The following Questions and Answers are intended to help those interested in taking up Karate to choose a club and to know what to expect in terms of good practice.

This information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Any further questions or comments can be emailed to admin@karateengland.org.uk and we will do our

best to provide answers and assistance and may help us to keep our questions and answers updated.

Q. What are the benefits of Karate?

Ans. Karate is a Martial Art and a very effective method of self-defence. However, it also promotes good health, self discipline and self confidence.

Q. What is the earliest age to start training?

Ans. At present, there is a minimum age of 5yrs. This is the minimum age that Insurance companies will provide appropriate cover.

Q. What is the latest age to start training?

Ans. There is no maximum age, although those aged 66 and over will usually need a doctor’s note to obtain insurance.

Q. How can I find the most appropriate club for me?

Ans. Karate clubs are located in Sports Centres, Schools, Universities, Community Halls etc. Karate clubs in England are on the whole affiliated to an English or  British Association but there is currently no central register of these Associations or all English Karate clubs. The simplest route is to ask at local libraries or look for adverts in local shops and newspapers or telephone directories or to search the Internet for Karate in your location. Karate England will aim to provide a central register of clubs in the future.

Q. How often is training recommended?

Ans. This can vary but the accepted minimum frequency is twice per week, as this maintains fitness and skill. This is also the usual minimum frequency of training to be allowed to take part in grading examinations.

Q. How do I know that the club is suitable?

Ans. Karate England is currently developing a Karate-specific award for clubs which will be in line with Sport England’s Clubmark scheme. This will help provide assurance of minimum standards of quality and safety of instruction for new members. In the meantime, it is important that a club offers appropriate insurance to all of its members; the instructors hold an instructor qualification and are CRB checked and verified.

Q. How much does it cost to train?

Ans. The cost can vary greatly (£3 – £4 per session is common) and it might be a good exercise to look on websites to compare costs. You should not be afraid to ask for the costs beforehand and for details of what might be included in club or association membership fees and the costs and frequency of gradings;. A gi or Karate uniform can be purchased relatively cheaply – the club will be able to supply or advise on suppliers. Beginners will usually be allowed to train initially in a track suit or other loose-fitting clothes.

Q. What is the difference between Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Jiu Jitsu etc?

Ans. All of the above are arts or disciplines which are generally known as Martial Arts. These are formalised systems of fighting which were developed mostly in Asian countries. Karate, for example, is an art which is based on a system of blocking and striking and is practiced in a ‘Gi’ (a Japanese style uniform’ and in a ‘Dojo’ (a Japanese style hall). Taekwondo practitioners also use blocking and striking but use Korean uniforms and terms as a reflection of its origins.  Jiu Jitsu by contrast is a discipline which uses throws and locks, but again has it’s roots in Japan. Kung Fu is a collective term for Chinese Martial Arts – Bruce Lee practiced Wing Chun, his own devised striking art.

Q. What are the different styles of Karate?

Ans. Within Karate, there have developed ways of performing blocks and strikes and these have become known as Karate ‘Styles’. The principles however are the same, ie, to learn to avoid or defend against an attack. The oldest traditional styles are Goju Ryu, Shotokan, Shitoryu and Wadoryu, though there are now many more styles or derivatives. The vast majority of clubs will offer one style of Karate and a new member will therefore become familiar with training in the style of the club in which they first train.

Q. How is progress measured?

Ans. Karate is structured in similar ways to an academic process, where there are various steps or qualifications, for example GCSEs and A Levels, to be gained en-route to a degree. In the case of Karate, the steps are called Kyu grades and these must be passed in order to achieve the first Dan or degree of black belt. The number of kyu grades varies between associations, but in general there are less than ten, with the highest number being the lowest grade and 1st Kyu the final step. Beginners will wear a white belt whilst Kyu grades are designated by different coloured belts, for example orange, red or yellow for early Kyu grades and brown for the later ones.

Most associations require a minimum period of three years of training to achieve1st Dan and progress is then dependant on further extended training periods, so that 2nd Dan can be attempted a minimum of two years after 1st Dan, 3rd Dan three years after 2nd Dan etc. Instructors should be proud to show you their grading history and an authentic 4th Dan will have many years experience of practicing and teaching Karate.

Q. Are there Karate competitions?

Ans. There are opportunities for males and females of all ages and grades to compete at club, regional, national and international level. Karate is recognised as a Sport by the International Olympic Committee and efforts are being made to have Karate included in future Olympic Games.

Q. Where will Karate qualifications be recognised?

Ans. Awarded grades should be recorded by the practitioner’s club and Association and Karate England is working with Sport England and other UK authorities to keep central data which will help identify for example the number of participants and their range of qualifications, social distribution and gender etc. Karate has also been recognised for many years as a subject for GCSE and A/AS level in Physical Education.