What should I wear for my first class?

Any loose clothing that gives ease of movement is what you need to look for. Tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt is ideal – and there’s no need to worry about footwear, as we train barefoot.

Are there any separate classes for beginners?

No, all classes are open to everyone regardless of how long you’ve been training. Don’t worry though – we always have a wide range of belt grades, and we won’t push you straight into the difficult and painful stuff. Having mixed classes means there’s always someone to help if you’re struggling.

How fit do I need to be to start training in Shōrinji Kenpō?

There are no pre-requisites in terms of fitness and flexibility. Whatever your level is now, we’ll help you improve on it. Our lessons are physically and mentally challenging, but you will always be working at your own level.

How do I get one of the white suits?

We recommend that beginners come along to a few sessions before they invest in a suit (a gi). A standard heavyweight gi will cost around £45 and will last for 2 years minimum. That charge will also cover the lapel embroidery and the World Alliance of Martial Arts badge for your sleeve, and a standard white belt. Suits can be bought from the club, which is usually more reliable than trying to find the right one online!

Is there a membership fee?

No. The only thing we will charge you for outside of your training is the annual insurance, which is around £20, and a WAMA (World Alliance of Martial Arts) membership, which is a one-off payment of £10. This is not a club that’s devoted to making money – we’ll only charge you what we need to cover our costs.

At what age can my child start training?

Children of any age are welcome to train in our Shōrinji Kenpō clubs. The only exception is the Southampton University Dojo, which has an over 16 age limit. Children under 7 should be accompanied by an adult or an older sibling for the duration of their training – though you are not required to stay for the full length. Our youngest kenshi is 3 years old.

I’m disabled/LGBT+/from an ethnic minority – can I still train?

We understand that personal issues can make people reluctant to join new groups and social circles – it can be very intimidating. The easy answer is yes. We have kenshi from every walk of life, and from across the disabled/LGBT+/religious/racial spectrums. We don’t care about your personal life, unless you want us to. All we’re here for is teaching this martial art to anyone who’s willing to learn.

Am I likely to get injured in this martial art?

This is an effective martial art that focuses on self defence. To learn proper self defence, you will of course need a partner. If you are an adult training, you should be entering our dojo expecting to be on the end of punches, kicks, throws and locks – but we’ll work to your level. Until you are comfortable with being struck, you won’t be – we always keep it proportionate to age, size, experience, and ability to absorb pain and impact. The intensity of techniques will automatically grow as you proceed through belt grades, and you should fairly quickly become comfortable with your partner. Techniques are a two way street, and so if your partner wants to learn, they won’t hurt you. At the same time, you will find that you become used to being hit – which is vital if you ever get into a fight. But you don’t ever have to worry about walking into a session and staggering out afterwards with cracked ribs.  Safety is our number one concern, and we get very few injuries. In terms of injuries pertaining to exercise, we always start with a thorough warm-up and stretching to avoid injuries like pulled or torn muscles, and end with body conditioning. Always remember – suffering is good, pain is bad!