- New joiners: New to karate? What is the minimum age? Am I too old? Do I need to be fit? Will I get injured? Are you insured? What order are the belts?
- Families & children: Is Senshi Karate family friendly? Is Senshi Karate safe for my children? What is the minimum age? Should I stay or should I go? Is the instructor CRB / DBS cleared?
- Costs: Class & term. Uniform. KUGB licence. Gradings
- What do I need? What should I wear? What equipment do I need? Is there a book I can buy?
- Benefits of karate Body: Fitness & flexibility. Improved posture and coordination. Complements ballet, football, dance, musical theatre. Self-defence. Spirit: Mental resilience. Family time. Friendships. Fun. Discipline & focus. Mind: Self-confidence & respect. Memory. Teamwork. Goal setting.
- Etiquette & 20 Principles of karate: Etiquette. Principles
- Venues Am I at the right location? Are there changing facilities at the venues? Is there parking at the venues? Can I get to the venue by public transport?
- Training & grading How often should I train? How often can I grade? Why can’t I grade quicker? How long before the average person gets to black belt? What are the brown & black belt courses?
- Quality & KUGB: What style of karate does Senshi Karate teach? How can I be sure Senshi Karate classes are good quality? Why do I need to obtain a KUGB licence? Who are the KUGB?
- Other: Do I have to take part in competitions? Can I do my DofE with Senshi Karate? What do the Japanese terms mean?
1. New joiner questions
New to karate?
Never done karate before? No problem. Beginners and new members are always welcome. There’s no need to book, you can just turn up. But you can contact us ahead of the class if you want to let us know you’re coming so we can discuss fitness and any injuries you may have. We run a basics class 7.00-7.45pm Wednesdays in Charlton which is ideal for beginners.
What is the minimum age?
6 is the minimum age at Senshi Karate. We find that children younger than that often struggle with coordination and concentration.
Am I too old?
Haha, you’re hilarious! No, you’re never too old. Be realistic though. If you start karate when you’re older, you might never do full splits, you won’t be as fast as your 20-year-old self and you’ll probably never get to 9th degree black belt. But you can still get to first degree black belt. And, according to a recent report, karate might be just what you need if you’re aged 40-60. Click here to take the How Are You test to find out more. There are plenty of other benefits of starting karate too.
Do I need to be fit?
No. If you are very unfit or have a medical condition you need to be careful. Otherwise, you can build up your training and get fit as you go.
Will I get injured?
Karate involves contact but Senshi Karate does not practise full contact karate. While injuries can sometimes occur, we teach control and discipline. Those simply looking for a brawl have no place in our club!
Are you insured?
Yes, we are insured as a club. Also, your KUGB licence means you are insured personally too.
What order are the belts?
2. Families & children
Is Senshi Karate family friendly?
Yes. It is run by a family and is ideal for families. Bring your kids. If you don’t have kids, that’s fine – you’re still welcome to train!
Is Senshi Karate safe for my children?
Of course. Senshi Karate does not teach full-contact karate although injuries sometimes happen. We are insured and comply with the KUGB guidelines on child protection. More info about that here.
What is the minimum age?
6 is the minimum age at Senshi Karate. We find that children younger than that often struggle with coordination and concentration.
Should I stay or should I go?
If you are happy to leave your child, we are happy for you to leave them. Or feel free to stay and watch. If your child is shy on the one hand or disruptive on the other, we recommend you stay and watch. In fact, why don’t you train with them like some of the other parents?
Is the instructor CRB / DBS cleared?
Class & term
The next term starts on 24 April in Charlton and 27 April in Greenwich and there will be 14 weeks (including half term). The venue has just put up its prices so, unfortunately, we’re going to have put up our prices too for the next term. We’ll keep it at £6 for those who pay upfront, so the new term will be £84 per person for one class a week. Again, you can pay by cash first lesson back, PayPal or bank transfer (ask Sensei for details). If you want to pay as you go it will be £7 per class in the new term.
- Adults & children £6 each. From 24 April £7 pay as you go, £6 if you pay for the term upfront
- First class is FREE
- Unlike other activities, we don’t tie you into onerous monthly or annual contracts. Annual membership to Senshi Karate is FREE. Train when you like, take time off when you like. All we ask is that you fill out the membership form.
Gi: If you want to continue training, you will need a karate “gi” or uniform. You can buy this yourself or choose any from Blitz or Ki and ask Sensei to order it for you to get a 25% club discount. Budget £15-20 for a cheaper uniform.
Mitts & gum shield: If you enter competitions or as you get to senior grade, you will need KUGB-approved mitts — about £13 — and a gum shield – about £5.
You need an annual licence from our association body, the KUGB to be able to take part in their events and to be able to grade. It is also your insurance cover. This is £24 for kids under 16 and £27 for adults. You can apply for your licence online. This fee goes to KUGB, not Senshi Karate.
Every 3-6 months you should be ready to take the grading for your next belt. These are run by a senior instructor from the KUGB. Budget about £25-35 for the training class before hand and the grading itself.
There is no charge for awesomeness…or attractiveness.
– Po, Kung Fu Panda
4. What do I need?
What should I wear?
Regular karate students wear a gi (karate uniform) in class. If you are a beginner and don’t have a gi, wear sports clothing or loose clothing suitable for stretching and flexing. If you continue training, you will need a white karate gi. You can buy this yourself or choose any from Blitz or Ki and ask Sensei to order it for you to get a 25% club discount. Budget £15-20 for a cheaper uniform.
What equipment do I need?
As you get to higher grades or if you want to take part in competitions, you will need sparring mitts and a gum shield.
Is there a book I can buy?
If you’re looking for a karate book to help you practise, try the Shotokan Karate Bible from Amazon.
5. Benefits of karate
Karate is good for the body, the spirit and the mind. Here are 13 reasons why you and your child should take karate classes.
Fitness & flexibility
Exercise improves health and it is a great way of burning calories! Counting steps is dull, come to karate instead. Stretching and flexibility help keep the body supple and moving. Interval training is a great way of helping control body weight and you don’t have to take up running. Karate offers all of this. It’s great for kids. And according to a recent report, karate might be just what you need if you’re aged 40-60. Click here to take the How Are You test.
Baymax: I fail to see how karate makes me a better healthcare companion
Hiro: You wanna keep me healthy don’t you?
– Big Hero 6
Improved posture and coordination
Karate helps muscle development and in particular helps build core muscles. This helps you literally stand tall(er) and the techniques help improve hand-eye coordination.
Complements ballet, football, dance, musical theatre….
“Karate is not for girls.” Do people really say that these days? Senshi Karate has at least 50% women and girls in the class who love karate.
“Karate doesn’t work with football / ballet / dance.” While the timing of the classes might conflict with ballet, football, dance etc, the muscles you use are the same in all activities. Strong core muscles are important too to keep good posture and reduce the likelihood of back problems, especially if you hunch over your phone or tablet. Karate gives you a strong core, good flexibility, fitness and balance. No need to choose one or other. All these activities work together nicely.
Karate is about self-defence, of course it is. Nobody likes violence and fighting is not the answer. In karate, there is a well-known saying “Karate ni sente nashi” meaning you don’t strike first. But that doesn’t mean you wait to be attacked. Karate teaches you techniques to help diffuse situations with aggressors. It also gives you the confidence to avoid conflict. And, of course, if necessary to defend against attackers. Karate includes awareness training, meaning you are less likely to get into trouble in the first place. Avoiding violent situations in the first place is by far the best defence.
Aha…here are the two rules of Miyagi-Ryu karate. Rule number one: “Karate for defence only”. Rule number two: “First learn rule number one”
– Mr Miyagi, The Karate Kid
Most people have good days and bad days. It’s the same in karate. One day you do everything brilliantly, another day it doesn’t seem to work. Coming back to class after that teaches you to keep going, even when it gets tough. It also allows you to “get in the zone” and forget your problems for a while!
Often children and parents pursue different activities meaning precious little time for the family as a whole. Karate allows parents to train with their children. No need to drop-off and then pick-up later or to stand outside in the cold rain. Senshi Karate is run by a family who train together. Don’t just drop off your kids and pick them up later – try it out too. You never know, you might love it as much as we do!
Some students start karate classes with their friends. Some start on their own and make friends when they get there. Karate classes allow you to meet new people and make new friends or engage with existing friends in new ways. Even if you don’t know anyone, doing karate together immediately gives you something in common and sharing experiences brings people closer.
Yes, karate has Japanese etiquette and Westerners find that a little odd. But karate also allows you to have fun. It’s not just about being serious, it’s about having fun and enjoying yourself. And let’s face it, sometimes mistakes can be hilarious!
Discipline & focus
Karate requires concentration and it provides a great opportunity for children (and adults) to learn discipline and focus. How many times can you say that about the iPad generation?
Self-confidence & respect
Exercising and becoming fit and training alongside others teaches students how to interact in a confident manner. It teaches you to speak to new people, to do a martial shout in a crowded room and perform in front of others. It teaches you to respect yourself and others.
The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but knock the hell out of your ego, your fear or your hang-ups.
– Bruce Lee
Students learn new moves and some basic Japanese terminology and work hard to memorise things. As a result some students say they find their memory improves.
Working with a partner or as part of a karate team helps instil teamwork. Supporting your partner or team is a vital life lesson.
6. Etiquette & Principles
Whether you want to be fit, increase flexibility, be more confident, meet new friends or get that coveted black belt, karate gives you something to work towards.
Senshi Karate and the KUGB adhere to traditional etiquette and discipline. Here is some of the dojo etiquette:
- Always bow respectfully when entering and leaving the dojo
- Always bow respectfully before and after Kumite practice
- Junior grades must bow first to their seniors
- Always respond to advice from an instructor by answering “oss”
- Instructors must be referred to as Sensei
- Nails must be kept clean and short and jewellery and watches must not be worn. If it is not possible to remove rings or earrings, they should be safely covered
- It may be requested that shoes are removed on entering the Dojo
- Students must show great respect for the Dojo and make every effort to be on time for classes. If late, they must kneel at the front side of the Dojo and await the Sensei’s signal to join the class. When the signal is given, they must bow in the kneeling position and walk around the back of the class to a position appropriate to their grade
- All behaviour must be refined and appropriate and must not offend the etiquette of the Dojo
Master Gichin Funakoshi – the founder of modern shotokan karate – wrote twenty guiding principles of karate. They underpin the teachings of the KUGB and Senshi Karate. If you want to know more, ask Sensei or read Master Funakoshi’s book.
- Karate begins and ends with courtesy
- There is no first attack in karate
- Karate is an assistance to justice
- Know yourself first, before you know others
- Spirit first, technique second
- Be ready to free your mind
- Accidents come from laziness
- Karate training goes beyond the dojo
- You will never stop learning in karate
- Apply karate to everything. Therein lies its beauty
- Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.
- Do not think of winning. Instead, think that you must never lose
- Make adjustments according to your opponent
- The outcome of a fight depends on how you handle weaknesses and strengths
- Think of hands and feet as swords
- When you step outside your own gate, you face a million enemies
- Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced
- Practising a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another
- Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.
- Think of ways to apply these principles every day
“The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants”
– Gichin Funakoshi
Am I at the right location?
Are there changing facilities at the venues?
New Haddo, Greenwich has no changing facilities but you can change in the toilets.
Meridian Sports & Social Club, Charlton has rudimentary changing facilities & showers.
Is there parking at the venues?
New Haddo, Greenwich has no onsite parking. In fact, parking is very limited in the whole area. Nearest pay & display is on Norman Road or there is a car park in Burney Street. You may be able to park on some of the side streets, but check the timings so you don’t get a parking ticket! You’d be better off using public transport.
Meridian Sports & Social Club, Charlton has onsite parking and on-street parking nearby.
Can I get to the venue by public transport?
New Haddo, Greenwich:
- Train & DLR: 2 minute walk from Greenwich rail and DLR station
- Bus: Nearest bus is 177. Routes 129, 180, 188, 199, 286 and 386 also stop nearby. See TFL’s Greenwich bus map.
- Boat: Thames Clipper to Greenwich Pier
Meridian Sports & Social Club, Charlton
- Bus: 53, 54, 380, 422, 486 getting off at Cemetery Lane stop; 469, 386, 291, 244, 178, 161 getting off at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. See TFL’s Charlton bus map.
- Train: 20 minute walk from Charlton or Woolwich Dockyard rail stations.
8. Training & grading
How often should I train?
You may train as often or as little as you like: you can train once a week or once a month. The more you train the more your karate improves. Those who train twice a week make much faster progress and will be ready to grade quicker.
“Karate is about many things but first and foremost it is about training.“
– Sensei Frank Brennan, 8th Dan
How often can I grade?
There must be a minimum of three months between each grading from 9th kyu to 1st kyu. The minimum period between 1st Kyu and 1st Dan grading is 6 months. KUGB standards are high and if you don’t train enough you may get a “temporary” grade, which means you are not quite up to the required standard. However, you can still wear the same coloured belt and train on the same syllabus as if you were the full grade. You can’t take your black belt if you have a temporary grade though. Your instructor wants what is best for you and it is up to them to decide if you are ready to grade. The KUGB grading rules say you must train on average twice per week at a KUGB dojo, with an approved KUGB instructor.
Why can’t I grade quicker?
Senshi Karate and our association, the KUGB, teach quality karate and don’t focus on how quickly you can get belts. Your instructor wants what is best for you and it is up to them to decide if you are ready to grade. Some other clubs and associations allow you to grade very quickly, even if you’re not very good! If you want to grade quickly, go and join them instead. They probably won’t teach you much, but they’ll give you loads of belts and will be happy to take your money. If you want karate that actually works, stick with us. Be patient, work hard and the belts will come…
How long before the average person gets to black belt?
As the saying goes: “An average person can’t get a black belt”. The average person does karate for a while but they quit before they get to black belt. Every person who gets to black belt is driven and focused. If this is you, and you train twice a week or more and are good enough, you might earn your black belt in about 3 years. Many people take 4-5 years or more.
Daniel-san… Karate here [taps his head]. Karate here [taps his heart]. Karate never here [points to his belt]. Understand?
– Mr Miyagi, The Karate Kid
What are the brown & black belt courses?
The KUGB runs free courses each month for brown & black belts around the country. The gradings for 1st and 2nd Dan take place at the end. In your build up to your (next) black belt, you should attend these courses and get your training record signed. There are also special Dan courses twice a year for black belts only followed by gradings for 3rd Dan and above. Speak to Sensei for more information.
9. Quality & KUGB
What style of karate does Senshi Karate teach?
Senshi Karate teaches traditional shotokan.
How can I be sure Senshi Karate classes are good quality?
Senshi Karate is a not-for-profit club, meaning the motivation is the karate, not the money. It is affiliated to the KUGB, Britain’s largest shotokan karate organisation. The instructor is a 3rd Dan black belt, has 20+ years experience of karate, trains regularly with 5th Dan instructors and attends the KUGB black belt courses. Senshi Karate hosts several guest instructors per year, ranging from 4th Dan to 8th Dan. All gradings at Senshi Karate are conducted by 8th Dan KUGB senior examiners independent of Senshi Karate.
Why do I need to obtain a KUGB licence?
The licence entitles you to take part in KUGB events and allows you to grade. It also provides insurance cover. You can apply for your licence online. With this licence, you can train at any other KUGB club in the country. Out of courtesy, you should ask your Sensei and the Sensei of the other club. In general, most clubs love having visitors!
Who are the KUGB?
The Karate Union of Great Britain is Britain’s largest shotokan karate organisation. It is headed up by Sensei Andy Sherry, 9th Dan, who has devoted his life to karate.
Do I have to take part in competitions?
You can if you wish. The KUGB, to which Senshi Karate is affiliated, runs several high-quality competitions a year and it is a great way to meet fellow “karate-ka”. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
Can I do my DofE with Senshi Karate?
Yes. If you’re aged 14-24, the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s website says “As long as you pick something that requires a sustained level of energy and physical activity, the possibilities are endless.” Karate fits nicely into that a. What are you waiting for? Contact us or turn up to the next class!
What do the Japanese terms mean?
Senshi Karate and KUGB use Japanese terminology. Not sure what the terms mean? Try this glossary.
If you’re looking to practise outside class, the syllabus is here so you can look up videos of the moves you need to work on. Here are a few to start you off:
- Oi tsuki (stepping punch)
- Age uke (rising block)
- Soto uke (body block)
- Mae geri (front kick)
- Gedan barai (downward block)
The following excellent kata videos are by Sensei Paul James, 6th Dan with our KUGB friends at Ikkyo Karate in Aberystwyth.