Frequently Asked Questions

All you need to know about our karate club and classes in Bristol & Bath

How fit will I need to be?

The term fitness is a relative thing. One person's fitness is another person's fatness. Whatever your base of personal fitness (however defined) it will be improved with the exercises we do. General warm-ups are performed, along with specific stretching and every reasonable care is taken to ensure that people work at or a little above their own personal pace.

Friends of mine have come back from Karate lessons "black and blue". Will I?

If that's what you want then there are places to find it. Personally, we are not convinced this approach adds much to the learning experience. Techniques will be taught that can do injury if used offensively, although you will learn them at distances that are appropriate to your personal level of skill. You will be learning the art of what a Chinese General, Sun Tsu, in 500bc phrased "the art of war is to render your opponent incapable before you have to fight him". Karate, as practised in Zenshin dojo, is all about stopping the fight before it starts.

What Will I Learn?

For the first part of your karate journey, we concentrate on skills which can be characterised as evading or moving and counter-attacking. Later we introduce you to techniques which can be really effective in a domestic physical violence confrontation, should you ever be unfortunate enough to be in such a position. Techniques, form and posture are important and taught in a way which encourages the individual to maximise their potential. There is a recognition that, although "body shapes and techniques" are important, so too is the understanding and spirit that students only experience through regular practice.

Can I attend more than one lesson per week?

Yes, absolutely.  Most of our students aim to regularly practice twice a week.  The club is designed to offer different times, days and locations so most people “mix and match” and are able to fit regular attendance with their busy lives.

Can I attend different classes and locations?

Yes, please see the above answer.


To begin we do not encourage anyone to invest in special clothing, tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt are fine. If you decide to join (and we sincerely hope you do!) you will need a “gi.” This is the lightweight karate suit you see other members wearing. Affectionately referred to as “pyjamas”, the gi allows for freedom of movement and is standard attire for all martial arts students. The club can supply what you need.

An all-white gi costs £20. Ladies may purchase a white jacket and black trousers as an alternative. Either suit is fine to wear at the club. Black or white trousers are available to buy separately.

That is essentially the only “equipment” you will ever need. Items such as belts and weapons used in training are provided at no extra cost by the club.

What Style Of Karate Do You Teach?

Our approach to karate is founded upon the Shotokai style as practised by Mitsusuke Harada sensei but influenced and inspired by Egami Ryu as practised by the Nippon Karate-Do Yutenkai.  Master Egami believed that power and penetration could be achieved without physical tension therefore a relaxed body and calm state of mind are very important.

The Zenshin dojo syllabus also includes Koryu Uchinadi exercises and techniques as practised by Patrick McCarthy Hanshi.

There are many styles of karate each offering something a little different. The phrase "horses for courses" springs to mind as some will be more suitable for what you want than others.

Do You Take Part In Competitions?

Karate as taught at Zenshin dojo, like other traditional forms, has a more personal philosophy and is not a sport. Although a healthy and natural desire to do well when compared to others is often present, the only real competition is with yourself!

Do you use weapons?

We do incorporate specific weapons into some of our practices.  The weapons we use are Bo, Jo, Shinai, Bokken, Tanto.

Are you part of an organisation?

No. Zenshin dojo is what’s known as an independent club, we are not affiliated to any other group.  However, we are close friends with similar clubs across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.  We regularly visit Italy and Japan where we meet and take instruction from a wonderfully talented group of Japanese karate masters. 

Is There A Grading Structure?

Yes, based on a coloured belt system.    In the early years of your development, assessment of your progress is continual yet informal and the responsibility of the instructor who you see most.  Later assessments are more structured and take place on specific occasions in front of at least two senior persons.   There are no costs attached to any grading.