The Dojo

The Dojo

The area where a student in Karate trains is called the Dojo. Upon entering the Dojo, the student must bow from the waist. A great deal of respect must be shown when training in the Dojo.

The Sensei

A literal translation of the word from Japanese is 'teacher' or 'instructor'. In the Dojo the students address the person teaching them as Sensei.

The Gi

The students' karate suits are known as Gi. The uniform traditionally dates back to that of a simple Japanese peasant's garb, which was a loose fitting two piece affair with baggy trousers.

The suit is held together by a very long belt, usually coloured. The colour denotes the varying degrees of proficiency of the student.

The Belt

An absolute beginner wears a white belt. According to old traditions, when the white belt passed his first grading exam he was then awarded his Kyu grade- this means he was entitled to wear a different colour belt.

Karate Belt Rankings

Regardless of the style and school of Karate a practitioner comes from, all students have one goal in mind: to reach the standard of Black Belt. Different styles have different orders of colours for their belt system but the ultimate aim of belt is Black. Dan is the term used for a student who has achieved the rank of Black Belt or higher. Kyu is the term for anyone below Black belt.

Ken Yu Kai belt colours.

White9th Kyu
Yellow8th Kyu
Orange7th Kyu
Green6th Kyu
Blue5th Kyu
Purple4th Kyu
Brown 1 tip3rd Kyu
Brown 2 tips2nd Kyu
Brown 3 tips1st Kyu
Black 1 tip1st Dan
Black 2 tips2nd Dan

And so on...


Part of the training is centred on sets of different self defence techniques and basic movements that are performed in the air, against an imaginery opponent. This is called Kata, and is similar to shadow boxing.

For many traditionalists this is the most important aspect of Karate training and exponents of the art spend a whole lifetime trying to perfect the movements and mental awareness of Kata.

When practising Kata it is very important to visualise an imaginery opponent attacking you. By imagining you have an opponent attacking you, you are developing knowledge and understanding of the moves that you are performing.


Kumite, also known as sparring, is popular aspect of Karate training. Free sparring can be a good spectator sport and tests the Karateka (a person who practices Karate) to their limits. Karate has a very controlled style with some rules that are designed to protect both participants. Examples of these are you should not strike at the throat or groin.

The Kiai

The Kiai is brought up from the depths of the lungs and is emitted through the mouth as a shout. The Kiai does two things. First it brings a surge of power to a given blow, and second, when confronted with an emergency, this shout from the lips of the intended victim just before he counter-attacks can confuse an assailant momentarily.