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UK KDS Karate-do Shotokai

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Learn karate

Getting started

We have clubs across the UK, Europe and in America.

Find a club near you

Many of our clubs have a Facebook page, which is a good place to find out more about the members, and to see pictures of them training.

Some of our clubs have special offers for beginners, or run introductory classes. Contact the club you are interested in directly to find out more.

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.

Benefits of karate

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.

Club instructors

The club in your area can be found in the club listing along with information as to the location and evenings and times of practise.

Find a club

The clubs are financed solely by the member 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.


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 assessed for grading at the end of 3 months of regular training.

Kyu gradings will be done at either KDS regional or national courses. 

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!

How KDS differs from other karate styles

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.

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.


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 practice is understood, the more you will want to learn. Remember, limitations to progress are only limited by your drive to learn.

Aug 10 - 17 Summer School!Course information