Training Guides

Training Guides

Below are a few general all-round guides to help people who are just starting out and in their early stages of training or who are just thinking about taking up Martial Arts based on enquires made to ourselves or questions or concerns which come directly to us in class. We have tried not to make it an exhaustive list for the reader and hopefully have created a simple guide which will help the beginner or parent use their own initiative and a little simple common sense when it comes to choosing a class.
Whether it’s Karate, Ju-jitsu, Taekwondo, Judo, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Kung-fu or Karate-jitsu just to name a few different styles which you could be thinking about starting to learn we hope you find the list below helpful in choosing your style, teacher and how you will train. We look forward to seeing and teaching you soon.

The approach and one of the core philosophies of the IMA and its Chief Instructor and founder, Sensei Andrew Nightingale 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, formally, practically, defensively, combatively.
A note on the behalf of the student to always keep with them is “Karate is simply Karate”, hard work and practice and…, yes you have guessed it, hard work and practice at whatever age or level you may be. For more information about classes please contact us.

What Type?

What type, of Martial Art do you want to learn/practice? Karate, Ju-jitsu, Judo, Taekwondo, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Kung-fu to name a few. Do your own research as a lot of the different styles can be similar to look at in practice and concentrate on many of the same areas of training or combat but some only concentrate on a certain dimension.
Always have in your mind what you want to learn and ask the teacher of the group and find out if they cover your requirements and expectations. “Good advice here is to try different classes and make your own assessments”.


Instructor, you should go and speak to him or her to find out if their “personality and philosophy on training and practice match your own morals and ideals”. Make sure that the person/s who will be dealing with you or your child reflect your own values or the values of what you expect your training to bring.
In order to find the best class for yourself or your children you owe it to yourself to try more than one style, teacher or class before you make your choice. As in all areas in life there will always be the good, the bad and the ugly.


Classes, go and view various classes either with your child or on your own. Good advice is to visit a beginner’s level and then maybe a higher level so you can see for yourself the teaching methods being practiced.
“You can learn a lot just by being an observer” and any instructor shouldn’t mind this once you have introduced yourself and explained your interest in their class.
Karate is a great activity to be involved in young or old and should always be for the development of the individual first.

Initial costs

Initial costs, 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 and quality of teacher (paid or volunteer) but this is where your “doing your home-work pays off” from going and asking and finding out the things that you need to know.
Most classes are membership based with a licence/registration/insurance fee payable annually and training fees paid weekly or monthly, 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.
Karate is a great activity to be involved in young or old and should always be for the development of the individual first.

Hidden costs

Hidden costs, if you go and ask beforehand there won’t be any. If you don’t, it might appear that there are but generally most Martial Arts groups consist of a class training fee, registration fee, training suit, testing and grading fee and some minimum safety equipment.
In general compared to most pastimes, sports or interests the costs to start Martial Arts are usually quite low. Like we have already mentioned “go and ask to find out before hand”.


Age, for adults any age is good 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 but should never allow that to stop us enjoying what we do and there are so many areas to training which you can always be involved and take pleasure from.  Karate is a great activity to be involved in young or old and should always be for the development of the individual first.

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 which they cater for. Points to consider are children can sometimes 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.

Best Martial Art

Best Martial Art, remember that there are no superior Martial Arts or one better than another; they all have their strengths and weaknesses and some are better developed in one area to another.
You will find that there is a lot of similararity within all styles which should be expected as they all come from the same basic principles of combat but are put together differently, hold different philosophical ideals and have different lines of origin which plays a big part in how they are learned, practiced and systemised. 
All systems deal with the human body with 2 legs 2 arms 1 head and most have figured out how to use this form well. “It will always pretty much be down to the skills of the individual rather than the system which makes a great Martial Artist”.

Experience & credentials

Experience & credentials, of school/club/instructor, it is simple, ask and check them!
Are they part of a recognised governing body?
Who/where did they learn from?
Are they insured/registered?
Does the teacher have any other qualifications which strengthen their skills as a Martial Arts instructor?
What experience and time do they have in their chosen/practiced art and any good teacher in any topic should be immediately visible to the naked eye? “Watch a class and see for yourself for your own piece of mind".


Safety, are the classes run safely and is there a structure in place? Are the students made aware of the do’s & don'ts to look after themselves and their training partners?
Is safety equipment used? Will you need to buy your own or is it provided? Do the teachers/instructor promote safety issues relating to practice throughout the class and do the students in general have a good sense of training safely?
This you will find out by watching or taking part and should be able to notice for yourself. Please remember Martial Arts is what it is – “a combat practice at contact or semi-contact levels and accidents can and occasionally happen. Training can be hard sometimes and comes with a tough testing workout”.

In Reality

It is of general opinion of those involved in Martial Arts teaching or training that the style practiced is not always the most important whether it is Karate, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Karate-jutsu, Taekwondo, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or Kung-fu to name a few examples but it will always be down to the person with the skills and how they were put there and developed. What is important is the method and quality of training you or your child will receive.
In general with any good Martial Arts training students of all ages should be able to attain greater fitness benefits, learn an improved self respect and personal discipline and able to lift their self esteem while building their confidence and ability to defend themselves in more ways than one. “How far you go is completely up to the student”.
A Martial or Combat Art with a good teacher, regardless of style, can transform the way that a student thinks throughout their training career. Using the different contexts of Martial Arts training one or two great lessons of life can be picked up along the way. For example “yes you can over time make yourself Physically – Mentally – Emotionally – Spiritually stronger” you just have to be prepared to go to your class to learn and go away to practice! Most people usually start Martial Arts training with one mindset and over time come to have a completely different set of reasons to train. On an even simpler note “hey, you might even enjoy it, just have a go!”