If you’ve never trained in Karate before there’ll be many things you are wondering about. Here we’ll try and answer some of the most common ones for you.
Q: How fit do I need to be to start training?
A: As fit as you are now! The idea of Karate training is that whatever level you are at, you’ll be pushed to go a little bit further than you are used to so that your fitness improves. If right now you aren’t taking any regular physical exercise, it’s a fantastic idea you start Karate lessons as soon as possible. You will doubtless find it very exhilarating at first and that’s quite normal – most people have a few cobwebs in their system they need to shake off. Training is for you. You know where your level is and whether you are reaching it or not. The only person who loses out if you don’t try is you. And if you find that the exertion is too intense at first, it is quite alright to either slow down or take a few minutes break. So just give it a try.
Q: Will I be sparring or under going other contact fighting?
A: Goju Ryu Karate has a sequence to its learning syllabus that has been developed to ensure that students are both pushed but are kept safe. To this end we teach firstly techniques and then these are arranged into short sequences to allow you to practice defences and attacks with a partner but without the risks involved in free fighting. These sequences grow in complexity as you develop and later there will be chances to practice free sparring. But in answer to the question, at first you won’t be performing free sparring.
Furthermore traditional Karate is not a sport along the lines of boxing or Mixed Martial Arts fighting like UFC or Cage Rage. Its techniques are designed to subjugate, maim or kill an opponent. How can you make a sport out of killing people? To that end, traditional Karate focuses on teaching powerful techniques for self defence purposes. Sport Karate uses rules that limit the type of contact and technique you can use to make it safer. At Tooting Karate Club we train in the traditional karate spirit and whilst there are opportunities to take part in sporting events, they are not the main thrust of the syllabus.
Q: What should I wear to train in?
A: In Karate the traditional outfit (or Gi) is made from white cotton to show that we are all the same – students united in improving ourselves. You don’t need to buy or own a Gi to start training. If you are just starting it is acceptable to train in comfortable sports wear such as a track suit or shorts and T-shirt.
Karate Gi are available through Sensei Linda Marchant at a very affordable price as well as through martial arts stores. Once you have got the taste for training, you’ll probably want to get one so that you can wear the belt appropriate to your grade.
Q: I train with another club/association/style. Can I train with you too?
A: Chojun Miyagi Sensei, founder of Goju Ryu Karate was a good friend of Funakoshi Sensei, founder of Shotokan Karate, and Mabuni Sensei, founder of Shito Ryu, amongst others. He believed in the unification of Karate and that the spirit of training was paramount. To this end you are most welcome to join our classes. We regularly have the pleasure of other senior graded students from EGKA, OTGKA and other Goju Ryu associations as well as other styles participating in our classes and are grateful for their contribution. There are minor differences between the way associations teach but all of us are more the same than different. Training with Sensei Linda Marchant at Tooting Karate Club offers you the opportunity to train with one the highest graded women in traditional karate and a senior teacher within the UK. At the very least, you’ll find it a great workout!
Q: I’m a woman and want to learn self defence. Is this for me?
A: Tooting Karate Club is a great place for women to learn self defence. We have roughly equal numbers of male and female students so you won’t feel out of place and Goju Ryu Karate’s emphasis is on practical martial arts for self defence situations. On top of that you’ll probably find that you’ve become fitter and more toned after a few weeks training as karate training involves cardio work outs, strength training and stretching. All the benefits of working out at the gym with the added advantage of actually learning something practical and useful at the same time!
Q: I have an injury/condition but I want to train. What should I do?
A: In the first instance, please do make Sensei Linda Marchant aware of any injury/condition you may have. If you wish to train, don’t think you’ll get a grading for injuring yourself further! Work with your body and don’t overdo anything. In some exercises, alternatives can be given to avoid stressing existing injuries.
Q: At what age can children begin training?
A: Typically children can begin training from around age 6, although their temperament does play a factor as some children are more nervous away from their parents. Karate can help increase confidence but with very young children you may either want to wait until they have become more accustomed to time apart from you or wait at the club and watch whilst they train. Sensei Linda runs a PeeWee class for 4-6 year olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5pm. Call her for details.
Children have a revised syllabus from the adult curriculum. For example children below age 16 are not allowed to perform press ups on their knuckles since this may impede growth. There are also more activities designed to help them run off extra energy and channel their competitiveness constructively. This special care and attention to the needs of growing children makes training with Tooting Karate Club a great way for children to increase their confidence, develop respect and build a healthy body in a safe environment.
Q: What should I do if I want to start training?
A: You are most welcome to attend a class and there is no obligation to join in – just come along and watch if you are unsure. Alternatively, just follow along at the back and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. If you are from another association, please wear your grade belt but bring some evidence of your grade such as licence book or grading certificate.
As a courtesy, please do contact Sensei Linda if you wish to attend a class for the first time. This way we can keep an eye out for you if you get lost on the premises somewhere! Sensei Linda can be contacted on 07771 932 963. She can also answer any other questions you have that may not be covered here. Beginners are welcomed at Tuesday and Saturday sessions.