Okay, so you got this far, you've probably got some questions. Let's see if we can answer them...
What do I wear? - If you don't have a gi (karate suit) then just come along in some loose fitting, comfortable clothing such as a t-shirt, shorts or jogging bottoms. We train bare foot so no socks/footwear is necessary.
What's age range do you teach? - We have no upper age limit. You're never too old to start karate and as long as you can try your best, you won't be expected to work beyond what your body will allow. (that doesn't mean we won't push you...just a little!)
. We do have a minimum age of 8 years old. This is because we find that very small children have difficulty staying focused for the duration of the lesson and distract attention from other students. We may be able to flex this a little if other family members are also training.
I want my son/daughter to do karate! - Great. but do THEY want to do karate? Students who are only in the class because their parent wants them to train can be disinterested and have a negative effect on other students that they may be partnered with. Please make sure you have an honest conversation with them before starting and at regular intervals to ensure they are not being pressured into doing something they don't want to do.
Can I bring my grade from another club? - That depends... If you are coming from another JKAE club then yes. If you are coming from a different Shotokan association then yes but you will be required to have your current grade reaffirmed at a JKAE grading. If you have previously trained in another style of karate then you will have to start back as a white belt unfortunately.
I did karate before and would like to train with you, is this okay? - Of course, everyone is welcome irrespective of experience.
Can I leave my kids with you while I go shopping? - We are a serious martial arts club and not a creche. You are welcome to leave your kids training however this is on the understanding that they are able to concentrate and demonstrate that they do actually want to be in the class. Parents must be ready to collect young children on time at the end of the session. Students of any age who are disruptive to the rest of the class or who behave in a dangerous manner will be required to leave. For safety reasons parents are expected to drop off and collect younger children from inside the dojo and NOT the car park. It is important parents do attend the dojo so we can relay any issues and notify you in the unlikely event of any injuries occuring.
I have a disability / use a wheelchair, can I still learn karate? - Yes you can. Providing you are able to maintain concentration for the duration of the lesson you are welcome to come training. If you have a physical disability we can tailor things so you can apply your karate that works in a way which suits you. Whilst we are committed to making all possible reasonable adjustments to facilitate our students, we regret that we are unable to cater for students with severe learning disabilities as we do not have sufficient resources to maintain the level of supervision that may be required.
How long will it take me to get a black belt? - If you are only training to get a black belt then you've come to the wrong karate club. A black belt (1st Dan) signifies that you have a good fundamental understanding of the basics of karate and that you're ready to develop your studies of our martial art. It is not the end game, it is where it starts to get interesting! But, since you asked; if you train 2 - 3 times a week and work hard then you can expect to have a black belt in 3 - 4 years time. Once you've earned it you can start working towards your 2nd Dan (that'll take you a minimum of 2 years) then your 3rd Dan (a minimum of 3 years) and so on.
Where do I get a karate gi (suit)? - You can order them from various sources on the internet but we do have our own supplier and can obtain you one with our club badge embroidered on if you wish. Our prices are very reasonable and the quality of our suits are far superior to others in the same price range. If you are serious then you are looking at getting a Japanese gi such as a Hirota, Tokaido, or Tokyodo. The JKAE do sell these types of gi at some of the competitions and courses that they run but we tend to do a club order from time to time from kuroobiya.com who are based in Japan. Speak to Sensei Steve if interested.
Will I get injured? - Hopefully not but accidents do happen from time to time. Karate by it's nature is a physical activity that involves kicking, punching, jumping and asking your body to do things that may not seem natural at first. You will pick up some lumps, bumps and bruises although mainly from blocking rather than being hit! We always start the sessions with a full warm up and ensure that you train within your abilities. You may see higher grades doing things to each other that look dangerous but you won't be expected to train at this level until you are ready. We do recommend that all students over 12 have a correctly fitting gum shield to hand, male students should consider wearing a groin guard (cricket box) and female students may wish to wear a chest protector.
Do I have to be fit to do karate? - A good level of fitness is required to do karate well but if you're just starting out or returning to training after a break then you will find that the more you train the more your fitness level will naturally improve.
What else do I need to start training? - The only other thing you should bring is a water bottle to ensure you stay hydrated during the lesson. Please don't wander off for a drink when you feel like it or you could walk into another students fist. You will be given opportunities to have a drink by the instructor at appropriate points during the class.
Where is the actual dojo located? - We've a small map at the bottom of our 'Where & When' page but essentially, as you enter Darrick Wood School from Lovibonds Avenue, follow the driveway around the the right of the school and you will see the entrance to the sports centre straight ahead. Through the doors, turn left past the reception desk and follow the corridor all the way to the end where a door will lead you back outside. Turn left between the two buildings and we can be found in the dance studio on the right hand side.
Do I need to sign up to a waiting list? - No. We are happy to take new members at any point throughout the year. Just turn up and join in!
How do I pay? - You can choose to Pay-as-You-Go at the start of each session or take advantage of our Pay Monthly packages. For Pay-as-You-Go you must pay at the start of the session before the lesson commences. For Pay Monthly students we prefer that you set up a Standing Order payment with your bank. We also accept Cash, Credit/Debit cards and BACS payments but monthly fees must be paid in the first week of each month.
What about Karate gradings? - Gradings are held approximately every 4 months although you must be training regularly in order to be allowed to grade. There is no automatic pass for turning up like in many other associations. It is possible for students who are unable to demonstrate progression to get a temporary grade or even fail. Students will get a training record card which we will stamp at each class which will give you a visual record of whether you have taken enough classes to be allowed to grade. Students who have not trained reguarly and applied themselves will not be permitted to grade as your performance in front of the examiner reflects on the high standards of our dojo and the JKA.
What sort of a club is JKA Orpington? - We can be summed up as a friendly bunch who are passionate about teaching/learning traditional Japanese Shotokan Karate. Once the lesson has started it's generally mouths shut, eyes and ears open. The only one doing the talking is the instructor. It's important that you understand what you are being asked to do so if you don't understand something then pop you hand up. If it's a general question then save it to the end of the class and ask one of the senior grades who will be happy to explain. Our club is run by a select committee of senior, long standing members chaired by Sensei Graham.
How do I know your club is any good? - No karate club will ever tell you they aren't any good because they want you to train with them and ultimately give them your money. At JKA Orpington we keep our prices low because we're not in it for profit. As long as the cost of the hall is covered, our students are giving 100% effort and progressing well then we're happy. We've been teaching karate in Orpington continuously since 1975 and have stood the test of time with literally hundreds of students having passed though our dojo's doors. Our instructors have been taught by some of the best karate sensei in the world and Sensei Graham was a personal student of the world renowned Master Keinosuke Enoeda (9th Dan JKA). We think we're pretty special but come along and judge for yourself.
Mum/Dad lost their job and can't afford to send me training anymore - Have a quiet chat with us and we'll figure something out. We'd rather you trained for free for a bit than not at all.
Do you have a social side to the club? - We certainly do - Adult members are welcome to join us for a social drink after training mid week and we like to all get together and have an annual Christmas dinner (partners more than welcome) but this comes with an 'advisory' when Sensei Graham starts cracking jokes!
How do I get in touch with you? - If you're still interested then it's time to come along and see us. You are welcome to watch for a session and chat to us afterwards or better still arrive 10 minutes early, introduce yourself to one to the senior grades (black belts) and kick off your karate journey... First lesson is free !!!
"Karate is about many things but, first and foremost, it is about training."