If you have any questions that are not answered below or require further information, please get in contact with us here.
What does GKR stand for?
GKR stands for ‘Go-Kan-Ryu’. Each syllable in this name has a separate meaning in Japanese. When Kancho Robert Sullivan founded this name for our club in the mid 80’s, his intention was for it to mean the following: Go = hard; Kan = total or complete; Ryu = school or system. The terms ‘Go’ and ‘Kan’ form part of the name for many karate styles. Kancho Sullivan’s initial karate background was in Goju and a Shotokan based style, and GKR Karate’s course content and name reflects influences from both of these styles.
How do I sign up for GKR Karate?
Please visit the ‘Contact us’ section of our website and complete the enquiry form.
How much is it to join?
The initial registration fee will vary depending on the number of family members joining together. We also run special membership promotions from time to time where large discounts can be offered for people trialling karate for the first time. These promotions are only offered in limited areas at any one time so please contact the club via the ‘JOIN’ section of our website and we will arrange for the latest membership information to be sent to you.
What can I expect at my first class?
We encourage all new members to arrive at their first class 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. This gives the Instructor an opportunity to meet the new students and explain the basic format of the first class. Generally speaking, the first few classes will involve an introduction to the basic striking, blocking and kicking techniques and these will be practised at moderate speeds until the student’s coordination develops. Essentially, students can progress at their own speed based on their own personal level of fitness and flexibility.
Do I need a uniform to start?
Students are welcome to train in track pants/shorts and t-shirt to start with (singlets are not permitted). We do encourage students to purchase a uniform however (known as a ‘gi’) as soon as they have settled into their first few classes. These uniforms are available through the Instructor.
What does 'non-contact' mean?
Non-contact is a common term used in martial arts circles to describe the protocols followed within a dojo when training in partner exercises or during free-sparring. With the rising popularity of full contact cage fighting in recent years, non-contact or semi-contact styles are often required to explain the effectiveness of their ‘less-than-full-contact’ training systems. In essence, non-contact really implies ‘non-impact’ meaning that training drills that involve working with a partner will not allow students to be struck with lethal or injurious force to the head, body or other vital areas.
In the process of developing effective blocks and strikes however, there will obviously be need for the blocking areas of the body (e.g. forearms, hands etc) to come into contact with the common striking parts of the body (e.g. arms, legs etc.). These exercises are practised in a safe and controlled manner and often involve taking the extra precaution of wearing safety equipment in the event of an accidental contact (e.g. hand and shin protectors, groin guards, mouth guards etc). Even during free sparring, students are required to exhibit physical and emotional control especially when sparring at a vigorous pace. The speed of the free sparring will be governed by the supervising senior in the class and will be reflective of the student’s skill level.
Are there opportunities for talented or gifted students?
Many regions run advanced classes and in some cases ‘Junior Development Squads’ which give selected children a chance to train in a more advanced environment with other talented children of similar age. Special seminars are conducted on a monthly/bi monthly basis where students from all local dojos can train personally with the Senior Regional Instructor. This can be supplemented by invitations to weekly senior class, or other regular classes that may be run for experienced students only. In addition, regular tournament skill classes and quarterly karate tournaments give students of all ages the opportunity to compete and test their skills.
How long does it take to achieve Black belt?
The average time taken for a student to achieve their Shodan-ho (provisional Black belt) in GKR Karate is approximately five to six years. Students with exceptional talent or those with previous traditional karate experience have been known to achieve this in as little as four years. Generally speaking, the minimum age for Junior Black belt is 12 years old although there have a small number of extremely gifted youngsters to have achieved this qualification as early as 10.
How do GKR Black belts compare with Black belts from other styles?
Based on interactions with other clubs at either special seminars or external ‘All-style’ tournaments, our experience is that the standard of GKR Karate Black belts compared with other styles is very good. Our Black belt competitors frequently win tournaments in both kata and particularly kumite events in both traditional and free-style competitions. It should be noted however that GKR Karate respects all other styles of martial art and recognises that individual talents and natural athletic abilities often dictate a person’s aesthetic and technical development in a martial art more so than the basic structure of a club’s curriculum.
The most pragmatic view that anyone should take on this subject is that a person’s technical development over time has more to do with their commitment and aptitude for learning than anything else. In other words, it’s more about the ‘individual’ than it is about the ‘style’ and that is why making ‘armchair’ comparisons between martial arts styles based on the standard of a few individuals is inappropriate.
Why join GKR Karate over other clubs?
Whilst we have great respect for many other Martial Arts clubs out there, we naturally feel that GKR Karate offers students a range of benefits that many other clubs cannot match. First of all, because we are an international organisation with over 2500 classes running each week between 3 countries, the community of active GKR Karate students is enormous and this creates a great opportunity for plenty of positive social interaction amongst both children and adults. It also means that we are able to hold inter-club tournaments which gives students of all ages the chance to test their skills in large divisions in a positive and like-minded environment.
Added to these benefits is the exposure to a comprehensive and informative website, an international club magazine, regular special seminars run by senior instructors, classes running for 50 weeks of each year, and the rare opportunity for families to train in an activity together in the same room and at the same time. We also hope that you’ll be drawn towards the encouraging and non-intimidating class environment that we work hard to create.
Does GKR Karate have insurance?
GKR has public liability insurance which covers all GKR Karate approved classes worldwide. More information about GKR Karate’s insurance policy can be found here. Note: The membership fee paid by students does not provide comprehensive personal accident insurance. Apart from the prohibitive cost that would need to be passed on to students if we were to make this mandatory upon registration, the majority of the countries that we operate already have a National Health body that covers individuals for treatment should basic injuries occur from an activity or sport (National Health Scheme in the UK; ACC in New Zealand). Approximately half of all Australian families already pay significant premiums for private health insurance and these people would in effect be paying for personal accident cover a second time were we to make it mandatory. GKR Karate’s non-contact emphasis, along with its strict safety practises means however that injuries of any kind are extremely rare.
How are Instructors selected?
All of our Sensei and Sempai are selected from within our senior student ranks. At various times, we scout classes and gradings for individuals who will fit the profile that we are looking for. Generally speaking, these people show an above average level of physical skill and aptitude for learning, however, we recognise that a karate instructor must be more than just a skilled karate exponent. He/she must also embody the principles of good character and the spirit of ‘karate-do’. In displaying these qualities, a GKR Karate Instructor should strive to be a good example for other adult students, and a role model for the junior students. We have found it a mistake in the past to solely consider the physical skill level of an instructor at the expense of personality and good communication skills. Being a top level karate-ka does not guarantee that someone will be a top role model, an effective communicator, or have the patience or desire to help others.
It is well documented in fact that some of the best instructors in any field were not always the most skilled individual practitioners (e.g. piano teachers, boxing trainers, dancing instructors, gymnastics coaches etc.). If it is felt that a student is training at standards that their particular local instructor is not best suited to teach, then the students will simply be graduated into a more senior class, with a higher ranking instructor in their local area. These instances are rare, but we have provision to deal with this when/if it occurs. This progressive or tiered teaching structure is very effective and GKR Karate has used it to great effect over the years. Ultimately, we believe that our primary goal as instructors is to train our students up to – and eventually – beyond our own standard.
Are the Instructors accredited?
Yes all branch instructors must be accredited via GKR Karate’s Instructor Accreditation Program (IAP). This accreditation program is a combination of internal assessments and external legislative processes. Each Instructor must comply with/achieve the following:
• Thorough understanding of karate techniques, course curriculums, risk management strategies and GKR Karate teaching methodology.
• An approved Police check or ‘Working with Children’ qualification relevant to their state/country.
• Basic First Aid qualification.
• ‘Working with Children’ qualifications and first aid knowledge are refreshed as required by local legislations.
Do the Branch Instructors have an Instructor?
Yes they do, in fact it is a requirement for all GKR Karate Sensei and Sempai to train weekly with their Senior Regional Instructor. This ensures that each branch instructor’s own personal karate progress can be regularly monitored, and their teaching techniques and course education constantly updated and improved.
What grade level are the Branch Instructors?
The vast majority of GKR Instructors are Black belts, however the grade level of Branch Instructors will vary from dojo to dojo and is determined somewhat by the grade level of students actually training in those classes. In every region there is a mixture of senior dojos (higher ranked instructors and students), and more junior dojos were a high concentration of new students may typically exist. 90+% of all GKR classes have 2 instructors; mostly comprising of one Sensei (teacher) and one Sempai (assistant teacher).
What does the Black and White belt signify?
Belts with white stripes can mean different things in different clubs. In GKR, the Black/White belt signifies that that person has been authorised by the senior Regional manager to operate in an instructional role within the region. The range and grade of students that they are authorised to teach will be relevant to their own experience level as a student and an Instructor.
A very large number of our branch instructors are at Black belt level or above. These instructors will naturally wear their Black belt in their teaching role. Instructors wearing a Black and White belt are yet to be personally assessed for their Black belt, but have attended and passed GKR Karate’s Instructor Training Program theory and practical modules, as well as becoming certified in basic first aid and satisfied all CRB/Working with Children legislative requirements.
Do the Branch Instructors get paid?
Branch Instructors are essentially volunteers who devote their time to helping others because they want to. They do receive exemptions from ongoing training and grading fees as well as other discounted merchandise but this does not comprise payment. We are forever grateful for the time that they sacrifice to be a part of our coaching team.
Is GKR Karate affiliated with any governing body?
Whilst affiliation with so-called ‘governing bodies’ has never been a priority throughout GKR Karate’s lifespan as a club, we are proud to be members of NAKMAS (National Association of Karate and Martial Arts Schools). NAKMAS is one of the three main governing bodies for karate in the UK and Europe. GKR has been a member of NAKMAS since 2002. Moreover, GKR with over 30,000 registered and active students worldwide formed the IGKF (International Go-Kan-Ryu Karate Federation) in 2005. All GKR Karate schools in Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom are members of the IGKF.
What are Membership Consultants?
These people perform an important task within our club as they are the first introduction point for most new students. Whilst the Membership Consultant position can lead to a management traineeship for the right candidates, these people are essentially responsible for introducing GKR Karate to the public. Their task is to consult prospective new students on how GKR Karate classes are run and what benefits people can gain from training in our club. They are not trained nor do they profess – to consult people on the strengths or weakness of other clubs or styles.
Do you advertise for instructors with no experience?
Absolutely not! From time to time we run career advertisements that offer people the opportunity to be part of a Trainee Management Program. The program includes full time intensive karate tuition in amongst other sales and management functions, and can eventually lead to the trainee attaining a teaching qualification. These courses involve an accelerated Black belt training course in which the student can start from scratch, and achieve a Black belt qualification in 2-2? years, instead of the usual 5 years.
Our adverts merely described that previous martial arts experience was not necessary to obtain a position on this traineeship career, as all training in the GKR style would be provided as part of the position. At no time did our ads advertise for people with no karate experience to start teaching classes for us. Traineeship positions are still available in certain regions at different times throughout the year, and we still give people with no prior karate experience the chance to apply for the reasons mentioned.
Why are there some negative comments about GKR Karate on the internet?
Unfortunately, negativity and anonymous criticism is commonplace in all forms of social media these days, whether it’s comments below a Youtube video, posts on Facebook, or gossip-fuelled public forums. The size and scope of our organisation has given us direct exposure to thousands of students of all ages over the years. These students have in turn been taught by thousands of different branch instructors and Regional senior instructors. Given this scale and timeline, it is statistically inevitable that the occasional student may not be satisfied with something we did or a decision that we made. Almost all businesses, clubs and associations have a disgruntled ex-member out there somewhere and when you’re dealing with extremely large clubs like ours with so many thousands of people then we are obviously going to experience our share.
Whilst the vast majority of negative GKR Karate material on the internet is either completely false or at best – out of date – we nonetheless give our full attention to students who have a genuine concern. The only thing we work harder on than providing a positive and encouraging training environment for our students, is in rectifying a problem or error where and if it occurs. All of our Regional and Senior Zone Instructors are directly accessible via the GKR Karate website, as is Shihan Gavin Samin, Shihan Anthony Ryan and Kancho Robert Sullivan (Founder and Chief Instructor).
Is GKR Karate a Pyramid selling business?
Some of our detractors like to say online that GKR Karate is a Pyramid scheme. First of all, Pyramid selling schemes are illegal in most countries where we have classes. This is where people are induced to pay money to join something, and then recruit others who also pay to join the scheme (like the old ‘chain letters’). The main feature of pyramid selling schemes is that progressing through the scheme and earning money depends on recruiting other people into the group, rather than selling a genuine product or service. Most people that make this accusation towards GKR Karate either don’t know what a Pyramid scheme is, or they don’t really know how GKR Karate operates.
They may know that we pro-actively market our classes via suburb surveys and in shopping centres and that many career positions within the organisation have a part performance-based income structure (like about half of all other businesses). But that does not constitute anything like a pyramid scheme. Hence, and at the risk of sounding harsh, anyone who describes our organisation in this way is ignorant of the facts and definitions.