Today karate stands as probably the most popular form of martial arts.
Dating back to 17th century Okinawa, surprisingly, it was only officially recognized as a martial art in 1933.
It is a sport which involves kicking, striking and defensive blocking using arms and legs.
‘Kara’ can be translated to the Japanese word for ‘empty’ and ‘te’, meaning ‘hands’.
Therefore, we get ‘empty hands’, as it is a form of martial art which excludes the use of weapons.
The main question everyone asks is, “how long will it take me to learn”? Well, there are several different factors which come into play.
We explore this below.
What Is Taught In Karate Classrooms?
Far more important than learning how to attack, self-defense is one of the most important factors in learning karate.
It is also the component which takes the most amount of preparation.
Learning how to master self-defense requires a lot of skills that can only be taught to a certain degree in classrooms.
Focus, mental clarity and awareness and the ability to be a master of your emotions are key when approaching this sport.
These are things that you must develop, especially if you plan on entering high-stakes situations like tournaments.
There is no particular set time in which all people learn karate.
First of all, you must become comfortable training in classes as a new student, in order to gain more confidence.
Getting over this initial period which might cause discomfort as you get used to moving your body in new ways, may take a few weeks to a few months.
The key is to be disciplined and attend classes regularly.
It is also recommended that you practice at home, again to gain more familiarity with the movements.
As more time passes, you will gradually improve your timing and posture, and also improve that all important mental discipline.
Honing in on these skills usually takes anywhere from six months to a year and a half, based on the student.
When Will I Get My Black Belt?
For those who are considering learning karate, earning a black belt seems to be the ultimate goal.
You may be wondering how long it takes to reach this stage through training.
Of course, there are many variables involved in this, namely, the teacher, the style, and the student.
Therefore, this achievement can be reached anywhere from two to five years.
Style in particular is important when advancing toward a black belt, because some styles require less physical demand and have less moves to learn.
It is also important to note that once you’ve reached black belt status, true mastery may still be elusive.
Using the skills that you’ve learnt within a controlled environment like the classroom will be very different from utilizing those skills on the street.
The Importance Of Style
There are four main styles of karate. These consist of Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Goju-ryu.
The three former styles originate from Okinawa, whereas Goju-ryu originates from Naha.
Some, like Shotokan, are highly stylized, which allow the student to perform fast and efficient strikes against opponents, whereas, Wado-ryu places more emphasis on defensive moves and a spiritual connection in relation to the movements.
It is important to find a style which resonates with you, then you can go ahead and find a dojo which specialises in your preference.
Once you have a full understanding of all the traditions and techniques your style has to offer, it will be far easier to determine how long it will take you to become proficient in that variety of karate.
How Frequently Will I Have To Train
The answer to this question comes down to a matter of balance.
If you are training ferociously to the point where it no longer brings you any joy or satisfaction, it is time to stop.
However, you should also take care not to become complacent with your training, especially if you want to earn that blackbelt status.
Professional experts of karate, of course, train on a daily basis, however, most students need to attend classes around twice a week.
For those who are very serious about elevated progression in a short amount of time, it is also possible to receive personal training sessions on a weekly basis.
It is good to practice a sense of consistency in your training, as it will be useful when you’re required to participate in future tournaments.
Other Important Factors When Learning Karate
As we mentioned above, having the right instructor will be integral to your success.
Many well-qualified instructors will have mastered several different types of martial arts, and will have several certifications to prove their legitimacy.
If you are taught by somebody who does not have these certifications, the quality of your training will suffer as a result.
Make sure you do your research and find a proper instructor to avoid wasting time and money.
Levels Of Fitness
Your own personal level of fitness could also have an impact on your training.
If you are overweight or obese, this will affect your levels of mobility when trying to perform quick and agile movements, especially if there has been no previous exercise regime performed by the student.
This will mean that you will be learning to increase fitness levels whilst also learning a new form of martial arts, which could be quite daunting.
Interestingly, having very high fitness levels could also be an issue whilst learning karate.
If your body has high levels of muscle mass, this could also hinder your movements.
Karate requires quick and agile motions, which those who have placed specific focus on gaining muscle mass may not possess.
Karate is also a test of endurance, and so those who have conducted masses of strength training may not be exemplary when it comes to cardio exercises.