FAQ

Questions

What is karate?
Where did it come from?
Why are there different styles?
Which style is best?
How long will it take me to get a black belt?
What can karate do for me?
Will I be injured?
What do I need to start?
Is it expensive
Do I need to be fit?
Will there be any other women in the class?
I have a medical condition or disability, does that rule me out?
Am I too old to start?
Are there any books or videos that will help me?
Where do I go from here?


What is karate?

Karate is a system of punches, strikes, blocks, parries, kicks, throws and joint locks. It is designed as a defensive, not aggressive art. In a class one will practice individual and combination techniques with a partner or against ‘fresh air’ (like shadow boxing) Techniques are also practised on impact pads to give a realistic feel to your punches etc Top

The mainstay of traditional karate is ‘kata’ these are ancient series of movements containing all the particular techniques of that given school or style of karate. They start off quite basic but as you progress through the grades (or belts) they become ever more complex. They can be practised in quite a small space so you can refine your kata technique at home as well as in the karate training hall (or dojo). Some people have equated kata to being like ‘moving meditation’ and certainly the concentration and body co-ordination required perform a kata perfectly can bring on a state of extreme concentration. Top


Where did it come from?

Karate contrary to popular public conception is not a Japanese martial art but did in fact originate on a small island south of Japan called Okinawa. Here indigenous fighting disciplines were added to over many years as Okinawans brought back fighting traditions from their visits to Southern China. Many Southern Chinese who either settled in Okinawa or conducted trade there, also added their skills to the art the Okinawans referred to as ‘Te” (Hand)
Early last century Okinawans took ‘Te’ to Japan where it took root and was systematised into what we know as karate today. Top


Why are there different styles?

There are many different styles (or ryu = schools) of karate, originally on Okinawa there were three types of the previously mentioned ‘Te” named after the villages around which they were centred, Naha, Shuri and Tomari. These schools merged and subdivided over the years to become the four main Okinawan Ryu of Karate, which are, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, Uechi Ryu and Shorin Ryu.
On reaching Japan these four Ryu became many as people added their own ideas and started their own systems. Today there are hundreds of different schools, some traditional and many that have abandoned tradition in favour of seeking success in competition or becoming the ‘ultimate fighting art’ Top


Which style is best?

The best style is the one that suits you! All styles place a slightly different emphasis on how things are practised, for example, practising high kicks instead of low kicks, more kata or less kata in favour of fighting (kumite). At the end of the day it’s not the school that is most important but the instructor. Seek out recommendations, visit and watch a few different clubs and check out the instructors credentials. Top


How long will it take me to get a black belt?

The average time within our Association is five years, this is based upon someone who trains 2-3 times a week, attends seminars with senior instructors and possesses an average level of fitness and co-ordination. People who can only attend sporadically due to work commitments or students who have an injury or disability that slows down their progress may have to wait a while longer. Getting your black belt isn’t everything, you can go to some schools and take a black belt in two years. It’s not what you have on, it’s how you feel. Top


What can karate do for me?

Besides giving you the basis on which to be able to better defend yourself in a conflict, karate has some deeper benefits. Surface benefits such as feeling fitter, being more co-ordinated and improved reflexes are things which will appear after only several months training. Deeper benefits such as better composure, a clearer thought process, a deeper insight into yourself and improved confidence are things which take longer, but will in time and with practice be some of the deeper benefits of karate training. Top


Will I be injured?

Karate is a contact sport so there will inevitably be injuries. In my experience as an Instructor (Sensei) my students more often than not come in to class with injuries that they have sustained playing football, cricket or some other popular sport. Injuries in karate tend to be quite minor such as bruising to the forearms or shins (or ego!). Strained fingers or toes from getting them in the way! The occasional black eye or injured rib. Karate has taken on board ideas taken from modern sports science and any dangerous exercises are no longer taught by reputable dojos. The best advice is if it hurts don’t do it! Top


What do I need to start?

A pair of tracksuit/jogging bottoms, t-shirt and boundless enthusiasm. Top


Is it expensive?

You will be expected to take out a licence with your Association, which allows you to train, attend seminars and take gradings (belts). The licence fee also includes basic insurance cover (for adults) the licence fee varies from Association to Association but is currently £40 per annum with the EGKA.. A karate suit (or gi) will set you back anywhere between £25 and £100 depending upon the quality. These are things that are not required at your first lesson at a reputable club, most clubs give a student a couple of weeks grace to see that they are going to ‘stick with it’ first. On top of this some clubs may charge an annual membership fee which gives you cheaper lessons, equipment and discounted seminar fees. Most clubs just charge per lesson although some may charge by the month, the usual fee per lesson will be between £4-£8. Top


Do I need to be fit?

No, in a good club your level of fitness will be taken into account and your level of exercise will be gradually increased over several months until you are able to follow the rest of the class through the entire warm up. Top


Will there be any other women in the class?

Most certainly, women are quite well represented in most dojos. Again the best thing to do is to find a dojo that you like the look of and talk to the women there about the training. Top


I have a medical condition/physical disability, does that rule me out?

No, but seek advice from a doctor before embarking upon any karate practice if you suffer from any condition which could be affected by exercise. If you have a physical disability there is no reason why you should not be able to practice karate (many do). The hardest thing is going to be finding somewhere with easy access if you are a wheelchair user. Clubs based in Local Authority Sports Centres should be your first port of call.
“Never was a greater mistake made, than s/he who did nothing because s/he could do only a little” Top


Am I too old to start?

No, students of all ages are welcome to train in most dojos. Listen to your body during practice and don’t try to ‘keep up’, just enjoy it. Top


Are there any books or videos that will help me?

Yes, most styles have a video or book series showing the basic movements and katas. Youtube also has many clips showing techniques. They are a useful reference tool but no substitute for practice! Top


Where do I go from here?

You now have to practice the hardest move in karate…getting out of the chair to get there!!Top