SAMA Karate

Traditional Japanese Martial Art requiring discipline in mind and body. For ages 4 and over. SAMA specialises in teaching before-school and after-school classes. Weekend and evening classes are available for both children and adults.

Beginners Guide

Beginners are welcome to turn up at any class to try Karate, though some restrictions may apply at before-school and after-school classes - so check our Classes page for details.

Arrive 10 minutes before your first lesson so the instructor can talk to you about what you can expect from the lesson, and what is expected of you.

We recommend students attend between 4-6 classes before making a final decision on whether to join up.

Once joined up the student will need a white martial arts suit or 'Gi'. SAMA supply a good quality suit with white belt for around 22 but students are welcome to buy elsewhere.

Your local SAMA Karate Instructor will be able to advise on suit size and may have suits available for students to try. Note that suit sizes and cuts vary between manufacturers. The table below is shown as a guide:

SizeCMHeightAge
01304 ft 1 to 4 ft 48-9 yrs
11404 ft 5 to 4 ft 810-11 yrs
21504 ft 9 to 5 ft 012-13 yrs
31605 ft 1 to 5 ft 4Small
41705 ft 5 to 5 ft 9Medium
51805 ft 10 to 6 ft 0Large

Where possible avoid Judo Gi's as they have a different look and feel to other Martial Arts suits.

Over the following months students will begin to understand the rhythm of the class. There is always a warm-up to get mind and body ready for action. This is followed by Kihon for the remainder of the first half of the class. This is the practicing of single or combination moves individually or in pairs up and down the dojo (often called the 'ups and downs').

The second half of the class will normally begin with Kata. A Kata is a series of moves which a student must reproduce as part of their grading and is different for each grade. The first Kata a child student must learn is a sequence of about 10 moves. Katas increase in length and complexity for each belt with some Katas more than 80 moves. High grade belts also need to perform multiple Katas for their grading.

After Kata practice students may practice techniques under supervision on focus mitts or a kickshield held by the instructor. Some classes may pair students up with focus mitts, some classes may perform Kumite (sparring). Kumite is at the discretion of the instructor and will depend on the class. It is normally only done by high grades or willing participants and will always be discussed with parents beforehand. Senior grades work with weapons under strict supervision as they prepare for weapons Katas.

The class is completed with some stamina exercises. This may be a straightforward '10 of everything' or a rolling stamina exercise routine lasting several minutes.

For kids only

As kids learn parts of the syllabus for their grade they are rewarded with stripes on their belt. Three black stripes indicates that a student knows their syllabus and is ready to grade. This becomes a very visible indication of a student's progress and encourages the kids to maintain their training, concentrate on learning and that they are recognised for good behaviour in class.

If kids have worked hard during the class they will usually be rewarded with a game at the end.

Syllabus and Progression

SAMA has adopted the westernised methodology of using coloured belts to show progression towards Black Belt. By successfully completing a grading the student receives a new belt.

Grading for low and middle grades may be as often as every 2-3 months though this is dependent on student attitude, aptitude and application. As the syllabus becomes more complex, the frequency will decrease and it may be between 6 months to 1 year between grading.

Middle/Intermediate Grade Students

Orange belt through to blue+white belt sees the introduction of more complex combination moves and longer Katas. These will challenge the strength, agility, balance, memory and concentration of the Karate student.

By the end of the middle grades, students are expected to be able to distinguish and demonstrate accurately the stances and strikes in both Kihon and Kata.

The first weapon is introduced at blue+white belt: the Nunchaku. Children use a safer, padded version of the weapon for training. The use of weapons as part of the Karate syllabus is designed to improve student hand-eye co-ordination, hand speed, agility and mental concentration. More advanced weapons training occurs on Black Belt.

The student will be made aware of basic Karate Dojo etiquette and will be expected to use it appropriately from blue+white belt onwards.

As students progress they may want to wear SAMA branded clothing and accessories - Fleeces, Hooded Sweatshirts and Polo Shirts. Some of these can be embroided with the Student's name or nickname.

Please visit our sister website www.sama-southwest.com to order SAMA branded clothing and accessories.

For kids only

A red stripe on a belt indicates that a student is theoretically due to grade though this is only as a reminder to the instructor and does not mean a student will grade at the next opportunity.

High/Advanced Grade Students

From brown belt onwards the syllabus expands and students will learn multiple Katas for each grading, including Escrema Sticks and Jo Staff weapons Katas. Students will develop an understanding of the native Japanese names for Karate.

Students are expected to understand and follow all Dojo etiquette and display appropriate respect to peers and senior grades. High grades should be a model for lower grades and behave accordingly. Failure to do so will be noticed and appropriate penalties applied.

From 1st Kyu red+white+blue belt - the final grade before Black Belt - students will review the whole Karate syllabus learned so far. This includes every combination and Kata learned since White Belt plus 1st Kyu specific Katas plus pairs including knife defence. These must be recognisable by the student in Japanese as the Black Belt grading combinations are announced in Japanese. The Black Belt grading can take up to 2 hours to complete.

In order to learn and retain the breadth of knowledge for this grade it is strongly recommended that students attend at least 2 classes a week, including a high-grade only class where available.

Black Belt

Becoming a Black Belt in Karate is only the beginning. Training and achieving the Black Belt is often described as shaping the weapon. From black belt you are instructed on how to use the weapon.

Students are invited to attend a Black Belt only class (where available) to explore the Black Belt syllabus and discover their particular interests and aptitudes.

Students are encouraged to continue attending their normal class as a teaching assistant, beginning the journey from student to teacher under the close supervision of a qualified SAMA instructor.

This will cement their knowledge of the Karate syllabus and help determine whether they have both the attributes and a desire to become a Karate instructor. This can be both a very rewarding experience for a Black Belt and a very positive extra-curricular activity when seen on a student's CV.