Karate is a traditional martial art that came from India, through China, and then to Japan. It's a system of blocks, kicks and hand strikes designed originally for self-defence. There's a spiritual element and it builds speed, flexibility and fitness. It's now a worldwide art and sport, making it to the Olympics for the first time in 2020.
What's a typical lesson?
We start with a fun warm-up, then stretch. For Tiny Titans aged 4-6 we concentrate on games and play linked to karate moves, but focus on fun to improve coordination and confidence. Lessons last 30 minutes. For Titans 7-12 we start to introduce a more defined karate syllabus with better understanding of the art, building speed, with opportunities to compete. This involves the basic moves, partner work and set forms of movement (kata). Lessons last 45 minutes. For Teens & Adults we start to build power and get more technical with body movement. We often use pads in all classes. Classes last for an hour.
Is it expensive?
Karate is not an expensive sport. Lessons are cheaper than many other activities such as yoga, and we offer a free outfit to juniors. The joining fee covers insurance, licence and grading book for a year. Gradings include the cost of the belt and certificate so nothing's hidden. Other than that we offer gloves at close to cost price, and that's it.
How do students progress?
We have a structured syllabus for all, using coloured belts (kyu) starting at White (10th Kyu). This keeps going until Brown (1st Kyu), and then there are black belt grades. For Tiny Titans, Titans and Teens we stage this progress to make it more rewarding, with a Mon grade in-between each Kyu step, denoted by a striped colour. There's competitions to compete in and we also have a 'building character' reward programme for Tiny Titans and Titans, with certificates. Lastly, we have Student of The Year awards at Christmas.
How safe is it?
Karate is not a full-contact sport and for kids we are VERY careful about safety. I have never had to deal with an injury beyond the odd child falling over, no different to being in a school playground. Kids do not "fight" each other. We use focus pads and gloves for certain classes. We follow the NSPCC Child Protection Policy, belong to "Child Safe" for clubs, and our Child Protection Officer is Amanda.