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Karate is an ancient martial art that requires balance, precision, speed, and focus to be done correctly. It combines the fluidity of movement with the quickness of reaction to help you react swiftly in self-defense. To truly master karate, you need years of training. However, does that mean that you can’t teach yourself Karate?
You can learn Karate techniques, stances, strikes, and Kata by yourself simply by watching tutorials. If you want to practice Karate just to get a hang of self-defense or as physical and mental training, then learning yourself is a great option.
However, to truly learn from experience and trial on how to implement those techniques and use them for self-defense, you are going to need help from a Karate master. Some of the methods are really hard to do correctly, while some have to be practiced in sparring. You should know your limits before you try doing them alone.
Is Karate Hard to Learn?
One of the things that characterize Karate is the fact that it does not necessarily need to be used in combat. In fact, most of the moves that exist in Karate aren’t efficient in real combat at all. They are simply designed to aid your physical and mental state, by learning the moves, the steps in Kata, or new skills you haven’t been able to do before.
That is why it is perfect for everybody to try regardless of age. Young children can train Karate – of course, without the combat – which can help them develop their focus, balance, patience, and overall health. Also, older people regularly partake in Karate training, because it doesn’t have to be severe and exhausting – you can go at your own pace and still do everything correctly.
To add to it, it can help you with your memory as well, especially if you learn Kata. If you are unfamiliar with the term, Kata is one of three segments of Karate that focuses on implementing various striking and blocking techniques.
But, it has to be done in a specific, pre-determined order to maximize the efficiency of the methods used. There are over twenty Kata, each more profound and difficult than the previous, requiring more complicated techniques and greater knowledge.
The other two segments are Kihon and Kumite. Kihon is the base of Karate – you learn one move at a time before you start combining them. You learn stances, footwork, arm, and leg techniques, takedowns, blocks, etc. that you later on use in Kata, performing them in an orderly fashion.
Both Kihon and Kate are not that hard to learn, so you can do it yourself – at least to a point, where help is definitely needed to keep progressing. However, Kumite is one part of Karate you can’t possibly do alone, as you need a partner to do so. It is the combat part of Karate, literally meaning the “meeting of hands”.
Can You Learn Karate Yourself?
By now, you probably know the answer, but we should articulate everything that we said so far. Karate can be learned by yourself, but only to some extent. It depends on why you wish to learn Karate in the first place. If it’s for your health and recreation, it is possible to do it at home. It was much harder to learn how to do it yourself before the Internet and tutorials became a thing.
Before the Internet, people had to rely on studies and books that only had pictures at best. It is very hard to learn movements only from still photos, without ever seeing somebody do it. You cannot correct yourself even if you are doing it wrong, because you have nothing to compare your execution with.
However, learning the proper techniques of striking, movement, and other forms of Karate methods that don’t include hand-to-hand combat, is very possible to achieve by watching videos, tutorials, and completing drills. An online tutor can walk you through step by step for every move or stance, just as he/she would in a dojo.
It also allows you to correct your mistakes by watching how the tutor is doing it and listening to what you need to do with your body – when to rotate the hips, when to step back, when to switch, etc. That way, you can be sure that you’re completing the drill thoroughly and correctly.
How to Teach Yourself Karate?
Many people that try to learn Karate, or any other martial art themself, fail at doing so because they miss certain details when doing drills. So, it is very important to be extremely focused on details. Even the slightest mistakes in balance or feet placement can lead to you being unsuccessful in your training, so make sure to keep an eye out for every small detail you can spot.
It can be hard to do everything right, so we’ll divide your training into a couple of steps.
First of all, Karate is a martial art, but it is the complete opposite of aggressive. You need to be calm and collected when training, which is why Karate masters meditate before training. A Karate master is never anguished, but peaceful, and humble. The philosophy of Karate lies in the belief, and fact, that conflict cannot be avoided in life. However, once it happens, it needs to be sorted quickly and effectively, without any unnecessary violence.
You need to get into peace of mind before training. Clear your head for five minutes. Focus on your breathing, and let everything go for a moment. A clear mind can focus and execute a lot better and quicker.
Everybody would like to skip the foundations and go straight to performing the flashy kicks and chops you see in movies. Well, it doesn’t work that way. If you want to teach yourself Karate properly, you have to get a hold of the stances. Each stance has its purpose and balance behind it, and you can’t perform Karate at all if you fail to learn these first.
Natural stance, or the neutral stance, is when your balance point is in the middle of your body. One foot is in front of the other, pointing at a 45 degrees angle while being apart at a comfortable, natural width.
If you push your lead leg a bit more in front and lean your weight on her, you’ll get the front stance. If you do it the other way around and lean on your back leg, you get the back stance. There are some tiny details you need to get a hold of here, and it is not as simple as it sounds, but a bit of practice and perfecting will get you a long way.
In Karate, balance is the key to everything. Understanding your balance and how to use it to your advantage, rather than your disadvantage, is what separates a martial artist from a potential attacker on the street. You don’t need to be the one that pushes forward. Sometimes, it is better to wait and respond, rather than engage.
Now, for the fun part. Once you get a hang of stances and balance, you can start striking and parrying. Hand techniques are far more simple and are great to test out your stance and balance. So, you should begin with them, and proceed to leg techniques gradually.
Don’t disregard Kata in your training too, because you can learn how to combine certain moves you might have learned individually without losing posture, balance, or precision.
If you do everything right, you should be able to use what you’ve learned for self-defense if need be, but for quick hits and methods of disabling your attacker. However, if you want to get to a more profound level and go beyond simply recreation, you will need somebody to guide and teach you first hand.
Karate Exercises to Do Yourself
Karate is a very diverse martial art and has distinct stages, so it can be perfect for everyone, while, of course, realizing one’s boundaries. Age, physical health, and other factors can come into play that will make you unable to perform some of the drills. However, the basics and foundations can be done by anyone. We’ll suggest some of the simplest, yet most effective exercises every Karate master knows and does.
As we mentioned earlier, getting yourself into the right mindset is crucial. So the best way to accomplish that is by meditating. Not only will it help you clear your mind, but a daily meditation routine can relieve you of stress, anxiety, and have all sorts of benefits for your mental and physical health.
Sit down, close your eyes, and take deep breaths. Focus solely on your breathing, try to keep all thoughts out of your mind except for that. You will feel the calm take you over, and you’ll be better and better at it as you keep repeating it.
2. Balance exercises
These drills are useful for more than Karate. By improving your balance, you improve your mobility. There are numerous exercises you can do here. First, try to switch from stance to stance repeatedly, but slowly, to feel where your weight point is at in each moment. That can help improve all other techniques because it will make you more secure and confident on feet. Other drills include one leg stands, stretches, jumps, etc.
3. Mirror exercises
Neverminding what part of your craft do you want to work on, mirror exercises are always a great idea. Watch closely as a tutor shows a certain move. Next, stand in front of a mirror and try to repeat the exercise after the tutor. Get into detail, copy what you see, and then adjust and improve what you can see doing differently. You should try to implement these exercises every time you are learning a new technique or perfecting one you already know.
These drills can also be very useful when practicing Kata. Watch a master perform a Kata two or three steps at a time. Try to mimic them, and as you progress, you’ll have a much better feel of the fluidity between the moves – when to start rotating for maximum power, in what moment to change your stance, and similar small details that make Karate feel natural to you.
4. Strenght, conditioning, and agility exercises
Finally, as in any other sport, a martial art or not, you can’t avoid these crucial steps. Strength training is often thought of as having to go to the gym, but body-weight training has been proven to be more than enough. Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups, lunges, burpees – the possibilities for strength exercises in your own room are endless.
It may be a little harder to do conditioning in your home, but not impossible. High-stepping, mountain climbers, and jumping jacks are great for conditioning but running and bike riding might just be the most fun.
In the end, stretching is how you avoid injury, so make sure you never forget that. If you want to teach yourself Karate, you need to get yourself in physical condition to do so first.
Also, here is a list of basic karate moves and how to do them. Be sure to check it out!