Disguising Repetition: Kihon

Kihon (Basics) is the foundation of our karate.  We should be doing it in every class.  How, then, do we keep it from getting boring?  Mix it up!  You might be surprised to find how may ways you can incorporate Kihon into class.  Here are some thoughts.  You can email Kyoshi your ideas to add to this list, too.

Change the Count

  • Instead of a set of 10 slow followed by 10 fast, try a different combination, such as six slow and ten fast OR four slow and six fast.
  • If you are pressed for time, just do one set (medium or fast).  Try to keep the count to an even number (10, 6, 4, etc) so both sides of the body get the same workout.  With higher belts, you can occasionally do two counts of each.

Change the Rhythm

  • In each fast set, throw in a pause.  This can be random OR you can pause on the same number of each set.  Rule: NEVER pause on the last two counts (in a set of 10, never pause on Ku or Ju), as this will tend to detract from their Kiai.
  • Do one set of ten for each technique, starting slow and increasing speed and power as you go through the set.

Change the Formation

  • Have the students turn and face the side or back of the dojo.
  • Have them stand in a circle, facing in (or facing out).
  • Have them stand on the edges of the sparring “ring”, facing in or out.

Student Participation

  • On the fast set, have them echo your count.  Instead of “Ju”, they should kiai.
  • Have students do the counting.  You can call the technique, and they can count.
    • You can also count the slow set, so you can make corrections, then let students take turns counting the fast set.
  • At higher levels (Green Belt and above), you can have students lead Kihon or sections of Kihon.  They can lead from the front while you circulate and make corrections.


  • Line Drill – Put the students in two or three groups, lined up at the back of the dojo.  Each person in line must run up to the front, perform four reps of a given technique and run to the end of the line, tagging the next person in line.  When everyone in line has done the technique, the first person moves on to the next technique.