ABOUT ASHRIDGE KARATE ACADEMY
Sensei John in 1987
Sensei Len Sim, 8th Dan with Sensei John in 1991
Ashridge Karate Academy was started by John Foster in January 2015 at Little Gaddesden in the Village Hall. The club moved to Ashlyns School Dojo in October 2015 and is run with the support of his wife, Anna. After training with Wokingham Karate Academy from the age of 16, John wanted to set up a club in his home town of Berkhamsted in order to share his knowledge of this traditional martial art.
We practise traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu, which focuses on effective close-quarters combat.
The karate club is designed for those who want to learn this dynamic and disciplined martial art, or simply get fit! The Academy is open to children from the age of 7, as well as adults.
Please get in touch if you are interested in classes and require further information.
John first started Goju Ryu karate training in 1986 until 1992 where he reached 1st Kyu (Brown belt)
A short return to training in 2001 for a year, then John started Goju Ryu again in 2008 and gained his First (Shodan) Dan black belt in 2009.
John is currently a Third Dan (Sandan) black Belt.
John practises karate where he can, whether this is in the gym, back garden or the dojo.
He works at Howdens Joinery as a Business Analyst, and has many other hobbies including bird watching and gardening (when time permits as 2 small children and a wife are the priority!)
John tries to incorporate other styles into training such as Judo and Brazilian Jujitsu for ground work, throws, locks and chokes.
Sensei John has the following credentials:
Martial Arts instructor insurance (2020)
First Aid Qualification (2020)
DBS checked (2020)
Safeguarding Code (2020)
GKI Coaching certification (2017)
Ashridge Karate Academy is affiliated with Goju-Ryu Karate-Do International (GKI), which was formed in 1993 by Sensei James Rousseau (9th Dan) and Sensei Len Sim (8th Dan). John has trained under Sensei Len since 1986. The association is dedicated to the promotion and teaching of classical and traditional Goju Ryu Karate Do based on the ideas of Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju Ryu.
The GKI, and therefore Ashridge Karate Academy takes part in global events, with other dojos from the UK, Sweden, Portugal, Spain and Belgium.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What should I wear to the class?
Initially tracksuit trousers / shorts and a t-shirt are fine. Classes take place bare foot, so no trainers or socks are required. If you wish to attend regularly you can purchase a Gi - which is a white karate suit as seen in the pictures. AKA can supply any martial arts clothing or equipment you require. If the weather is too hot students can wear a t shirt underneath the Gi and remove their Gi top
Do I need to bring water?
It is recommended to bring your own water bottle complete with liquid!
What do I need to bring to the class?
Comfortable loose clothing, a water bottle and a towel. Also a warm top to wear after the class.
Are there any breaks during the class?
There is a scheduled break - generally around half way through the class where students have a 1 minute break for refreshment.
Do I need insurance?
The club instructor is insured to run the club, so initially you don't need your own insurance to take part. If you attend regularly (after the first month) , you will need to purchase a GKI karate license. Please follow the following link :
What are gradings, how much do they cost and will I be able to take them?
Karate grades signify growth and development within the martial art. They are not mandatory but you may wish to challenge yourself to take a grade at some stage. Grades are displayed by belts and are coloured from white through to black belt. For more information please refer to the GKI Belt system page. A grading costs £10. On successful completion of a grading, you will receive a certificate, a belt (for £5 or £2 in exchange for the old belt) and your licence book will be signed by Sensei John.
How often are there gradings?
Gradings take place at the dojo at approximately 4 month intervals. If you attend regularly you will be told about these gradings in advance.
Will I get injured?
Goju Ryu is a semi contact style - so there will be some contact, but there is no reason why you should get injured as long as you follow all instructions. Each class starts with a warm up and ends with a warm down. Excessive contact and force is not allowed. Sensei John is First Aid trained, and there will be a First Aid kit at the club in case of any issues.
Do I need to be fit?
Being fit is not a prerequisite. The class is open to any standard of fitness, and you can take the class at your own pace.
How do I pay?
Payment is made via monthly standing order / bank transfer . Please see the prices section for details or discuss with Sensei John. Don't forget that your first session is free!
What sort of equipment is used?
There are kick bags, punch pads, noodles (!) plastic bottles, elastic bands, skipping ropes and more available for use during the class. Additional equipment will be purchased as the club grows
What age range can train?
The Academy is open to anyone aged 7 and above - children to pensioners are welcome! Juniors will normally move up to the adults class at approx age 14, but this will vary according to size and experience.
What are kata?
Kata are detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in groups. You can see some examples of Sensei John and his students doing kata on AKA's YouTube channel.
Do I need to book?
It is advised that new students interested in training book the free session - however once a member, there is no need to book - just turn up!
How will I know if a class has been cancelled?
Sensei John will give you as much notice as possible of days when the class will not run. However, in order to be informed of short notice cancellations due to illness etc, please 'Like' us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter for updates. Cancellations will also be added as a message on the AKA WhatsApp group.
How can I tell my friends about the club?
Who is Sensei John?
Sensei John Foster is a Black Belt 3rd Dan in karate who has trained with his childhood club since 1986. For more information see the About section.
Do I have to commit to coming every week?
There is no commitment to come every week, although your karate will obviously improve if you come regularly. As we work on a direct debit scheme, payments will be taken whether you attend the class or not. If you have any long term injuries etc, the direct debit can be held until you wish to return. After your first session , if you wish to come back, you will be requested to complete a membership form so that we have your contact details etc, and to keep you informed about AKA.
Can I wear jewellery when I train?
No - due to safety reasons all jewellery including rings, necklaces etc. will need to be removed. If you cannot remove any items they must be taped over. John will have tape that can be used by the students if required.
Do I have to complete any documentation before I can train?
After your first session you will be requested to complete a membership form so that we have your contact details etc, and to keep you informed about Ashridge Karate Academy. This document also contains any information about injuries you may have and your consent to train at the club.
Do classes run throughout the year?
Yes, classes run throughout the year, including most of the the school holidays except for August, Christmas and Instructor holidays. There may be times when the class is cancelled such as for instructor illness - in which case you will be informed by Sensei John. Make sure you 'Like' us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for updates and reminders as well - as well as the WhatsApp group.
I'd like to train in the adults class but I can't get there at 7:30pm
Ideally, all students arrive at around 7:20pm ready for the class to begin at 7:30pm. If you encounter difficulties arriving on time, you can join the class by waiting for the instructor to acknowledge your presence, then joining the class. Please discuss with Sensei John if you have any challenges with timings.
My pre-teen/teenger would like to train - which class should he/she join?
The 'junior' class is from age 7 upwards, generally to 14, but it depends on the level and maturity of the student in question, so a child may move up to the next class earlier or later than 14. If your child is in the juniors class and approaching 14, Sensei John will discuss with you / them when he thinks it is the right time for them to move up to the next class. If you are unsure about which class to place your child in, please come and discuss it with Sensei John. Prices for juniors are up to and including age 17.
What are the different belts?
The different belts are shown on the GKI Belt section of this website. Any questions in relation to the belts or syllabus please contact Sensei John.
The karate uniform is called the Gi. This can be ordered on line - either Blitz or amazon are a good option. The Blitz Gi is a high quality and long lasting option.
When ordering a Gi, please note the height of the student before ordering - for example, Sensei John is 173 cm tall, and the Gi ordered would be either a size 4 (170) or 5 (180).
Also check that the Gi comes with a white belt
The price of the adult Gi is around £20 - £30 with postage around £5.
For children, we suggest you buy a Gi that the child will grow into. So if the child is 110cm tall, you may be best ordering a 120cm size Gi. The price of the child Gi is around £15 - £25 with postage around £5.
Other equipment you will require are karate gloves and shin & instep guards. The gloves cost around £10, and the shin guard is also around £10. Please order RED gloves and shinguards - as these are the required colour for karate competitions.
Postage for the Gi, gloves and shinguards may be £15. If you would prefer, AKA can add your requirements to a bulk order to reduce some of the postage. There will be a small admin fee for this service, but it will be less than the total postage cost. Please let Sensei John know if you would like to use this service.
How can I buy a new karate belt when I pass a grading?
Karate belts are available after a grading ,and they can be purchased online and cost around £5. As above, postage may cost more than the belt so please let Sensei John know if you want to order a new belt and they can be added to a bulk order. Belts that are no longer required will be bought by AKA for a small payment from the student so that we can recycle the belts to other students.
Is Ashridge Karate Academy Covid -19 safe?
Yes - AKA has worked closely with Rush Judo, who have implemented Covid-19 compliance steps. Please have a look at the Covid-19 Compliance page for further details. Any further questions please ask Sensei John
Will students be safeguarded when in the dojo?
Yes - Ashridge Karate Academy have gained a Safeguarding Code mark - this ensures all students are safe while training, and any issues or requests can be escalated according to the Safeguarding mark protocols. Please follow the following link on Safeguarding