Where can foreigners experience karate? Explanation of the karate experience process and cautions



Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

Karate” has been adopted as an official sport for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

This Japanese sport is highly recognized overseas, so why don’t you entertain your foreign guests and friends with a [karate experience]?

Karate is also an effective way to introduce people to good Japanese culture, as it is full of etiquette and spirituality that is uniquely Japanese.

However, there are many things to worry about, such as “Will foreigners really be pleased with the karate experience?

In this article, we will introduce information on places where foreigners can experience karate, the process of experiencing karate, and points to keep in mind.

Is Karate Famous Abroad? What is Karate to foreigners?

Is Karate Famous Abroad? What is Karate to foreigners?

First of all, you want to know whether karate is popular among foreigners in the first place.

Karate is a martial art so well known in Japan that there is no one who does not know it, but how is it perceived overseas?

To be able to entertain foreign guests and friends with confidence, it is important to know how well-known karate is and what its image is overseas.

Karate has more than 100 million competitors worldwide

The number of karate competitors, including enthusiasts, is estimated to be more than 120 million worldwide.

Moreover, the number of people competing in Japan is about 3 million, so there are more people practicing karate overseas than in Japan.

In addition, more than 160 countries are members of the World Karate Federation.

The world championships are held every two years, which shows that the sport and martial art of karate is loved by people all over the world.

Karate was originally born in Okinawa and spread throughout Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, but after World War II, it was spread to the United States by American soldiers stationed in Japan.

Later, around the 1960s, karate spread abroad as Japanese karate instructors were sent to Europe.

Today, karate is a popular sport with many karate dojos abroad.

I’m attracted to the “spiritual side of things as well.”

Many overseas karate competitors are attracted to the “spiritual aspect” of karate as well.

Karate is a martial art that emphasizes character development and respect for others.

In karate, for example, we bow at the beginning and end of practice.

This is also seen in the Japanese martial arts of kendo and judo, so even if you are not an experienced karate fighter, you can easily imagine this scene.

Since martial arts “begin and end with rei,” respect is paid to the opponent and the place where the competition takes place.

When they beat their opponents in competition, they do not pose with guts, but always bow to each other at the end of the match.

This respect for the opponent and emphasis on “mental strength” in addition to physical strength and technique is another area where karate differs greatly from foreign martial arts.

That is what makes them attractive to foreigners.

Also popular as a “sight-seeing” sport.

In fact, karate is also gaining popularity among foreigners as a “sport to watch”.

According to the “Overseas Marketing Survey Report on Sports Tourism,” a survey conducted by the Sports Agency of Japan, karate and martial arts were the most popular sports to try, receiving votes from more than 30% of all respondents, ahead of baseball, rugby, and other sports.

Karate is popular not only among Western foreigners in the United States and other countries, but also among foreigners from Asian countries such as China and Hong Kong as a “sight-seeing” sport, making karate a popular sport overseas regardless of nationality or region.

Reference: ” Overseas Marketing Research Report on Sports Tourism.

Thus, we can see that karate is popular among foreigners both as a [martial art to compete] and as a [sport to watch].

The “Karate Experience,” filled with the charms of Japanese culture, will be a special and memorable experience for your foreign guests and friends.

What to expect when foreigners experience karate

What to expect when foreigners experience karate

The following two points should be noted when entertaining foreigners with a karate experience.

  • Is there a rental of street clothes?
  • Does it support foreign languages?

Is there a rental of street clothes?

First, check to see if karate uniforms are available for rent at the location where you will experience karate.

In some cases, they will lend you a dojo for the experience, while in others, they do not.

If you are not renting out the equipment, you will need to wear comfortable clothing, so let your foreign guests and friends know in advance that they will need to bring their own sportswear, etc.

Nevertheless, since the experience of wearing a street clothes is also a “Japaneseness experience” for foreigners, we recommend that you go to a place that rents out street clothes, if possible.

Does it support foreign languages?

Be sure to check in advance whether the karate experience is available in the language of your foreign guests or friends.

If the karate experience is not available in the language of the foreigner, there are many inconvenient situations, such as the detailed nuances of the instruction and the explanation of karate etiquette.

If the language is not supported, you may want to arrange for a separate interpreter.

There are many styles of karate, but foreigners do not need to worry too much about this in their karate experience.

This is because many Japanese people have the sense of “mastering the art in one style,” but few foreigners, even those who have experience competing in karate, have a sense of style.

Therefore, almost no one understands the difference between the schools, so you don’t need to worry about it unless a foreigner requests it in advance.

Places where foreigners can experience karate

Places where foreigners can experience karate

So what are the places where foreigners can experience karate?

The following are the two main places where foreigners can experience karate.

  • Local Karate Dojo
  • Events to experience Japanese culture

Since each karate experience has a different atmosphere, we recommend that you choose a location that takes into consideration the level of Japanese experience of your foreign guests and friends.

Local Karate Dojo

You can try karate at a “trial lesson” at a local karate dojo or school.

However, in the case of a trial lesson at a karate dojo, it is possible that you will participate in [regular karate practice] with white belts and other entry-level students.

The teachers will provide detailed explanations and follow-up on etiquette and other matters, but it is possible that foreigners may be confused by the unfamiliar surroundings, such as sitting on the floor, bowing, and other Japanese gestures and karate calls, which are new to them.

For this reason, a karate experience at a local dojo is recommended if your foreign guest or friend is familiar with Japanese culture and has already visited Japan several times.

However, if you go to a dojo where the students are multinational, such as the “Mukenryu Karate Do Tokyo International Harajuku Honbu Dojo” in Tokyo, you can rest assured that the instructors are accustomed to teaching karate to non-Japanese students.

Official website of Mukenryu Karate-do Tokyo International Harajuku Honbu Dojo: https://www.mugen-karate.com/

Events to experience Japanese culture

If your foreign guest or friend is new to Japan or unfamiliar with Japanese culture, we recommend experiencing karate at a Japanese cultural experience event.

The Japanese culture experience events are held for foreigners visiting Japan from overseas, so of course all the participants around you are also foreigners.

Even foreign guests and friends who are not very familiar with Japan can participate without being too nervous.

These events are not limited to the karate experience, but also include unique options such as a visit to a karate museum or a walk around the community.

For example, in Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, Ageshio Japan, a travel agency specializing in Okinawan karate, offers the “Okinawa Karate Sacred Sites Pilgrimage Tour.

In addition to the karate experience, the tour includes a visit to a karate museum, a prayer at a shrine, shopping at a karate specialty store, and a meal at a traditional Japanese house café, allowing visitors to experience karate while fully experiencing Japan.

Details of the “Okinawa Karate Sacred Sites Pilgrimage Tour”: https://ageshiojapan.com/jp/program/okinawan-karate-history-tour

This kind of tour allows you to enjoy conversation with your foreign guests and friends while incorporating karate into your experience.

Motenas Japan can also plan custom-made karate experiences tailored to the needs of foreign visitors.

In the past, we have incorporated a tile-splitting performance and a board-splitting experience into our karate experience, which was well received by foreign visitors.

If you would like to plan a special karate experience, please feel free to contact Motenas Japan.

Example of Karate Experience Flow

Example of Karate Experience Flow

Finally, here is how the karate experience will proceed.

The flow of the karate experience varies from dojo to dojo and event to event, but the general flow is as follows.

  1. change into (one’s) uniform
  2. Greetings and courtesy instructions
  3. basic training
  4. Performances and mitts

change into (one’s) uniform

First, upon entering the dojo/venue, you will pick up your rental dogi.

After that, ask the person in charge to show you to the changing area and change into your dojo clothes.

If rental street clothes are not provided, change into sportswear or other clothing that you have brought with you.

Since many foreigners do not know how to put on a dojikin, it is recommended that they learn how to put it on from the staff before changing.

Greetings and courtesy instructions

After changing clothes, there will be an explanation of karate greetings and etiquette.

It is important to note that it is necessary to sit on the floor while listening to the explanation.

Even for Japanese people, sitting on the floor for long periods of time can cause numbness in the legs, but for most foreigners, sitting on the floor for the first time is a new experience.

Therefore, it is a good idea to check with your teacher beforehand to see if it is safe to straddle the leg.

After the explanation, the participants will actually greet each other at the beginning of the training and warm up with some light exercises before starting the experience.

Karate is performed with bare feet and bare hands, so please warm up well to prevent injury.

basic training

The first part of the experience often begins with basic training.

In basic training, students are taught the basics of karate, such as how to stand, how to clench fists, how to thrust, and how to kick.

If we were to use baseball or tennis as an analogy, the practice would be similar to swinging a baseball or tennis ball.

We practice the correct form of thrusts, kicks, and uke-teki (blocking techniques).

Sensei will go around the dojo and give careful advice and instruction to each student, so even those who are new to karate can feel at ease.

Demonstrations and Mitts

Finally, there will be demonstrations and mitts based on the basic training.

Demonstration is a [kata] of karate, which consists of a combination of thrusts, kicks, and strikes.

Even foreigners who are new to karate do not need to worry, as they can slowly follow the instructor’s example.

Try to imitate your sensei and make the typical karate shouts such as “Ai! and other “Kiai” (fighting spirit) calls, try to imitate your sensei.

In the case of mitt-uchi, the teacher or student holds up a mitt used in boxing, etc., to which they practice thrusts and kicks.

When a thrust or a kick is executed well, it makes a nice “Pang! and it feels good.

After the practice is over, we greet the students and the experience is over.

After changing in the changing area, return the borrowed dojos to the person in charge.

In the case of rental dojos, the cleaning fee is included, so there is no need to wash and return them.

Some dojos may also sell dojos.

In fact, Japanese-style street clothes are popular as souvenirs among foreigners, so if your customers or friends show interest, you can ask them if they would like to purchase one.

When purchasing, it is recommended to ask the person in charge if there is any name embroidery service.

A dojiki with your name embroidered in Japanese will be a special memory for foreigners.



When entertaining foreign guests and friends with different cultures and values, many people wonder what kind of experience to choose to make them happy.

Karate is a well-known and popular sport overseas, so experiencing karate in Japan, the home of karate, will be a special and memorable experience for your foreign guests and friends.

If the foreign client is a business partner, it is also helpful to let them know about good Japanese culture, such as etiquette and respect for others, through the karate experience to build a relationship of trust.

Most local dojos offer karate experiences, and there are many tour companies that offer Japanese cultural experience events for foreigners, so please look around.

Motenas Japan can also plan custom-made karate experiences for foreign visitors.

Please feel free to contact Motenas Japan for more information. We can offer not only a karate experience, but also more memorable karate experiences such as a kawara-wari (roof tile breaking) performance by a real karate practitioner or a board-splitting experience.