Traditional Karate follows a completely different form of mind-set than non-traditional karate or martial-art systems, in that it caters for those (just like the name reflects) who wish to follow all the traditions and authentic lineages and history of the founders. For example, the style we practise in British Wadokai is known as Wadoryu, a combination of ancient Yoshin-ryu Ju-Jutsu and Okinawan Karate, which was created in 1924.
Although karate competition plays a small part in Wadoryu, it shouldn't be what totally motivates the practitioner to train (British Wadokai holds at least two competitions per year). The founder of Wadoryu, Hironori Ohtsuka Meijin, was the first person to instigate a karate fighting competition (with the first karate tournament being held in 1934). More importantly, authenticity and tradition are paramount in the progress to ‘make ourselves better people’. In fact, as Instructors, we want our students to be better than ourselves!
In Plymouth there is a very diverse selection of Karate clubs and this allows students to follow in whatever direction they wish to go.
However, in Plymouth (as with many other parts of England), not all Karate clubs are actually part of any recognised National Governing Body. Additionally, there are still many that aren’t even part of any governing body at all, due to being mostly self-vested and/or ‘commercially’ motivated. So, for these reasons, potential students need to be very aware of ‘authenticity and legitimacy’ when considering joining any club – For complete 'peace of mind' make sure they practise a 'recognised/popular' style of karate and one that has some sort of governing body back-up; rather than the 'stand-alone' types of karate clubs and/or studios.
Incidentally kick-boxing is not karate (although I have seen many kick-boxing clubs that 'claim' to be), so are not affected by any karate governing body administration or jurisdiction.
Karate in Plymouth has both the opportunity for the traditionalists and the martial-sport orientated. However, a close inspection of the credentials (especially CRB’s, Insurances, Certification, 1st Aid, etc.) is a priority before any attempt is made towards joining. Check all costs, as some clubs may spring surprises with hidden charges, etc. It may also be wise to avoid clubs that sign you up for ‘contracts' or long-term monthly direct-debit payments, as it can be very difficult to cancel these, especially if you decide to leave or change clubs. And certainly avoid joining clubs that promote commercially-motivated unscrupulous and unethical 'cold-calling' salespersons at your door.
Authentic clubs will very often ‘offer’ you their credentials and certificates for inspection, prior to you deciding to join, and generally also offer a ‘pay-as-you-go’ payment scheme. They may also give you a 'beginners pack' highlighting all their charges, etc.
Karate is a ‘life-skill’ as it offers so much in health and self-welfare, etc.; after all, it was created from some of the worst periods of Japan's feudal history.