Beginners’ karate classes

Get the best introduction to Shotokan karate

We run beginners’ karate classes in Harpenden for children (from age 5), teenagers and adults. Here at Harpenden JKA we want everyone to experience how empowering karate can be, especially when you train with us. Beyond the obvious benefits of self-defence, karate is an impressive martial art. As a JKA club, we follow their authentic Shotokan karate instruction so you can be sure of getting the very best learning and training experience. You’ll be concentrating on improving your own karate while being part of a friendly, supportive club. Karate keeps you fit, improves co-ordination and is a huge confidence-builder. This is true for all ages – and importantly – all abilities. (You don’t have to be ’sporty’ to be good at karate.) It’s never too late to start learning karate but, it’s important to get the basics right and get into good habits from the word go. Join our karate classes for beginners and we’ll get you onto the path of achieving your personal best in this brilliant martial art.

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First grading excitement!

Why learn karate with Harpenden JKA?

Learn karate with Harpenden JKA because we’re serious about it and committed to running the very best club for our students. That includes teaching our students self-defence so, if they do find themselves in situation where they feel physically threatened, they’ll know what to do.

We’re part of the the world renowned Japan Karate Association (JKAE). So as well as authentic training at the Harpenden club, our students can take advantage of national and international courses and competitions.

Our instructors are JKA internationally qualified, DBS certified and trained in first aid. Our chief instructor is Miranda Price. As a member of the JKA England Squad, Sensei Miranda concentrated on competition early in her karate career. National champion 3 years in a row, she represented England on a number of occasions.

As current JKA England Squad Manager, Sensei Miranda is still close to the national team. As current JKA England Squad Manager, Sensei Miranda is still close to the national team.Essentially, Harpenden karate classes for beginners teach you what you need to know in an enjoyable and accessible way so you feel inspired to join the main classes and work your way up the grades.

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Competition success for ex Harpenden karate beginners
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What do students learn in HJKA’s beginners’ karate classes?

We teach the basics of karate in our beginners’ classes: fundamental attack and defence techniques, good behaviour in the dojo and effective stretching exercises. We hold regular assessments to see who’s ready to move up to the main classes and join the coloured belts.

The beginners’ syllabus includes:

  1. Good dojo behaviour guide
  2. Stance and stepping
  3. Punching
  4. Kicking
  5. Defending
  6. Kihon kata
  7. Kumite

Right from the start, we’re encouraging fast footwork and sharp, clean techniques in our karate beginners’ classes. It’s all about understanding how to generate speed and power while conserving your energy. Here’s some detail:

1. Good dojo behaviour guide

Observing good dojo behaviour is all about creating the best learning environment and helping to keep us safe. It starts with showing respect to your instructors (‘Senseis’) by paying attention and following instruction while feeling comfortable to ask questions in class. You also have respect for your fellow students because you work together to improve your karate. This focus on respect is part of Harpenden JKA’s club philosophy to help and support each other inside and outside the dojo.

2. Stance and stepping

There are many different stances and ways of moving in Shotokan karate. We introduce beginners to the ones they’ll need the most in the early days, such as front stance (zenkutsu dachi) and horse-riding stance (kiba dachi).

3. Punching

We start by showing students how we make a strong fist – one that stops you hurting your wrist when you make contact. Then we drill how to punch so it’s fast and effective, and straight to target.

4. Kicking

There are some awesome kicks in karate. For example, front kick (mae geri). This is a snapping kick (rather than a thrust). Done well, it’s a really effective kick so we introduce our beginners to it straight away.  

5. Defending

Our kumite-loving chief instructor, Sensei Miranda has a very particular view of blocking! (Hint: it’s not just about defence…). Right from the word go, we teach that blocking is how you assert yourself.  

6. Kihon kata

Katas are great examples of ‘martial’ and ‘art’. These are impressive and powerful set pieces designed to help students understand and practice combinations of techniques. In total, there are 26 katas for us to learn, the first being Kihon (meaning ‘basic’) which we teach in the beginners’ class.

 7. Kumite

Kumite (free-style) is the fun part of karate. Unlike a lot of clubs, we don’t wait till students have graded to black belt before introducing them to kumite. They start partnering each other early on because helps them focus, improve their technique and certainly gain confidence. In our karate beginners classes, students get used to punching and kicking pads, and having a partner opposite them at a distance. Although, it’s ‘no contact’ in the beginners’ class, it’s important students get used to working together.


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Beginners karate classes in Harpenden teach the basics
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Moving to the main coloured belt classes

We hold regular assessments to see which beginners are ready to move into the fast-paced main classes. This is how we make sure they know enough to keep up and enjoy training with the coloured belts. Then, once they are in the main class they can start working towards grading and getting their first belt (orange). Then they’re eligible to go on JKA courses and compete in the various national and regional championships.

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Teenage girls love karate; not so keen on having their photo taken.

Your next step: join Harpenden karate classes for beginners

Here’s the detail for our beginners’ classes – your first step on your karate journey: 

    1. Training times: Tuesdays @ 17.30-18.15 and Saturdays @ 08.30-09.15
    2. Venue: Batford Methodist Church,
    3. Fees: First two classes are free. Then it’s £6 a class (by card, before class starts) plus £30 for a JKA licence (an annual fee).
    4. Wear: loose clothing (ie. sports kit).
    5. Bring: water bottle.
    6. Remove: all jewellery (rings, watches, earrings, etc.).
    7. Age range: from age 5.

If you’re interested in having a free trial, please complete the form below. Alternatively you can email sensei@harpendenjka.com. We also welcome returners – people who started karate – maybe graded a couple of times – gave it up for various reason but now want to return. There are a couple of options for you so get in touch and let’s find the quickest one to get you back in the dojo.

Beginners Free Trial

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