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



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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



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)

Frequently asked questions

Will karate help my child’s behavior?

Karate, at its core is about being the BEST person you can be, the Human Ideal. Self defense is our medium, and those two together form a powerful combination. Being able to defend yourself: builds confidence, and confidence builds character. Hard training builds willpower, work ethic and discipline. With Confidence, Work Ethic and Discipline, you can do anything.

My child has quit activities before, how can I keep him from quitting?

Making sure they attend classes at least once a week is one of the best things you can do as a parent. Also, Everyone has natural lulls in interest in Anything, so parental encouragement can go very far. If you want to motivate, just say: “I love to watch you practice.”

Why is Missouri Karate Association a Great Alternative to the Gym?

Community, at the Dojo you have a family of people who want to train with you and build you up. Second, its actually fun to move around with other people and learn REAL applicable skills. Unlike lifting the same lifts or hitting the same treadmill, your karate journey never has to stop, there is always more to learn.

Can my child do martial arts if they aren’t athletic?

Yes, in fact many kids that aren’t gifted in athletics, become good athletes as karate builds the legs and the core, both of which are important for nearly every body motion. Karate training results in: stronger legs & abs, faster, explosive legs and a more flexible body.