Training methods

Our classes typically follow a set routine as we believe that this is a good way to develop the basic karate skills at all levels. Classes typically include the following:

Junbi undo (warm-up)

Kihon (usually a set routine going through the basic techniques)

Kata (a set sequence of techniques) 

Bunkai (application of the kata techniques)

Kumite (free sparring)

Junan (stretching)

Mokuso (meditation / reflection).

However, each class may focus on one of the above or one of the other principles outlined below.

Junbi Undo (warm up)

It is important to warm up before training because this helps to avoid strain injuries.  A karate warm up is typicaly a combination of stretching and cardio.  It’s important to warm up joints as well as muscles, this helps to condition the body for kicks, hand techniques, wrist-locks and other techniques that can put strain on your muscles and joints.


“Kihon” translates as “basics”.  Kihon is the foundation or the building blocks of karate.  Without the basics it impossible to progress in all the other elements of karate.  The more advanced elements of karate are mainly combinations of kihon, therefore kihon practiced properly will help developing your karate style overall.  Click here for a list of kihon techniques with their Japanese and English terminology.


“Kata” translates as “form”. They are pre-arranged sequences of basic stances, blocks and strikes.  Kata are practiced individually without actually striking or blocking.  Each stage of the kata has a meaning which usually involves blocking and counter attacking.  As well as the practical application, kata should look good.  There are many elements of kata that need to be correct;

» stances and strikes

» speed

» breathing

» “kiai”.

 It requires continious practice to perfect kata. Kata will be practiced with the whole class and there will also be time to spend on your own or with a partner.  We encourage feedback from other members of the club and not only from the sensei.


Bunkai” translates as “analysis”.  Sections of kata are analysed and put into practice.  This typically involves working in pairs and using the moves from the kata to block and counter-attack your opponent.

 Because kata have been modified over time, some of the real meaning has been lost.  Even the masters from Okinawa debate about what the kata mean and what the correct bunkai are.   Depending on the style of Goju-ryu, some have well defined bunkai and others improvise more.

 Bunkai is about taking the kata and turning it into realistic fighting scenarios. These are pre-arranged so the opponents knows what is coming.  However, taking bunkai a step further and using the techniques it in your kumite makes a rich and varied style of karate, not just kicks and punches.


“Kumite” translates literally as “joining of hands”, but can be interpreted as the art of fighting.  It is often referred to as sparring in western culture; however I prefer to distinguish between the two fighting styles.  Sparring is mainly affiliated with boxing or kick boxing, while kumite (especially Goju karate) uses a wider variation of techniques.

The kumite basics (kihon) are practiced in much the same way as other kihon; through repetition and pre-arranged scenarios such as “bunkai” and “one-step sparring”.  The main difference with kumite is that there is that it is “freestyle” and karateka each has their own style and uniqueness.

The style of kumite we use is a free and realistic style.  On the other hand we don’t want to knock ten bales of straw out of each other.  We generally keep it light, respect you opponents and most of all, enjoy using your karate skills you’ve learned in a controlled but realistic manor.

Hojo undo (strength training)

hojo-undoHojo-undo typically uses traditional weights such as kongoken, shishi-ishi.  It can also include circiut training, push-ups, bag work etc..

Kakie (Pushing hands)

Kakie is practiced in pairs, and focuses on the sense of touch.

Tanren (Conditioning)

Ude tanren uses blocks to condition arms and keri tanren uses kicks to condition the legs. This is used to help strengthen the body and prepare it for blows.

Warm down

stretching and light exercises. It is the ideal time to stretch your muscles when they are warm and tired. This will help with your flexibility and help relieve you from muscles aches.

Mokusou (meditation)

Students and the sensei kneel on the ground (Seiza). We close our eyes and meditate for a few minutes. Mokusou is used to change your mind-set from a warrior to a citizen. It can also be used as time to reflect on your training.