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Rainhill Kase Ha Shotokan Karate Academy

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that you can not find an answer to, you could always drop us an email.

What is Karate?

Who can Practice Karate

Choosing a Club?

What does it Cost

What Equipment is Required?

What are the Instructors Qualifications?

How is Progress Measured?

Achieving a Black Belt

Child Safety and Welfare

What do I look for when choosing a gi

"Do everything to the best of your ability.".

What is Karate?

Karate (the Japanese term or empty hands), is a Martial Art which was originally developed in Okinawa and brought to Japan in 1916 by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Karate training involves the practice of basic techniques, set routines and sparring, known in Japanese as kihon, kata and kumite.

Karate it is practised enjoyably and safely by millions of people throughout the world. It offers many benefits including fitness and self-confidence, however, it is also a positive force for society as both its code of conduct and its emphasis on etiquette, actively promotes both respect and non-violent and responsible behaviour.

Karate is practiced by people of all ages and abilities and is easily adaptable for those with disabilities. The nature and structure of Karate allows different genders and age groups to train together and it is not unusual to see parents and children training together.

Types of Karate

We practice traditional karate in the form of Kase Ha Shotokan Karate, following the teaching of Sensei Taiji Kase.

Kase Ha Shotokan Karate is not new, it is based on the traditional principles of what karate originally was; the most effective way for ordinary people to protect themselves in their everyday lives from assault.

Kase Ha Shotokan Karate includes theories and movements derived from classical Japanese martial arts and stresses the importance of defence and attack in one movement.

However, like all things, karate has changed and evolved, and it has done so to the point where today karate can really be divided into two main categories, "sport karate" and "traditional 'Budo' karate".

What's the Difference?

It may appear to many non karateka, as well as to some students, that  sport karate and traditional karate are one and the same, however, this could not be further from the truth. Despite their many similarities there is a huge fundamental difference between sport karate and traditional Budo karate. So, what are the differences?

Well, the difference for the most part is that sport karate has at it's core, the ultimate goal of victory through competition which is restricted by the rules of competition and the referee’s objectivity. In competition kumite, techniques need to be 'seen to score points' as you have to score points to win, become champion and get your trophy. Consequently, techniques that will win points are taught. Movement, timing, speed, Kime (power and focus), and the effectiveness of the technique that the karateka produces count for little or nothing as they are elements that, in the limited reality of competition, are not seen to count and are not worthy of being taught, i.e. they do not score points. In competition kata, 'outward appearance' is valued and the reason for practicing kata and the effectiveness of technique that kata can produce may be distorted or lost.

Traditional Budo karate is a way to find peace and self-mastery. It is a teaching that enables you to correctly understand the nature of your mind and self, and to grow spiritually as a human being. It has at it's core, the ultimate goal of victory over one's self through the 'way of karate'. It is based on katas that in some cases are hundreds of years old and can often be traced back through history to a specific Master. Kata are performed primarily for the personal physical, mental and spiritual development of the individual and under proper supervision can, over a reasonably short period of time, be taught and handed down to thousands of people of all ages and abilities.

Without Budo, one can hardly understand the full extent of the philosophy of the practice of karate. Without Budo the practice of martial arts is a meaningless practice, and it becomes simply a sport like hockey or rugby. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sports, but they are only games that function as a form of amusement or entertainment. However, the tradition of Budo is of a higher dimension and is certainly more than a game.

It is for these two reasons more than any others, that traditional karate has survived and prospered throughout the years and it is this continuity that lies at the heart of what really separates those that do karate for sport, and those that follow karate as a way of life.

"Little things make a big difference".

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Who can Practice Karate?

Anyone who is in reasonable health can take part in karate training. The true spirit of karate is more about effort than ability. The only requirement is that you can maintain concentration for the duration of the lesson. For this reason younger children's lessons are normally limited to one hour.

Karate students will improve their:

"Be faithful".

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Choosing a Club

It is important that the right choice of club is made as standards vary widely. Karate has it’s share of ‘Rogue Traders’, instructors who make false claims as to their qualifications and charge highly excessive fees for very poor quality tuition.

The following are considerations:

"Be good to your friends".

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What does Karate Cost?

Rainhill Kase Ha Shotokan Karate Academy is not run as a business to make money, but with the sole purpose of promoting and teaching Shotokan Karate in the local area. There are five cost areas:

  1. Training Sessions - Sessions are £2 per person per 1 hour session (pay as you go).
  2. Karate Gi (uniform) - You do not need a gi straight away, however, when you decide to train regularly you should wear a gi. The cost of a gi will vary depending on where it is sourced, the brand, the quality and the size, but should be relatively inexpensive for beginners.
  3. Equipment - As a student progresses, it is recommended they use karate gloves and a mouth guard during sparring. Again, the cost  will vary depending on where it is sourced, the brand, the quality and the size, but should be relatively inexpensive for beginners.
  4. Karate Licence/Insurance - You should ensure that you take out a karate licence to have personal indemnity insurance. This done by obtaining,  via the dojo, a karate licence from the English Shotokan Academy (ESA) which is £25 per year renewable annually.
    • While you are unlicensed you are uninsured and this means that you personally may become responsible for any injury claims made against you.
    • It is your responsibility to ensure that you renew your licence before it expires  (you will be advised of renewal dates).
    • Students that are uninsured must never do partner work as their insurance status also affects that of their partner, therefore your Instructor may have to prevent you from taking part fully in training sessions if your licence has expired.
    • Licence application forms can be downloaded or can be obtained from the dojo (completed forms should be returned to the dojo).
    • Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to the English Shotokan Academy.
    • Your karate licence will also give you access to courses such as the annual event at Lilleshall National sports Centre, where you stay in splendid surroundings in the company of other karateka.
    • As you progress, there are free black and brown belt course and the possibility to train with some of the best International instructors.
  5. Grading fees - gradings are usually taken after:

"Be the best you can be at what ever you do".

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What Equipment is Required?

The word ‘karate’ translates as ‘empty hand’, and as such no special equipment is required other than suitable clothing. However, as a student progresses, it is recommended they use karate gloves and a mouth guard during sparring.

New students may train in sports clothes, e.g. track suit bottoms and a t-shirt, but will be expected wear a karate gi (uniform) once they decide to train regularly.


What do I look for when choosing a karate gi

"Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid, and to act anyway".

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What are the Instructors Qualifications?

Karate instructors are usually a minimum of 1st Dan and over 18 years of age. Kyu grade students may be appointed as assistants. However, just because a person wears a black belt, does not necessarily mean that they are technically proficient and a competent instructor.

Rainhill Kase Ha Shotokan Karate Academy instructors have the necessary coaching qualifications and competence to conduct the course, are insured, hold first aid certificates and are DBS checked.

Yvonne Doyle holds the grade of 5th Dan awarded by the Kase Ha Shotokan Ryu Karate Do Academy. She is a member of the Shotokan Ryu Kase Ha International Instructors Academy and the English Shotokan Academy Technical Committee. Previous students of hers have been finalists in National Championships.

"Doing is the best way to learn anything".

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How is Progress Measured?

Beginners will traditionally wear a white belt and can then, through regular training, be examined or graded for different coloured belts and eventually for their Black Belt. Although it is common that students grade every 24 lessons, they are not expected to do so (and are only encouraged to when their instructor feels they have reached the necessary ability to obtain the next grade).

Children's grades (under 12) and kyu gradings (pre-black belt) are usually taken at three to four month intervals with parents and relatives welcome to come and watch.

Dan grades (black belt) may only be awarded to students over the age of 16 years and are only conducted on specified dates (generally twice yearly and are not open to spectators). Students wishing to grade can do so when their instructor feels they have the necessary ability to obtain the grade.

Junior Dan Grades can be awarded at club level.

"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves".

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Achieving a Black Belt

Shodan (1st Dan) is the first grade of black belt and takes three to four years of regular training to achieve.

A 5th Dan will have at least 20 years of experience and dedication.

"Everybody wants a black belt, but so few people know what it really is".

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Child Safety and Welfare

We are committed to ensuring that those working with children and vulnerable young people adopt best practice to ensure the health, safety and welfare of both participants and staff and adopts Sport England guidelines for child protection.

"In the mind all is possible, there are no barriers".

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Karate Gi (Uniform)

You do not need a karate gi (uniform), straight away, sports clothes are fine, e.g. track suit bottoms and a t-shirt, however, when you decide to train regularly at the dojo you will be expected wear a gi for all of your classes.

Traditionally in a Shotokan Karate dojo all of the students and instructors wear a white gi which has been developed to withstand and accommodate the particular rigours and movement requirements of karate training.  Your gi should be loose fitting, unrestricting of movement, and allow the spirit to flow freely.

The jacket is fastened in a traditional manner outside the trousers with a long belt called an Obi, and the colour of the Obi marks the grade or level of proficiency of the student, e.g. beginners start with the colour white, progressing upwards in rank to black.

Gi's and belts can be purchased through the club, from retailers or through websites. The cost of a gi will vary depending on where it is sourced, the brand, the quality and the size, but should be relatively inexpensive for beginners.

How to Tie a Belt

After dressing in your new gi the next thing to do is to learn how to tie on your new white belt. Your belt should be loosely tied around your waist so as to allow the belly to breathe in and out. Always remember a tight belt restricts the breathing and takes a toll by draining energy, power and stamina.

Make sure the belt is long enough to wrap twice around the waist and after it has been tied, the knot of the belt should be 2 to 3 inches below the navel (or the tanden) and the ends of the belt should hang down at the front ending somewhere close to the bottom of the jacket (belts that hang too far down look silly).

Below you will find a diagram that illustrates how this should be done. Start in the upper left hand corner and read down that column first, then go to the upper right hand corner and read down that column.

Your belt should now be neatly tied around your waist, but if in doubt about the way it looks be sure and ask one of the other students for confirmation.

"Your belt is a visual symbol of your past effort and dedication, so wear it with pride".

Choosing a  Gi

Gi is the Japanese word for uniform. All uniforms consist of the jacket (uwagi), trousers (zuban) and belt (obi).


In Shotokan karate the gi is always white (and traditionally, cotton). The only markings allowed are the organisation badge on the left breast area and the person's name (usually in Japanese) at the front bottom corner of the jacket, however, I would suggest they are an unnecessary expense.


The three main cuts (style) of karate gi are:


The weight of the material determines how rigid the suit will be.


Choosing the correct size seems to be one of the most problematic factors when purchasing a gi. From experience some brands seem to be more generous on sizing than others and this can also become more apparent if buying the wrong type/cut of gi. You should also be aware of shrinkage.

Although you should always check the individual size chart of a gi as each brand can differ a ‘general guide example’ for sizes would be something similar to the following.

Gi size         students height
0000 or 100 cm         3" 6' and under
000  or 110 cm            3" 6' to 3" 7'
00 or  120 cm           3" 8' to 4" 0'
0  or 130 cm           4" 1' to 4" 4
1  or 140 cm           4" 5' to 4" 8'
2  or 150 cm           4" 8' to 5" 1'
3 or 160 cm           5" 1' to 5" 5'
4  or 170 cm           5" 5' to 5" 9'
5  or 180 cm           5" 10' to 6" 0'
6 or  190 cm           6" 1' to 6" 3'
7 or  200 cm           6" 4' to 6" 7'
8  or 210 cm           6" 8' and over


The cost of a gi, gloves and mouth guard will depend on the brand, size and quality. Starting prices for a beginners gi through websites, e.g. BlitzsporteBayDecathlonSports Direct, etc., start from around £10 for a child and £20 for an adult and usually include a white belt (they will cost more through high street retailers). A gi of this type is perfectly adequate for a student just starting karate. Gloves start from around £10 and a mouth guard £3.

Remember that a gi can last a long time, e.g. as a child grows, the gi is still usable; the sleeves and trousers get shorter, but provided  it is still loose fitting and unrestricting of movement, its still perfectly usable (you could say it turns from a European cut into a Japanese cut).


Cotton gi's:

Poly-Cotton blends or polyester gi's:

If the gi seems just slightly too big when first tried on it may be worth keeping it:

However, if the gi seems:

then it would be worth exchanging for a smaller size (you won’t be able to return a gi if it’s been washed so this is something that needs to be considered when first tried on).


Each manufacturer tends to offer many different levels in terms of cut, weight and as such quality. Sizes will also differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, e.g. some may be more generous in size when comparing to the same size in another brands.

"Your time on earth is limited, so use it wisely".

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