Questions & Answers

Or go back to information for Freshers.

I've never done karate before and I can't even touch my toes — surely I'll be rubbish?

That's not a problem at all — nearly all of our members started karate with us; we have one special beginners sessions a week especially for newcomers. Newcomers are also welcomed to our 'all grades' session on a Sunday. Some of our best black-belts are less flexible than some of our beginners. Of course it helps if you're flexible but it's not essential and we do a warm-up at the start of every session (and sometimes at the end). The most important thing in karate for beginners is attitude and determination — the rest comes with practice.

I'm a woman, so karate's not for me.

There's absolutely no reason why women should feel put off by karate. Though it might sound strange, karate is not violent, especially for beginners. It's about preventing violence, but more than anything it's a great way to keep fit and supple. If you've got as far as looking at this website you're obviously intrigued by the idea, so the best thing is to come along and try it out!

I've done karate before — what makes CUKC worthy of my limitless talents?

Have a look at CUKC's impressive history at competition — our members have won many, many medals at regional, national and international championships and you can get a Full Blue in karate too. We have many talented karateka and some fantastic tuition. A lot of our members have come from different styles of karate too; Shito-ryu, Wado-ryu, Gojo-ryu, Kyokushinkai and others have all been represented in CUKC.

Ah-ha! I know my Wado-ryu from my Kyokushinkai! What style of karate do you guys do?

CUKC practises Shotokan karate-do, the most popular form of martial art in the country (and the world). We are affiliated to the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain).

Why should I do karate? What's in it for me?

Karate is far more interesting than looking at a wall whilst running on a treadmill or climbing endless stairs on a stepping machine. It's a great way to build confidence, meet genuinely nice people, get healthy and flexible, and learn some self defence, and if you are competitively-inclined then there are many opportunities throughout the year to represent the University at all levels of competition.

I don't want to turn up to lectures with a black eye!

... and there's no reason why you should. Our club fosters a safe environment, especially for beginners and we introduce kumite (sparring) at a gentle pace so that by the time you have fists flying towards you, you'll be ready to block them with more than your face.

How much does it cost? I've spent all my money on beer!

The first two lessons are free for newcomers, and thereafter it's £4 per session. There is a termly membership which reduces the cost per lesson - full details are on this page . You will need to join the KUGB (Karate Union of Great Britain, and not to be confused with the Russian secret service) so that you're insured and can start climbing up through the ranks. We only ask that you have completed approx. 24 hours of training if you want to grade at the end of term.

Won't the black-belts look down their broken noses at me and beat me with sticks?

The black-belts do not belong to any kind of elite society or cult and they don't want to test/break you by beating you with sticks. They're just normal people and all of them were white belts once; in fact some of them started karate here at CUKC too. And once you see them doing karate make sure that you remember that — there's no reason whatsoever why you can't do what they do, it just takes a bit of time.

Don't you guys ever have fun?

The club has a very healthy social life, revolving around termly socials and post-training trips to the pub, film nights and karaoke nights, and other one-off events. The Annual Dinner is held around May Week each year, and is a huge black tie event, with champagne and speeches. We also make sure that whenever a guest instructor comes down to teach we take them out to dinner afterwards.

Who teaches the club?

The club is instructed by a combination of professional karate instructors and student instructors. Our Chief Instructor is Sensei Richard Poole, a 6th Dan (6th grade black-belt) who has had his black-belt longer than you've been alive in all likelihood. He teaches the Sunday sessions and his classes are fantastic! The student instructors are all highly talented black-belts; some are National Squad members and all have competed for the University.

Where do you guys train?

Our training takes place at several venues. Have a look at the training section of the website for the venues and maps of all the different locations.

What's a "grading" all about?

At the end of each term we have a grading, which is an examination of your progress taken by Sensei Bob Poynton, who has been our grading examiner since the club first started. This is your opportunity to move up a grade and you will be tested on the grading syllabus appropriate to your grade. Sometimes when a beginner has shown excellent progress, Sensei Poynton may choose to double-grade that person straight up to 8th kyu (red belt) in recognition of that.

It's the middle of term and I missed all of the freshers stuff — is it too late to join?

Not at all, new members join the club at all times throughout the year. If you join particularly late in the term you probably won't have time to make up the 24 hours of training necessary to grade in the first term, but that's not a problem as there's nothing to say that you must grade every term. Just turn up to any beginners session and attract the attention of the sensei or a committee member.

OK, you've got me interested. Where do I start?

Excellent! Come along to the demonstration in Freshers' Week to see some of our best karateka in action, as well as get an idea what you'll be doing as you progress through the grades. After that, come to a few sessions and give it a try — you don't need to sign up or hand over any money until you've decided that you want to continue and you've had your free training sessions. Check out the times for the beginners sessions in the training section of the website and we hope to see you at training!