There are certain questions which come up repeatedly, so we thought it would be helpful for you to have this section to glance through before deciding to call!
What club should I choose? The best, or safest, club to choose would be of a club that practises a style that is popularly well-known almost everywhere in the world. If you choose a club, or practise a style, which is 'rare', or unknown, you are limiting yourself; especially if you decide to leave the area, or the club closes down, and you wish to continue training (especially if you have already achieved a good level of proficiency, as this may be difficult in grade-transfer later on at another club or style). See further below for traditional karate styles.
What are the age limits for Karate? The minimum age at many of the British Wadokai clubs is 8 years old, but this may vary from club to club so be sure to check details on the websites/pages and Club Lists (some of our clubs allow 5-year old's). There is no maximum age limit provided you are of a suitable level of fitness.
I have never trained in Karate - can I try before deciding to commit? Yes. The first lesson is free at most British Wadokai Clubs. Subsequent lessons are chargeable and you are required to purchase a licence, which is your club membership, club passport, grade record book and your insurance soon after. We ask that you take away your licence application on the first lesson to complete and return. Most people know after a couple of lessons if Karate is for them.
How much does a licence cost? £30.00.* This is an annual charge, which also covers your insurance premiums to indemnify you against injuring others, and being injured yourself, whilst practising Karate in a Dojo either in training classes or regulated competitions. *New Licences are charged at £30. Renewals are £25 per year. Special Family Licence Packages are £65 for the whole family (3 or more), which are also renewable annually.
I have a disability - can I still learn Karate? Yes. Our first priority is the safety of all class members. Our second priority is to ensure all students are getting the most out of their tuition, therefore there may be situations where we can only offer private tuition. However, we have a track record of ensuring we accommodate people of all abilities and helping them to achieve their best in Karate.
How much does a lesson cost? Training sessions start usually at £5.00 each. A session lasts for about 60, 90 or 120 minutes, so this may influence the price of the session. Depending on the club the fee is payable on the night. Many clubs don't operate a monthly charge system because it can get complicated to account for missed lessons, etc. Family units, of two or more, can usually train for discount; if training together in the same session. Additionally, if you train more than once within the same week, this may also encourage discounts.
How do I know the instructor is legitimate? First check the safety factors. Items he can/should show you: Does he have a CRB or DBS? Does he have a 1st Aid Certificate? Can he show you his Instructor Insurance Certificate? Can he show you his Club Liability insurance? Does he have an Instructor/Coach Certificate signed by a National Governing Body? Can he show you his Licence with his grades (or copies of his Black-Belt certificates)? If he is reluctant to show you any of these, or hasn't got any credentials at all, the best advice would be to leave the premises, for your own safety, as soon as possible!
What is commercial karate? Commercial karate refers to the commercially-motivated karate clubs that are only out there to make money - Specifically, your money. Glitzy advertising, quick-result promises, big posters with a 'something for everyone' theme, 'Black-belt Guaranteed', this is usually the first indication of a commercially-motivated karate club. Commercial clubs tend to be run by individuals and instructors who move from area to area to start clubs then close them down when memberships start to drop; then move on to more lucrative areas. Beware of clubs that only display mobile-phone numbers and email address, as opposed to the inclusion of a land-line contact. Many of these clubs may also tend to ask for monthly payments by direct debit, charge exorbitant membership fees, expect you to purchase totally through them for all your equipment and services (without giving you a choice). They will also charge expensive grade fees, charge extra for belts and certificates, etc. Additionally, commercial clubs will rarely have legitimate National Governing Body membership of any kind (due to the expected membership-criteria, operating procedures and standards required by National Governing Bodies). They will tend to go 'cold-calling' and 'door-knocking' to get you to sign up on a 'special training-programme', of some sort, and tie you up financially. If you join a commercial club, then decided you wanted to leave the area (or, more likely, if the club closed), the likelihood of being able to continue in the 'style' of karate you have been introduced to anywhere else may be virtually impossible. Before trying ANY karate style you must first 'investigate' to see if the club has 'validation' and is a member of a legitimate ‘Style Specific’ National and International Governing Body, avoiding ‘all-styles’ or ‘sport-karate’ governing bodies, for your own guaranteed protection for pure style legitimacy. Also, check to make sure that the style of karate is practised nation-wide. And, if someone knocks on your door to sign you up for karate classes, ask them for their National Governing Body membership and credentials! Also, if you want traditional and/or authentic karate, can they prove their authenticity and Japanese lineage? Additionally, although much of the clever advertising may try to convince you otherwise, MMA andKick-Boxing are NOT KARATE!
Dishonest practice. Due to the popularity of martial arts, both in mass media and reality, a large number of disreputable, fraudulent, or misguided teachers and schools have arisen over the last 40 years. Commonly referred to as a "McDojo", “Black Belt Factory” or a "Black Belt Mill," these schools are commonly headed by martial artists of either dubious skill or unscrupulous business ethics.
What are traditional karate styles? Karate styles refer to the classical type of system being taught; and are not 'mixed' with anything else, such as weapons and kick-boxing, etc. In Japan the traditional styles were originally created by famous Karate Masters who taught their systems with individual specific functions and tactics. The creator of Wadoryu, Hironori Ohtsuka (1892-1982), for example, was a man of small stature who was also a master of Yoshin-Ryu Ju-Jutsu. He combined Shuri-te Karate with Ju-jutsu and created the classical system of Wadoryu in 1938, which he stated should be suitable for all ages and genders. The most popular styles of karate include Wadoryu, Shitoryu, Gojuryu and Shotokan. The next most popular styles are Shorinryu, Kyokushinkai, Uechi-ryu, Budokan, etc. Each style has its own methods and merits, so check the club out to see if the style will suit you.
How long will it take to get a black-belt? This is probably the most asked question by many people, and our usual reply would be, "how long is a piece of string?" To get what traditionalists consider an 'authentic' black-belt level takes many years of practice. Also, the minimum age to attain this level would be around 11 years of age; although very few at this age accomplish this due to the demanding requirements. However, if you train twice or more a week, pass all the progression (coloured belt) grades, it is possible to be able to attain black-belt level after a little over three years dedicated practise. Realistically though, if you are there to only achieve grades and a black-belt then 'traditional' karate may not be for you. As the traditionalist trains he focuses on what's in front of him and attempts to overcome the immediate challenges ahead. We have had students who have achieved black-belt after just over three years of dedicated training and we have those who have taken longer, but this is all down to the individual and choice along the way. For example, the Chief Instructor of British Wadokai, Gary Swift Kyoshi, started Martial-arts in 1966 and achieved his 1st Dan Black-belt in 1978 (taking 12-years); as the training was more important to him than the achievement of grades.
Do I need to be fit to start Karate? You don't need to be super fit - flexibility, strength and speed comes with repetitive training - it's one of the objects of doing Karate. All we ask is that if you are 40 years old or above, and have not been physically active for some time, then you should consider a medical check-up before starting training. This is in keeping with advice given by all active pastimes & sports.
I am over 65 - will the licence insurance cover me? Yes, our licence facilities & insurance liability covers all ages.
My culture/religion restricts me from bowing within the Dojo? There will be required bowing ceremonies at the start and at the end of all the training sessions, plus necessary bowing between participants. Certain cultures and religions may restrict participation in traditional Wadoryu Karate, due to these traditional bowing etiquettes required within the Dojo. All participants are expected to show respect through bowing, please consider this before training within a British Wadokai Karate Dojo. This article may help explain the bowing procedures and requirements: Bowing in the Dojo.
I am joining from another club, and am already a green belt, can I keep my grade? If you already possess a 'provable' grade from another organisation, and want to change clubs/style, your present grade will be automatically recognised and transferred. All you need to do is get 'updated' with the requirements and standards then prepare for your next grade within British Wadokai. All present grades will be recognised, as long as there is legitimate proof (licence/certificate, etc.). Once you have attained the necessary standards and proficiency of your present grade you will be encouraged to move forward. It's very often only commercially motivated and/or money-making clubs that will expect you to restart from the beginning.
How much do Kyu (student) Grading Examinations cost? As you reach progressively higher standards you will be offered the opportunity to 'grade' - this is the process of moving up through the coloured-belt system until you reach Black Belt. Kyu gradings cost £15.00 and includes your new belt, your certificate and registration with British Wadokai.
What equipment do I need to buy? Initially you can train in track-suit bottoms and t-shirts, however once you decide to formally join you will need a Gi (a white Karate Uniform) to train in. If you are a member of the Plymouth Schools of Karate we can provide these at £16.50 (club price, which includes a free Club Badge), though you are not restricted to purchasing from us. After about 3 months, when you progress onto sparing (fighting or Kumite), you will need mitts, which we can supply for £5 (Plymouth Schools of Karate Club price) per set (the Plymouth Schools of Karate will also offer these free when members become fully licensed). Again, you are not restricted to buying from us. You may also like to consider a gum-shield and groin-guard, especially if you intend to compete.
If you move into the Wadoryu competition circuit you may decide that you need a heavier grade Gi - one for Kata (forms) and maybe one for Kumite (fighting). These are not particularly expensive and may be obtained at discount price from your club instructor.
Compared with most other activities Karate is not expensive for kit. Even at national competition level the quality of equipment is standardised so there are no run-away costs in this area; and most 'club level' equipment would be accepted within many national competitions, so what you already possess for club use would be just as adequate for competition.
Wadoryu Karate for Self-Defence
In 1924 Wadoryu Karate-Jujutsu was created as an effective form of self-defence, as it comprises of both traditional Okinawan Karate (To-de/Shuri-te) and Japanese Shindo Yoshin-ryu Ju-Jutsu. The original name registered in 1938 for Wadoryu was Shinshu Wadō-ryū Karate-Jūjutsu.
Need some more information? See below to download the 'Introduction to Wadoryu' booklet.
Right: Jim Carrey poses as a 'commercial' Karate & Self Defence Instructor/conman.
A polite reminder…
JUNIOR STUDENTS Although children are allowed to attend many of the British Wadokai training sessions, they must understand that they will be training with (and will be expected to behave like) adults at all times.
PARENTS & VISITORS TO THE DOJO Parents, visitors and guests are always welcome to visit the Dojo and watch, if there are facilities to do so. However, small children, babies, and other noises, such as talking, etc., can be both distracting and off-putting to both instructors and students alike. Please keep all children/babies under control (do not allow them to wander around the Dojo) and please keep talking and other noises to an absolute minimum; or you will be politely asked to leave the Dojo and wait in the rest-area/reception.
Parents and Guardians are also reminded that the Instructor of the Dojo is the Sensei - NOT YOU - you are not qualified or insured to teach, so please refrain from influencing students (including your own child) within the Dojo.
CHILD PROTECTION AND HEALTH & SAFETY All junior students must arrive at the Dojo ready to train (wearing their Gi). If a child is unable to change prior to arriving then the parent is asked to assist their own child within the changing room/facilities. All parents are asked to bring their child into the Dojo and collect from the Dojo - Please do not simply drop them off or collect them from the car-park, etc. All juniors must remain in the Dojo until collected. Mobile phones to be switched off. No photographic equipment to be allowed in the Dojo (unless previously permitted).