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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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If you asked the most advanced Karate-ka what karate has given them, they would probably be able to talk you to sleep. Karate is practiced by different people for different reasons. Whether you are starting karate as a means to get fit, develop confidence through the self-defence or if you want to study the art in depth, karate will change you life. Not always in an obvious manner, but it will certainly have a major effect on the way you think, act and live.

Karate is not solely for the young, nor is it solely for the mature. People join karate at any stage of life, and when you’ve got the ‘bug’ you’ll fall in love with the art.

However, one important part about starting karate is finding the right school. There are now, as there always have been, karate schools that don’t have karate as a main priority. Many people put on a white gi (karate suit), neatly tie a black belt around their waist, and unless a new student know any better, they may find themselves training under someone who has no real experience, and doesn’t have the qualifications to teach them karate safely and correctly. Some karate schools are simply set in place for the sensei (class instructor) to earn some money, or for him/her to go on a power trip.           

So we at The Shotokan Way have decided to provide you with some pointers to look out for when finding a karate class.
1.Is the association/club affiliated to a major organisation? Look out for the words: JKA, KUGB, ITKF, WKF, SIKF, KWF, NAKMAS, WKGB, KARATE ENGLAND or any other major group. (If you contact us with the details, we’ll do our best to research the club for you, to help provide you with some info.)

2. Is the Instructor a qualified Dan grade? If he is not, then this raises the question of what he has to offer. Exceptions obviously occur, so this is a very general rule.

3. Does the Instructor have Public Liability Insurance/Indemnity Insurance? This is important in case of accidents.

3. Does the Instructor hold a First Aid Certificate? This is especially important particularly with a contact activity like karate.

4. Is the Instructor CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked? This is vital, especially if you are taking your children to the Karate club.

5. Emergency procedures. Does the Instructor have one in the case of a fire, accident etc.
1. Watch the class maybe once or twice, get a feel for how the classes are run, and whether you would feel comfortable training there, or leaving your children in the care of the instructor.

2. What does the club offer? Many people do karate for many different reasons, so you need to ensure the school caters to your needs. For example, if you are interested in becoming a karate competitor, then are there the facilities within that karate school that would enable you to reach your potential in that field?

3. How is the discipline in the schools? Sometimes, even with the best karate instructor in the world, if he has students running rings around him/her, are you really going to get your money’s worth?

4. Ask as many questions as you want. At the end of the day, you will be putting money in their pocket, so be sure you are getting exactly what you want before you pay your membership fee.

5. Don’t necessarily pay your membership/licence fee on the first night of viewing the club. Would you buy the first sofa you saw? No you’d shop around to get the best. Same here, look around at all of the schools in your areas and do a bit of research.

6.Find out about fees, lesson fees, membership fees, licence fees, grading fees, course fees etc.

7. Follow on from point 6, don’t necessarily just go for the cheapest Karate school, the karate tuition is the most important part, not just the fee. Paying a little extra may mean you get quality.

These are just a few pointers. If you need any further advice regarding finding a karate club, then please contact us on mail@theshotokanway.com and we'll do our best to help.