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Beginners Section – New to the Martial Arts? Need some advice? Ask here.



beginning martialarts


For anyone thinking of joining a martial arts club (of any style or description) there a number of points that should be considered. Firstly, why do you want to do martial arts? For self defence? Fitness? Because your mate down the street does it and says it’s cool? Secondly, have you really got the level of dedication it takes to succeed as a martial artist. Finally, what are your goals assuming that you really do want to practice martial arts. Lets look at point No 1. As a teacher of Karate (Shotokan) for over 30 years, I have encountered many and varied characters that have entered my dojo. These have been young and old, male and female. When asked why they want to train, they almost always say self defence or fitness or both. Nothing wrong with that, but when, after a few weeks of basic training they feel they haven’t improved (beacause they can’t do what Bruce lee does!!) and it’s the same old boring basics again, they become disillusioned with karate and start to miss lessons and finally stop altogether.
Which brings me nicely on to point No 2. It takes months/years of dedicated practice to succeed in the martial arts. I’m not talking about the “quick fix, just opened last night, we are the best give us your money) type of club, I am referring to an established club with a good Sensei/Instructor who has the skill and dedication in his/her own right to be able to pass on knowledge in such a way that develops a student’s all round abilities witha strutured training syllabus.” You only get out what you are prepard to put in”. Truer words have never been spoken especially when it comes to martial arts. If you are considering joining a club, I would recommend regular training as you will develop far quicker, and you never know what you are missing! Your instructor may decide to focus on a particular kata as the theme for a nights training, a kata which you want to learn. You decide not to attend that particular night ( England are on the telly) so you miss out on all that information. No, regular attendance is the key. Finally, what are your goals once you have joined a club. Do you want to achieve black belt/sash? Do you think you would have “arrived” once you achieve dan grade? I ask this question because many of my students in the past, who got to 1st Dan simply fell by the wayside. “There’s a disco on down the local youth club tonight”. “I’ve recently started courting and my boy/girlfriend says training is silly”. “I would rather be anywhere than in a dojo now. I’ve outgrown training???!!! “These are just some of the answers I have had when I have met ex students in the street and , after trying to avoid me, then realising they can’t, they make up some excuse why they no longer wish to train. Their choice, after all, it is a free country.
My advice is find a good, well established club with knowledgable instuctor(s). Whatever style you are interested in, stick with it for at least a year, by which time you will have achieved a few grades and will have a clearer indication of which direction you wish to go in your training. Fitness will come as a by product of training, the levels of which, again, are governed by how much effort you put in. Self defence techniques will also be an integral part of your instuction and will be ingrained as a matter of course.
Stick with your chosen Sensei/instructor and really listen to what he/she has to say. Remember, good, bona fide instructors have been through their chosen system and are constantly researching ways to make their own training better/ more effective etc. whoch they will readily pass on to you.
Finally, if you do ever reach dan grade, be aware that your training is ONLY JUST BEGINNING! More intense training, more effort, greater enthusiasm and much more will be asked of you by your sensei because you are now a dan grade and should be an example to the latest batch of bedinners that are looking up to you. Make time to pass on your knowledge to the lower grades. Ask your sensei if you may teach the “beginners class” I’m sure he/she would be grateful. Watch beginners grow as a result of your efforts and blossom themselves into capable martial artists. Then ask yourself, I am a dan grade now, IS my career really over, or just beginning? It’s up to you to find the answer.
My style is Shotokan karate and I have been training for over 35 years. I am currenly ranked at 6th Dan and am also the chief instructor of the “Elite school oj Japanese Karate”. Anyone interested in training at my dojo van contact me via e:mail at:ajayfieldhouse@yahoo.com or by telephone on:07932 033390. We are based in the West Midlands




Excellent advice Ajay. Have you thought of posting this as a submission to the site (to appear in the front page and as an article in the “beginners Advice” section)?




Glad you like the article webmaster. You can most certainly put it at the front if you wish.




Very good Ajay you and my Grandmaster would get on very well.I,m humbled that there are still true martial artists around who are dedicated and not money hungry bullies or show offs.

I,ve just reached ist Dan in ju-jitsu and coached a junior class.The journey has only begun.


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