General Enquiries (14)

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?

Kodokan Martial Arts is not a Business, and therefore we do not make profit to pay for anyones wages. The money we do get in pays for the hire of halls, teaching insurance, membership to associations etc. However, 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 or finding the correct subs to train. 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. This works out cheap in comparison to some other groups 1 hour lessons.

Other cost associated with becoming a member is dependent on whether the student wants to train in Anshin 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 Matayoshi Kobudo Kodokan International association. Please note that although we do our best to keep down the cost, these prices could change from those given above (please contact us 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.

Good 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 elderly students please see our “Can Over 50’s Train” Page (Can Over 50s Train).

Below is a list of the styles 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)
  • 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. Our Chief Instructor, Sensei Fred Bateman has over 32 years experience in the Martial Arts, as well as Sensei Chris Bateman and Sensei Stuart Bateman. Collectively our Instructors have over 100 years experience. We only put this in so as you can make comparison to other groups as they provide collective experience. 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 and 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?

Kodokan Martial Arts hold gradings every 3 months for Anshin Ryu Karate. So low grade students, if training twice per week could grade every three months. However, when they reach a higher Kyu grade this time becomes every six months. But they also need to reach a level in which their standard is acceptable to grade. We do not believe in giving out grades (belts) for the sake of generating money, our students need to has the prerequisite in time and standard. For each grade this minimum amount of time can be see on the “Belt System” page under “Training” Page (Belt System).

With Matayoshi Kobudo Kodokan International grading 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. In addition a featured topic, such as Drills, Body Conditioning, and Sparring to name a few. They also learn Reigi (Etiquette), theory, philosophy and history to the art.
  2. The Matayoshi Kobudo is based around syllabus work on featured weapons, such as Bo (staff), Nunchaku (flail), Tonfa (side Handle Baton), Sai (trident dagger) and Iekyu (oar) etc. Also additional work accompanies this, such as Drills etc. They also learn Reigi, theory, philosophy and history to the art.
  3. Little Dragons Karate is broken down into warm-ups, syllabus work, pad work, sparring with instructors and games. They also learn Reigi and Japanese relating to their art.

The best thing to do is come along to see our classes or try our classes out with two free lessons in Karate and Kobudo.

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 Instructor and our other Instructors 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 check and is 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). These qualifications can been seen if requested in class.

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; especially if they warm up for a minimum of 20 minutes. However, we believe that a student should have a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes warm-up period; this prevents possible 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 as we think this is important to prevent possible injuries of our students!

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 easily purchased now over the internet at relatively cheap prices. Places such as Amazon, eBay, Blitz Sports or Cimac. However, before doing this please ask for our advice and we will steer you to get the correct equipment and suits. Some of our students have purchased Judo suits, which are not really suitable for Karate. Also the wrong type of Sparring Equipment.

I would not recommend getting this equipment from local retail shops as they tend to be expensive.

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. Thereby getting your body ready to carry on with the lesson. So 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 activities, 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, which is what our Martial Arts are about. 

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 of injuries.