A good karate class near you can not only train you on ways to protect and defend yourself better in potentially dangerous situations, but also offers you a wide variety of physical, physiological, and mental health benefits. These include improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, better sleep quality, stress relief, and an overall improvement in your physical fitness. Millions of Americans participate in some form of martial arts, including karate, with the American Academy of Pediatrics estimating that about 6.5 million of these participants are under the age of 18. However, karate has an injury rate that is up to 30% lower than that of other forms of martial arts like tae kwon do, kung fu, and even aikido, making it a popular choice amongst adults and children alike.
When considering a karate class near you, it is imperative that you make sure that this class is staffed with instructors that can offer you all the health benefits associated with karate and also reduce the risk of any injuries occurring. With karate making its Olympics debut in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and increasing in popularity in the United States, there is also the unfortunate reality of an upsurge in karate schools more interested in making money than properly and safely training their students. As such, before you sign up for any karate class near you, you should ask the following questions:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
There are generally no state-level occupational licensing or registration requirements for karate instructors in the United States. However, as with other businesses, karate schools are typically required to meet relevant business registration and tax requirements in the states where they are located. In addition, some counties, cities, or municipalities may have local registration, licensing, or permit requirements for karate schools and instructors. Therefore, before signing up for any karate class near you, it is advisable to contact your local consumer protection office to find out whether there are any location-specific licensing or registration requirements that these schools have to meet.
Because karate instructors are not typically required to obtain state-issued occupational licenses, and as such have very little government regulatory oversight, you should always strongly consider hiring a certified karate instructor. You can go a step further by inquiring as to whether the karate school or instructor belongs to a professional karate-related organization. Certification usually means that the instructor has passed certain tests and can provide you with the best and safest karate training possible. Likewise, membership in a professional organization usually means that the karate school or instructor operates with a strict code of ethics and can be held accountable by the organization if they discharge their duties in an undesirable manner. Karate instructor certifications can be obtained from organizations like the American Sports and Fitness Association and the National Council on Strength and Fitness. Also, examples of professional associations that karate schools and instructors may belong to include the Independent Karate Schools of America, the American Karate Association, and the World Budo Karate Association.
Note that you should always verify the certification or association membership status of any karate school or instructor that you intend to sign up with by requesting proof of this and validating it with the relevant organization.
How Much Do Karate Classes Cost?
The average cost of karate classes in the United States is $25 - $50 per lesson. However, this cost is heavily influenced by factors like the reputation of the karate school or the karate instructor that will be teaching the class, your age, your geographical region, and the structure of the karate lessons. For example, it will generally cost more to sign up for a karate class in a big city or highbrow area than it would to do so in smaller towns and cities. Similarly, many karate schools typically charge higher rates for private karate lessons that feature one on one training with an instructor than they do for group classes.
When you are contemplating signing up for a karate class near you, certain tips can help you stay within your budget and reduce the total amount of money that you have to spend. These include:
- Find out if the karate school offers free trials before you sign up. This can help you determine if the school or instructor is the right fit for you
- Consider group classes. Unless you have an injury or are training for a competition and require special focus and individualized training, then it is cheaper to opt for group classes and training sessions instead of private lessons
- Ask about packages and discount offers. Many karate schools offer family rates, upfront payment discounts, weekly and monthly payment packages, and various other sign-up or membership packages and discounts. Utilizing these discounts and packages can save you money when signing up for karate classes near you
What Are Common Karate Class Expenses?
When you sign up for a karate class, you may incur certain additional expenses exclusive of the cost of your actual training. As such, you should always inquire about these and make sure that the karate school provides you with clear details of any expenses you may have to make that are not covered by your training fees. Some of the most common additional expenses associated with karate classes are:
- Uniform costs: karate schools typically require their students to have appropriate clothing for their classes. This uniform is known as a karate gi. Depending on the karate school that you sign up with, you may have to pay an additional fee for this uniform or purchase it on your own. Buying a karate gi will cost you an average of $20 - $50
- Travel costs: if you opt for private lessons in a location outside the karate school, you will usually have to pay additional fees to cover the karate instructor's transportation to and from this location. This cost is usually dependent on the distance between the karate school and your chosen private training location
- Tournament, workshop, and seminar fees: During the course of your training, you may wish to enter karate tournaments or attend karate-related seminars and workshops. In many cases, you may be required to pay registration or attendance fees for these events, ranging from as low as $50 per event to as high as $250 or more. Note that these events are completely optional and you should be wary of any karate school or instructor that says otherwise
- Testing fees: karate schools typically utilize a color system to indicate the progress of their students through specific colors on the belts of the student's karate gi. However, some of these schools may require these students to pay a testing fee before progressing to the next belt level. The requirements for progressing to a higher belt color or level, and whether or not you will have to pay a testing fee before doing so, depends on the karate school that you decide to attend
- Training equipment: while karate schools typically provide necessary equipment like floorboards and target boards, you may have to purchase these items yourself if you opt for private lessons outside the school
Who Will Do the Work?
When you sign up for karate lessons, you should always have a clear idea of who will be responsible for your training. While many karate classes are typically overseen by a single instructor, some large and more renowned schools may have more than one instructor providing lessons to students. Make sure that the instructor that will be teaching you is properly certified and also has valid liability insurance that covers injuries and any unforeseen accidents. If the karate school has several employees, then you should make sure that these employees are duly covered by both liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. Also, because karate involves close contact with a trainer, it is a good idea to find out whether the karate school carried out appropriate background checks on their instructors, especially if you will be opting for private lessons in your home. Alternatively, you can hire a private investigator to do this for you or utilize several online companies and resources that provide this service. You can also contact your local law enforcement agencies and judicial administrative institutions to access any available public records on the karate instructor. Note that you may have to pay a fee to obtain copies of these records.
What Qualifications Should a Karate Instructor Have?
Karate instructors are typically required to have a high school certificate. Some karate schools may also require their instructors have post-secondary education in health or fitness-related courses, such as physical education, biology, anatomy, exercise science, and kinesiology. Newly employed instructors are generally required to work alongside more experienced instructors for some time before they are allowed to handle classes on their own.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 248,000 employed exercise trainers and group fitness instructors in the United States. This number includes karate instructors, some of whom belong to professional associations like the American Karate Association, the World Budo Karate Association, and the Independent Karate Schools of America. Finally, karate instructors that wish to demonstrate their level of expertise and competence in providing fitness training typically do so by obtaining professional certifications from organizations like the American Sports and Fitness Association and the National Council on Strength and Fitness.
Will You Provide References?
Before signing up or paying for karate classes, you should always request verifiable references from the karate school or instructor. Be wary of any instructor or school that cannot provide you with the contact details of at least three former or present students that can vouch for them and how they operate. While it is common to get referrals on karate classes near you from family, and friends, this does not mean that you should skip asking the karate school or instructor for references. Contact these references and ask questions like whether they are comfortable training with the karate instructor, whether the classes have resulted in any noticeable improvement in their physical abilities and health, and what their general opinion of the karate school is. The answers that you get to these questions will aid you in determining whether a particular karate school or instructor is the right fit for you.
You can also get independent reviews on karate schools and instructors through Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and other online resources that allow interested parties to publish their opinions and reviews on local businesses and services near you. Finally, you can find out if the karate school or instructor that you intend to sign up with has been the subject of any official complaints by contacting your local consumer protection or attorney general's office.
Quick Facts about Karate Instructors
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Karate Classes
Does Karate Help Self Defense?
Yes. With proper training, karate students can develop quicker reflexes and more flexible movements, which are useful and effective skills to have for self-defense and real-life fighting situations. However, if your primary reason for joining a karate class is to learn self-defense techniques, then it is advisable that you check with your instructor to confirm that this will actually be taught.
What Should I Bring to Karate Class?
When you sign up for a karate class, you will usually be provided with information on the items that will be required for the class. These usually include a karate gi and any other necessary work-out accessories like protective gear and a water bottle. In some cases, the cost of these items may be included in your sign-up fee. If this happens, then all you need to do is show up for your first class ready to learn and dressed in comfortable clothing, like a t-shirt and sweat pants. However, if you have to purchase these items yourself, then it is a good idea to also get a gear bag to put all your new clothing and equipment in.
What Should Kids Wear to Karate?
It is common for kids that have not gotten their karate gi yet to wear a comfortable t-shirt and track pants to karate class. Depending on the rules of the karate school, kids that already have the appropriate uniform can also wear these t-shirts and track pants and then change into their uniforms before beginning their training for the day.
What Do I Need to Know Before Starting Karate?
The following tips can help you prepare for your first karate class:
- Have an open mind
- Do not be intimated by anyone in the class
- Be prepared to introduce yourself to other members of the class
- Do not underestimate the physical toll that karate training can have
- Be ready to leave with a bruise or two
What Age Should You Start Karate?
There is no mandatory minimum age for starting karate and you can join a karate class at any time you feel the need to. However, many karate instructors agree that the best age to start karate is between five and seven years old. This is because children at this age are still able to quickly learn new things and have already developed basic skills that will ensure successful karate training.
What Is Karate Etiquette?
Karate etiquette refers to a set of rules that indicate the proper and polite behavior for karate students in and out of class. Karate etiquette typically covers areas like how to behave before, during, and after a class, what to do if you are late for training, how to deal with unexpected situations, and how to properly address your instructor and fellow students. Although this etiquette varies from karate school to karate school, the rules are generally designed to do the following:
- Provide a structured environment for training,
- Instill a state of mind that cultivates mindfulness
- Teach students to treat others with dignity, respect, and consideration
- Teach students cleanliness and hygiene
- Promote self-discipline and self-control
When you sign up for a karate class near you, your karate instructor will inform you of the specific etiquette for the school and its students.
How Dangerous Is Karate?
Although karate is considerably less dangerous than most other forms of martial arts, there is still always the risk of injuries occurring during your training. The most common karate-related injuries are:
- Sprains and strains from kicking
- Contusions from being kicked
- Fractures from falling