Thank you for your interest in studying Karate with the Staffordshire University Karate-Do Shotokai (KDS).
We hope that this web site will help you to answer some of the questions that you will be asking yourself. Questions not only about Shotokai and your local club, but also about yourself and your ability to take part in the practise of Karate.
We hope, having studied our web site that you will come along to Staffordshire University KDS, talk to the instructors and watch or take part in a practise. The first session is free of cost, so there is nothing to loose and a lot to gain. If you should decide to join and practise with us, you will, like many people before you, find that you are taking part in something that can be a most rewarding and invigorating way to spend your leisure time.
Why do Karate?
Past experience has shown that people take up karate for many different reasons. Interestingly, the number of people who join to learn self defence by no means represent the majority. Many people join to get fit, some join because it's something different, and so on. Whatever the reason, those that persevere with the practice of karate invariably find it has much more to offer, both physically and mentally, than conventional sports.
Martial Arts: Fact and Fiction
Martial arts, like karate, have received considerable attention in recent years, especially through films and television. Martial artists are portrayed as being capable of astounding feats of strength, endurance and super-human athleticism. The reality of the situation is, of course, totally different. Although of course people like Harada Sensei are enormously gifted, karate will always be within the realms of the possible, where myth has no place.
KDS is suitable for men and women and you don't have to be fit to begin, in fact many people start as a means of getting fit. All clubs have friendly and approachable instructors and interactive environments are encouraged in practice sessions.
The Chief Instructor of Staffordshire University KDS is Mark Hallam. More information about him is available from the "instructor" section of this website. The clubs are financed solely by the memberís subscriptions and all the money raised goes to the upkeep of the club and used to benefit its members.
The clubs are registered with the KDS and because of this, you can be assured that the level of instruction received will be of a very high standard. The KDS spend a lot of time to ensure that this is the case. All of our instructors are constantly under scrutiny, to maintain our expected high standards.
One area of great importance to the KDS is the Instructors ability to pass on technical skills, ideas and concepts that will be required by the members to improve their proficiency. To help with this, courses are arranged regularly throughout the country and are designed to improve the instructional techniques of the leaders and their understanding of the problems, which lay the path for the improvement of their members.
What are the grades?
KDS, like most other styles, has a series of grades to differentiate between relative levels of ability. The belt colour system we use is as below:
White (Novice): All beginners start at this level
Red (6th Kyu)
Yellow (5th Kyu)
Orange (4th Kyu)
Green (3rd Kyu)
Blue (2nd Kyu)
Brown (1st Kyu)
Black (1st Dan - 5th Dan)
The 5th Dan is the highest grade in KDS. Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Karate in Japan, held the level of 5th Dan and we in KDS do not believe that there is any need to go beyond this level.)
New starters will be assesed for grading at the end of their first four to six months of regular training.
Kyu gradings will be done at courses which are on the KDS Calendar either KDS Regional or National Courses. There will be a minimum two of members of the Technical Executive present.
Students should speak to the senior instructor at their club for more details of gradings and their eligibility to grade.
Since KDS emphasises mobility, co-ordination and balance with a relaxed body condition, this particular style of Karate can be practised by anyone regardless of age, build or sex. However during the warm-up, practice can involve relatively strenuous activity. If there is any doubt about your ability to perform such exercise then the instructor can tailor the warm-up and set of practices to suit your needs.
Am I too old?
This question is often asked by the more mature students out there who are amazed by the level of fitness and flexibility of the older members of our club and falsely believe that these people must have started practising Karate at an early age. No! This is not the case. No one is too old to start Karate!
What does Shotokai mean?
Shoto, which can be translated as pine waves, was the pen name of Gichin Funakoshi, the person who originally brought karate from the Okinawan Islands to mainland Japan and is acknowledged as a founder of what we term karate today. On his death in 1956, a council (kai) was formed to organise his funeral and this council was called the Shotokai. The Shotokai consisted of members from several of the leading karate clubs in Japan. This organisation has continued to further the development of karate and has affiliated clubs in many different countries.
How does KDS differ from other karate styles?
There are many karate styles to choose from and certain styles suit different people. In KDS there is great emphasis in developing the correct relaxed body condition and the ability to move, in order to avoid or anticipate attacks and also to deliver the maximum power in techniques. Perhaps the best way to see if KDS appeals to you is to come along to a practice and try it out.
Do you enter competitions?
KDS is a traditional martial art and does not enter competition. This is because we believe that competition is against the true spirit of martial arts and also extremely ineffective in actually teaching you how to fight. Our practice does however involve sparring, but at an appropriate level for a given individual's experience.
How long does it take to master Karate?
During the practise of KDS Karate and through the use of your body, you will discover many things about yourself.
At first, this will be most noticeable in your improved physical coordination, and as the initial awkwardness of the physical exercise gradually disappears, it will leave you to perform effectively and smoothly, the movements required. You will then become more aware of the need to understand, not just the movement, but also the situation, the time and the application of the movement, with a view to eventually controlling any series of events in which you may find yourself.
We do not intend to suggest that this will be a short process, but with the guidance of your Instructor and the KDS, we hope to help you enjoy each step you take towards proficiency.
We feel that the more practise is understood, the more you will want to learn. Remember, limitations to progress are only limited by your drive to learn.