Frequently Asked Questions
Karate does involve physical contact, and you have to be very lucky or extremely good to avoid the occasional bruise in your Martial Arts career. The instructors are very aware of the potential for injury and constantly strive to promote technical excellence and self control to reduce the risks. Because of this Karate has one of the lowest injury rates of all “sports”, much less than Rugby or Football. If you work hard you will probably ache after your first few lessons as you utilize muscles you didn’t know you had. Actually, if you work really hard you will ache after most karate sessions! Also, sometimes you need to feel the pain of a technique (such as a pressure point strike or joint lock) to appreciate how it works and how effective it can be. These techniques are usually reserved for higher grades and are applied very carefully and with full consent.
Check out the Classes page for the location of your choice and then drop in just before the start of the session. Contact us if there is anything that you would like clarified first.Â You will be made to feel most welcome. Karate clubs can be very friendly places, and a lot of fun!Â Have a quick word with the instructor (and some of the students) and then you can either…
- join in with the class
- watch a session, or
- watch a session and then join in half way through
There is no charge for your first session so what do you have to lose?
To get straight to the point, you don’t have to be fit at all. Nearly everyone who takes up karate isn’t “fit”. A good instructor will be aware of this and ease you into the training regime. You will not be forced to do things that are beyond your physical capabilities, but you will find that eventually you will be able to do things you never thought you were physically capable of. If you have an injury, physical disability or illness then the club instructor should know about this. If you are in any doubt about your ability to practice karate visit your Doctor and ask for a report on your current state, and whether (in his/her opinion) you are fit to learn karate.
Initially, just something loose and comfortable such as track suit bottoms and a t-shirt and/or sweat shirt. Karate students train in bare feet, and you will be required to remove (or make safe) any jewelry or watches. After a while you will want to get a karate suit. Your club instructor can usually get these for you – often cheaper than buying a suit from a Sports Shop. Prices of suits vary from around £20-25 for a child’s suit to well over £100 for imported Japanese “brand name”. Karate suits are relatively inexpensive. Ask your instructor for prices – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Other equipment includes a variety of safety equipment. Hand mitts are a must for sparring/kumite practice. Shin and foot guards, groin protectors, breast protectors, and gum shields are also used. You may not need them all, but, again, you will find the cost of these items well within budget.
No need to break open the piggy bank, then!
It is more than just a duty of care; you want your children to be the best that they can be. You want them to achieve and be a success in life. Traditional Karate has certain “rules of conduct” that are not just expected but are obligatory. Courtesy, respect, self control and discipline are all part of everyday training. Primarily this is for safety reasons, but these are all useful traits to develop for children and adults alike. For many children passing their first grading examination is the first time they have achieved something significant entirely due to their own efforts. And once they have learned that they can succeed in Karate if they follow the rules and work hard, it is a small step to transfer those skills to other areas. It is not uncommon for children’s school work to improve after they have been training for a while. Psychologists knew in the 1960s that Karate practice can inspire an interest in learning generally, and they found that a higher percentage of Karate players went to University than in other sports. Bullying is a major problem in (and out of) schools. “Karate kids” don’t use their skills to bully others. They are more likely to stand up to bullies and to help others. Bullying is not acceptable in Karate classes, and it is made clear that students who misuse their Karate will be banned from training.
Karate can be an aid to parenting by helping reinforce the lessons that you are trying to instill in your child, but the Karate club is not a replacement for parenting. We will help direct your child on the right path, but you have to do your bit as well! Apart from trying to help your child become the best person that they can be the child who takes up Karate today could be an International Karate Competitor and/or Club Instructor in years to come, so we have a vested interest in each and every young person who joins our classes.
The popular view of Karate practitioners is of bald headed men with no teeth, but this is far from true. Many women of all ages practice karate and there are many highly skilled and highly regarded female martial artists. This is not a recent phenomenon; Shaolin nuns were practicing the martial arts over a thousand years ago! Karate was designed to provide an effective way to defend yourself from an aggressor who is larger and more powerful than you and/or armed. Though not designed specifically with women in mind, Karate is a martial art that relies very heavily on skill to overcome brute force. Most men will rely on their physical presence to overpower their victim(s), but a well placed blow at the correct time will stop anyone. A woman’s muscles are shorter than a man’s, so they contract and expand quicker. This means that a woman has a natural speed advantage.
The mechanical make up of a woman’s body gives them more fluid and flexible hips, and most of the power in Karate techniques comes from the hips. Women are much better at using their hips to generate power in their punches and kicks (just look at the average guy trying to dance at a night club and you’ll know how hard it is for men to use their hips efficiently!) Women also tend to excel in Kata – the heart of karate and the most difficult and demanding aspect of the martial arts. Karate won’t stop you from being assaulted but it can certainly help change the expected outcome of the assault. When a woman learns Karate, she also learns self-defense, self-confidence and self-esteem which allow her to be able to go out in life with less fear and with a warmer and more open attitude. Any woman who takes up Karate will learn a means of self-preservation by doing something which is often fun, while also bettering their health and general level of fitness.
The original form of Karate was a brutal and efficient system of self defense. Obviously techniques such as eye-gouging and joint destruction are not suitable for children to learn, so about 120 years ago the Japanese masters removed the majority of “unarmed combat” techniques from the syllabus. However, all those techniques still exist and are hidden within the kata – the part of Karate that many people dismiss as “dance”. Children and beginner adults get a basic level of self defense – the standard “block and counter” of karate training. More advanced students will move on to more advanced techniques – joint manipulation, pressure point strikes, strangles and chokes to name but a few. It is no exaggeration to say that karate skills can be used to injure, maim or kill people. For this reason we are very careful who we teach the full range of skills. The United Nations has stated that one in three women will be assaulted during their lifetime. Every one of those women will be someone’s wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter. Children and men also find themselves in physical conflict.
Self defense is an important life skill in these troubled times.