Starting Karate

Starting Karate
Beginners are welcome to come along to any of our regular sessions

All you need for your first karate class is comfortable clothing that will allow free movement and the lesson fee.

Starting age
We currently accept beginners from the age of 7 years old.
There is no upper age limit for adults wishing to start. Karate is physically demanding but we will help you to improve your fitness levels gradually. If it has been a long while since you’ve exercised, or if you have a health condition that could affect your ability to exercise safely, you may wish to seek advice from your GP prior to starting.


Training fees
Each lesson costs £7, payable before the start of each class. After you have attended three lessons, if you wish to continue training with us you will need to join JKA England. JKA England is the karate association that we belong to, and membership costs £25 per year.
Click here to apply for membership online…


Karate outfit
For your first few lessons, we suggest wearing clothes that are easy to move in like tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt. Once you are sure that you wish to continue then you should purchase a white karate uniform. A reasonable quality entry-level uniform embroidered with the club crest can be ordered through your instructor. The cost varies slightly depending on sizing, but you can expect to pay about £35 for a child’s suit and £45 for an adult’s. Superior quality karate uniforms from Japan are also available, but these cost a lot more.
Read more about the various kinds of karate uniform…


Karate is not just something to be learned, but something to be lived. And that takes a lifetime
The Japan Karate Association


How often to attend classes
We recommend attending classes twice per week on top of regular practise at home. Karate is a challenging but enjoyable activity and a consistent approach to training will give you the best chance of reaping its benefits. If you wish to take Japan Karate Association ranking examinations, those training twice a week are more likely to be eligible to grade around every 3 months. If you train less often, or to an irregular pattern, then the intervals between grade exams will be more widely spaced.


What to expect from your first lesson
Before training starts, we line up in grade order, kneel and bow to the front of the dojo and to each other. Then the instructor will lead the class through a series of warm-up exercises. The lesson itself consists of kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) to develop techniques. Beginners will be introduced to the range of karate techniques gradually with the emphasis being on developing coordination and big movements. The class ends with another formal, kneeling bow.
Read more about what we do in lessons…


Grade levels and belt colours
There are 10 different kyu grade levels. The colour of each belt changes to denote progress through each level.

Grade Level Belt Colour Time period before attempting the next level
Beginner
10th Kyu
White 3 Months Minimum
9th Kyu Orange 3 Months Minimum
8th Kyu Red 3 Months Minimum
7th Kyu Yellow 3 Months Minimum
6th Kyu Green 3 Months Minimum
5th Kyu Purple 3 Months Minimum
4th Kyu Purple, White Stripe 3 Months Minimum
3rd Kyu Brown 3 Months Minimum
2nd Kyu Brown, White Stripe 3 Months Minimum
1st Kyu Brown, 2 White Stripes 6 Months Minimum
1st Dan+ Black 1 Year Minimum, Rising 1 Extra Year for Each Subsequent Level

In the weeks approaching a grading, the instructor will make an assessment of which students have made sufficient progress to be able to attempt the next level. Exams cost £30 and are conducted by an independent, qualified examiner from The Japan Karate Association in England. Members can find details of grading dates for the year on our events calendar page.


Etiquette
There is some formality in class, like the bow at the start and the end of the lesson, but much of what we expect is simple common sense and good manners. Students need to remove all jewellery, be attentive, and actively engage with the class. Finger- and toenails must be clipped short and karate uniforms clean. Mobile phones should be switched to silent unless one is expecting an urgent call.

Try to be on time to class and bow to the front of the room when entering. If you arrive late, leave your belongings to the side and your lesson card (if you have one) on the table with the others. Then, kneel down near the dojo entrance, in line of sight with the instructor, who will invite you to join the class at a safe and convenient point. Bow to the instructor then join at the end of the line. If you arrive very late or after the warm-up has finished, the instructor may suggest that first-timers just watch the class on that occasion. Regular students may be told to warm-up and stretch themselves away from the main group. They should then kneel down when they are ready to join in and formally bow when invited into the class.

Karate training should always feel challenging but is hopefully an enjoyable experience. Classes at Shiranamikai are certainly not like boot camp! All we ask is that you contribute to the positive atmosphere of the dojo by trying your best and show respect to other students.


When to start
Today; tomorrow; any time! Just come along to our next class – you’ll be most welcome :-)

More questions? Have a look at our FAQs page…

Learn authentic Shotokan karate as taught by the Japan Karate Association. Come and join our karate classes in Harrow-on-the-Hill, Swiss Cottage, West Hampstead and Stanmore.

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