First Class?? What to expect!

If you are new to Karate, then the thought of the first class can be very daunting.  The below information is to help you feel more comfortable in coming along and trying karate.

Firstly, there is absolutely are no expectations on you, from either your instructors, or students.  The only expectation is that you come with an open mind and a willingness to try.

How will the class run?

Firstly, the instructor will give the command to line up.  This means that everyone lines up in order of rank, with the higher ranks starting on the right behind the instructors.

The instructors will kneel into Seiza position first, and then the senior student will call “Seiza”.  At this command all students will also kneel down beginning with the senior most student, flowing down to the newer students.

The class will then perform the required bows, after which the instructor will request the class to stand.

A warm up will then be conducted, consisting of low intensity exercises and gentle stretching.

The main class will then follow, which will be broken up into Kihon (fundamental techniques), Kumite (sparring), and Kata (a set of pre-arranged techniques).

  • Kiohn – This will involve moving forwards/backwards in a stance while doing different techniques.  Your instructor will outline which stance and what techniques, and if you are new, will demonstrate to you the technique.
  • Kumite – The thought of sparring can often scare people, and put them off karate.  Within the JKA we teach kumite in a controlled and safe manner.  Until you reach a higher level, Kumite in the JKA is all pre-arranged.  You will know what technique your opponent will deliver, and what defence you should employ.  Kumite is to assist you to develop timing and distancing to your opponent.
  • Kata – This session will involve the instructor leading you through a set of pre-arranged techniques and sequences called kata.  The JKA has 26 Kata, ranging in levels of complexity, and each with its own name and theme.  You will be shown the first Kata called Taikyoku Shodan.

The class will then end with the a similar line-up and bowing as the beginning, accompanied with the reciting of the Dojo Kun and a few moments of silent meditation.


You will hear quite a number of Japanese terms during your class, but the main ones you will hear are:

  • OSS – This has many different meanings depending on the situation, but is generally an acknowledgement and sign of respect.  You will generally reply to any direction from the instructor with a strong “OSS”
  • KIAI – This is the loud sound that is heard in all Japanese martial arts.  It signifies a concentration of power from your internal energy (or Ki) that is coupled with physical power and the sound you emit should come from within your lower abdomen.  The actual sound is not “KI EYE!!!” as is often misinterpreted but a naturally developed sound that is different for everyone.  My sound generates as a kind of short sharp “AHHIII”, yet one of my Sensei has a sound of “Asssahh”.  You will shout your Kiai whenever taking a stance from the ready position, during any counting sequence on the number Ju (10) and at any time that you feel the need to concentrate your power.
  • Counting – We will count in Japanese throughout the class:
    • Ichi – 1
    • Ni – 2
    • San – 3
    • Shi – 4
    • Go – 5
    • Roku – 6
    • Shichi – 7
    • Hachi – 8
    • Ku – 9
    • Ju – 10 (kiai)
  • Hajime (start or begin) / Yamae (Stop)
  • Yoi – This is the general ready position.

You will need to wear clothing suitable for strenuous activity, and no footwear or jewellery is allowed.  Bring a water bottle as you will have small breaks through the class.  If you wear glasses, you will be allowed to train whilst wearing them apart from certain aspects of Kumite due to safety reasons.

We hope you enjoy your first class, and begin the life-long journey of karate.



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