London’s best sports facilities, in alphabetical instalments.
Continuing the martial arts theme from Part J, Karate is one of the world’s most famous martial arts, with its popularity spearheaded by Hollywood heroes such as Wesley Snipes and Chuck Norris (and, of course, The Karate Kid). Karate is a striking martial art which uses punches, kicks, knee strikes and elbow strikes, making it ideal for helping you get on the tube in the morning. London has plenty of Karate clubs to join and Shotokan Karate England can point you towards some of the best of these. Some good clubs for new members include Westminster Shotokan Karate, Chelsea Karate Club, Newham Shoujin Karate Club and South London Karate Club. However, given the popularity of this martial art form, you should find karate clubs all over London with most offering beginners sessions (often for free).
Kayaking is the most popular form of canoeing and typically involves single-seater kayaks (or doubles). Kayaking opportunities in London can vary from the extreme (white-water kayaking) to more leisurely adventure tours, so it really depends on how much adrenaline you can face. A fun, relaxed example is Kayaking London, which offers tours such as ‘Big Ben By Night’ and ‘Discover London’ where you will take in some of London’s best known landmarks along the Thames. For even more relaxed adventures away from the choppy waters of the Thames, check out London Kayak Tours with trips up London’s canals and around Windsor. However if these do not ‘float your kayak’ head to the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre in Waltham Cross. If that doesn’t test your nerves, we are not sure what will…
This is a very popular form of exercise which features in many London gyms, but it is also a Japanese martial art by origin. Over the years other kickboxing forms were born such as American or Korean but they all involve similar moves – kicking and boxing. In its crudest form, the goal is to knock you opponent out, however the vast majority practice this art as a form of exercise. Recommend London kickboxing clubs are London kickboxing, Ko Kickboxing and KB Kickboxing. However it is a fairly trendy Hollywood sport, so you should find it available in many of the high-end London gyms.
This sport has rapidly grown in popularity, particularly due to its eco-friendly nature which has attracted the regular surfing community. Essentially, once relatively experienced, all you need is a board, a sail (kite) and some courage. While London hardly provides emerald blue water and white sandy beaches, kitesurfing is increasingly popular along the Thames Estuary where the wind picks up. Essex Kite Surfschool in Southend is a good example and nearby Kitesports World offers one-day courses as well as ‘kite buggying’. Further afield, other kitesurfing clubs can be found along the South East coast, approximately an hour’s drive/train ride from London. Pick of the bunch is the Kitesurf Centre in Camber Sands Beach, which has beginners classes on offer from £99.
This sport is a cross between netball and basketball with a similar objective — shoot and score in the opposing team’s basket. The particular attraction is that it always involves mixed sex teams of eight players, made up of four females and four males. If you’re single, it really could not be more ideal for flirting. It is usually played in indoor sports centres, and London Korfball has an excellent list of the best London Korfball clubs, which often seem to be based around South London. Notable Korfball clubs are Bec Korfball club, Super Nova Korfball Club and Mitcham Korfball.
Perhaps the most famous Kung Fu expert was Bruce Lee who invented his own form derived from Wing Chun. Kung Fu (or Gung Fu) is another name for Chinese martial arts and is said to have originated more than 4,000 years ago as one of the earliest fighting methods. It involves high intensity training with striking, throwing or jumping the most common manoeuvres. London Kung Fu clubs tend to offer a more watered down version to encourage fitness and participation. Warrier Arts Combat in Harrow, Tang Long Kung Fu School and Kung Fu Schools in Croydon are examples of Kung Fu centres. A particular favourite is Weng Chun Kung Fu which offers a free trial lesson in case you just want to have a taste of what it entails.
By Sam Parton
Part A: Aerobics, Aikido, Archery, Athletics, Aussie Rules Football
Part B: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Bikram Yoga, Boules, Bowls, Boxing
Part C: Canoeing, Climbing, Cricket, Croquet, Curling, Cycling
Part D: Dance, Darts, Disc Golf, Diving, Dodgeball, Dragon Boat Racing
Part E: Equestrian, English Billiards, Eight-a-side Football, Endurance Running, Extreme Sports
Part F: Fives, Football, Fencing, Frisbee
Part G: Gaelic Football, Golf, Go-Karting, Goalball, Gridiron
Part H: Handball, Hang Gliding, Hatha Yoga, Hiking, Hockey, Hula Hooping and Hurling
Part I: Ice Climbing, Ice Hockey, Indoor Cricket, Indoor Football, Inline Skating, and Iyengar Yoga.
Part J: Jazz Dancing, Jianzi, Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Jogging, Jorkyball