The history of Karate is shrouded in mystery. As far back as 1368 empty hand combat training was practised in Okinawa- China- India and it was not until 1915 that Karate as it is now known was brought to Japan from Okinawa. The person responsible for the introduction of Karate to Japan was Okinawan Master Gichin Funakoshi, an Educationalist with a strong desire to teach Karate as a means of character and spiritual development.
Between 1915-1936 Funakoshi and other great Masters developed their various styles of Karate and eventually Funakoshi named his style Shotokan, he also formed the Japan Karate Association which now represents millions of practitioners throughout the world. In England the Japan Karate Association is headed by Sensei Yoshinobu Ohta, 7th dan, who is also the chief Karate instructor at Budokwai.
There are numerous styles of Karate practised all over the world, each style emphasising something different. Shotokan is a traditional, powerful style dedicated to discipline and character development.


At the Budokwai classes for beginners in Karate are taught twice weekly. If you have never done Karate before the Budokwai is a perfect place to learn. Our instructors are highly qualified and are there to guide you from complete novice to advanced. Shotokan karate is incredibly structured, and with this students will be able to develop at their own pace through the different grades. For information on Karate Gradings see Karate Grading section
All of our classes follow a set structure to which students follow, and a Shotokan karate lesson consists of three parts;
Basics- the practise of basic techniques- punching, kicking, blocking and stances. Your knowledge of this will continually increase over time and as you move up the grade system.
Kata- A series of set moves in a specific shape/form. Each grade has a specific kata which is an integral part of the grading system.
Kumite- Practising with a partner. For lower grades this will be simple and rehearsed, and as a student becomes more experiences free sparring is gradually introduced. Basic self defence will also be incorporated for all grades.


At the start of every lesson students should form multiple lines facing the instructor, with the highest grade standing on the right hand side, and the lowest grade on the left.
1. The instructor will stand in front of the class with their back to students, and the highest grade in the class will announce “shomen-Ni-Rei”- everyone bows (feet together hands by side)
2. The instructor turns around to face the class; highest grade announces “Sensei-Ni-Rei”. Everyone bows saying “oss” at the same time.
3. The highest grade announces “Otagai-Ni-Rei”. Everyone bows saying “oss” at the same time.
The lesson will finish in the same way, however before the first bow the highest grade or instructor will call out the “Dojo Code” which all students will repeat
For information on Dojo (place of practise) ettiquette, see the Intermediate/Advanced Overview