JKA Boston emphasizes traditional Japanese karate. A typical class has the following elements.
Each class begins and ends with meditation. Meditation before class helps clear your mind so that you can focus on improving yourself during class. Meditation after class helps you relax and return to daily life.
Warm-ups are essential to each class. Warm-ups include stretches that prepare your body for the rigors of class and help prevent injury.
Basics are the foundation on which you build your skill. During basics you practice punches, kicks and blocks. You may do one technique many times, first slow, then fast. By repeating individual techniques, you train your body to learn the movements. Eventually, they become instinctive.
Students practice sparring through basic sparring, sparring drills, and free sparring. During basic sparring, the attacker announces both target and technique in advance. This allows the attacker and the defender to practice timing, distance, control, stance, and power. Sparring drills allow you to practice a variety of techniques and combinations with a partner. As students become more advanced, you practice free sparring, which is similar to tournament sparring.
Techniques performed in pre-determined combinations against imaginary opponents are called Kata (KAH-ta). Each kata is like a gymnastics routine: it has a particular number of moves, has a set order, and does not change. By learning the different moves in sequence, your body learns how to use the moves together. In JKA Shotokan Karate, there are 25 kata that increase in difficulty. Katas are a key element of traditional karate. Although their exact dates of origin are unknown, Shotokan katas are said to go back hundreds of years.
A few push-ups and sit-ups at the end of class help strengthen key muscles. Warm-down stretches help loosen muscles that have become tight during class.