Just the FAQs

What will I need to wear when I start ?

To begin with, it is best to wear any loose and comfortable clothing e.g. jogging bottoms and a t-shirt. Once you feel you are ready to commit to training in karate it is important to buy a 'gi' (karate suit). Any large sports shop usually stocks Karate suits. You can also order through the club.

When starting it is best to buy a light weight gi. It is also important to purchase a gum shield, hand and foot pads and a groin guard. Ladies also sometime choose to buy a chest protector.

Will I have to fight ?

Certainly not for a while ! Our association encourages students to have a good working knowledge of fighting techniques and an ability to apply them in combat. We do train fighting "kumite" and encourage students who are keen to compete. However kumite is not compulsory until purple belt, 5th Kyu.

How often can I grade ?

A minimum of three months between gradings with a minimum of six months between 1st Kyu and 1st Dan.

What is the highest grade you can become ?

There really isn't an upper limit. Most associations require students to perform practical gradings up to at least Third Dan then it becomes a honorary award for time served and contributions to karate.

What is the best age to start karate ?

There is no real hard or fast rules to this. Some students who start as children, lose interest before they fully mature or simply burn out in their teens, while others go on successfully into adulthood. Those who start later in life may not be able to compete, but do derive terrific enjoyment, learn new skills and go on to gain their black belt.

What is the youngest age for children to start Karate ?

Insurance companies will not insure children under 5. Clubs cannot therefore accept children under this age and some clubs will have their own minimum age - often around 7 or 8.

How do I obtain /renew my license ?

Ask your club instructor or secretary.

I have had a break in training - do I need to re-grade ?

No, we don't take away grades - but ask your instructor to help you return to fitness, ability and standard in a sensible and safe way.

What happens in the lessons ?

Karate training is made up of three main areas collectively known as the "3 K's, Kihon (The Basics), Kata (The Forms) and Kumite (The Sparring).

Kihon involves the systematic practice of the various blocks, strikes, punches and kicks.

Kata are formal exercises of pre-determined defensive and offensive techniques against several imaginary opponents. It is said that the secret of Karate is hidden in these compositions. There are 27 kata in Shotokan Karate and a new kata or a series of kata are learnt after each grading promotion.

Kumite is the practice of techniques learned in Kihon but with real opponents. Like Kata, most of the sparring consists of pre-determined techniques and is performed with either non-contact or light contact with great control. Higher grade students will practice 'free style sparring' (where the moves are not pre-determined), but the same level of control is still expected.

How do I join a club?

Try training for a couple of weeks to see if you like it then ask for a licence application form. Students then become members of Shotokan 2000 and The Scottish Karate Governing Body.

How do I make progress within the club?

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.

How good is Karate for fitness ?

Karate is one of the most balanced and complete ways of keeping in good physical condition. Karate incorporates the use of the entire body in which legs, hips, spine, shoulders and arms are co-ordinated to develop balance, flexibility, poise, speed, strength and stamina. No other form of training uses as many parts of the body to such an extent. Karate is not seasonal and so one's condition can be maintained throughout the year. Other forms of training, where exercise for the sake of exercise is done, become a chore after the first enthusiasm passes and are invariably dropped. However, Karate becomes more interesting and rewarding as you progress, without any limit. Even after decades of training, students will still be learning and improving their techniques - this is very rare in any sport.

Are there any other benefits from Karate

Karate is a means of developing friendship. At its best it is also a means of gaining self-understanding and self-confidence . It is an art form through which one can express individuality. Karate is also a bridge to other cultures and times, and it establishes a contact with one's mind and body that is rare in Western education. The true rewards lie in the improvement of mind , body , and character . Without this threefold development, mastery of the techniques will be impossible. Great personal effort and mental concentration are needed to learn Karate, but the rewards are enormous.