General Enquiries (16)

Do we have Beginners only classes

Some beginners are worried about joining in with advanced students, they feel that they might look silly if they don't understand what they are being taught. They worry about paring up with higher grade students and with sparring with them.

This is not the case as we were all beginners once! In fact the advance students help the lower grade students, it encourages them to train as hard as their higher grades. Partnering a higher grade student will help the beginner, and they always spar more carefully than a lower grade. This system of the Kohai (Lower Grade) Sempai (higher Grade) relationship is extremely common in all traditional martial arts.

How large are the classes

Some people may think that the larger the class the better, or that the school must be good if it has lots of students. This is not necessarily the case. If the class is large then the instructor can't spend as much time with each student. Some of my Senior students like it when they are on there own or just two of them as it's like having private tuition.

The advantage of a small class is therefore obvious whereby the student get more time from the instructor correcting their techniques or explaining to them more thoroughly than they could with a larger class. Furthermore, the small classes tend to be more relaxed and focused making the lesson more enjoyable.

The smaller class is typical of the Okinawan Karate system and this is what I saw and trained while I stayed at Sensei Takashi Kinjo's dojo in Naha, Okinawa. The Japanese on the other hand can be large, especially in the University groups, therefore they become more military style and very regimented. This can be very stressful for a beginner.  

So class sizes tend to be 10-15 for Little Dragons and 10-20 for Seniors/Juniors. However, there are places available as students come and go. For example moving out the area, or going to University, and even finding relationships.


How much does it cost to train?

Payment is made by standing order as it is easier for both parties, in that we don't have to bank cash and the students don't have to worry about paying on the training night. The student has full control over this payment as well through their bank.

A monthly subscription is £30 for two lessons a week, or £25 for one; Little Dragon's lessons are £20 for one lesson per week. However our lessons are for 1.5 hours on a Monday/Tuesday for Juniors, 2 hours on a Tuesday for Seniors, but only 1 hour for LD's and Juniors on a Saturday. So to get best value would be to train during the week.

Other cost associated with becoming a member is dependent on whether the student wants to train in Anshin Ryu Karate, Kamishin Ryu Karate, and/or Matayoshi Kobudo.

Karate involves a annual license fee of £24 for the first year (includes Grading Book) then £22 every year there after. The Matayoshi Kobudo is slightly different as we are associated to the Kodokan in Japan via the MKKI and these prices could change (need to ask for current price).

Other associated costs comes from students suits, grading, sparring equipment and weapons (if a kobudo student). See question below about where to get suits and equipment.

Family discounts are available for monthly subscriptions depending on how many classes they want to take.

Please contact us for further information.

How old do I have to be to train?

We take students from the age of 5 years old, and we have students in their 70's. For more information about students in their 40's and over see for Over 50's Page (Over 50s).

Below is a list of the style with the age group alongside:

  • Junior Anshin Ryu Karate from 7 years to 16 years old
  • Senior Anshin Ryu Karate from 16 years old and up (some of our students are above 70 years)
  • Kamishin Ryu Karate from 16 years old (we have no children's classes in this art due to the nature of the system).
  • Matayoshi Kobudo from 14 years old.
  • Little Dragons Karate from 5 years to 7 years old.

Who are the Instructors?

There are 4 Instructors. There are also some sempai (senior grades) that are Apprentice Instructors. Go to the Instructors and BBC page of the web site to get more information (Instructors). Our chief Instructor has a wealth of experience in martial arts, has competed at national levels ad also trained and graded in Okinawa, Japan. He ias also the head for the Matayoshi Kobudo Kodokan International – UK Branch (MKKI-UK). Furthermore, he is still training and expanding his knowledge!

How long do I need to be training before I can take a grade?

Grading times are every 3 months for Anshin Ryu until they reach a certain level then it becomes every six months. In Schools it is based upon the number of Lessons that the student has to train – see the page on Belt System under Training (Belt System). The grading day is held at Darlington 4 times a year. However, the student needs to be of a certain standard before they can grade. With Matayoshi Kobudo Kodokan it is based on the times as set down by MKKI Honbu dojo. We believe that standards should always come first before grading, which makes you a good martial artist. It's not about obtaining the next belt! Sensei says that it is always better to have a high standard yellow belt than a poor standard green belt.

What do you teach in the lessons?

  1. The Anshin Karate classes are broken down into a lesson curriculum, whereby the class is arranged into warm-ups, followed by syllabus from the student's next belt, then a featured topic, then finally free style fighting. They also learn theory, philosophy and history to the art.
  2. The Kamishin Karate class is similar in that after warm-ups there is 2 to 3 sections involving syllabus work, drills, partner work, sparring etc.
  3. The Matayoshi Kobudo is based around syllabus work and featured weapons, such as Bo (staff), Nunchaku (flail), Tonfa (side Handle Baton), Sai (trident dagger) and Iekyu (oar) etc. They also learn theory, philosophy and history to the art.
  4. Little Dragons Karate is broken down into warm-ups, syllabus work, pad work, sparring with instructors and games. They also learn Japanese relating to their art.

Are you qualified to instruct?

As a new student it is always important to ask this question, because we are teachers and coaches and therefore we should have the respective qualifications. The Chief Instructors and Assistant Instructor have the appropriate recognised certification for the black belt grade they hold. They have also have coaching qualifications and first aid qualifications. In addition Sensei Fred Bateman regularly has Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (previously called CRB) up to date. They all have their licence and insurances in place to teach their martial arts. More information about the instructors can be found on the Instructors Page (Instructors). Furthermore, the Chief Instructor is regularly, a minimum of 6 times a year, going for further training with their Sensei. Thus their knowledge is constantly being improved.

Where are the classes held?

We are located around Darlington, depending upon the class. This information can be found as follows:

For Class Times and Locations – Click on LINK: 



Why do you have 1.5 hour lessons?

Quite a few martial arts classes only have 1 hour lessons and therefore after their warm ups their karate training has been reduced. However, we believe that a student should have a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes warm-up period; this prevents short and long term injury. The warm-ups are structured into three sections, first joint manipulation from head to toe. This is followed by warming up the large muscles and finally into the stretching sections. This prepares the student for the type of movements that is taught in karate, some ballistic in nature. Then they have at least 1 hour for their karate training which is broken down into the curriculum as explained above. However, the Saturday's Junior class is only 1 hour long, but they still get 20 to 30 minutes of warm up exercises.

Can I start right away or do I have to wait to start the course?

Yes you can start right away, we don't have start dates for students. Also we give the first 2 lessons Free of Charge so that you can try the style before becoming a member. So if you are wanting to do Karate and Kobudo you will get 2 free lessons in both systems.

Where do I get the Gi (suit) and other Equipment?

All martial art equipment can be purchased at discounted prices from us, these are lower than retail prices. But we do not keep stock so you may have to wait for your order to come through. However, you can get them from local retail shops, but they tend to be much more expensive.

What do you need to wear?

Students of Karate wear a white Gi (Karate Suit), those of Kobudo a Black Gi. If they are training in Karate and Kobudo then traditionally the students wear a Black Gi Top with a White Gi trousers.
Beginners can wear anything that is loose and flexible such as T-shirt and track suit or jogging bottoms. They then have up to their first grade to get a suit. This suit can be purchased through Kodokan Martial Arts, or you can get them at local sports shops, but they may be more expensive. We do not wear anything on our feet.

What are the differences between the styles?

There is a vast difference between the content and application of the karate styles Anshin Ryu and Kamishin Ryu. The best way of finding out is to read the respective pages on the site. However, Anshin is like most of the styles taught in England, geared up to competing, whereas Kamishin is more geared to self-defence and because of this vital point attacking is taught in every lesson. The students do not compete and because of the way they defend themselves. Therefore, a lot of safe drilling is taught in class to enable the practitioner to put these into use if needed.

Please look at the Style Comparison in the Quick Links Box (Style Comparison).

Do I need to be fit to start

The simple answer to this is no!

No matter what your fitness level is, lessons in Karate and Kobudo will improve on it. As a beginner you will work at your own pace thereby increasing your fitness. This is done by the warm-up and stretching exercises at the beginning of the lesson. It gets your body ready to carry on with the lesson and by training regularly improvement will be seen in strength, flexibility and cardiovascular system.

A lot of people say "but I'm not fit enough to do karate" or "I'm too old to start now". Well the answer to these questions are, firstly you don't need to be fit to start as you start to get fit, secondly Karate and Kobudo are life long lessons and not just for the young. I have had students in their 60's start and now have one in his 70's. No he can't kick to the head, but he can kick well to the stomach and around the legs, he can now defend himself very well. 

Isn’t Karate & Kobudo subjected to injuries?

The risk of injury is low and both systems, Karate and Kobudo, are trained in a controlled manner. Pads are worn during sparring sessions, and gum shields if the student wants to wear them. In fact it is known that these activities have lower injuries than other sports, such as football and rugby. I have even known knee injuries to occur in Badminton and of course the famous Tennis elbow. However, I'm not saying you wont be subjected to an injury from time to time, or maybe not at all, but these are bumps and bruises in the main. There have been the odd broken bone, such as a finger or a toe, a cut lip, and a bloody nose as all injuries can't be prevents. But overall Karate and Kobudo do have a very low risk.