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JKS Karate Chester (Hoole) Dojo

Our Story

Our karate school was established to ensure that the people of Chester have access to Traditional Shotokan karate teaching. Through affiliation to JKS England the school has links directly to JKS headquarters in Japan, with standards maintained and set via one of the leading exponents of Shotokan Karate alive today, Chief Instructor Masao Kagawa (9th Dan).

Classes, based in our karate dojo in Chester, Hoole emphasise practising the basics of karate (kihon). This usually means punching, blocking and a variety of kicking techniques, however we also include grappling, wrist & arm locks and less well known self defence applications of Shotokan Karate. We also teach Shotokan Kata which are detailed patterns of movement that include many of the more advanced self defence applications that we teach. We also teach kumite, or sparring, in a controlled environment with more senior karate students performing semi-contact sparring.  

We are a family club and while modern life provides precious few opportunities for families to spend quality time together, at Hoole we allow children and parents to train in the same classes so that you encourage and motivate each other. We keep prices deliberately low and offer excellent family discounts to ensure that every family member can give Karate a try. In our experience, family training encourages teamwork, co-operation and shared values and children often concentrate more and achieve higher grades when they train with a parent.

You can find out more about our senior JKS instructors and our club instructor by clicking the buttons below.


1. Do I need a uniform to start?

Not at all, you can simply wear something that you feel comfortable in. We would recommend that you wear something loose fitting e.g. a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms or shorts to begin with. Once you are sure that you enjoy our classes and want to continue to learn karate (for example you want to start grading and get your first belt) then you can buy the white pyjama's or 'Gi' that karate is known for. These can be purchased on-line at very reasonable prices - but ask your instructor for advice prior to purchase as a good quality uniform 
should last a couple of years.

2. What is a License & Grading Book?

Your License & Grading Book confirms your identity and membership to your chosen Club and the Association to which it belongs. It comes in the form of a small booklet that will contain information such as personal details, your unique license number, relevant medical information, emergency contact details, your grade and grading history, events or tournaments you have attended, a martial arts declaration or oath that you are required to sign and your license renewal date (usually 1 year from the date that you joined). A license is issued to confirm that you have been accepted into a Club and its organisation and once you have paid the license fee, you have your own member to member and public liability insurance.

3. How do I pay for my classes?

We operate a pay as you go system. This means that you only pay for the classes that you actually attend, that way you do not lose money if you cannot attend for any reason (e.g. you become ill or go on holiday). Our current pricing structures can be found here

4. Do I need a Licence & Grading Book?

In short yes you do.

Hoole Martial Arts & Karate School is a members only club and we license our members through the Japan Karate Shotorenmei England (JKS). You may try our classes for the first four weeks before purchasing a JKS licence - your license provides you with your own member to member and public liability insurance so it is really rather important! Everyone who takes part in of our classes is asked to complete a JKS license form.

Once you are a licensed member of the JKS you may train at any class you like. You can also train at other JKS England clubs and attend their courses and competitions. Unfortunately we are unable to accept members under the age of 4 years. This is because we cannot obtain adequate insurance cover. Operating a members only Club allows us to offer a more personal welcome and cater our classes around expected number of students.

JKS England provide an online membership service that you can use to purchase your first license. The current annual license cost is £25 for an initial license and grading record book and £18 every year thereafter. You can purchase your first licence here

5. How often are gradings?

The School has two club sponsored gradings per year. At these events a guest instructor (most likely Sensei Paul Wolstencroft, 5th Dan from Red Tiger Karate Manchester) will attend the club, Paul will conduct a training course and grade all those who have been invited to grade by the club instructor.

Our ethos in Hoole is the practise of perfection - we expect all our students to be the best Karateka that they can possibly be and for that purpose we require all students to practise diligently for at least 6 months prior to their first grading. Our grading syllabus can be found here.

In the event that you miss any of our club sponsored gradings, the Red Tiger Karate Club in Manchester hold regular gradings and your club instructor (if he feels you are ready to grade) will liaise with Sensei Paul Wolstencroft to allow you to attend a Red Tiger grading. Information on gradings in Manchester can be found here.

6. I am already graded in Karate. Can I keep my existing grade?

This question is often asked and the answer is usually complex. In order to allow a student to retain their pre-existing grade the following two conditions must be met:

  1.  your karate must be of a standard to that practised by an equivalent grade within the JKS

  2. you must be able to perform all of the kihon, kata and kumite required of an equivalent grade within the JKS

In all cases (except for currently practising Shotokan karateka or shodan grade and above) we ask that you train in a white belt for 3-4 weeks after which the club instructor will assess your skillset with you and make his recommendation. 

Those coming from other styles of Karate (such as Wado-ryu, Goju-ryu, Kyokushinkai etc) may require a period of adjustment to Shotokan. Those returning from significant time away from Shotokan may also require a similar re-adjustment. It is for these reasons that we ask you to train as a white belt for a period of 3-4 weeks. 

We treat each student as an individual. Some students may join and be asked to take a higher grade, some may be able to keep the same grade and some students may be asked to drop a few grades depending on their knowledge and experience.

If you are a black belt, we would urge you to contact us and we will be able to direct you to your nearest class that has other black belts training in it.

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