FAQs

FAQs

All the questions and general answers below have been put together from enquires made for training direct to the IMA (Hombu) Home Dojo in Halifax England. We have tried to generalise them as much as possible so that the prospective new student can gain as much information as possible which should be easily applicable to most Martial Arts clubs both nationally and internationally. We hope that you find them useful and help towards bringing you to that great decision to start to learn Karate with Independent Martial Arts (IMA).

Please note that in the areas where a direct figure of cost is required we have chosen not to add it into this page in order to save the confusion of out of date information and changes over time from place to place and club to club etc. For more information on the current costs of training and equipment required please refer to our current costs page or speak to the individual club directly as the cost of training may vary from club to club (within reason) usually due to the different overheads placed on the club through venue / facility used, level of teacher etc and whether club officials are paid or volunteer their time. All instructors teaching at the Home Dojo in Halifax England and those responsible for keeping the group running all volunteer their time freely.
 


1 What do I wear to training?

2 Will I or my children get hurt or have to fight?

3 What is the best age for children to begin Karate?

4 Am I too old, is it too late for me to start?

5 Are the Instructors checked and registered?

6 Do I have to book in advance?

7 What should I expect on my first lesson and what should I bring to my first class?

8 How long does it take to reach Black belt?

9 Will I have to take a grade examination, what is it and is there a cost?

10 Can you fail a grade examination?

11 Will I learn self defence with the IMA?

12 Will it be a rough and unfriendly environment in a Martial Arts or Combat class?

13 What is (Nightingale) Shotokan Karate and is it an effective Combat /Martial art system?

14 Will Karate make me fitter and I’m not in shape or very fit, is that a problem?

15 What are the Beginner classes at NBLC (The home Dojo in Halifax, England)?

16 What are the Family & Mixed classes at NBLC (The home Dojo Halifax, England)?

17 Are all Shotokan Karate teachers and clubs the same?

18 What is a beginner class and do I have to go?

19 I’ve trained and practiced another style is that a problem?

20 I’ve trained at another Shotokan club, will my current grade be valued?

21 Do you offer any free trial lessons or discounts? 

22 How much will it cost and where can I buy a Karate uniform (Gi)?

 

 

1 What do I wear to training?

When you first start to train loose fitting clothes are recommended. This is absolutely fine until the student purchases a training uniform/suit (Karate Gi) which the IMA can provide. A suit in training helps the participant not only in wearing something loose, comfortable and easy to train in, it is also used as a piece of equipment to aid certain aspects of training within different exercises.
 

2 Will I or my children get hurt or have to fight?

No one comes to training to get hurt and it should always be a learning environment but sometimes over enthusiastic participants collect a few bumps and bruises here and there. Yes accidents can and do sometimes happen just as in any other sports or pastimes but are usually at an absolute minimum. Everything is always kept to a controlled and safe environment as much possible but you have to respect the nature of the thing itself what you are doing.
 
Safety of the participants is always paramount and when exercises, training routines and techniques are being taught they are always explained and demonstrated thoroughly and executed to suit the level of the class. Eventually students work up to a point were controlled fighting exercises take place with different partners but only after working up through a group of formal and controlled practice routines in order to condition the student and best understand the combat side of Karate. Everything is always taught and practiced with the safety of everyone taken into account and given thought to which also aids realisation of applying technique.
 

3 What is the best age for children to begin Karate?

For children, 6 to 7 years is an ideal age to begin Martial Arts training. Younger children (4 to 5 years) can sometimes be too young unless it’s a specific activity class designed to cater for younger ages. You should speak to the Instructor/s to find out what classes they provide and what ages they cater for. A point to consider is that children can sometimes just be too small and too young and need to wait a while before training but try a beginner class and see how they manage and listen to what the instructors/teachers think.
 

4 Am I too old, is it too late for me to start?

Definitely not!  Any age is good for adults but always remember your limitations and learn to work around your different areas of ability. We all as adults should accept the fact we are getting older all the time and have to make adjustments but should never allow that to stop us enjoying what we do and there are so many areas to Karate where you can always be involved and take pleasure from.

Martial Arts training for men and women can be a great addition to an already active individual or someone looking to try something new or different from their usual exercise regime. Being involved in an IMA Karate class is a great way to help improve (a person’s) health and general wellbeing through regular practice. Whether your reasons for training are to get good all round exercise, help to stay flexible, learn some self defence or aim to attain a higher level of skills to enable you to take part in and enjoy our more advanced classes and courses which are based on a more combat orientated approach focussing on a more practical application of technique, you are always welcome.

IMA Karate as a form of exercise is ideal for men and woman who haven’t exercised for a while and can work at their own pace by taking advantage of our complete beginner package to get the best introduction to training through our regular classes designed with the beginner in mind. We will always advise people to use and visit an early stage beginner class because experience has taught us that this always brings the best results for the individual. Once a student reaches a minimum level of basic skill, co-ordination and understanding whatever the age, the transition to a more involved, busier and focused ongoing class or classes will be much easier. For further information on the right class for you please contact us.

Karate is a great activity to be involved in young or old and should always be for the development of the individual first. You should do what you can and adjust to compensate for what you cannot; a good coach can guide you in this area and still inspire you to learn Karate-do and life is just too short not to have a go at something you think you might enjoy!
 

5 Are the Instructors checked and registered?

All IMA Teachers/Instructors and clubs listed hold genuine grades that have been ratified by the IMA technical committee and its Chief Instructor. Appropriate insurance and liability cover is held for both student and instructors alike and there is an appointed first aider. All Teachers/Instructors are CRB checked and are regularly required and encouraged to keep their own training and teaching skills updated via IMA courses/classes held throughout the year. If any club, group or individual fail in upholding the professional standards expected from the Independent Martial Arts they are just simply asked to leave the group or politely removed.
 

6 Do I have to book in advance?

No generally you can just turn up and explain your interests to the teacher and watch or take part in that class but please remember that if you take part you might be in a class which is much too advanced for a beginner you will not manage quite as well as you thought you would. Best advice is to find out the class structure of the club and organise between the Instructor and yourself to start in the most appropriate class to match your ability.
 

7 What should I expect on my first lesson and what should I bring to my first class?

On your first lesson you will be made to feel comfortable and put at ease as most people are a little nervous, but that can add to the excitement of a new endeavour. The Instructor/s should aim to find out a little simple history from yourself regarding exercise routines already being practiced, your general fitness and any health issues that maybe relevant. The level of practice should be set to compensate for you, the beginner, unless it’s a dedicated program designed for beginners which will have a set structure to help the student in the opening stages of training. All you need to bring with you is a good enthusiasm and a drink of water.

 

8 How long does it take to reach Black belt?

One of the core principles of the IMA and its Chief Instructor Sensei Nightingale regarding students attaining Black belt recognition or any grade within the IMA is that they are credible and honest from all sides both in their demonstration of Karate and in the assessments which in turn should match the time and level expected and attained. We are not known to be a chase or catch your next grade Association and we take teaching our combative art and Shotokan Karate very seriously which we aim to pass on to you throughout your time with us. It will usually take an average student around 5 years (minimum) to reach first 1st Black belt level. The journey and direction taken will always be more important than the destination.

 

9 Will I have to take a grade examination, what is it and is there a cost?

No the choice is completely up to the student and if grading is not something you want to do then don’t do it; there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes though, making the next grading is like setting yourself a challenge or goal to be reached and achieved, it also gives the level of advancement to be recognised and not to go back from.
 
Sometimes passing a grade can be more important to children than adults. If you just enjoy training, simply, just train. A grading is simply a small test a student undergoes to demonstrate skills learnt up to that point in their time in training. IMA has 2 grading opportunities for the lower ranks per year and 1 opportunity for Black belt advancement per year. There is a fee payable for all grading and examinations. Please refer to our current costs page for more information about all costs.

 

10 Can you fail a grade examination?

Please note that from the outset we aim to teach you so that skills are attained and understanding is developed from basic beginner to an advanced Black belt level. The IMA/Nightingale Shotokan group (call us old fashioned) still uphold the nature and the approach that a grade is and always should be awarded for the correct reasons, earned through the hard work of diligent practice, and improvements made.
 
At all examinations all relative factors are always taken into account i.e., age, personal limitations, time training and physical capabilities etc. All is achievable as long as the student continues to keep looking, listening and most of all practicing. To answer that bugging question in your head right now, you asked “can you fail a grade”? How can we say this any simpler to be understood other than, “a test is a test and a level must be met”!

 

11 Will I learn self defence with the IMA?

Yes, as in all Martial Arts training systems, especially if taught correctly, there is and always will be a great abundance of self defence techniques for everyone from all walks of life, young and old to be able to learn. Good self defence comes in many forms whether it’s dealing with a physical confrontation, getting over a tough mental barrier, dealing with something  on an emotional level to be overcome or you just need to lift your spirit in areas were needed and being involved in a good Martial Arts class can help towards developing these areas.
 
The following techniques are all found within our system from a simple and basic level to the more advanced; kicking, grabbing, grappling, throwing, arm and leg locking, gouging, poking, wrestling, knee & elbow striking, choking, rolling, stomping, joint manipulating, submission holding, head butting, leg sweeping, slapping, evading, applying, foot working, parrying tactics, throwing, striking and punching, just to name a few basic self defence strategies you can learn. As in life there are many things to be dealt with and great self defence is not always just about the named techniques above. The IMA regularly hold courses throughout the year advancing all areas of practice and these include self defence.

 

12 Will it be a rough and unfriendly environment in a Martial Arts or Combat class?

Generally most people are surprised at how friendly a Martial Arts class can be. Along with a great camaraderie between students this is an excellent way to make new friends and add something new or different to your life which can be fun and exciting. Obviously as in all endeavours of life different groups of anything will always attract different people. The best and simple approach is to go, see, and try for yourself…Always! Then most importantly - make up your own mind!

 

13 What is (Nightingale) Shotokan Karate and is it an effective Combat /Martial art system?

In short when you take away all the formality and systemised training forms and routines from Shotokan Karate which are there to help create a great, safe and systemised training platform for the student to learn an effective combat system, you have just that, an effective combat system. Young or old you will find there is an absolute abundance of Martial Art technique available with the right instruction and guidance. In its formal self it has a beautiful and holistic design of flowing routines and pre arranged training forms (Shotokan Kata) while at the same time holding the blueprints of a great fighting system. Great benefits of (Nightingale) Shotokan Karate, ‘Karate-do’, ‘Karate-jitsu’, ‘Karate-jutsu’ is that it can be delivered on so many different levels and areas, formally, practically, defensively, combatively, sportingly (sport Karate) for example and still remain a positive and effective system.
 
Some of the techniques for the interest of the reader found within the basic forms of this system are; kicking, grabbing, grappling, throwing, arm and leg locking, gouging, poking, wrestling, knee & elbow striking, choking, rolling, stomping, joint manipulating, submission holding, head butting, leg sweeping, slapping, evading, applying, foot working, parrying tactics, throwing, striking and punching, just to name a few basic self defence strategies which you can learn at beginner through to advanced levels. We always try to train equally the areas of sport karate, self defence, Traditional Karate and the combat orientated practicality of technique without losing the beautiful holistic design and integrity of the system.
 
The approach and one of the core philosophies of the IMA and its Chief Instructor and founder, Andrew Nightingale Sensei, is to keep things simple to understand when it comes to training and “Just Teach Karate” as much of a complete system as is possible without losing the integrity of the Traditional Shotokan system. This is taken responsibly and seriously especially when teaching different age groups or lower raking students.


14 Will Karate make me fitter and I’m not in shape or very fit, is that a problem?

The level of an individual’s all-round physical fitness, flexibility and co-ordination will increase if you train regular with diligence and it’s like the old saying of “you get back what you put in” regarding the efforts and practice. There are multiple benefits to be had from regular Karate practice you only have to give it time - a thousand words and more could be written of all the great benefits to be had but we don’t have the space here but yes it can help to make you a fitter individual as long as you are prepared to put in the practice.
 
Something to think about is that most systems have been around for a very long time and are still going strong especially the Shotokan Karate style with thousands of practitioners all over the world and many modern exercise forms, programs and classes have borrowed many of their training and fitness routines from traditional Martial Arts and self-defence systems. It can be said that when correctly taught Martial Arts can be great addition to anyone's exercise routine to help towards a good all round fitness. It just takes time and practice!


15 What are the Beginner classes at NBLC (The home Dojo in Halifax, England)?

The IMA Beginner programs at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, England, for adult, teenager and children are designed with the complete beginner/novice in mind giving them their own class space which is tailored to someone finding their way through the opening stages of training and learning the fundamentals of Karate-do and Karate-jitsu. The first 2 weeks of training are always free for all new students.
 
IMA classes cover what the individual needs to know about learning basic technique and how to apply them fundamentally in a training environment, understanding the correct use of equipment, simple fitness, flexibility and safety exercises to ready the body to get the most from their practice. These early development classes will in turn help towards the building of a training mind to help prepare them to take part in an ongoing appointed class. For more information please click on class timetable or contact us.
 
Karate is a great activity to be involved in young or old and as an adult you only have to remember your physical limitations and age shouldn’t be a worrying factor. For children 6 years is an ideal age to begin Martial arts, younger children 4 to 5 years can sometimes be to young unless it’s a specific activity class designed to cater for the younger ages. A good point to consider is children can sometimes be too small, too young and need to wait a while before training but try a beginner class to see how they manage and listen to what the instructors/teachers think. For more information please contact us.


16 What are the Family & Mixed classes at NBLC (The home Dojo Halifax, England)?

IMA Mixed and Family Karate Class at North Bridge Leisure Centre, Halifax, England, can be a great way for parents to get involved with their children’s interest in training and share in the experiences that take place in the lessons and on the mat, these can help in building strong relationships and mutual respect for all involved. Our experience has taught us over the years that sometimes parents can overlook or misunderstand what obstacles children have to overcome and what exactly takes place in a martial arts class when looking in from the sidelines.
 
If parents only took part in the beginning to get a simple understanding of the class structure, the demands placed on them to see how difficult learning Karate can sometimes be would be a great way to establish a genuine respect for their children’s activity and what they are trying to achieve. Our mixed grades and family class operates a program which is based on all round general training to improve Kihon (basic technique) Kata (pre-arranged form and sequences) and Kumite (controlled partner and sparring exercises). Our beginner package is available for anyone to start training with Independent Martial Arts. For more information please refer to the Beginner Package or contact us.


17 Are all Shotokan Karate teachers and clubs the same?

Definitely not but remember they will all have something to offer and teach you if you are always prepared to go and train and look for it. Some teachers like in all things, are simply better or different and there are those that have more information and experience than the next, or one will study particular areas of the system and not others (this is not wrong only different) i.e. competitions and tournament Karate, self-defence, street defence Karate or combat orientated for example. One of the worst things a good student can do is just accept what is in front of him or her or  what is given to them and never try to find an answers to what questions pop into their head and forget to improve their own understanding.
 
Remember for any system to evolve, improve and continue to develop it has to be questioned and tested by the creative individual to see what works and what doesn’t and without the creative individual we have no reason to question what, why and how we are practicing. Teacher and student roles sometimes rotate without even being realised but we will come to that later down the line. Sometimes you just need a different explanation of the same old thing to inspire and drive you forwards. Find a good teacher, you will know when you have one and never let someone else dull your enthusiasm for Karate, “it” needs you, the individual and most importantly never lose your respect for “it” and the techniques which “it” contains.
 

18 What is a beginner class and do I have to go?

The IMA Beginner programs for adult, teenager and children are designed with the complete beginner/novice in mind giving them their own class space which is tailored to someone young or old finding their way through the opening stages of training and learning the early fundamentals. The beginner classes cover what the student needs to know about learning basic technique and how to apply them fundamentally in a training environment, understanding the correct use of equipment, simple fitness, flexibility and safety exercises to ready the body to get the most from their practice.
 
These early development classes will in turn help towards the building of a training mind to prepare them to take part in an ongoing appointed class. You don’t have to always go to a beginner class if you practiced before or you are coming from a different club for example but statistically people who start at the beginner level and work through the opening stages step by step generally always go on to get the most from their classes over time and always develop a training mind sooner rather than later. We always advise new students to use a beginner’s class (when/if one is available) because people always function much better without the pressure of a faster paced class. Do you have to go to one, no but it will help however some people just don’t want to be a beginner!

 

19 I’ve trained and practiced another style is that a problem?

No problem, anybody is welcome to train regardless of any other style practiced. Whether it’s Karate, Ju-jitsu, Taekwondo, sport Karate, Judo, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Kung-fu or Karate-jitsu just to name a few different styles everyone is welcome and all skills are pretty much transferable with a little practice and training. You are welcome, come and train.

 

20 I’ve trained at another Shotokan club, is that a problem and will my current grade be valued?

No problem, anybody is welcome to train regardless of Club, Association or Instructor. Your grade, providing that it is from a credible source and one that the IMA recognises, will be valued at what it is otherwise you will be assessed by the Chief Instructor and matched to the appropriate level at the next coming grading on the IMA calendar. Independent Martial Arts will always concentrate on the value of good training before petty squabbling over political matters of different Karate Associations. You are welcome, come and train.

 

21 Do you offer any free trial lessons or discounts? 

Yes, the IMA always try to have a complete beginner package available consisting of a licence, insurance, uniform (Gi) and class time to help encourage commitment to training from the outset at a reduced and reasonable cost. Please refer to beginner package page for current details. All new students have the opportunity to take the first two weeks training free.

 

22 How much will it cost and where can I buy a Karate uniform (Gi)?

Initial costs of training may vary from club to club (within reason) usually due to the different overheads placed on the club through venue / facility used and quality of teacher (paid or volunteer) but this is where you’re doing your home-work pays off from going and asking and finding out the things that you need to know beforehand. Most classes are membership based with a licence/registration/insurance fee payable annually, class training fees paid weekly or monthly, training suit and some minimum safety equipment. This is normal. Good advice is to be wary of annual or contractual agreement terms - approach these with caution, know what you’re getting into and seek advice before agreeing and signing anything. Training suits/uniforms, licence forms, and the latest IMA Beginner Package can always be obtained from your IMA Instructor. Please refer to our current costs and beginner pages.

Please note that in the areas of where a direct figure of cost is required we have chosen not to add it into this section in order to save the confusion of out of date information and changes over time from place to place and club to club etc. For more information on the current costs of training and equipment required please refer to our current costs page or speak to the individual club directly as the cost of training may vary from club to club (within reason) usually due to the different overheads placed on the club through venue / facility used, quality of teacher and whether club officials are paid or volunteer their time. Please refer to our current costs page. All instructors teaching at the Home Dojo in Halifax England and those responsible for keeping the group running all volunteer their time freely. For more information please contact us.