT insure children under the age of five years?

·        Has the instructor and his assistants been Police Checked and certified by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) with an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate?

·        Are the instructors qualified by & registered with a National Governing Body like the English Karate Governing Body (EKGB)

·        Ask for a summary of all the costs before you join and weigh up the difference over a year or two. Does the club charge an "annual dojo fee" and an affiliation fee, do you have to buy your own karate suit and badges, how much is the insurance, find out all of the hidden costs first. Some clubs sound cheap because they don't have an all inclusive membership fee - beware, check them out thoroughly and do your homework!

·        Considering the costs involved, are they open about their prices, do they list all of their pricing details on the internet or brochure. If not, do they answer your emails straight away and send you details of all the costs? Can you "try before you buy" by attending a number of sessions without any commitment or obligation? READ THE SMALL PRINT!!

·        At all costs, avoid clubs that go around "door to door" and force you into joining the club by paying up front on the door step without ever having tried a lesson. Likewise be suspicious of clubs that have your subscriptions collected by a third party collecting agency, these contracts can be difficult to get out of.

·        I've witnessed many karate clubs in my area close, collapse and "fold up" the last eight years, from other organisations and styles. The SSKA has been established since 1987 and we do not consider ourselves to be a McDojo.

·       For an interesting & enlightening "Thread" or discussion on this topic, please visit: Martial Arts Panet

You may find the following books very useful with details of how to choose a club, a style and an instructor. It also deals with whether your child is suited to this type of martial art & similarly deals with the subjects above in more depth;-

Parents' Guide to Martial Arts Change Your Life With Martial Arts by Linda Davis Kyle A Parent's Guide to Children's Martial Arts: What's the Right Style for Your Child? The Parent's Guide to Teaching Self-defense Karate: The Japanese Way

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Updated: Monday, 06 September 2010