What we teach – Karate

Karate – for Kids, Youths & Adults

Karate (meaning the way of the empty hand) is a traditional Japanese Martial Art that requires discipline in mind and body. We offer a wide range of classes both in and out of school for members aged 4 and up. 

We specialise in teaching children Karate in schools all over the South East. We offer both after and before school clubs, as well as external classes during the evenings and weekends too, in Community centres and other venues. 

Incorporating Self Defence, Discipline, Awareness, Concentration and Co-Ordination, Karate is a great way for children to channel energy. Our modern day approach works alongside school visions and values with countless Head Teachers praising our ethos, and often recommending pupils to us. 

Traditional Karate is also available for Youths and Adults too, and many of our Karate kids stay with us and continue their training into adulthood, often becoming Instructors or Assistants themselves. 

Beginners Guide (White Belt)

Beginners are welcome to attend any class to try Karate, though some restrictions may apply at before-school and after-school lessons, so check our local classes page for details. Arrive 10 minutes or so before your first lesson so that the Instructor can talk to you about what you can expect from the lesson, and what is expected of you.

We recommend that students attend four or five classes before joining us officially as a member. Once membership has been completed, the student will need a white uniform or ‘Gi.’ We supply good quality uniforms, complete with white belt and club badge, for £22.00 but students are welcome to purchase from elsewhere.

Your local SAMA Instructor will be able to advise on sizes and may have uniforms available for students to try. Please note that sizes and cuts vary between manufacturers.

What happens in a typical class?

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

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 level. The first Kata a student must learn is a sequence of approximately 10 moves. Katas increase in length and complexity for each belt, with some high grade Katas having more than 75 moves. Higher belts also need to perform multiple Katas.

After Kata practice, students may try out their techniques under supervision on focus mitts or a kick shield held by the Instructor.

Senior grades work with weapons under strict supervision as they prepare for their 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. The class will usually conclude with a short game to bring the lesson to a close.

Achievement (Black) Stripes

As children learn parts of the syllabus for their grade they are rewarded with black stripes on their belt. Three black stripes indicates that a student knows their syllabus and is ready to grade. This becomes a visible indication of a student’s progress and encourages them to maintain their training, concentrate on learning and that they have been recognised for good behaviour in class. Stripes may often be removed if a student shows bad behaviour or attitude.

Our Grading System

SAMA uses the traditional coloured belt system to show progression between White and Black Belt. By successfully completing a grading the student achieves a new belt. Grading for low belts may be as often as every 2-3 months. Grading for intermediate belts may be as often as every 4-6 months. The frequency of grading 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 a year between grading.

Intermediate Belts

Green belt through to 2nd Blue 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 intermediate grades, students are expected to be able to distinguish and demonstrate accurately the stances and strikes in both Kihon and Kata.


The first weapon introduced at 2nd blue belt is 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 higher belts include escrima sticks, Jo staff, Kama Tanto and sai.

Rules & Traditional Etiquette

Students will be made aware, and are expected to follow, basic Karate Dojo etiquette and will be expected to use it appropriately from 2nd Blue belt onwards. They are expected to understand and display appropriate respect to peers and senior grades at all times.

Branded Merchandise

As students progress they may want to wear SAMA branded clothing and accessories – Fleeces, Hooded Sweatshirts and Polo Shirts. Some of these can be embroidered with the Student’s name or nickname. Visit the online shop to view our full range:

Red Stripes

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. Red stripes are awarded from green belt and up.

Higher & Advanced Students

From Brown Belt onwards, the syllabus expands and students will learn multiple and complex Katas for each grading. Students will develop an understanding of the native Japanese names for Karate.

High grades and Black Belts should be a model for lower grades to follow and look up to, and should behave accordingly.

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 and 1st Kyu specific Katas. 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 and Careers

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. They 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 a very rewarding experience for a Black Belt as well as a very positive extra-curricular activity when seen on a student’s CV.