Lesson Planning for Karate Instructors: Four Major Components of an Effective Lesson Plan

As a karate instructor, you certainly understand the importance of planning your lessons. Developing an effective lesson plan is vitally important, especially for new instructors. However, even for a very experienced instructor, it doesn’t hurt to revisit some basic lesson planning principles. There are several main components that are fundamental to the overall content of karate lessons at all levels. These components are:

Element, which includes basic training, forms and work in pairs;

ยท Type, which includes quality, quantity, fun and seriousness;

Level, which is beginner, intermediate and advanced;

Approach, which includes grading curriculum, forms analysis and application, self defense, target training, and general drills.

Generally, each lesson will include these four components. The parts of each component relate to the actual content of the lesson. By combining these components and making small changes, each lesson will be interesting but different while still meeting the necessary content required at each rank level.

Let’s define each component and its parts.


The element component refers to the type of content that the lesson includes. Generally, each lesson will use one or more of the three k’s: kihon (basic concepts), kata (forms), and kumite (pair work or sparring).


The type component is about how the lesson is delivered. Does the lesson focus on quality (detailed explanations of basic techniques, forms, or partner work), quantity (a tough workout that uses repetition of the technique as the main teaching tool), or fun (a more relaxed environment than normal? , with activities like goal training, games for children, light sparring or something else entirely, like kata of another style)?

Alternatively, is it a serious lesson to work on etiquette, posture, correct behavior and habits, traditional philosophy and history of karate? Each lesson can incorporate more than one of the four delivery methods.


This component refers to the three main levels of students in class or the level of content delivered in each class: beginners, intermediate students, and advanced students. However, the lessons could sometimes include content from beginners to advanced learners, to remind them of things they should already know. Also, advanced content can be given to beginning students. This gives them a chance to see what to expect if they continue with their training. In a club with a large membership, there may be enough black belts to justify one black belt class only. If so, there could be a distinction between brown and black belts in terms of their class level. This is decided by the instructor, based on your club membership and resources.


This component guides the reason behind the content. When a qualification approaches in the next few weeks, a lesson in the techniques to be tested in qualification is a good idea. When the students have learned and memorized the movements of the kata they are studying, it is time to focus on the application of the kata. Perhaps one of your students is being bullied at school and you think it’s time to check out some self defense techniques. Maybe you just want to have a general lesson that has something for everyone.

With these four essential components, multiple effective lesson plans can be created. For some additional teaching tips and strategies, read my FREE Report, “Instructor Mastery: How to Become a Great Instructor from Lesson One.” You can download it at http://www.freekarateinformation.com.

Good luck and best wishes to you in your honorable and noble role in teaching. Feel free to email me at [email protected] with any questions you have about your practice or your teaching.

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