Gone are the days when people need to leave their homes to participate in certain activities. In an increasingly digital world, many jobs have become remote as have many activities. The global pandemic has pushed the boundaries of working and learning from home. Remote learning isn’t a new concept, and while it started with schools. You can now also learn your favorite after-school/work activities at home.
Those who are looking to advance within the karate belt system will need to put in a lot of practice time at home. Others who are beginning to get into karate and other types of martial arts may wonder if it can be learned at home. Can you learn karate from home? How effective is it compared to in-person learning? Let’s find out.
How to Learn Karate at Home
The short answer is yes, you can learn karate at home. Those just starting out can learn karate for beginners at home in a few ways, and those who already have a foundation in the martial art can practice karate at home. In fact, it’s recommended to practice whenever you can.
Karate is a martial art that focuses a lot on technique, and self-improvement, and is one that also combines with inner work and self-awareness. Which are what make it a suitable choice to learn at home. Whether one does it effectively or not is another question, but we will get into the comparison later on.
There are certain movements and techniques that can be difficult to master without a training partner. Such as kicks, punches, blocks, and sweeps where you need to spar with someone of an equal level, but it’s still possible. You can enlist the help of a dummy, which you may have seen karatekas do in movies.
We have some recommended ways for how to teach yourself karate if heading into a dojo isn’t possible. These methods can be used for primary learning or as supplemental practice.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Karate at Home?
In general, it should take longer to learn karate at home than in the dojo with a sensei and fellow learners. People who want to practice and learn karate at home will enter a dojo at some point just to test their skills. You need to do so in order to officially advance among the ranks. However, there are online classes by certified trainers that may be able to help you with that if needed.
If you had practiced the moves largely without instruction. There is a chance that the sensei will need to correct your technique. Which will take you more time to practice to perfect. This can add to the time it takes to properly master karate.
In a dojo, it takes years to rise through the belt tiers. On average, it takes six to nine months per tier, sometimes longer for certain levels and when your sensei believes you’re ready to move forward. We believe it takes even longer if you learn from home because sparring is one of the techniques that will be assessed before advancement.
Since you can’t really spar at home unless you have another family member or friend who also learns karate at home with you. You will need to spend extra time in the dojo familiarizing yourself with sparring.
There is no set time it takes to learn karate, either at home or at a dojo because everyone goes at their own pace. This is beneficial because there is no pressure to have to reach the top in a certain timeframe.
The hours you put in practicing and polishing your technique will also affect how long it takes to graduate. Our advice is to practice karate in various environments and at home in your free time to move up quickly through ranks.
Can I Learn Karate from YouTube?
Can you learn karate online? Yes! The best thing about a digitally advanced society is you can learn almost anything online – and for free! There are tons of content creators out there on platforms such as YouTube that post helpful learning content at no cost.
We have seen not only karate videos but other forms of martial arts, and even videos for physiotherapy, which is useful if you accidentally injure yourself.
YouTube is one of the best platforms because it’s easy to use. We believe that most people have watched an educational video or two on the site for free, and you can also post questions. Connect with the trainers and senseis via their social media links and websites.
A lot of the masters organize their content via movesets, techniques, belt levels, and more to help you find your level easily.
Again, while you can learn the moves and the skills from videos. Nothing beats heading into a dojo and really putting that knowledge into practice.
How Can I Teach Myself Karate?
YouTube is all about video learning, but that’s not how everyone learns. Some people do better when they read the instructions while others may need both forms.
So, what are the other ways you can teach yourself karate besides watching instructional videos on YouTube?
There are books you can turn to and online courses as well that may also come with learning videos. You may find online instruction more beneficial if there are live streams where the sensei is with you one-on-one or teaching a small class to give each student more attention.
It is our recommendation to purchase the correct equipment and get creative with the setup to get as close to a full dojo experience as possible. Since you most likely won’t have a sparring partner. We suggest getting a punching bag or stand to practice with, which brings us to the next section.
Equipment You Need to Start Martial Arts Training at Home
Equipment is not only the garments and protection you wear, but it’s also what you need to outfit your practice space.
Official dojos and tournaments have different rules. Some allow protective gear and others do not. The best way to prepare for karate training in any condition is to practice with or without the gear. Below is a complete list of equipment to get you started with martial arts training at home. You can purchase all of them or some, but a karate gi is definitely recommended.
The karate gi is the two-piece outfit karatekas wear when they are practicing karate. The gi is usually white, but it can be black or blue as well. The gi is lightweight but can be a bit stiff depending on the material you get. But they should all be comfortable enough for you to move freely and accommodate your movements.
As we said, some items listed below are not allowed in tournaments and certain dojos, but a karate gi is a must-have.
The karate headgear, or helmet, is very important in terms of protection. It isn’t used for basic routines and is more seen during sparring sessions with a partner. Karate isn’t the same as boxing or MMA where sometimes you need to K.O. your partner. Karate is much more controlled, technical, and precise.
During sparring, the goal is to practice the flow of the movement and technique, and not to injure your partner. But accidents can happen, and having your head protected in a padded helmet will definitely keep you safer. It softens the blows and prevents concussions, which is quite a common side effect of physical contact sports.
A mouthguard is perhaps equally as important as the headgear. While most partners and opponents won’t be aiming to knock your teeth out. It’s still a good idea to keep your gums, jaw, and teeth safe from damage. You also don’t want to accidentally bite your tongue after a blow.
We highly recommend getting a more expensive and durable mouthguard, one made of polymers and thermoplastic that can mold to your teeth after boiling. This can make sure your teeth and gums are properly sealed and protected.
The chest protector is something we see a lot in taekwondo, but you can wear one for karate as well. Like the helmet, it protects you and cushions blows during sparring. If you don’t have a sparring partner since you’re learning from home, then you can think about saving your money here.
The protective chest plate guards your upper body including your shoulders and torso. You may also see ones with full back protection, but it can really make the protector bulky and heavy, which limits your movements.
They should be made with soft and lightweight foam padding and other areas are held together with spandex and breathable mesh.
The gloves and handguards may not be allowed in dojos and competitions. But they do help cushion your hand when you do the punches. We would suggest purchasing either karate gloves. Which have more coverage, or handguards, which leave your fingers free if you’re battling it out with a dummy at home.
Cup or Jockstrap
Males practicing karate would definitely want to consider a cup or jockstrap to protect the private area, but it isn’t necessary if you are just learning karate by yourself at home.
Feet and Shin Guards
Karate consists of various kick moves, which is why the martial art also has shin and feet guards. They can be a bit bulky although lightweight, and they are not typically used in dojos and tournaments.
As the feet and shin guards, karate shoes aren’t often seen in practice. They are supposed to protect your feet on rough terrain, but karate is barely practiced in those areas. Dojos often require karatekas to enter the space barefoot, so you won’t have much use for these shoes even if you’re at home.
Karate Conditioning Bag
We’re sure you have seen karatekas break through cinder bricks and wooden boards in competition or at least on the screen. You may be wondering how the bones and skin on their hands can handle the impact and how you can get to their level.
The answer is a karate conditioning bag, which is pretty rough. It is a bag filled with sand, rice or beans within a woven fabric shell. It’s smaller than your average punching bag and is used mainly to toughen up your hands.
Hanging or Freestanding Punching Bag/Dummy/Makiwara
Something we have been suggesting since the beginning in the place of a sparring partner is a punching bag or dummy.
You can purchase a hanging or freestanding punching bag, whatever fits your space or go for a dummy in the form of a torso. Then there is the makiwara, which is a wooden striking post. A wooden post gives more resistance compared to a regular punching bag or a dummy.
Training Floor Pads
You should also ready your space for karate practice. We would suggest buying the floor pads used in official dojos to create the right environment. Doing so can simulate the conditions of a real competition or dojo so if you do decide to step into one, you won’t need much time to acclimate.
Training Alone VS. Training Cooperatively
How does training karate alone compare to training cooperatively with a sensei and other karatekas?
While training alone is possible, we suggest using it as a supplemental practice for in-person learning. Let’s use another sport for example. Let’s say there is a hockey player that only ever practices skating up and down the rink and scoring goals without a goalie and an opposing team present. Would you be comfortable relying on him during an official game? Most people would answer no.
It’s the same concept for karate. You can learn the basics and the moves, but you might fall short in practice.
Now you may be wondering about live online classes where there are other karatekas and a real sensei present. While you may advance more quickly and be more skilled than those who just learned from pre-recorded videos and books. You still won’t compare to someone who has trained in a dojo with others and a sensei onsite.
Training cooperatively definitely has its benefits, and it is what we would suggest for potential karatekas who are serious about learning the sport. It is the most effective way for you to understand what karate is about and become a well-rounded practitioner.
Don’t fall for classes in-person or online that claim you can become a black belter within a certain time frame – especially if that promised time is less than a year or two. In reality, it takes a lot of time and dedication to become a black belt as each level (there are 8) will take anywhere from a few months to a year. On average, it takes a person at least 5 years to become a karate black belt.
You can count on a longer timeframe if you do not have in-person experience. It’s also important to remember that karate is a lifelong art. There isn’t an end to practicing and maintaining your knowledge, improving your techniques, and really immersing yourself in the values of karate.
The question isn’t really can you learn karate at home, because yes, you can. You can learn almost anything from home with video instruction now, but should you? Is it an efficient and effective use of your time if your goal is to become a very good karateka? Can you really learn the martial art in full completion at home without a partner and in-person direction? These are the questions you should be asking.