The first big hurdle

Why do people start karate? Of all the possible reasons, a high percentage will be looking for an enjoyable way of keeping fit and at the same time wishing to acquire a set of self-defence skills to improve their confidence.

Unfortunately, the dropout rate for beginners is high. It is not surprising with the amount of hard work that is involved learning stances, blocks, kicks and all the terminology. Put to one side those who will not stick with anything that involves hard work, some of the training out there must be disappointing for students, otherwise, why would so many give up?

Once a beginner gets to grips with the basic techniques, most of what has been learned has to be put together into Heian Shodan.  This is a great opportunity for an instructor to bring life to the beginner’s karate.

The soul of a kata is the bunki (application) and as a consequence it is no surprise if a student gives up karate if this is omitted. Slogging up-and-down the dojo may get you fit, but a beginner is soon going to pack up if it all seems meaningless, because it will not be enjoyable if there is no sign of the practical self-defence they were seeking.

Heian Shodan is a wonderful Kata packed with practical self-defence. Instructors should demand a high standard within their club, so the student understands the level of skill required to pass a grading. In return, the instructor should make sure the student learns to interpret the bunkai and be able to make it work. In my experience, students cannot get enough of this type of training. It spurs them on and makes them work even harder at improving their kata.

The following video shows the progress of some of our beginners and junior grades practising Heian Shodan. Bunki is first practised in a basic form and only when there is competence with the basic form can they move on to a more advanced routine.

Satisfied beginners, who have a good knowledge of the basics, become the instructors of the future.

The video shows some of our beginners ranging from 4 weeks to 13 weeks training. We expect to follow their karate journey and their challenges in future blogs.

Beginners karate video


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