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How To Do Advanced Training in a Beginner Class

Posted by on in Instructor Training and Technical aspects
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You attend a children’s or a beginner level class, but you are not a beginner. There are quite a few of you out there. The advanced class is too late at night, and you have to get up early the next day. Your kid takes karate, and you drive them, and they can’t just sit around in the lobby or off to the side while you work out for an additional hour or two. You are attending a beginner class, but you’ve been training for years, and you want to do more.


You can – within certain constraints. I have two recommendations:

Obey the rules Speed things up a little where you can


Obey the rules of the class at all times. The instructor of a karate class, just like any instructor, has rules for how things operate. You will follow those rules, or the instructor has every right to toss you out. If  you ask the instructor to do some more interesting things when the class is clearly not aimed at your skill level, you are out of line. You are attending a beginner class. You selected to go to it, for whatever reason, so that’s what you are going to eat.

Approaching karate instructors and attempting to get them to “see reason” works about 0% of the time. If you don’t like your karate class, then start your own.

At no time should you be contravening what the instructor wants to see in his class in terms of behavior.


While following recommendations number one, you can do your best to make some light in a dark situation. I’ll let someone else be the one to tell you that you need to go through the most basic of basics training over and over again to polish your ego, learn proper humility, and perfect your technique. I would roll my eyes if anyone told me that, too. I didn’t sign up for karate lessons to become a zen monk. I signed up for it to learn to defend myself, get some exercise, meet some folks, and have fun.

Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference:

Try training in the back of the room. That way the kids can see the instructor easily, and any playing you do is not setting a bad example. Ask the instructor if it’s OK for you to line up in back. Usually this doesn’t hurt anything. It is a reasonable request. When I teach, I send the high rankers to the rear and the low rankers to the front as a matter of practice. If the class isn’t doing enough techniques to get you sweaty, then try doing two for every one count. Two blocks, two punches, etc. Switch sides every ten count by doing three. That should warm you up. When you are doing “ido” 移動 (stepping up and down the floor doing basics), instead of using down blocks and deep stances to start, use your sparring en guard posture between each technique. Perform the technique, snap it back, and resume the en guard position. When you get caught behind small steppers who are in your way, withdraw the front foot and then step forward with the rear foot, pulling your hips back only a little. Do this very quickly. It is good practice for handling someone who is up close in a sparring match and not retreating while keeping them at punching distance. Concentrate on particular skills that are not being covered in class:
. Speed: step more quickly than anyone. Execute techniques faster than others. Do two techniques in the time it takes others to do one.
. Reaction Time: Use the instructor’s voice and react to it. Don’t move until you hear the sound, then react as quickly as possible.
. Strength: use dynamic tension as you move slowly to further exercise your muscles.
. Flexibility: use downtime during lectures that drone on about how to make a fist to stretch while warmed up to further improve your overall flexibility


Advanced karate players: what do you do during beginner classes to make them more usable?

Instructors: What do you do to accommodate advanced students who find themselves stuck in a beginner class?