If you have any questions that aren't addressed below, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
How do I start karate?
Just come along to one of our training sessions (times here). You're welcome to email us first if you have any specific questions, or just to let us know you're coming. Either way, you're most welcome and your first practice is free (two for children).
The hardest part of karate is making yourself get out of the house and attend your first session, but once you do - you won't regret it.
What do I need to bring?
As you'll be moving about quite a bit, wear some loose, comfortable clothing; you'll be training in bare feet. You won't need a karate uniform (dogi) just yet. It is also a good idea to bring some drinking water.
How much is it to train?
You can see our current weekly fee schedule here. Once you decide to become a member there is an additional annual cost of £25 for your license (due in August), and gradings will also incur a fee (currently £25 for kyu grades, 2-3 times a year). License and grading fees are set by the SKK, our organisation. Our fees are kept to a minimum - we are not run as a profit-making club and you will not be charged for any sessions you do not attend. Another cost to take into account is buying your first do-gi (prices vary).
What should I expect from my first session?
We won't overload you with too much information or anything too challenging in your first session. Don't worry about what you'll be asked to do - we won't demand jumping spinning back-kicks (actually, we don't really do those ...). Not everyone has the same abilities, so to a certain extent you'll advance at your own pace and within your own capabilities. However, one thing's for certain - within a few sessions those capabilities will start to grow. For a more detailed breakdown of a typical session, see here.
What are the benefits of doing karate?
Karate is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that utilises muscles from every part of your body leading to improved fitness and weight loss. It improves flexibility, stability and balance and boosts well-being. It increases self-confidence and promotes self-control, calmness and awareness under pressure. It teaches respect for others as well as for yourself, leading to the avoidance and shunning of violence, as well as a decrease in aggression. It's even been shown to lower levels of depression, as well as improve working memory, physical and mental control, and alertness.
Do you teach children?
Yes, the children's session (age 8 and up) is currently on Wednesday evenings, from 6.30 - 7.30 pm.
As an adult, can I train alongside my child in the children's class?
Absolutely - one accompanying adult can train for half-price (as long as there's room).
I have previous martial arts experience - can I train?
Whether you're a complete beginner, have had a little training already, have not trained for many years but would like to restart, or you're a current grandmaster, you'll be most welcome at the Kanzenki Karate Club. (If you're the last of those examples we might ask you for a few lessons!). If you have not trained for any significant time it might be best to wear a white belt until your grade can be properly assessed. If you are a black belt from a different karate style you are welcome to wear your current grade during training.
Is karate ok for older people, or people with physical impairments?
Karate is for everyone - men, women, boys, girls, the old, the young, and people with physical challenges. Each and every individual who trains at the club will bring their own unique experience and view which will be of benefit to all members. You will advance based on your own personal abilities - abilities you'll see quickly improve with regular training. If in any doubt, consult your GP to see if physical training is safe for you and how you could benefit.
Will I get injured if I do karate?
Martial arts are very safe - practise is done with the utmost respect for your training partners and with full control. The odd bruise and light bash are inevitable at some point, but injuries are rare and safety is a top priority at the club.
Compared to other sports, traditional martial arts are low on the list of risk - statistics from 2002 showed that ball sports such as football and rugby were almost twenty times more dangerous than combat sports. Within the martial arts, a 2003 study found that Taekwondo and Aikido topped the table of injuries, with TKD having about three times the risk of karate. But all martial arts are safer than many conventional sports.
Will I be able to (or do I have to) enter competitions?
At Kanzenki we do not focus on competitions. However, as members of the SKK there are avenues for you outside of the club to do so if you wish.
Will I have to break wood or bricks and tiles?
No, we do not practise tameshiwari at Kanzenki.
Will I be able to defend myself in the street with karate?
There's not really a clear-cut answer to this. The primary aim of modern traditional karate is as a Martial Art for self-improvement, but of course its original purpose was as a personal, unarmed self-defence system, one that was developed a long time ago when society was rather different.
So part of karate is very formal, where you try and perfect exact technique and practice the forms according to a cultural tradition. Another part of karate takes this formal aspect and translates it into applicable 'real world' techniques - and we certainly do some of that as part of our training.
With diligent training and an understanding of how karate works you can give yourself an advantage in a self-defence situation, but it is dangerous to believe it will turn you into an invincible super-man/woman. The majority of the subject of self-defence has nothing to do with fighting, it is about keeping safe and avoiding trouble.
The better you understand karate, the less you'll need to use it, with the aim of never using it.
What's the best martial arts system? Will an MMA practitioner beat a karate practitioner? etc.
If you peruse martial arts forums or the comments sections of YouTube videos, you'll come across people arguing about these subjects all the time, but they are questions that make little sense, and the majority probably don't come from actual practitioners.
Firstly, the more you understand and practise martial arts, the more you'll see that the basic techniques are prettty much the same across all systems - it tends to be that different styles specialise in particular aspects, moreso at the beginner levels - throwing, for instance, or joint locks. Karate doesn't specialise in throws, but it does have throws. It also has joint locks. Secondly, it's not the system, it's the individual. No matter what system you practise, it'll be your mastery of technique, your confidence, your power and ability that will see you through.
Finally, and most importantly, arguing about which system is the best shows a complete lack of understanding of what martial arts are really all about. At Kanzenki we want to learn from martial arts, styles and practitioners of all kinds - anyone who gets into the dojo and trains to better themselves has our utmost respect.
Look for the similarities - not the differences - between styles and arts and your understanding will be far greater.