Karate for kids and families

Karate for kids provides:

  • fitness and fun
  • concentration
  • coordination
  • self-confidence

Parents are welcome and encouraged to join in the kids classes.

Due to the popularity of our kids classes, we have a waiting list for some age groups. Register your interest now for our free trial program:

We appreciate that kids activities can be expensive, and that kids won’t always make up their minds straight away. Our free trial program allows kids to try a few classes before you have to commit to the cost of regular training.

After the free trial program, we offer a discounted membership pack which covers all of the costs for the first 3 months of karate:

  • uniform and club badge
  • 3 months of classes
  • 3 kids preliminary grading
  • annual membership
  • insurance

Parents training in the kids classes train at kids prices and discounts are available for multiple family members doing karate.

Karate for adults

Karate offers fitness, flexibility, strength, coordination and self-defence, as well as stress relief and self-confidence for people of all ages.

New adult students are encouraged to start training in a beginners course, which run several times a year. Register now to stay up to date.



I joined Tora Canberra as a complete novice; I'd never done any martial arts before so I was a bit nervous to start, worried that I would make a fool of myself. Everyone at Tora was really welcoming though and my initial nerves dissipated quickly. Each instructor has a unique style and approach, and they, along with the other students, are all approachable and fun. Everyone encourages you to do the best you can do and does what they can to support you. As someone who was new to Canberra, I also really appreciated the feeling of belonging and the social aspect of the club. I highly recommend Tora Canberra as a great place to train and to meet some fantastic people.


An excellent dojo, very welcoming, and the encouraging and supportive instructors have reinvigorated my interest in martial arts after a long absence. Better still has provided a new and engaging activity for my four year old son who loves every minute of his training, and he is loath to miss a single session. Would recommend anyone thinking of taking up martial arts consider Tora Shotokan Karate-Do.


Tora Shotokan Karate-Do is exactly what I look for in Shotokan Karate. The instructors strive for perfection, and the mastery of an art. The instructors are skillful, yet humble. They are fanatic, yet relaxed and approachable. Being a spin-off from Tora-Shotokan Karate in Tasmania, they teach the ways of Xepapas Sensei, who himself has been passing on the teachings of Kase Ha, one of the few grand masters of Shotokan. I can go on for ages, but to get a taste of it, there is just one thing you can do, really, ... come along for a practice training! There is something to be found for everyone - young and old, experienced or new to martial arts.


The instructors know what they teach, and know how to teach it. When you have questions, they have answers. It is easy to get along with instructors and students alike, and you'll find you fit right in. Great people, great place, great style, 10/10 would recommend.


This karate club is awesome in every way. The instructors have a wealth of knowledge and offer a variety of different perspectives leading to a really well-rounded learning experience. The people are fantastic as well and make you feel at ease and included. The dojo is particularly friendly to beginners so come along and give it a go!


I'm really loving training with this school. I find the instructors extremely approachable and knowledgeable. Their dedication to both karate and their students is what keeps me coming back. The students are very friendly and welcoming and as a new comer made me feel extremely welcome and at home.

Instructor profiles

Andrew Wright sensei

Andrew started karate at the beginning of the year 2000 in Tasmania training under Steve Xepapas shihan. Since then he trained as often as possible. He has also enjoyed teaching, helping out with kids classes and beginners from about 2003 to 2009, when he moved to Canberra. He has helped teaching in Canberra since then, and still trains as often as he can.

Andrew enjoys that after 18+ years of karate he is still learning more and more about the principles of karate and enjoying applying them in different ways.

He has also trained in some other martial arts, but generally prefers the freedom and broad applicability of the hard (striking) martial arts.

Ben Bildstein sensei

Ben has been training in karate since early 2003. He started in Hobart after finishing university, under Steve Xepapas shihan, alongside Andrew Wright sensei and Cat Radley sensei. He moved to Canberra in 2005 with Cat Radley sensei, and helped start the Canberra club.

Ben is very proud to be part of a mature club with a base of good students. It is always a pleasure to travel and train with other high ranks at seminars, and to find that the Tora students stand their ground, while being receptive to new ideas and new ways of training.

Ben has also been training in traditional jujutsu since 2012, and brings some of the wisdom of jujutsu to the karate class.

Training times

Day Start Finish Class
Monday 4:45pm 5:30pm Kids (5-8 years old) and parents
5:30pm 6:15pm Kids (9+ years old) and parents
Tuesday 8:00pm 9:30pm General training
Wednesday 4:30pm 5:15pm Kids (5-8 years old) and parents
5:30pm 6:15pm Kids (9+ years old) and parents
Thursday 8:00pm 9:30pm General training
Saturday 9:30am 10:15am Kids and parents
10:30am 12:00pm General training
Private lessons available on request

Dojo location

The dojo is located at 31 Woolley St, Dickson ACT. It is down the driveway on the right of the famous Dickson Asian Noodle House.

There is limited parking on Woolley St, and ample parking 3 minutes walk away: at Canberra Connect, Challis St; and at Woolworths, Badham St

Training fees

Adults Full-time students
Monthly (unlimited)
Unlimited training sessions per month
$80 $60
Private lessons
One hour, one-on-one
$35 $35

Introductory options

Adults Full-time students
Intro class
30-minute one-on-one class to get you started
Free Free
First two classes
Group training
Free Free
10 week beginners program
2 classes per week (runs several times each year)
$100 $80
First year annual membership $150 $150
($110 for under 16yo)
Membership pack
membership, gi, badge, seminar, 9th kyu grading, three months of unlimited training
(valued at $520)
(valued at $440)

Contact us today to sign up for your free one week trial.

You can also email Tora Canberra

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to know for my first class?

Not much:

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before class starts
  • Wear loose comfortable sports clothing, like trackpants and a t-shirt (not yoga pants or singlet tops please), or you are welcome to wear a white gi
  • Come ready to learn something (shoshin or ‘beginner mind’)
  • Have a read through the section on dojo etiquette (you don’t need to know all of this and will not be punished for getting something wrong – it is more a culture than a set of rules)

Am I too old / unfit / inflexible to do karate?

Short answer, no! Karate is adaptable to most people. Tora has had students start training in their mid-60s and students who could barely reach their knees let alone their toes. Karate allows you to work at a pace and level appropriate to you and your body, but encourages you to push yourself within your limits.

I've done martial arts before. Will you recognise my rank?

If you have done a style of traditional Shotokan Karate, Tora Shotokan will likely be somewhat familiar. However, every style has slightly different emphasis, so you will also find that some of what we do is quite different to what you have done before.

We will automatically recognise ranks from JKAA and SKIA. For other styles, your first grading will be to an appropriate rank within the Tora Shotokan system.

Do you have a beginner's class?

We do not have a dedicated beginners class, as we believe that it is beneficial to train with a variety of people and to watch and train with more experienced karate-ka (karate students). Beginners are welcome to start at any time.

We run several beginners courses each year, which for some people provides a more comfortable environment to start training. The 10 week, 20 class program is structured to teach everything that you need to know for the first grading (9th kyu).

How often should I train?

We recommend that you attend a minimum of two classes per week to begin with. This is often enough that you will recall your training from class to class. You are welcome to train more often.

As you progress through the ranks, from around purple belt, it is recommended that you attend a minimum of three classes per week. This is not essential, but at this rank there is a lot to learn, and your progress will be significantly faster if you train three times each week.

How long does it take to become a black belt?

That will depend on a lot of things, including your ability and how often you train. We do not place a minimum amount of time on black belt, but it usually takes at least 3 years for someone with no prior martial arts experience.

It is worth noting that black belt is not the goal, or end, of your martial arts journey. It is a sign that you have finished packing your bags and are ready to begin.

Do you have a ranking system?

Yes. When you start, you are 10th kyu – white belt. Your first grading is to 9th kyu, designated by a yellow belt with a white stripe along its full length. You progress through coloured belts up to 1st kyu. From there, you can grade to shodan (1st level black belt), and then successive dan ranks. The levels of black belt are not designated on the karate-ka’s belt.


Your question here!

If you have a question and it's not covered here, please email us, and we'll get back to you. In karate, there are no stupid questions.

Dojo etiquette guide

There is a unique etiquette and culture attached to karate training, which is as much a part of karate as punching and kicking. The following section describes this etiquette. It is not a matter of right or wrong, it is a matter of politeness. It emphasises above all else respect: for your art, your sensei (teacher); your sempai (senior students); and your fellow karate-ka (karate students).

Always call your instructor ‘sensei’ in a karate context.

Before training

Ensure your gi is clean, ironed and mended.

Ensure your finger nails and toe nails are short, and that you are clean. Do not wear strong perfume, aftershave or deodorant to training.

Remove all jewellery. If jewellery cannot be removed, it can be covered with sports tape.

Let your sensei know if you have any injuries or medical conditions that may affect your training that day. Please do not come to training if you are sick and potentially contagious.

Entering the dojo

As you enter the door of the dojo, face shomen (the front) and bow to the kamiza (shrine) then face the training floor and bow to sensei and the black belts who are there.

Remove your shoes as you come in and place them in the designated area.

Arrive at least 5 minutes before training is due to start.

Starting training

At the command to line up, run! Line up facing shomen, with the senior students on the right and the junior students on the left. The senior students will determine how many lines are needed.

Stand in musubi-dachi (heels touching, toes apart at 45°)

The senior student will announce:

  • Seiza (kneel)
  • Mokuso (meditate)
  • Mokuso yame (stop meditating)
  • Shomen ni rei (to the front – bow!)
  • Sensei ni rei (to sensei – bow!)
  • Otagani rei (to your fellow students – bow!)
  • Kiritsu (stand)

When the senior student announces an action, such as seiza, respond immediately.

However, when bowing, wait until the person on you right starts to come up before you do. They are of higher rank than you; therefore you should bow for longer than they do.


Mokuso is a few moments of meditation at the beginning and end of training. It is to leave behind what you have just been doing and coming into the present moment.

At the beginning of training, it is to mentally arrive at class, leaving behind your day at work or school, family, stress, and bringing yourself into a state to be totally focussed on your training.

At the end of training, it is the opposite. To end your training, to leave behind whatever has happened at training, and ready your mind to re-enter your life outside karate.

Arriving late

Do not arrive late to training, unless it is unavoidable.

If you arrive late and the class is engaged in the bow for the start of class, stand still and quiet until the bow has finished.

To join a class that has started, kneel in seiza at the entrance to the training area, bow to shomen then bow to sensei. Wait still and quietly for sensei to acknowledge you. Ensure you sit where you can be seen, and pay attention to sensei. They may motion you to join the class with a very subtle movement.

When sensei has indicated that you may join in, do so quickly and quietly. If the class is lined up by rank, take a place at the left-hand end of the line.

During class

During class, be attentive and responsive.

When sensei is teaching, listen. When sensei asks if you understand, bow and say ‘oss’ or ‘hai’.

When standing, have your weight equally distributed between your feet. Your hands should either be by your sides, or resting on the knot of your belt.

If you are told to move, run quietly to where you are meant to be. If moving around when other students are lined up, walk behind them: to walk in front is to challenge them. Ensure you do not walk too close behind them either.

When you are told to find a partner, do so quickly and quietly. Bow to them and stand quietly. Always ensure that the senior ranks have a partner. It is respectful. It is also to your benefit to train with the higher ranks.

Unless you have been unwell or have a medical condition, do not eat or drink during class unless sensei gives permission. If you need to drink or eat, bow to sensei and quietly move to the back of the dojo. If possible, go into a change room or around a corner so other students are not distracted.

If you are injured or are feeling unwell during training, let your sensei know immediately. Do not leave the dojo without letting your sensei know what is happening – it is both impolite and potentially dangerous.

At the end of training

Training finishes with the same bow as at the beginning.

In addition, dojo kun is recited:

  • One! To strive for the perfection of character!
  • One! To defend the paths of truth!
  • One! To foster the spirit of effort!
  • One! To honour the principles of etiquette!
  • One! To guard against impetuous courage!

After training

See if anything needs attention around the dojo, eg vacuuming the floor, putting any equipment away.

Neatly fold your gi before you leave the dojo. When you get home, unfold your gi and air it out or wash it.


Tora Shotokan was founded in 2005 by Shihan Stephen Xepapas (Steve Sensei). The Honbu Dojo is in Hobart Tasmania.

Steve Sensei began training in 1970 at the age of 15. He started training with Othma Buchmann Sensei. The club later became part of SKAA (now SKIA), headed by Frank Nowak Sensei, and affiliated with SKIF, Hirokazu Kanazawa Soke's organisation. Steve Sensei trained under Nowak Sensei for many years, grading to 4th dan in 1991 shortly before Nowak Sensei’s death.

Steve Sensei also trained with Taiji Kase Sensei a number of times when Kase Sensei visited Australia. In 2001, Steve Sensei was recognised as 5th dan by Kase Sensei. In 2003, Steve Sensei was graded to 6th dan by Zanshin Shotokan.

In January 2014, Steve Sensei was graded to 7th dan by a panel of senior Tora instructors, Les Elliot Shihan and Johnny Koay Sifu.

Steve Sensei died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2014. The loss to his family, his students and karate has been immense.

The Hobart dojo is running under the guidance of Ana Xepapas Sensei and Terry Walker Sensei.

Tora Canberra

The Tora Shotokan Canberra dojo was opened in 2005 by Catherine Radley Sensei.

Catherine Sensei began karate in 1995 at the age of 13. Catherine Sensei trained under Trevor Keough Sensei in Goshin Ryu.

In 2003, Catherine Sensei began training with Steve Sensei, and graded to 1st dan in 2004. Catherine Sensei graded to 3rd dan in 2012.

Ben Bildstein Sensei and Andrew Wright Sensei also teach regularly at Tora Canberra.

The three instructors all trained with Steve Sensei in Hobart and subsequently moved to Canberra, and graded to 3rd dan together in 2012.

Members Area

Chudan oi tsuki

Soto uke

Age uke

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