Congratulations on making your grades and welcome to Cambridge. Cambridge University Karate Club is one of the biggest, most active, and most diverse sports clubs in Cambridge — but don't just take our word for it. The club has won the Varsity match 22 times, and has had members competing at international level.

Here is a guide for beginners: CUKC for beginners (PDF)

Here is a guide for existing karateka: CUKC for karateka (PDF)

The club welcomes new members throughout the year, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned karateka. If you have none or little experience with karate and martial arts we invite you to join any of our Wednesday or Sunday sessions. You can find the current training rota here.

If you would like to join the club, just fill in the membership form and turn up at one of our training sessions. You can email us if you want to get in touch or ask any questions about CUKC.

You can also add yourself to our mailing list. The committee sends out regular information regarding training times, competitions, etc through email.

  • Subscribe to our mailing list here.
  • Cambridge awards 'blues' for sportsmen/women whose performance meets certain criteria. The criteria for karate are given on this page.


    Everyone who does a martial art must have a licence. Licences provide insurance cover in the case of an accident — don't worry, this pretty much never happens, but the safety net is there in case it does. Your very first 3 training sessions are covered. However, if you want to train at CUKC for more than these 3 session you'll need a licence from Japan Shotokan Karate England (JSKE), which is our parent association.

    JSKE is affiliated to the Japan Karate Association World Federation (JKAWF) England, and you will automatically receive a JKA licence. This will allow you to grade under the JKA, attend JKA courses and competitions both nationally and internationally, as well as be covered by their insurance. The form to fill in for a licence is here.

    Questions & Answers

    I've never done karate before and I can't even touch my toes — surely I'll be rubbish?

    That's not a problem at all — nearly all of our members started karate with us; we have one special beginners sessions a week especially for newcomers. Newcomers are also welcomed to our 'all grades' session on a Sunday. Some of our best black-belts are less flexible than some of our beginners. Of course it helps if you're flexible but it's not essential and we do a warm-up at the start of every session (and sometimes at the end). The most important thing in karate for beginners is attitude and determination — the rest comes with practice.

    I'm a woman, so karate's not for me.

    There's absolutely no reason why women should feel put off by karate. Though it might sound strange, karate is not violent, especially for beginners. It's about preventing violence, but more than anything it's a great way to keep fit and supple. If you've got as far as looking at this website you're obviously intrigued by the idea, so the best thing is to come along and try it out!

    I've done karate before — what makes CUKC worthy of my limitless talents?

    Have a look at CUKC's impressive history at competition — our members have won many, many medals at regional, national and international championships and you can get a Full Blue in karate too. We have many talented karateka and some fantastic tuition. A lot of our members have come from different styles of karate too; Shito-ryu, Wado-ryu, Gojo-ryu, Kyokushinkai and others have all been represented in CUKC.

    Ah-ha! I know my Wado-ryu from my Kyokushinkai! What style of karate do you guys do?

    CUKC practises Shotokan karate-do, the most popular form of martial art in the country (and the world). We are affiliated to the JSKE (Japan Shotokan Karate England).

    Why should I do karate? What's in it for me?

    Karate is far more interesting than looking at a wall whilst running on a treadmill or climbing endless stairs on a stepping machine. It's a great way to build confidence, meet genuinely nice people, get healthy and flexible, and learn some self defence, and if you are competitively-inclined then there are many opportunities throughout the year to represent the University at all levels of competition.

    I don't want to turn up to lectures with a black eye!

    ... and there's no reason why you should. Our club fosters a safe environment, especially for beginners and we introduce kumite (sparring) at a gentle pace so that by the time you have fists flying towards you, you'll be ready to block them with more than your face.

    How much does it cost? I've spent all my money on beer!

    The first two lessons are free for newcomers. You will need to join the JSKE (Japan Shotokan Karate England) so that you're insured and can start climbing up through the ranks. We only ask that you have completed approx. 24 hours of training if you want to grade at the end of term.

    Won't the black-belts look down their broken noses at me and beat me with sticks?

    The black-belts do not belong to any kind of elite society or cult and they don't want to test/break you by beating you with sticks. They're just normal people and all of them were white belts once; in fact some of them started karate here at CUKC too. And once you see them doing karate make sure that you remember that — there's no reason whatsoever why you can't do what they do, it just takes a bit of time.

    Don't you guys ever have fun?

    The club has a very healthy social life, revolving around termly socials and post-training trips to the pub, film nights and karaoke nights, and other one-off events. The Annual Dinner is held around May Week each year, and is a huge black tie event, with champagne and speeches. We also make sure that whenever a guest instructor comes down to teach we take them out to dinner afterwards.

    Who teaches the club?

    The club is instructed by a combination of professional karate instructors and student instructors. Our Chief Instructor is Sensei Ken Hori, a 6th Dan (6th grade black-belt) . He teaches the Sunday sessions and his classes are fantastic! The student instructors are all highly talented black-belts; some are National Squad members and all have competed for the University.

    Where do you guys train?

    Our training takes place at several venues. Have a look at the training section of the website for the venues and maps of all the different locations.

    What's a "grading" all about?

    At the end of each term we have a grading, which is an examination of your progress taken by our grading examiner. This is your opportunity to move up a grade and you will be tested on the grading syllabus appropriate to your grade. Sometimes when a beginner has shown excellent progress, the examiner may choose to double-grade that person straight up to 8th kyu (red belt) in recognition of that.

    It's the middle of term and I missed all of the freshers stuff — is it too late to join?

    Not at all, new members join the club at all times throughout the year. If you join particularly late in the term you probably won't have time to make up the 24 hours of training necessary to grade in the first term, but that's not a problem as there's nothing to say that you must grade every term. Just turn up to any beginners session and attract the attention of the sensei or a committee member.

    OK, you've got me interested. Where do I start?

    Excellent! Come along to the demonstration in Freshers' Week to see some of our best karateka in action, as well as get an idea what you'll be doing as you progress through the grades. After that, come to a few sessions and give it a try — you don't need to sign up or hand over any money until you've decided that you want to continue and you've had your free training sessions. Check out the times for the beginners sessions in the training section of the website and we hope to see you at training!