Can You Learn Karate at Home? (Yes, here’s how)


It has been a trend to learn new things while at home nowadays, and many people are looking for options to master certain martial arts without going to a dojo. This might leave you with a question, “can you learn Karate at home?”

Here is what I’ve learned doing online and in-person martial arts:

You can learn Karate at home, but it’s not the best way to learn kicks, punches, or sweeps. But working with a hanging bag or dummy can help. However, Karate katas do lend themselves especially well to learning at home online.

So if it’s not feasible to join a dojo, it’s smart to get started by making use of what’s available and then switch to a dojo later. After all, as I often say, learning ANY martial arts is better than none.

So, in this article, I’ll share tips on how to make the best of your effort at teaching yourself. And we’ll explore a few key tips that will make your progress much better.

Let the fun begin!

But without a sparring partner, I strongly recommend getting this Dripex Freestanding Punching on Amazon to practice punches and kicks. Unlike some heavy bags, this one is free-standing, so you don’t have to hang it from your ceiling.

It’s also heavy-duty enough for your soon-to-be brutal kicks. Almost 2000 reviews and almost completely 5-stars tell the rest of the story. And it won’t break the bank either.

CLICK HERE to see the current price on Amazon.

Does it take longer to learn Karate at home?

It does take longer to learn karate at home because certain movements will be harder to execute and master without a partner. Also, the lack of direct feedback from a seasoned instructor increases the possibility of picking up bad habits that will later require more time to unlearn.

But really, to really master anything takes time, dedication, and years of practice. So teaching yourself Karate be it through YouTube videos, or real-time online classes, is no different.

But it will be hard to know if you’re getting the techniques down or whether your progress is a figment of your imagination.

Because you’re not able to accurately gauge your progress or the most vital techniques to get started with, you’ll need to be precise and slow.

As many martial arts masters will tell you, “Slow is flow, and flow is fast”. 

By that, they mean that dojo training or not, don’t try and rush your training. Go slow. Take the time to really understand and feel the movements. Speed will come over time. But if you rush, you’ll be sloppy (at best).

Otherwise, you could discover months down the line that you’ve rushed through the most vital fundamental, and that can slow your growth later.

Consider that if you have access to a great dojo and you’re devoted to training at least 3 times a week, it would take you an average of five years of study to earn a black belt (at least). And anyone promising a black belt in less time you should run from.

But you can still make excellent progress at home. But to really master it, and most likely to earn a black belt, you will need to eventually join a dojo.

Can I learn Karate from YouTube?

Yes, Karate can be learned on Youtube, especially the katas. But it will be harder to master punches, kicks, and sweeps without practicing with another moving person. 

The truth is that there’s hardly anything one can’t learn on YouTube.

What’s vital is the degree of confidence we have in what’s been learned. If a person learns how to develop apps on Youtube and goes on to develop apps, we can be confident that they are competent.

But, you and I would probably not have confidence in a neurosurgeon who has only used Youtube as their mode of learning.

It’s the same with learning Karate.

How confident would you be even after years of watching videos to go and fight someone who’s been training in a dojo, even for as little as 7 months?

Yes, you can learn all the techniques. So, take your time to research the best online schools. So, that you can be sure that you’ll get the conceptual knowledge you need. But, you can’t rest on your laurels.

You must be eager to find a dojo and train with instructors and sparring partners before you can be confident that you’re now a skilled Karateka. Because, in addition to the conceptual knowledge, you need practice, practice, practice.

It’s when you have felt the” taste of blood in the arena”, with other Karatekas, that you can truly become one.

Here are my top sources for learning Karate online (not paid endorsements):

Platform Name/Link Why I Like It Cost
YouTube Global Martial Arts University Tons of lessons and almost 2000,000 subscribers! A whole video series on Shotokan Karate for Beginners too. Free
Online Course Shotokan Karate Online/ Complete online course from white to black belt including testing and virtual belt certificates. Money-back guarantee and new tutorials added weekly! $19.97/month
YouTube Lindy Woods Not a ton of subscribers or views, but I love the number of videos on 1 simple technique. Taught clearly and with good video. complete beginner classes in the Chuck Norris System of Karate Free
Live Training plus online courses Ageless Karate Live streaming classes done via Zoom at specific times for all ages from kids through adults and from beginner through black belt. The price is unclear and classes may be free to join

How can I teach myself Karate?

Online courses, books, and YouTube are some of the best ways to teach yourself Karate. And of those, a live stream online class where the instructor can also see you will give you the best results.

One of the benefits of going to a dojo is the fact that it’s done at set times and while there you repeat certain techniques over and over again.

You also get to practice with a partner.

Which is not feasible when you’re alone. But, you can have a dedicated room or part of the house for your practice and you can have set times, too. Both will help you progress.

But without a sparring partner, I strongly recommend getting this Dripex Freestanding Punching on Amazon to practice punches and kicks. Unlike some heavy bags, this one is free-standing, so you don’t have to hang it from your ceiling.

It’s also heavy-duty enough for your soon-to-be brutal kicks. Almost 2000 reviews and almost completely 5-stars tell the rest of the story. And it won’t break the bank either.

CLICK HERE to see the current price on Amazon.

Practicing alone, you’ll have to also spend a considerable chunk of the time watching videos and practicing what you’re seeing.

So, make it fun and make sure your laptop or TV that you’re using is big or of medium size so that you don’t have to squint or strain your eyes. But, at the same time, you want it in a safe place, so that you don’t accidentally run into it while you’re practicing the techniques.

So, try not to rush, pick a few techniques per week and practice over and over again until you’re proficient.

Mastery will take a long time. But ensure you watch several times, then practice several times. Focus on the basics. You’ll need to be with an instructor later to really “get” the techniques. So, the practice at home is a temporary thing.

Kung Fu often comes to mind when Karate is being discussed.

Specifically, many people wonder which one is better? Kung Fu or Karate? Well, I took the time to answer the question in a recent article of mine.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you earn a black belt in karate at home?

Yes, there are Karate schools teaching online classes that allow you to earn a black belt while training at home. Some offer a black belt in as little as 10-12 months.

But the right question, is not can you? But, should you?

Can you? Yes. Should you? No. Confusing? It shouldn’t be confusing at this stage, considering what I have shared in earlier paragraphs. Unless you’re just studying Karate for the fun of it, your life could depend on whether you’ve actually mastered the skill or not.

Plus, there’s simply no way that earning a black belt from Karate Academy Online, which they offer in 10-12 months, is going to get you anywhere near the level of skill that other black belts would have.

To master ANYTHING takes much longer than that, and ultimately most martial arts, Tai Chi being the biggest exception, eventually require training and sparring with a partner to fully understand the movements.

But, continuing with the thread of what I shared in the preceding paragraph if the focus is on self-defense. I’ll advise you to take the online training.

But, realize that you must complement that with 3 to 4 years of one on one training if you’re really serious about earning a black belt.

If you’re content with a “vanity belt”, then you can go for the one-year online course that leads to a “black belt.” Never forget, however, that when the chips are down, it’s a belt you won’t be able to defend!

How long does it take to get good at karate at home?

Learning Karate at home would take at least 6 months to develop a basic understanding of the fundamental movements. It would then take at least another 6-12 months to be well-practiced at them, training 3 times a week for 1 hour per session.

It takes a long time.

The time it takes naturally varies from person to person. It is a function of how devoted you are, how many times you are practicing each week, the quality of the instructions, and your mindset as well.

It’s entirely possible to master the techniques fast, but the person could be slowed down if they have the wrong mindset.

A good instructor looks out for both.

Note that I used the word fundamentals. To really become good, and by that, I mean to use it to defend yourself in a street fight, you’ll need to spend about the same time (in addition to your self-study) in a good dojo, under a seasoned instructor.

Having worked with thousands of parents over the years and having 3 daughters of my own, one of the most common questions is what is the best martial art for teenage girls?

What do you think? I answer just that in a recent article of mine. Ultimately, there isn’t exactly just 1 answer. But if you know your daughter like I know mine, it’s easy to narrow down the choices.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

In the preceding paragraphs, I shared tips on how to learn Karate at home.

We looked at how long it would take you, and whether taking the self-study option to gain a black belt is wise. Lastly, I wrapped up with how long it would probably take you to get good on your own.

Luckily, things like katas and all the different blocks are solo movements and can be learned much more easily at home than drills that require a partner.

So, see the self-study phase as a “better than nothing” strategy.

A temporary thing. But don’t expect that you’ll become good by watching some videos! The best way to learn anything, Karate included, is in a group, in a dojo, with other learners, under a master instructor.

But before you decide, cost needs to be factored in too. After all, in-person martial arts, including Karate, can be expensive. So make sure you know all the costs involved before you sign up.


Photo which requires attribution:

Just Leap In – Arrival on Dojo Island by Wangxiang Tuxing is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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