Training in Karate is well known throughout the world for its ability to improve:
IS KARATE WITH MARTIAL ARTS FOR LIFE FOR ME?
People who are new to Karate (or students returning to Karate after a break of several years) are sometimes nervous about what is involved in training, whether they are fit enough and how they will fit in to our clubs. Fortunately, Martial Arts For Life run open, friendly and welcoming classes for adults and children alike.
Our classes are suitable for people of any fitness level, including those who are looking to get fit for the very first time! Our students frequently tell us what a great all-over body workout they get from our classes. Beginners are always commenting on how welcoming they find our classes. The nerves vanish within minutes of walking through the door!
Train as a Family
At Martial Arts for Life we have developed the perfect class environment for children to learn karate with their siblings and parents. If you're looking for more 'family time' this is the ideal activity for you - exercise together in classes and practice together at home!
Our classes are predominantly designed to accommodate all ages and abilities in the same session. This makes us very different from most other clubs who split their classes. At Martial Arts for Life younger children benefit from the example of their elders, and junior grades are able to learn from, and aspire to the skills of the senior grades.
If you have any further queries why not have a look at our FAQ Page.
Kong Sudo for Kids
Martial arts training is great for kids. The high energy classes are great fun, and our non-contact, non-competitive style means that it's a really safe form of exercise with the added benefits of increased self-confidence and self-discipline.
Our structured syllabus gives children regular, achievable goals and builds a pattern of success as they work through the 10 coloured belts to Dan Grade (black belt).
Karate is also a great aid in the fight against bullying. Increased self-confidence means that kids don't become the target of bullies in the first place. At the same time our classes teach children the values of respect for others, and self-discipline which are important tools in eradicating bullying.
We take children from age 5 and above, and help to improve their concentration levels and co-ordination. Girls and boys alike enjoy our fun, friendly classes.
Whilst many of our classes cater for all ages, that doesn't mean that the classes are 'kiddy' in nature! The group is split where appropriate to ensure that adults are given the relevant tuition on our senior syllabus. Our traditional martial art has not been watered down and adults can learn effective self-defence capabilities in additon to the fitness and life-skills we teach.
We do also run some adult only classes, which tend to be quite technical in nature. These classes are often of interest for people who have done some martial arts training before.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What should I wear for my first class?
Any loose clothing, e.g. Track suit & T-shirt is ideal. We train barefoot so there's no need for any special footware.
Are there any 'beginners' classes?
Not really, we find that it's easier for beginners to understand what classes are all about if they can see other more experienced students training alongside them. Also, our students are all very friendly & helpful (everybody says so after their 1st class), so there's no need to be nervous. It is nice to be around other beginners as well, so we are happy to suggest sessions with other new starters in them. Alternatively why not bring a friend for moral support!
What do classes cost?
The first class is free, then you have the option to pay monthly or termly. Classes are £6 (45 mins) or £7.50 (1 hr) each, however the monthly and termly payments include discounts on these prices. The monthly fee for 1 class per week is just £26.
Is there a discount for families?
Yes, if three members of the same family train together a forth can attend classes for free!
How often do I need to attend classes as a beginner?
Beginners are expected to attend one class per week. Regular training is the key to progression, so getting into a routine as soon as possible will help.
I'm totally uncoordinated, will I irritate other students?
Not at all! Everyone has strengths & weaknesses, we will help you whatever your starting point.
How fit do I need to be to take up karate?
There are no pre-requisites in terms of fitness or flexibility. Whatever your level now we'll help you to improve on it.
How do I get a karate suit?
We recommend that beginners come along to A few classes before they invest in a uniform (DoBok). You can order the uniform (jacket with embroidered lapel badge & back print, trousers & white belt) from your instructor, or via the online shop. They are priced between £25 & £35, we generally have all sizes in stock (up to 190 cm tall).
Is there a membership fee?
There is an annual membership fee of £39 which includes the student in our group third party insurance policy (underwritten by TL Risk Solutions, details available on request), and also allows students to enter our belt grading system. New members also receive a 'black membership book' in which all of their grade achievements will be recorded, and a copy of our student handbook which describes the grading requirements for all of the Gup (coloured belt) gradings.
How often are gradings held?
We hold yellow belt tests (the 1st grading) every month; beginners who attend a weekly class are usually ready to grade after about 8 weeks. We hold Gup Gradings (coloured belt tests) every 3 months. Students are encouraged to grade every 3 months as regular, achievable goals improve motivation. For children it is particularly important that their efforts are rewarded - gradings are great for this.
What do gradings cost?
The Yellow Belt Test costs £16, Gup Gradings cost £22.
Can I attend a different class if I miss one?
Of course! Everyone is welcome at any class, if you miss a class for some reason the best thing to do is get along to another one. We have students who work shifts, or travel a lot with work, all of whom find out flexible approach ideal.
Are there preferential rates for students who train regularly?
Yes. If you train twice a week you can pay just £40 for a whole month's training. We also have a cheap version of 'gym membership' where for just £55 a student can attend as many regularly scheduled classes as they wish in the month.
Do I need a 'stick'?
Not as a beginner! When you have achieved your yellow belt you will start to train with the staff (Bong).
A BRIEF HISTORY OF KARATE
Our students have a natural interest in the background, history and culture of the Karate that is taught at Martial Arts For Life. It is important to study Karate in context and understand how this martial arts has travelled from China, Japan and Okinawa to arrive in Harrogate, Leeds, Knaresborough and Tadcaster over the last 150 years or so.
For historical, political and technological reasons, the history of Karate is frequently obscure and difficult to understand. In particular, the effects of World War II and mystique which practitioners have engaged in over the last 150 years have obfuscated some of the facts. This brief introduction is in no way a complete history of our art, but is presented as an introduction to base your own studies on.
To understand Karate in context, it is important to comprehend our own lineage in the martial arts. Our Chief Instructor is Master Janet McKenna. Master McKenna was awarded her 5th Dan in 2009 by Master Tony Johnson of Johnson's Karate, she was awarded this grade in the style of Kong Sudo which is a Korean translation of the more common term "Karate-do". Karate-do means "The Way Of The Empty Hand". This is a relatively modern term for our martial art, the older term being Tang Soo Do or Tang Te which means "The Way Of The Chinese Hand". The founder of modern karate, Gichin Funakoshi recounts in the book "Karate-Do: My Way Of Life" that the reference to China in Tang Te was politically unacceptable and so the word "Chinese" was replaced with the word for "Empty". This is an illustration of the effect of global politics on martial arts!
MASTER TONY JOHNSON
Master Johnson had many martial arts instructors, most importantly including Master Hwang Po. Master Hwang Po was a Korean teacher of Tang Soo Do (the Korean form of Karate). Master Hwang Po was one of many instructors who travelled from Korea after Word War II to the UK, USA and other countries to spread their martial art.
MASTER HWANG PO
Master Hwang Po's instructor was Grand Master Hwang Kee, the founder of Korean Tang Soo Do (founded in 1947). Unfortunately, national politics and World War II again interfere with a clear picture of the history of our art at this point. Nationalist sentiment was very much against Japan (and therefore Okinawa) at the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea. Hwang Kee could therefore not easily advertise the Japanese / Okinawan roots of his Tang Soo Do martial art. It is not easy to trace who may have taught him this obviously Okinawa martial art, however, popular theory suggests that the most likely candidate was Won Kuk Lee, although this is far from certain! Grand Master Hwang Kee is also notable for refusing to change the name of his martial art to Tae Kwon Do as other instructors did under nationalist pressure from the Korean government (circa 1955).
MASTER WON KUK LEE
Master Won Kuk Lee was well known in Korea for teaching Chung Do Kwan Tae Know Do. In particular he was known for teaching police officers. Won Kuk Lee is known to have studied various martial arts, most importantly studying Karate under Sensei Gichin Funakoshi. At some point, either Won Kuk Lee or Hwang Kee introduced modern, high, circular kicks into the Korean version of Karate which we still practice today.
SENSEI GICHI FUNAKOSHI
Sensei Gichi Funakoshi is widely known as the founder of modern karate. He is responsible for taking a classical, Okinawan martial art and teaching it in Japan and the world beyond. Most modern Karate practitioners trace their lineage back to Gichin Funakoshi. Gichin Funakoshi organised the core of a Karate syllabus that is known throughout the world. It was designed to be taught to large numbers of civilians rather than being taught to the military or individual students in one-on-one situations. He also removed the teaching of traditional weapons from the syllabus, presumably because it was not deemed a suitable topic for children! It is also speculated by many that he simplified the Kata that he taught and removed more deadly techniques. Kata analysis indicates that this is not the case as many lethal techniques clearly exist within the Kata as Gichin Funakoshi taught them.
MASTER ANKO ITOSU AND MASTER ANKO ASATO
Gichin Funakoshi had two highly influential teachers. They were Anko Itosu and Anko Asato. Of the two, Itosu is the best known in martial arts circles. Itosu created the Pyong Ahn forms (proably based on Kong Sang Kun) to better stage the teaching of Karate. Itosu was a school teacher and as such taught Karate on a large scale basis to school children at a time when Karate was traditionally taught on a one-to-one basis.
SOKON (BUSHI) MATSUMURA
Anko Itosu and Anko Asato were both students of the (almost) legendary Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura. Matsumura's life time is the subject of some debate, but he probably lived for about 90 years at some time in the 19th Century. Matsumura is the beginning of the linear Karate that is practiced around the world today. Matsumura studied Karate and adapted it to suit his own experience of fighting as bodyguard to the Kings Of Okinawa. There are many fascinating stories of Matsumura including the creation of the Chinto form that is practised today. All of the forms of Karate derived from Matsumura can be categorised as Shuri-Te Karate (named after the village Shuri in which Matsumura taught Karate) or Shorin-Ryu. Shorin-Ryu (Shaolin style) possibly refers to either the Chinese origin of the martial art, the Pine trees around Okinawa or even the Okinawan Kings of the Sho dynasty. So much time has passed that it is hard to be sure which of these theories is true. It should be noted that it is entirely possible that the Shorin-Ryu name was derived from all of these theories.
KANGA (KARATE) SAKUGAWA
It is believed that Matsumura learned Karate from an Okinawan Kanga (Karate) Sakugawa. Sakugawa was well known for feats of great strength and reknowned through the island of Okinawa for his fighting prowess. It is likely that Sakugawa was training in Karate from around 1750 in Okinawa.
It is also likely that Sakugawa trained under Peichin Takahara and Kushanku. Kushanku was a Chinese attache to Okinawa in the 18th Century and well versed in White Crane Kung Fu. The form Kong Sang Kung is named in honour of Kushanku (and is indeed named Kushanku in some styles of Karate) and is said to contain the fighting techniques of this master of the martial arts. Since the modern Pyong Ahn forms appear to be based on Kong Sang Kung, we can clearly see the influence of this 300 year old martial art on our modern Karate.
As you can see, we can draw a line from Kushanku to the early 18th century to Master Janet McKenna in the early 21st century when tracing our lineage. It is important to see our modern martial art in context as a living breathing martial art that has changed significantly over the last three hundred years. It is more than likely that it will continue to grow and evolve over the next three hundred years!