With the #StayAtHome notice this March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have suspended our classes until further notice to prevent the spread of the disease. During this time we would like to provide materials for home practice for our members and everyone out there.

Here’s a good guide for Monday trainings from UCD Karate instructor, Darragh O’Kelly:

Now is a good time to work on fundamentals (Kihon). You don’t need a lot of space or a partner and improvement in your form will pay enormous dividends when things return to normal.

Warm up

Warm up is important before training!

Make sure that you don’t do yourself any harm! Warm up gently first by skipping, running on the spot etc. It might be practical to get outside and go for a quick jog in the fresh air making sure to maintain a good distance from others!


Try to remember the sequence of stretches that we do at the beginning of each class and make sure that you cover all the main muscle groups. Don’t push a stretch too hard.


Stances are the easiest to build without moving around too much and are foundational to all karate techniques and styles. Holding an isometric position is an excellent way to build strength and endurance in the muscle. Don’t be afraid of feeling the burn! If you have access to a full length mirror, use it to critique your form. Try to teach yourself the feeling of a good stance and form the habit of landing in a position from which you can produce a technique. The main stances that need work are Zenkutsu-dachi, Kokutsu-dachi and Kiba-dachi. Focus on your hip position, width, length and height of each stance. Move from one to the other as smoothly as you can.

Karate basic kihon stances

Kihon training

  • Straight punches x 50
  • Double punch x 30

Focus on keeping the shoulders down and square and each punch finishing in the centre. Make sure that the hikite (withdrawn hand) is tight and the elbows are always kept near the body. Imagine having to pass the technique through a small opening in front of you. Try to work on the timing of your body to maximise ‘kime’ at the endpoint of the technique

Moving with front stance. From a left leg forward zenkutzu-dachi, try to move forward to right leg forward zenkutzu-dachi as slowly as possible. You are trying to develop muscle control and good form. Try to initiate the movement by using ‘inside’ tension to pull the back leg in towards the front leg and not by driving off the back heel. Try to keep both knees and feet pointing in the direction of travel. Step backwards in the same manner, bending the back leg first and again using inside tension to  pull the front leg in. Repeat 10 times on each side before adding a straight punch for a further 10-20 times. Don’t try for speed or power yet. Work on control.

Gedan barai - one of kihon exercises

Gedan barai technique

From Hachiji-dachi (natural stance), bending your knees, drop weight and step forward in to front stance with gedan-barai. Make sure the hips are ‘open’ / hanme. Return to Hachiji-dachi and repeat on the right side. Always make sure to drop your weight first and, when returning, pull your body back while staying low before returning to standing position. The block must start from your ear and sweep down across your body. Try to finish the entire technique at the same moment.

This exercise can be repeated substituting the Gedan-barai for the other blocks and to increase complexity add a reverse punch (gyaku-tzuki) after each.

For kicking, work on the knee-lift element for each kick first. Perform the kick slowly paying close attention to the knee position. Do NOT allow the knee to drop as you extend the leg. After working the range of motion build up the speed a little and try kicking on the spot and also while stepping forward.


Kata can be performed in small spaces by adding in small foot movements to accommodate for the space available. As well as being a physical exercise, kata is very much a mental exercise. Work on visualising the attacks as you move through the kata. Transition from one stance to the next should be smooth and watch out for where you direct your eyes – never down to the ground!

Start with Kihon kata and work your way up through the Heian series. Try slow, medium and then fast. For an extra challenge, try working on the mirror version e.g. start Kihon kata with a block to the righthand side.

Heian Nidan

If you have any questions, put it down in the comments below, on social media or in our UCD Karate Whatsapp group!