Do you want to learn how to do karate, but you’re not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll learn how to do the most common karate moves and techniques with free video lessons taught by professional instructors. Let’s get started!
Yes! One of karate’s most commendable qualities is its flexibility and relevance across people and lifestyles. Children can begin learning how to do karate at a very young age, continuing to improve and refine their techniques into old age. That said, karate isn’t limited to those who begin at a young age. If you’re a young adult looking for an outlet or an older person trying to get more exercise, karate is for you too.
Because karate is not confined to one type of movement or one type of person, a trainee can utilize this martial art to benefit their specific needs. Listen to karate instructor Richard Amos talk more about this in Howcast’s video at the beginning of this section.
When people take up karate, they often go into it expecting to come out with a black belt at some point. In general, it takes a person anywhere from three to five years to attain their black belt, and this is really just the beginning of their karate training.
In Japanese, the word for the first black belt a person receives is shogun, which means “beginning level.” Attaining your black belt means that you’re ready to start perfecting your karate techniques and that you have a basic understanding of how to do the various aspects of karate well.
Before your first black belt, you’ll go through a number of colors as you continue training and testing through what we call kyu grades. You can typically expect to be tested on your skills twice a year, every six months.
So, what do you need to get your black belt in karate?
This means consistent training in and out of the dojo as well as the desire to constantly improve. Watch Howcast’s video at the beginning of this section to hear Richard Amos talk more about this, and what to expect in his own dojo.
The most basic karate punch is called choku-zuki in Japanese, which translates to “direct punch.”
Here are some things to keep in mind when practicing this punch:
To see how this karate punch should look, watch Howcast’s video tutorial at the beginning of this section. Richard Amos performs the move and talks about the do’s and don’ts in more detail.
This karate front kick is also called the “snapping kick” or “front snap kick.” Note that a “snap” kick differs from a “thrust” kick in that the former is much lighter and faster, which provides you with more cushion time to recover and prepare for a counterattack.
Similar to the basic karate punch we discussed earlier, the front kick in karate has contrast. This means that your support leg (in front of you) will be heavy, and your kicking leg (behind you) will be light.
Here’s how to do a front kick in karate:
To see exactly how the front kick should look, watch Howcast’s video at the beginning of this section!
A reverse punch, or gyaku zuki in Japanese, is similar to the basic punch we discussed earlier, but your stance will be different. It’s called a “reverse” punch because your right arm is out and your left leg is forward.
Here are a few basic tips you should keep in mind while practicing:
To see how this should look, watch Richard Amos perform this karate move the video above.
Ippon kumite is a style of one-step sparring practice with two people. One person defends while the other attacks. Then, they swap roles. In karate, this is how many students train themselves in a variety of blocking and countering techniques.
Keep in mind before we continue, this is a little bit more advanced and is typically taught after a student has learned how to perform simple katas.
Essentially, when you block, you’re deflecting your opponent’s attack. When you counter, you’re attacking while your opponent is still vulnerable.
Below are some tips for your blocks and counters in karate:
Generally, there are three distances upon which your karate techniques depend: mid-range, close-range, and far-range.
Of course, there’s more to it than this, and a lot of it will come to you as you practice and advance your karate skills. To see how these matches would look, watch the video at the beginning of this section. You’ll be able to view these counters and blocks at half-speed and full-speed!
Many people learn how to do karate for self-defense purposes. So, what are the best self-defense moves in karate, and how are they done? Take a look:
This is a great move for defending yourself against an opponent of similar height and weight. It’s designed to take your opponent down when they have a hold on you, particularly near the chest.
It’s important that during the takedown, you come over the top. Don’t bend so that your backside is in the air. Coming over the top will keep you in control and ensure that your opponent won’t end up taking you down instead.
Strikes are one of the most effective karate techniques when your opponent is being forceful. In particular, you may find this technique useful when your opponent is grabbing you with both hands.
What if you’re smaller than your opponent?
To see what these scenarios may look like and how to get out of them, watch the video at the beginning of this section. Richard Amos will explain these karate techniques in more detail and show you how they’re done.
Sparring is a crucial element of karate training. When you spar, you gaining experience for conflicts in the real world and adapting your mind and body to using karate. This adaption is what we call a “reflexive reaction,” and it’s what makes certain actions second-nature to us over time. When you’ve gotten enough experience, your body will actually be working over your intellect as you spar.
Here are some tips and tricks for how to become better at sparring:
The most important thing to remember is that, over time, the moves and techniques you use will become reflexive. Just have fun, and think of the sparring match as a type of information or energy exchange. To hear more about how you can improve your sparring performance, watch the video at the beginning of this section. Pay attention to the way Richard Amos and his sparring partner move and interact with each other.
We went over a lot of karate techniques in this article, both simple and more advanced. We hope that this short lesson has helped you get your foot in the door, and that you’re feeling inspired to begin (or continue) your karate training. To learn even more karate moves, explore the rest of the videos in this series below!
Richard Amos Sensei (6th dan) is the chief instructor of the World Traditional Karate Organization, heading its instructor program. He teaches every day at the headquarters dojo on East 61st Street in Manhattan. Amos has been practicing karate since he was 10 years old. He has competed in numerous championships in England and Europe and has been awarded many Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. Amos has also trained at the headquarters of the Japan Karate Association and is only the second Westerner to have completed their instructors program.