A Typical Martial Arts Class
Martial arts classes vary in length ranging from short 45 minute classes for young kids to 1-2 hour classes or longer for older kids, teenagers and adults. The following example is based on a one-hour class and not all of these elements will be covered in each lesson.
The majority of karate schools adhere to some kind of formal etiquette at the beginning and end of each class. Depending on your chosen style you could see the full routine of formal etiquette including kneeling, multiple bows and the verbal recital of the school creed of Dojo Kun.
Before any type of physical activity it is highly recommended that you warm-up and stretch. It is often a good idea to end the activity with more stretching (sometimes called a warm-down). Karate is a very physical activity and so it should be obvious that a warm-up is an integral part of each lesson.
Right after the warm-up ends, training begins with basic (fundamentals) practice. This includes drilling stances, punches, kicks, blocks and strikes on the spot and up and down the floor with the focus being on multiple repetitions of the main techniques required for each rank level.
Forms are pre-defined sequences of techniques that students must learn and memorise. The forms are often a main requirement for each grading test, and they help the practitioner to understand how different techniques fit together and integrate into sets of techniques. There are many different forms and each one has a set pattern with a central focus.
All Katas have additional application drills (Bunki) that show how each technique can be used against an opponent in a self-defence situation.
Depending on the length and intensity of each class, practitioners are often given the chance of a short “water break.”
These types of drills are usually one of the fun parts of a karate class because the practitioners get to practice their techniques with an opponent to see how they are used and to drill appropriate reactions to different types of attacks. Partner work drills aren’t always limited to two people but can often include multiple opponents or group training drills. This usually depends on the creativity of the instructor and the overall level of the class.
An important part of karate training is to practice your techniques against different types of targets. These targets include soft or hard focus targets, body shields, hanging bags or the more popular freestanding Wave masters, plastic sheets and even wooden boards from time to time. Pads and targets are usually a lot of fun for all involved and give you a real sense of what it feels like to actually strike a target.
This is really where your level of fitness can improve dramatically. Conditioning drills include running, jumping, push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, star jumps, squats, relays, and any number of stamina-focused activities. Depending on the level of the class and the age group these drills are not always for the light-hearted but you did want to get a good workout, didn’t you?
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