In the midst of Covid, I spontaneously decided to immerse myself in Karate but finding a Dojo to practice Karate near me was not an option. With the lockdowns and mass restrictions, all the Karate Dojos near me were shut down or highly restricted and prioritizing current members.
I didn’t want to wait for who knows how long before in-person learning became an option again, I was determined to start learning ASAP.
No Karate Near Me…Now What?
This got me thinking, can I actually learn Karate online? Can I earn an accredited Karate belt Rank online?
After signing up to every karate school that offered a free trial to their online training it was a no-brainer as to which school I was going to train with.
That school ended up being Global Martial Arts University, or GMAU for short. You can read my full review here.
As of writing this, I’ve been a student with GMAU for about 2 months and can 100% advocate for them. I received my white belt within 4 weeks and am currently halfway to my Yellow belt.
Learning Karate online comes with perks but it also has its’ downfalls in comparison to training at a Karate Dojo near you. The chart below will go over what I consider to be the most important areas to compare and consider followed by an in-depth breakdown of some key benefits to learning Karate online vs a Karate Dojo near you.
*Note: Having experience with in-person training for Kickboxing and Kung Fu years ago I can confidently say that online martial arts training isn’t an equal experience. I 100% advocate for in-person martial arts training over online if possible and desired.
Global Martial Arts University vs Local Karate Dojo
LOCAL KARATE DOJO
|Program||Shotokan Karate||Shotokan Karate|
|Belts Offered||White - Black||White - Black|
|Wait Restriction Between Belts||Logged training hours:|
White - 8hrs
Others - 36hrs
|4-12 months wait (sometimes longer for brown and black belts)|
|Make Own Schedule||✔|
|Feedback||Periodic, Hands-off||Constant, Hands-on|
|Community of Students to Interact with||✔||✔|
|Teach Partner Training||✔||✔|
|Teach Kumite (sparring)||✔||✔|
|Partners Readily Available||✔|
|View Lessons Repeatedly||✔|
|Instructor Support, Feedback, & Guidance||✔||✔|
|Active Student Forum||✔|
|Belt Testing Fee||$60||$100-$300|
|Monthly Investment||1) $39.95/mnth|
2) $179.70 biannually
3) $195 x 3 (3 year access)
|$95/mnth (avg.) (according to IKCA)|
Key Benefits of Training Karate Online
1. Save $3400 to get your Black Belt by Training Online
According to the International Karate Connection Association, the average price to learn martial arts in-person is $95/month. Based on researching Reddit and learning what people are paying at their local Dojos, I’ve come to the conclusion that it will cost between $100-$300 per belt test and up to $1000 per black belt test. This amounts to a minimum savings of $3400 compared to learning Karate online with a school like GMAU.
2. Make Your Own Schedule
This is the sole reason I stopped my in-person kickboxing and KungFu membership in the past. My schedule started to get in the way and found myself being able to only make it to 0-1 class per week. I couldn’t justify the price I was paying at that rate.
Scheduling will never be an issue with online Karate training. All classes and lessons (30+ per belt) are pre-recorded and can be repeated as many times as you’d like, whenever you’d like, for as many days per week as you’d like.
3. No Minimum Wait Times For Belt Testing
Many local Karate Dojos near you will establish minimum wait times of 3-4 months with 1-3 year wait times for black belt testing. One can argue this teaches patience and one can argue it forces you to pay monthly dues for a longer period of time if you’re ready before the mandated wait time.
When it comes to learning Karate online, I can only speak from my experience at GMAU, they only require 36 hours of training time for each belt level. You have full control over how fast you move through those 36 hours. For example, if you want to train 30min/day every day, you can test for each belt every 2 months, providing you feel you’re ready.
Pros of Training at a Karate Dojo Near You
1. Hands-On Learning
As a personal trainer, I can confidently say that nothing compares to training in person. Your trainer, or Sensei for Karate, has an eye for proper technique and preventing bad habits before they set in.
Little things that can easily get overlooked in Karate when training on your own are: foot placement and angling, posture, the distance of stances, punch and kick direction, wrist and ankle angling, hip engagement and rotation, where power initiates, and much more.
Training with a mirror and videotaping yourself can negate some of these challenges if you know what to look for and have an eye for spotting it.
2. Partner Training and Kumite (sparring)
Although GMAU has a student locator built into their program allowing you to search for a fellow student near you, it’s not reliable. For example, I have found students near me but none of them are active, leaving me to train without a partner.
At a Karate Dojo near you, having a training partner s won’t be an issue. Partner training is a critical component for training Karate in-person to get the feel of having an opponent. This is one aspect of training that cannot be duplicated when training on your own no matter how often you hit the punching bag or Makiwara.
3. Provides Motivation
Training at a Karate Dojo near you will provide the additional motivation and challenge that you won’t get from training by yourself. Just when you’re ready to give up as your muscles are burning and your heart is pumping, you see the person next to you grinding away. What do you do? More times than not you’ll push through until the end.
What happens when you’re at home and you’re ready to give up? More times than not, unless you have crazy drive and self-discipline, you’ll stop.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does Karate cost per month?
This depends on where you live of course, but for Canada and the United States, it will cost in the range of $65-$150/month (excluding testing fees). According to the International Karate Connection Association, the average price to learn martial arts in-person is $95/mnth
At what age should you start Karate?
Most Dojos accept start accepting kids at the age of 5. If you’re older than 5, you should start whenever you’re ready!
Can I learn Karate after 30?
Absolutely! No matter what age you are, even if you’re more than 30 years old, you can learn Karate! I started learning Karate when I was 35! It’s never too late to start!
What is better, Karate or Taekwondo?
No martial art is superior to another martial art, the effectiveness of any martial art is dependant on the martial artist.
There are no Karate Dojos near me, can I learn Karate online?
You can definitely learn Karate online! Keep in mind that it will take more discipline and body awareness to learn Karate online versus in person. They each have their pros and cons, which I discussed above.