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Are you a new Karate Student?

Starting martial arts can be intimidating, so here's what to expect in your First Karate Class.

In a Traditional Karate Class, there will be a lot of Japanese terms used, so to familiarize yourself here is a list of the most commonly used Karate Dojo Terms.

How do I know when I am ready to test for my next belt?  At the Missouri Karate Association, we list all our Rank Test Requirements out so you can prepare for your next grading.  

⛩️ Foundations are first, if a building


9th Kyu

⛩️ Posture is one of the first things yo


8th kyu

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7th kyu



6th kyu

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5th kyu



4th kyu

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3rd kyu

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2nd kyu

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1st kyu



1st Dan

First Karate Class


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A dojo is a place of learning.

Shotokan karate itself has a tradition for how karateka conduct themselves.

The protocol we follow during our class is an expression of our interest in upholding Japanese tradition in our karate training.

Before entering the dojo floor, we take our shoes off. 
Any time we enter or leave the dojo, we bow toward shomen, as a sign of respect for everything that the dojo means to us.

 Shomen is the front wall of the room; sho means "true" and men means "face". Bowing is a Japanese custom for displaying respect, humility, and lack of arrogance. It is not a matter of "bowing down" to a superior; as you notice, black belts bow to lower belts and vice versa.

When class begins, we line up shoulder to shoulder, in rank order, with higher ranks to the right, lower ranks to the left. Sempai (senior student) will then issue commands: ​


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Seiza ("kneel down"): done in rank order, starting with the higher ranks first.

Mokusoh ("meditate"): we take one minute to empty our minds and prepare for maximum concentration during class. 

Mokusoh yame ("stop meditating"): gently return the focus from your inner self back to the environment you are in.

Shomen ni rei ("bow to shomen"): we bow as a sign of respect and thanks to the founder of Shotokan and the ancestors.

Sensei ni rei ("bow to sensei"): the entire class bows to the teacher. If sensei is not present, the command will be senpai ni rei, thus bowing to the leader of that day's class.

Senpai ni rei ("bow to senpai"): the entire class bows to senpai.  This is a way of giving thanks to everyone for being present and helping us learn karate. 

When a karateka arrives late, he/she warms up and stretches prior to entering the dojo. Then the karateka comes inside, bows and waits for sensei's or senpai's permission to join the class. 


When class is over, sensei or senpai will ask us to line up. Then we go through seiza and mokusoh.


After mokusoh, we bow to shomen, sensei and senpai. After that we stand up, in order of rank, and bow once again. 


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Karate is a way of life, you must train hard and be true to receive positive results.

Show Respect to everyone, instructors, students, family members, friends and anyone else you associate with.

Always present yourself with a clean appearance. (Karate-gi clean, shower, no chewing gum, no jewelry or metals etc.). 

Undershirts must be white.

Exercise good behavior and manners with your partners, always be courteous and treat everyone as an equal. 

There is NO physical contact between students, you must practice control.

Respect the line of formation, at the beginning and end of classes; pay particular attention to your Seiza. 

In the dojo we all are the same, there is no distinction in beliefs, economic position, or culture, we are all just human beings.

Don’t be late for classes, if you do, for reasons beyond your control, wait at the entry door in a formal position until you get permission to enter.

Assist your Sensei by helping with new student arrivals; don’t wait until Sensei demands it. Everyone will appreciate this.

You must inform your instructor(s) of any injury before training.



There will be no horseplay during Kumite training or competition.

There will be no negative or reckless attitudes or behavior.

There is to be no physical contact to be made during free sparring activities. The activity is to be performed within the rules, and any intentional act to injure another participant or spectator is not condoned, encouraged or permitted by the Missouri Karate Association.

Missouri Karate Association reserves all rights to dismiss any students, at any time, for misconduct and/or actions, which may convey a bad image.

Karate - Empty Hands
Karate Do -The Way of Karate
Do - Way
Karateka - Practitioner of Karate
Dojo - School or training room
Sensei - Teacher
Sempai - Senior
Kohai - Junior
Shihan - Master Instructor
Kyu - Rank
Gi - Uniform
Obi - Belt
Hai - Yes


Karate Terms

Osu - "I understand and will try my best." Also used to show respect, enthusiasm. Do not use outside of the dojo!

Budo - Way of combat

Zanshin - Poise and control

Kime - Focus

Kihon - Fundamentals/Basics

Kata - Practice form

Kumite - Sparring/fighting

Ippon kumite - One-step sparring

Jiyu kumite - Free sparring

Bunkai - Application (interpretation) of kata techniques

Embusen - Floor pattern/lines of a kata

Maai - Distance

Kiai - Spirit shout/focus of spiritual energy

Waza - Technique
Kamae - Posture

Shotokan "House of Shoto”; “Pine Sea”; pen name of Funakoshi. 

Mokuso - Meditate/Gather Your Thoughts

Dachi - Stance

Tsuki (Zuki) - Punch

Uchi - Strike

Uke - Block

Rei - Bow

Waza - Technique

Geri - Kick



Zuki/Tsuki -Punch

Age Zuki - Rising punch

Kagi Zuki - Hook punch

Uraken Uchi - Back fist strike

Tate Zuki - Vertical punch

Kizami Zuki - Jab punch

Oi Zuki - Lunge punch

Gyaku-zuki - Reverse punch

Sanbon Zuki - Triple punch



haito Uchi - ridge hand

hiji uchi (empi) - elbow strike

seiken - fist

shuto Uchi - knife hand



Mai Geri Keage - Front kick (snap)

Mai Geri Kekomi - Front kick (thrust)

Kansetsu Geri - Stomping joint kick

Hiza Geri - Knee kick

Nidan Geri - Double front kick

Mai Tobi Geri - Jump kick

Swing kick

Yoko Geri Keage - Side kick (snap)

Yoko Geri (Kekomi) - Side kick (thrust)

Mawashi Geri - Round kick

Ushiro-Geri - Back kick

Ashi Barai - Foot sweep

Fumikomi - stomp (strike)



Heisoku Dachi - Closed foot stance (feet together)

Musubi Dachi - Heels together

Heiko Dachi - Parallel stance 

Hachiji Dachi - Natural stance

Shiko Dachi - Straddle leg stance

Kiba Dachi - Horse riding stance

Sanchin Dachi - Hourglass stance

Zen Kutsu Dachi - Front Stance

Han Zen Kutsu Dachi - Half front stance

Fudo Dachi - Free stance

Kokutsu Dachi - Back stance

Neko Ashi Dachi - Cat stance

Renoji Dachi - "L" stance

Seisan Dachi - Side facing straddle stance

Koshi Dachi - Squat stance



Age Uke (Jodan) - Rising block (Head)

Chudan Uke - Inside circular block

Harai Uke - Sweeping block

Yoko Uke - Side block

Hojo Uke - Augmented block

Kosa Uke - Cross block

Kake Uke - Hook block

Shotei Osae - Palm-heel press

Gedan barai - Downward block

Hiki Uke - Grasping block

Shuto Uke - Knife hand block

Shotei Uke - Palm heel block

Chudan Uchi Uke - Inside forearm block

Mawashi Uke - Roundhouse block

Tora Guchi - Tiger mouth (block & strike)

  • Will karate help with my childs confidence / self esteem?
    Yes and it does so in the following ways. They will obtain acheivements as they progress through the ranks, but they also be required to demonstrate what they learned in front of class on their own. Hard training builds confidence, which in turn will build their self esteem.
  • Can Karate be used for self defense?
    Yes, karate can be a very effective martial art at self defense if used properly. In fact, Lyoto Machida of the UFC has shown just how useful Shotokan Karate can be. Fun Fact: Our Senior Sensei Avi Rokah has also trained Lyoto Machida.
  • What age can my child start taking Karate?
    We start as young as 4 in our dojo. Typically, we've seen the best age to start at is around 5, since they are starting to get structure in their lives from kindergarten, among other things. However, the younger they start, the more positive impact Karate will have on their physical and mental development.
  • Am I too old/out of shape to do Karate?
    Absolutely not! Starting Karate is not about how old or athletic you are, its how much do you want it. Karate will transform your body and mind regardless of your current physical capabilities, you just need to start.
  • Will Karate make my child more aggressive?
    No, it will in fact do the opposite. Karate will teach them self defense while building their confidence, not just in themselves but in their self defense capabilites. Karate is about becoming a better person, and capable, happy, confident kids have no reason to bully anyone.
  • Will my child get hurt doing karate?
    In our Dojo we have a very high standard of control. Everyone is taught how to generate a lot of force with their bodies, but they are also taught to control that technique so that it never hits anyone. Control is strictly enforced in our dojo, and while with any athletic sport accidents do happen; they are much more likely to get hurt playing soccer or football than Karate.
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