For Beginners

Choosing a Martial Arts Style

If you are contemplating taking karate lessons for the first time, you may find the prospect somewhat overwhelming. How should you decide between the different karate clubs and styles, how difficult will the classes be, what if you try it and don’t like it? These are all good questions, but you shouldn’t let the fact that you don’t have all of the answers stand in the way of actually starting classes. After all, you are obviously interested in karate, or you wouldn’t have gotten this far in thinking about it. To help you get started, here are a few things to think about.

The different styles of karate are all good

Don’t get stuck on trying to figure out which is the “best style”, since there’s no such thing. You may find that the beauty of Shito, the strength of Goju, the practicality of Wado, or the dynamism of Shotokan is particularly appealing to you, but at first you are much more likely to find that they all look pretty much alike. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look around and compare before deciding where to study, but you’ll find that other considerations are more important in making your decision.

Choose an instructor you find compatible

When you begin the study of karate-dô, you must be prepared to put a great deal of trust in your instructor. After all, they know about this subject and you don’t, and you have to take it on faith that the thousands of punches, kicks and other techniques they ask you to do are going to somehow come together into some sort of mastery of this art. Given that, you should try to choose an instructor in whom you are prepared to invest that trust. Just like in other human relationships – dating, marriage, and so on – what is right for one person is not right for the next. One person may need the motivation that a harsh, demanding instructor provides, while another responds better to encouragement and understanding. Try to look around and find the instructor that is right for you.

Don’t underestimate the importance of convenience

Once you begin training regularly, you will probably want to train at least three times per week. It’s a lot easier to do this when you train at a club that’s near your home or workplace than when you train at one that’s many miles away in a different municipality, no matter how much you may like that particular club.

Choose a club that is recognized by a karate association

In general, clubs that are members of a recognized karate association are expected to abide by specific standards of quality in their instruction. This helps ensure that the instruction provided is well developed, age appropriate, safe, and rooted in the traditions of karate. It also ensures that fair and transparent expectations are in place with respect to examination requirements. Don’t hesitate to ask prospective instructors if their clubs belong to a recognized karate association. You can also contact karate associations directly to get recommendations of clubs close to you and to ensure that a club is in good standing with its association.

Jump in and give it a try

At our club, there is no obligation on prospective students to register until after the first couple of lessons. We encourage people to wear comfortable clothes, take off their shoes and jewellery, and give it a try. If you like it, we’ll count those first couple of lessons as part of the 8-week beginners’ course, but if you don’t, then at least you’ll have had the opportunity to discover that before spending money on classes you don’t really want.

Remember that everyone was a beginner once

Even the most senior instructors had to decide whether they would take their first lesson, or if they would give up the dream of mastering karate-dô. They made the decision to begin, and then they just stuck with it. You can too.
Good luck!