Tonbridge
Kyokushin Karate Club
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Beginners
Tonbridge Kyokushin Karate Club - Approach & Philosophy

We are a small group and were formed with a steely resolve not to compromise the principles or hard training methods of Kyokushin Karate.

Kyokushin is not for everyone and certainly isn't for the feint-hearted, but even a timid, slight person can succeed if they apply themselves fully. Willingness to persevere, learn and committment to practice are far more important than natural ability or physical prowess.

Everybody is a beginner at something at some time in their life. This part of the page is dedicated to answering beginners' concerns and frequently asked questions.

No doubt you will have many questions regarding martial arts. If you are new to martial arts then it really is a good idea to do your homework before you even begin to visit clubs. Many are extremely persuasive and have hard-driven sales tactics that might make you think you'd entered a double-glazing showroom rather than a martial arts club. 'First lesson free', 'sign up now for a big discount', 'special offer', 'easy payment by direct-debit' are all now phrases that seem to be synonymous with marketing of modern martial arts. All too often these deals may not be what they seem. Many organisations are reluctant to tell you directly how much a training programme will cost you until you're there for your first lesson, large sums of non-refundable money are often taken up front, and inevitably many people later decide the chosen art is not for them. Do a Google search on the term 'Mcdojo' and you'll see the phenomenon of martial arts equivalent of fast-food is a well-known one. That isn't to say all clubs operate this way, but as a potential beginner it's something that you should be aware of.

Dispelling a few myths about the martial arts

There is no such thing as the ultimate martial art
'The most complete system', 'most practical self-defence', etc etc. If you've done a little research these are the types of claims you may have already come accross. Any martial art is only as good as the person applying it. It is impossible to master every aspect of all fighting arts within a normal lifetime, in fact it is impossible to truly master any single martial art within this timespan. All have different strengths and weaknesses, the most important thing is to find the art that suits you best and stick with it until you've reached a fairly proficient level before starting to diversify your training. Too much of an eclectic approach to training at too early a level will leave many people confused with mastery of nothing and only a most basic grasp of many different concepts. Once a base level has been established then cross-training (the taking of different types of martial arts training to broaden skills) is undeniably valuable, but the same criteria to finding other styles and clubs will apply, and try to find something that genuinely fills a gap in your skills. For example, if you've chosen to do your main training in Muay Thai Boxing then learn a grappling art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Judo. You don't need to become an expert but knowledge is power, but you have to be sure it is quality knowledge.

Martial arts alone will not improve school grades, or provide discipline where there is none already
Be wary of glowing testimonials regarding a positive change of character in somebody after beginning martial arts training. The training may have had a positive and beneficial effect but other factors may also have played just as significant a part and there is no reliable way of measuring this. No martial arts instructors will post on their websites about the kids who hated it but were sent because their parent had read it would be good for them.


Bigger is not always better
Clubs vary in sizes dramatically, and it is a commonly held belief that a club with lots of students must be very good. Some of them will be good but the high number of students is no indicator of quality. Again it's a matter of deciding exactly what you want from training and martial arts before you set out to search, and not leave yourself in a position to be dictated to about what is 'good' or 'bad'. There are some excellent clubs out there with only a handful of regular students and the level of saturation of clubs and organisations that has occured in the last ten years means that most clubs are now much smaller than they used to be. Most buildings that rent out halls normally play host to more than one martial arts club and regular hall rental space is scarce because of the amount of clubs that have proliferated.

Achieving a black belt is not the ultimate goal
If your first question to a potential martial arts instructor is 'how long will it take me to get a black belt?' then our best advice to you would be to go out and buy yourself one.
The modern grading system is a very recent innovation within the martial arts. The coloured belts and 'kyu' grades used by karate help to structure and track progress of learning and give the students something to strive for. In the early days of Kyokushin in Japan there were no coloured belts, just white and black, and there was no expected grading time for the student, people graded when they were told to, and often waited up to six months for their result. Anyone that has achieved a black belt in a genuine Kyokushin organisation will tell you that it means a great deal to them, because the road is hard and long, and most of us never believed we would achieve it. However, black belt really is only another part of the beginning, hence the term 'Shodan' as opposed to 'Ichidan'. Shodan is the term for a 1st Dan black belt, and Shodan roughly translates to 'beginner's grade'.
Ultimately, it is the person wearing the belt that counts, not the belt itself.

In order to learn how to fight, you need to fight
Much is said these days about safety in training. Our politically correct, health and safety obsessed society seems to suggest that we can achieve great things with virtually no risk, and it is common for martial arts clubs to pitch safety as a selling point. Obviously, no sensible instructor wants their students to become injured and from an insurance point of view it is critical that the club is run with a responsibility for everyone's safety in mind. However, if a person has managed to progress to a high level without ever having been hurt or afraid then they will be woefully unprepared for the reality of real confrontation. Training towards sport based semi-contact competition is fine, purely as a sport, as is training purely with a view to improving fitness or losing weight, but if you're serious about wanting to defend yourself then you have to get real. All systems have flaws, but there is no greater shortcoming than students being totally protected from contact and pain throughout their training whilst being told that they are learning a practical method of self-defence. Your instructor will not be there to monitor the contact if you are unfortunate enough to be attacked.

Still interested?
Please click on the 'CONTACT' tab above and get in touch before coming down. There's no obligation and we'll be very happy to answer your questions.

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