How do I join?

Simply turn up at your chosen club and ask the instructor if it is okay to join a beginners’ class, or if you prefer, watch a session first. Afterwards you can ask as many questions as you like. If you enjoyed the experience then fill in a membership/licence form pay the fee and you are a member or take it away and bring it back completed next time.

I have been graded before, stopped training and now want to return. Can I keep my grade, even if it was in another style?

We are not in the business of stripping peoples hard earned grades. However, this will depend to some extent on how long you have been away from training, for example if you haven’t trained for 20 years it would be a bit naive not to start at the beginning again. Generally, there is not a problem in a new student wearing a previous grade, ask the club instructor.

One thing that should be made clear at the beginning however, is that regardless of what grade you were, you will not be able to move up a grade in Shitokai Scotland until such time as you are able to demonstrate the required standard for our grading system.

How much does it cost?

Karate is still very much one of the cheapest sports around. An average price for a student’s Karate suit (Gi) would be around £25.00, speak to the instructor though as he may be able to get you a suit at a discount price. Membership/licence and mat fees vary throughout the Association due to differing hall charge rates etc. but these should be in the order of £20-£30/annum for the membership/licence fee and anything around £5 per session depending on age and length of session for the mat fee.

Do I have to buy a Karate suit (Gi) immediately before I begin training?

Not at all, as long as you wear something relatively loose and comfortable. Jeans or skirts are not suitable, however clothing such as track suit bottoms and a T-shirt or jogging suit for example are fine and will be acceptable for a few weeks You will find though, that the sooner you obtain a Gi you will be more comfortable and less self-conscious around the other students.

How dangerous is Karate practice?

Accidents can happen in any sport, but there is probably more chance of you being injured playing football, rugby or some other sport than when practising Karate. Remember you will not be asked to do anything outwith your capabilities. Everyone has to start somewhere and it will take a few weeks to begin to develop your coordination and balance before you will be allowed to try anything too difficult. Learning the basics takes time and there is no shortcut to regular practise. You should find that training within a structured class with students of a similar level of experience under the watchful eye of a qualified Karate instructor is completely safe.

How fit do I have to be to begin training?

The level of fitness you start with is not important as your fitness level will increase through regular training. Generally, the fitter you are the more you put into your training session and therefore students tend to work at their own level. Everyone should be tired after a good session or they have not been working hard enough within their own capabilities.

How old do I have to be?

This varies from club to club within the Association. This is due to various reasons, among which is the availability of competent instructors to teach young children who as you know can be very demanding. Generally, the youngest age would be 3 years old, however ask the instructor first as some clubs may require a child to be 4 or 5 years old before commencing training.

How often can I grade?

Assuming that you have been training for a long enough period and have trained frequently enough, gradings can be attempted two or three times a year. This will nevertheless depend on the club, age of the student and the grade being attempted.

How long will it take for me to obtain my black belt?

This will again depend on how often you train, your age and your level of commitment. At Shitokai Scotland we like to believe that everyone who trains with adequate commitment is capable of becoming a black belt. Some will be able to do this more quickly than others, very few who stay the course and train hard never make it. Generally speaking, an average adult could expect to gain a black belt in four to five years with the proper commitment, a junior would obviously take longer, probably more like six to ten years. Our standards are high, therefore don’t expect to be a black belt after a year of sporadic training

Can I take part in Karate competition?

As soon as you have developed sufficient competition skills and have a basic understanding of the rules of competition you will be allowed to enter competition at a level commensurate with your experience and grade.

Do I have to take part in Karate competition?

Competition Karate, be it fighting (Kumite) or forms (Kata) is not for everyone and no-one will be forced to take part. Karate is a personal journey and some people never compete, being happy to work away at their own personal challenges with technique without the pressure of trying to better someone on the competition circuit. Shitokai Scotland prides itself on being one of the few Associations that can truly cater for students interested in both Traditional and Sport Karate, the choice is yours.

I have an illness/disability can I still join a club and practice Karate?

This will depend of course on your illness and the level of your disability. Doctor’s advice should of course be sought and your instructor may require proof of this. Physical exercise is generally recognised as being good for improving the health of all, even those of us with illnesses or disabilities. Some medical conditions however may be aggravated by the type of movements required to perform Karate techniques.

At Shitokai Scotland we have many students with impaired vision, impaired hearing, heart complaints, asthma, joint or muscular dysfunction etc., etc. If you are unsure please speak to your doctor first and then the club instructor (privately if necessary) who will then be able to assist you to train safely and with confidence.

Is the youth group/club affiliated to a larger organisation like the Scouts, Guides, Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade, Youth Scotland, Sports council or out of school network? If so, does it have good contact and a good relationship with the umbrella organisation?

Shitokai Scotland is affiliated to many other organisations. Most of these are by default through membership or affiliation to two main organisations, namely: Karate Scotland and Shitokai Ishimi. The Association also has close links to Sport Scotland.

The Association has excellent relationships with all of these organisations. The Chief Instructor to the Association Sensei Terry Connell 7th Dan, is in fact the present Chairman of the SKGB and the President of the British Karate Federation. In this capacity, he is in constant contact with Sport Scotland not only for Karate in a National capacity but also to further the aims of our own Association. This applies in particular to our own extremely successful Youth Academy weekends which are held annually at Sport Scotland’s National Sport’s Centre at Largs.

In terms of Shitokai Karate standards our close relationship with Sensei Ishimi 9th Dan, both from his own visits to Scotland and many visits to his training courses throughout Europe by many of our top instructors/students, keeps our standards extremely high.

Can the group/club give a named contact within the local council’s community education or community services department who is aware of the group’s operational practices?

The Association runs classes in many different schools and other premises. One named contact can therefore not be given as there are too many community letting agencies involved. Should you wish to make such a contact please approach the instructor of your local Shitokai Scotland club in the first instance. The instructor will then confirm the community education or other office that you should approach with a suitable contact name.

Is the group/club subject to regulation and inspection by an outside body?

The Association is subject to the guidelines of Karate Scotland which is the governing body for all Karate in Scotland. Karate Scotland is also bound to comply with the regulations as laid down by Sport Scotland. Each club can also be inspected at any time by a representative of the local Community Education department responsible for the premises let.

Is there a leaflet which gives basic information about the youth group/club, its aims, leaders, nature of the activities, cost, meeting days and times of meeting (start & finish) including holidays?

Each club within the Association should have their own information leaflet which covers all of these points and the club instructor should be approached for a copy of this and the Association Constitution if required. The members’ booklet to which this Parent’s Checklist is attached is also an excellent source of basic information demonstrating the strength of the Association’s commitment to keeping its members informed.

Is it established practice that parental consent is sought for outside visits, adventures activities, etc.?

Yes, the Association also has a “meet and greet” policy to ensure the safety of the younger children at each training session.

Does the youth group/club have set procedures on the recruitment (e.g. vetting arrangements such as Criminal record checks), training and management of workers/volunteers including training on protecting children and personnel?

Yes, all club instructors are required to obtain a Karate Scotland coaching qualification which includes specific instructional modules relating to young children and vulnerable adults. This qualification also requires the instructor to submit to a Disclosure Scotland PVG check.

Are there adequate numbers of leaders/adult helpers (volunteers/paid staff) and is there a clear policy that there should be a minimum of two adult leaders/helpers for an activity/meeting to operate safely?

Yes, each club in the Association operates on the basis that assistant coaches are always present to help out during training sessions. This may be simply to help with instruction due to student numbers or more commonly to separate the class into groups tailored to each student’s ability.

Are there clear procedures and guidance for staff and volunteers in respect of behaviour towards children?

The Association is currently working on developing a child protection policy. This is being done in accordance with the current guidelines as issued by Sport Scotland. Guidelines issued by Sport Scotland are by necessity general as they have to cover all sport. It is our intention to tailor these recommendations to suit situations as required for Karate instruction.

Does the club/organisation have a formal constitution setting out its aims, management and financial policy and procedures?

Yes, a copy of this document can be obtained from your local club instructor if required.

Are parents encouraged and welcomed to visit the club, to meet those in charge and to view activities?

Parents are always welcome at any of the clubs and parents should feel free to speak to the instructors of any concerns they may have.

Does the youth group/club have a health and safety policy, a first aid kit, a first aider and adequate procedures for recording and notifying accidents? Is it insured?

The Association is in the process of preparing a health and safety policy. All club instructors carry a first aid kit and are trained in basic first aid skills. Attendance at a recognised first aid course is a pre-requisite to the achievement of an SKGB coaching award.

It is the responsibility of each individual club to record accidents in an accident book. Serious accidents require to be notified to the Secretary prior to notification to our insurers.

The Association carries the following insurance cover;

  • Member to member accident liability insurance.
  • Public liability insurance.
  • Instructor’s professional indemnity insurance.

Does the club have a policy to ensure the protection of children and young people and is the policy made available to parents? Is the policy maintained and renewed?

Refer to Question 8 above.

Does the organisation have established procedures to handle complaints?

Complaints should be handled in the first instance at individual club level. If satisfaction is not achieved at this level. Contact should be made with the Association Secretary.

Is this complaints procedure made clear to club members?

Yes. This will also be reinforced by publication of this booklet and the forthcoming.

Have you asked other parents about the group/club and the leaders?

Please feel free to speak to any parents of our younger children. If you do not know anyone to ask the individual club instructor will be happy to introduce you to some of our parents to a have an informal chat with you.