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How To Teach Yourself Karate From Home

As martial arts students ourselves, we always recommend going the route of the dojo whenever possible. While more expensive, the benefits of having one-on-one instruction, peers to learn with, and a group support system to answer any question you will have, greatly outweigh the additional cost.

With that said, we also know that there are plenty people out there that simply don't have the luxury of adding class fees into their budgets. It would be a shame to let an aspiring martial artists dreams dissipate simply for monetary reasons. It is with these martial arts enthusiasts in mind that we present this article.

Continue reading to learn about some alternatives to martial arts classes that may be a suitable substitute, at least until the day that live instruction becomes an option.


This is probably a no-brainer for many people but too often, particularly nowadays, books are overlooked as valuable sources of information. Sure they may pale in comparison to a dazzlingly produced martial arts video but books have one vital thing going for them: They have been around a very long time.

So what does this mean to the aspiring martial artist looking for a suitable introduction to karate? In a word: Options. Since pen was put to paper, there have been writings on nearly every facet of every martial arts style imaginable. To look to books for study is to tap a resource comprised of centuries worth of martial arts knowledge, often written by the various martial arts masters themselves.

Not only is a curious martial artists more likely to find the instructional information he seeks in the form of a book, he will also find in them a very forgiving teaching medium. Where some of the later examples mentioned are more limited in where they can be used, a book can be used wherever and whenever one chooses. Have a few spare minutes on the bus ride home? You'll be able to take advantage of any spare moment to learn more about the forms/styles that you have selected to train in. Additionally, a student can, in essence, halt their 'lesson' whenever they need to simply by putting the book down.

So what should one look for when selecting an instructional karate book? The first step is to find a book that you are comfortable with learning from. Many instructional books have a good assortment of pictures/photographs that show step-by-step how a move is properly executed. Select a book that you feel is right for you. If you find the text or pictures of a particular book hard to follow, your lessons will suffer for it.

You may also want to take a moment to research what the most recommended books out there are. These books have been available for a long time and certain titles have become recognized over others. Ask other martial artists you may know what they would recommend. A quick internet search can offer a great selection of books as well as the opinions they have garnered over the years.

Pro's: Easy to find, cheap, can be used anywhere

Con's: While pictures are helpful, many people learn better from seeing a series of movements executed in real time (video for example), selection can be overwhelming at first.


With the advent of video, the options for martial arts enthusiasts looking to teach themselves karate from home have grown tremendously. No longer did a student have to look only at single-frame pictures as visual aides. As videos have progressed to DVDs and beyond, so too has their production value and overall effectiveness to the student.

The variety of styles available to learn from a video lesson has also increased, although not quite the point of books. Still, many exotic forms are available to be taught through DVD instruction, often with masters of their particular style being used as the narrator/instructor. Not only does a student looking to learn karate by DVD have the ability to be 'taught' by a noted practitioner, they also get to see moves executed properly and in real time. The student has the added benefit of being able to pause and rewind, giving them the ability to learn at their own pace.

As with books, there are good instructional DVDs and bad ones. Finding out which to avoid is a simple matter of asking around, whether by friends and acquaintances or through the internet. Another down side to going the DVD route is that they can often be more expensive than a karate book that usually be found either through a library or one of the countless used books stores out there. A student may also find themselves quickly looking for their next lessons after they've played through their 2-hour DVD several times. While many videos are available in large, multi-volume sets, the selection is still drastically smaller when compared to what is available through books.

Pro's: Better visual aide than a book, can be paused and rewound at student's leisure.

Con's: Limited to rooms equipped with a DVD player, more expensive than books.


A relatively new option for martial arts students is that of karate instruction by way of the internet. Some are simply in the form of uploaded videos that may or may not have a cost associated with watching them. While their may be more exotic styles available through internet video instruction, the student is still paying for what is essentially a streaming DVD. Other courses have attempted to provide martial arts classes through live internet video. While these may be an option for some, it's unknown just how effectively these live lessons by web-cam can bridge the gap between real-life classes in a dojo and lessons through DVD.

Another factor to consider is that an online course is limited solely to the type of internet connection available, both by the instructor and the student. How many times has your internet gone down during a busy search? Now imagine it going down during a serious karate lesson. Disaster. While video streaming has come a long way from what it once was, the fact remains that an internet karate lesson is susceptible to all of the same pitfalls as any other internet site.

Pro's: Potentially live instruction with the chance for instructor feedback.

Con's: Can be just as costly as a real dojo, limited by an internet connection.

How Start Teaching Yourself Karate:

So now that the aspiring karate student has selected the method by which they feel they will learn best, where does one begin? To start, if one is at all interested in taking training successfully, then self-teaching must be taken as seriously (if not moreso) than any other live karate class. The following points are to be kept in mind both before and after any self-taught karate lessons have begun.

Set a Schedule

An effective routine of any sort is best constructed around a schedule that is strictly adhered to. This is where the need for self-discipline will make itself all too apparent. The martial arts student that has chosen the road of self-teaching must treat their training schedule as seriously as the strictest sensei would. The freedom that self-teaching offers is also one of its greatest pitfalls. Too often a martial artist will begin strong but quickly lose steam, soon forgetting their studies altogether.

Start by setting up a schedule that you know you will be able to stick to. If you need help in setting up a good routine, there are plenty of sample schedules available in many martial arts books and online. Try finding out what the schedules look like at your local dojos and mimic them. Remember, the only thing more important than finding a schedule is sticking to it.

Find a Place to Train

Another important point to remember is that you're going to need a good location to have your 'class'. Dojos provide a large, wide open, space in which to practice an array of movements. You need to find an area available to you that most closely resembles such a space. Depending on how you'll be teaching yourself, someplace outdoors may or may not be an option.

Train Properly

Stretching is one of the most important things a martial artist can begin their training session with, whether they are in a dojo or in a living room. Remember to warm up and stretch appropriately before any martial arts training. This is the first thing you'll be expected to take part in at a brick-and-mortar dojo, so you may as well apply the same principles to your solo lessons.


Hopefully this has helped give aspiring martial artists some basic information on options and practices for teaching oneself karate or any other martial art. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the most effective method for learning a martial art has been, and always will be, through a classroom setting with a certified and knowledgeable instructor. While this can come at an expense, there are other opportunities that, depending on the area, may or may not be an option to those looking to enter the martial arts.

For example, many local community centers may offer free or discounted classes to local youths. Likewise, many schools may offer martial arts courses as a after-school/extra-curricular activity. Programs such as these may offer their programs at little-to-no cost to the community. As always, a quick search online could yield a wealth of martial arts opportunities you never knew existed.

If you would like to share any experiences or tips that you have in regards to self-training in a martial art, please feel free to leave a comment below that details them. I'm sure many of the readers that happen upon this article would appreciate it greatly.

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3 Comment(s)
7/27/13 - 9:16pm
6/26/19 - 1:10pm
Dear students,
never train alone, find somebody to be there and help control your movements. Thze following ideas are just to prove a local coach , you have made the first step and want to join their club, say for a two -week probation or so.Be careful with paying grereat sums in advance.

Body preparation:
Keep walking at least for 15 minute then after stopping start rotating your parts of the body from head, neck, shoulders, arms wasist akness, toes, Again jogging and after 10 minutes do some stretching, starting with legs, hips and upper body. Train balance on one leg using Yoga .

Start with stances from higher to lower and wider posotions -from Musubi, Heiko, uchi hajichi dachi, shiko dachi then 45 turn to Zenkutsu dachi to both direstions freely witout feeling any pain. Then legs- sweeps with in lĂ´onger stances, i-e. Zen-kutsu or Shiko dachi, lower kicks not higher than knee level. only to be able to stop kicking legs. Avoid using long and high kicks they are attractive but visible and slow. Never for a beginner. Hand- techniques should be started with block parallelly with both hands, i. Gedan barai with both hands, SOto Uke, Uchi Uke, Harai otoshi Uke. Enjoy starting and making them at once with breathing out, hands clenched in fists. Hits should be limited to single or double palm tossess or stopping/blocking movements or holding and turning the upper torso of the opponents body out of balance.

Take a mirror stance - his left leg front, your right leg froent and vice versa. It helps stopping kickcs by raising our knee lige a crane. Keep moving byckward or maximum to the side and make use of any object to be placed betzween you and the opponent, a training bag, piece of clothing as a barrier. If too close move to either side t step off the frontal direction of attacke, block and run away.

If in a problem situation, find someone to stay together. Do not argue and avoid places with potential conflict, especially in the night and remote places.

It also help to copy some Katas, those for beginners, form any book and try to build your ownes, just for the sake of finding some principles of movements and sequence of actions. The sooner you join club the better for you.

Best regards, Paul retired instructor of sporting Karate.
KarateMart.com Team
6/27/19 - 12:45pm
Thanks for sharing, Paul!

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