Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do I pick a good Karate, or martial arts school?
With little or no experience in martial arts, it can often be a difficult task to select a good and appropriate martial arts school. The only way to properly check out a school is by visiting it, however when you visit it you can look for the following things:

  • Accreditation. Check out what associations & recognised bodies that the school is associated with. If the school is associated with an international karate/martial arts organisation it is more likely to have a standard and tested cirriculum.
  • Facility. Don't be fooled by appearance alone. Whilst a dirty or untidy studio is not acceptable, a fully-equipped & commercial looking studio may not provide quality instruction. The most important thing in a dojo is the people, not the furnishings.
  • Ask questions. Before class and after class ask both the instructors and students questions. Such questions like: what do you most like about the class? why do you train here? what can this school help me achieve?
  • Instructor's Certification. Ask about the instructors certification. If you feel unsure about whether the person is telling the truth or not (probably get out of there), but you could also ask to see proof/documentation.
  • Visit different schools and see which one you prefer. Most instructors would prefer to know that you have chosen their school because it fits you, rather than you leaving at a later date as you found something that 'fits you better' because you never looked around first.
  • Do not focus purely on their rank. Being a black belt, or a 7th degree black belt does not necessarily mean they are a good teacher. However, a school owner should generally be a 2nd degree black belt or higher in order to ensure they have a good knowledge base of the system.
  • Lineage. Do not be afraid to ask about the instructor's instructor. Where he/she trained, or how long they have been training. Authentic schools, especially Karate dojo should have no problem in listing their instructors, or tracing their lineage back to solid sources.
  • Contracts & cost. If your school is part of a professional gym, you may be required to sign a contract for 6 months or a year, however if the school is not you should avoid signing contracts. Payment should be per class or on a monthly basis. Expensive classes does not necessarily equal quality.
  • Free lesson. All schools should provide a no-strings attached free class, or trial week.
  • Watch a class. Schools should not keep 'closed doors' and reputable schools will most likely allow you to watch a class before you even do your first FREE lesson.
  • Sport-based or self-defence based. Whilst these don't necessarily have to be seperate, they often are. You should ensure that you know what you want to get out of martial arts primarily. If you want to compete in tournaments, ensure you ask the instructor about this. However, no school should force you to compete for promotions or a like.

Q: How fit do I need to be to start Karate classes?
There is no minimum fitness requirement as the class instructors will structure the lesson so that you are able to participate to the best of your ability, but ensuring you try your hardest.

Q: What is the basic structure of a Karate class?
The classes are formatted using the 3 Ks: Kihon, Kata & Kumite (Basics, Forms & Sparring). The class will generally start with warm ups & stretches, followed by revision of basic techniques, kata practice, partner drills and practices which are specifically chosen for that class.

Q: What is Karate?
Karate is a martial art and form of self-defence that originated in Okinawa hundreds of years ago, and was greatly influenced by martial arts systems from China. Karate literally means empty (kara) hand (te) and it refers to the use of hands, feet and the body as a weapon. However, Karate is more than just physical aspects, through hard training and dedication it provides cultivation of the mind and focuses on development of the principles of Bushido, such as the mind, body & character.

Q: What sort of Karate do you teach?
All of our dojos teach Matsubayashi-ryu, which is a branch of traditional Okinawan Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do. Our cirriculum is monitored by the World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) Karate-do Association (WMKA) as directed by it's President, Sensei Yoshitaka Taira. The MKAA maintains a heavy influence from it's primary instructor, Soke Takayoshi Nagamine, who was from Okinawa and the head of Matsubayashi-ryu. Soke Nagamine is the son of the style's founder, Osensei Shoshin Nagamine.

Q: What associations are you affiliated with?
The Matsubayashi-ryu Karate Association of Australia is the official branch for Matsubayashi-ryu in Australia of the World Matsubayashi-ryu (Shorin-ryu) Karate-do Association (WMKA).

Q: Do you have beginner-only classes?
This depends on the dojo you are chosing to join. However, the best way to learn Karate is to join a class which has a variety of skilled practioners. By having beginner students with more advanced students, beginners are able to watch and copy the more advanced students as well as gain more benefit from training with an advanced student during partner drills.

Q: What do I wear?
For your first FREE class, we recommend you wear comfortable clothing that is loose fitting, such as a T-shirt and shorts or track-pants. You will not need to wear shoes. If you wish to continue with Karate after trying it out, you will be required to buy a Karate Uniform or 'Do-gi'. You can enquire about this by contacting the specific dojo.

Q: How much does Karate cost?
You will need to contact the specific dojo you are interested in joining for exact costs, however you will generally be expected to pay an annual membership fee (to cover insurance & association registation) and a per-class fee.

Q: How large are the classes / how many people are in a class?
The size will depend on the individual dojo and you are advised to contact the specific dojo you are looking at joining. However, we endevour to keep the class size at a good instructor to student ratio as to allow more effective learning. The advantage of having a small class size is that you get more direct supervision and instruction.

Q: Am I too old to start Karate?
Karate, unlike sports such as soccer or football can be continued for many years, and well past retirement age! Many senior karate practioners & teachers have been well into their 60s, 70s and 80s. No matter your age, the health benefits of Karate will still be there.

Q: What are the injury risks for Karate?
The injury risk is dramatically lower than most other sports. Any contact that you have between two or more people will be closely supervised and controlled. All Head Instructors are first aid qualified and are responsbile for ensuring that all people are in a safe environment.

Q: How long does it take to become a black belt?
There is no definate time period that can be said. The length taken will depend on how regularly you train, how hard and your dedication. The minimum time required is 3 years and the minimum age is 16 years old.

Q: I have physical restrictions (i.e. knee, back), can I still do Karate?
As discussed in the fitness FAQ, the instructor will cater what (s)he is teaching to ensure that you are able to perform it to the best of your ability, and you will be able to work around your injuries, most likely being able to achieve the same result by an alternative method. If you do have an injury, ensure that you inform the Instructor so they can cater for it, and ensure that you do not obtain any further injury. Karate also develops muscle strength in most areas of the body, such as wrist, legs, ankles, back, chest and therefore can often help in assisting the recovery of a prior injury.

Q: What are the benefits of traditional Okinawa Karate, such as Matsubayashi-ryu?
Matsubayashi-ryu Karate will provide you with a range of skills including, but not limited to: heightened co-ordination & reflexs, discipline, confidence, fitness & health, stamina, cultivation & life style development, culture & history, self-defence, stress management, flexibility and the skills that will enable you to protect yourself, and your loved ones.

Q: Where are all of your dojos (schools)?
Click here for NSW classes or here for ACT classes.

Q: Do you having a ranking or belt system?
Yes, we do. You can view it by clicking here.