Tips for Beginner Karate Students

Two students sparring in karate class at Mind Over Matter Karate in North York, Toronto.

So you’re interested in karate, but don’t know what to expect from karate classes? You may be nervous going into your first class, but our instructors are always ready to answer your questions and assist you with your practice. If you’ve signed up for a class and are worried about what you’re getting into, here are eight tips to get you prepared and familiarize you with how our practice works!

  • First thing is first. You don’t have to worry about getting hurt, feeling embarrassed, or being on your own. We train in a safe, friendly, and professional atmosphere. Any time you start something new, it’s a little uncomfortable. But that’s when you know you’re learning, growing and transforming! We’ll support and compassionately challenge you to be your best and we’ll guide you at every step of the way. Before you know it, new students will be looking to you for advice!

  • Learn about the practice of bowing in karate. Bowing in the dojo is a mutual sign of respect between practitioners, no matter their level of expertise, which is why you bow before sparring or practising drills with another person. You will also bow as you enter the dojo and as you leave, at the beginning and end of class, to show respect for the dojo, the history, and the practice.

  • Learn the important terms used in karate. There will be a few terms in our practice that we refer to. ‘Karateka’ means a karate practitioner. ‘Kihon’ refers to fundamentals or building blocks taught and practised in karate, like breathing, self-awareness, bio-mechanics, techniques, etc. Once you can do Kihon, you move onto Kata. ‘Kata’ refers to the ancient forms and models of detailed and preset  movement patterns practiced in karate that contain fighting symbols, codes, structures for self-defense. ‘Dojo’ is the school or place of training for karate. You’ll pick up more terms as you continue with your practice.

  • Learn how to tie a karate belt. Belts levels advance from white; to yellow, to yellow with a black stripe; to green, to green with a black stripe; to purple; to brown, to brown with one, two, or three black stripes; and to black. Basically, the darker your belt, the more experience you have. Your instructor may also teach you how to tie your belt in class, but learning the process ahead of time will help when you actually tie the belt yourself. Here’s a great video tutorial from author, educator and Karate athlete Jesse Enkamp.

  • Enquire about when, where and how you should get your uniform. You’ll want to contact your karate school to find out what the process is for acquiring your kit. At our Dojo, we welcome you to come for your first class in any clothing that you feel comfortable moving in. If you decide to keep training with us, we’ll let you know how to order a uniform.

  • Fuel properly for your practice. You’ll find yourself burning a lot of calories from mental and physical focus in just one class, so be sure to eat in the way you would before a workout and give yourself time to digest. You’ll also want to hydrate before and after class because you’ll be moving and sweating a lot. Students are expected to put their best efforts into their practice, and preparing yourself accordingly will go a long way.

  • Arrive a few minutes early so you can get ready for class. We recommend you give yourself time to sign in, get changed, catch up with fellow students and start warming up before we begin class. We do a thorough warm up, but every body is different so it’s good to get nice and loose before we begin. Getting into the habit of warming up your muscles before your workout will prevent discomfort, lower the chance of injury, and will also generally improve your health and your ability to learn new moves.

  • It will be a commitment. Mind Over Matter offers a free trial so you can try a class and see what the karate practice consists of before committing to the full course. It takes a lot of practice to perfect these techniques and poses, to condition the mind and body. You will also need to practise at home outside of class. We offer a free trial so you can experience the passion and dedication that our students share in the dojo, and see the confidence building personal development that comes with the practice.

We hope these few tips and tricks will make your first few classes a little easier and more of a fun challenge. If you have any questions about starting karate, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram. If you’ve already started your practice, let us know the tips, tricks and resources that have been helpful for you! See you in the dojo!