The first class for every student is free. As a senior student (over the age of 16) all you need to do is turn up at one of our training sessions. One of the senior grade students will make sure that you are introduced to the Sensei and will ask you a few questions about any martial arts history you may have (most students don’t have any!) as well as your general fitness levels. You can then take part in the class. For junior grade students (ages 6 to 16), it is important that a parent or guardian is with them before the class begins in order that Sensei can explain things fully. But apart from that, it is no different from a senior student. At the end of the class the Sensei or Richard (the club chairman) will get your feedback on how the class went and discuss how our classes work in more detail together with membership and class fees. The appropriate membership forms will be dealt with when you next attend. You do not need to order a Karate suit (gi) for a good few weeks either, so that is not an immediate issue. For more information, see our page about your first free lesson.
In short… none at all. Most of our students did not have any history in Karate or martial arts when they joined us. Of course, every new student feels slightly self conscious the first few times that they train, being unfamiliar with terminology, the movement and the physicality of the techniques themselves. This is completely natural and every one of our students will identify with how tricky things can feel in the beginning. The Senseis are very appreciative of the efforts from every novice training with us and offer huge encouragement during the class. New students will often have a senior grade training alongside them during the first few classes also, to help keep things at a sensible and realistic pace. Naturally, we do have new students who have come from other clubs and other martial arts backgrounds. This poses no problem at all and it is often very interesting to get feedback on our approach and style differences.
No you don’t. We would generally expect a student to have been training with us for a good four to six weeks before purchasing a gi. Students/parents are welcome to purchase one from any sports or martial arts store, but we also handle stock orders at each training session and Richard (the club chairman) can sort that out for you. We also have a club badge which can be sewn onto a Gi. That needs to be ordered from Richard directly.
There are many Karate clubs that maintain a very stiff level of etiquette and discipline and there are plenty of clubs that simply have none at all! BKA’s etiquette policy draws a line down the middle and is focused far more on implicit respect as opposed to traditional very strict procedures. There are some etiquette procedures that are fixed and must be adhered to. Each session begins and ends with a formal bow, which must be treated with the utmost respect with no disruption. During the class, the Senseis will issue training instructions which should be acknowledged by the students with the phrase „osu”. Osu is pronounced „ooosss”. If during a class a student wishes to ask a question, the student should raise their hand and simply attract Sensei’s attention (when he is not speaking to the class or any other student) with the phrase „osu Sensei”. When Sensei acknowledges the questioner, the student should bow to Sensei and then ask the question. Once an answer has been given, the student should bow once more and return to the training in hand. If a student arrives at a class late, he or she should make themselves ready to join and then wait to be bowed into the class by Sensei. In general, the Senseis will not keep a latecomer waiting and will always endeavour to have the student join the class as soon as possible. As with most martial arts, the training hall (referred to as a „Dojo”) is viewed as spiritual ground and must also be treated with respect. When a student enters the Dojo, he or she must perform a bow accompanied with the phrase „osu” once more (facing inwards). On leaving the Dojo (for any reason) the student must turn and face inwards and perform the bow once more. There is of course a correct way of bowing. The Senseis will expect senior students to reflect this „correct way” at all times. Newer students will be educated on the correct bowing procedures during the early weeks of their training. Occasionally, the Senseis will perform a short class-refresher to ensure the procedures are tight and proper. The Senseis and senior grade students expect to train and discuss Karate with the utmost respect to each others’ abilities and position within the club. Any behaviour from a senior grade student that is deemed disrespectful will be dealt with directly in class. With lower grade students, the Senseis will naturally take a more balanced and tolerant approach, correcting where necessary and gently building each student’s implicit understanding of class form. With the junior class, the approach is again slightly different, as the Senseis are primarily teaching children. If anything, instruction is more direct and a fair amount of repetition is required, as anyone who works with children would appreciate!