The best martial arts schools in Canberra

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Canberra Martial Arts

Tom Adam from Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness, one of Canberra’s most recommended martial arts schools. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Sometimes, we want fitness to be about more than just going to a gym, lifting weights, or going on long runs. Martial arts can absolutely achieve this for you. The practice is a great way to improve your fitness, enhance your concentration and develop self-defence skills. What’s more, rooted in ancient traditions, the practice of martial arts is a wonderful way to learn about a new culture whilst joining a community and making new friends.

Whether your child is interested in taking karate lessons, or you – as an adult – would like to learn a new skill, it’s vital to find a top-quality martial arts school with professional trainers and a safe, encouraging environment.

In this article, we’ll share our favourite martial arts schools in Canberra. These institutions are inclusive of all experience levels and help their students gain strength, body awareness, and confidence.

Let’s get right into it.

What makes a great martial arts school?

When deciding which martial arts school to try, we recommend looking out for the following must-have traits:

  • Commitment to traditions. There are many types of martial arts that you can take up right here in Canberra. Whether you’re interested in jujitsu, karate, or even kickboxing, look for a school that stays true to the traditions of the practice – whether ancient or contemporary.
  • Qualified and experienced instructors. The best martial arts schools are run by qualified, experienced, and passionate instructors. With a welcoming attitude and enthusiastic approach, they can answer your questions and make you feel at home.
  • A convenient timetable. When it comes to taking a class, logistics are important. Look for a martial arts school with a timetable that suits your schedule.
  • Well-priced classes. At the end of the day, you don’t want to over-pay for classes at a martial arts school.

Agree with this list? What else would you include?

The best martial arts schools in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.

Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness

Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness

With over 350 Members, the Canberra Martial Arts & Fitness Centre (CMA) is one of the best in the Canberra region, offering classes in Woden, and bootcamps in Jerrabomberra.

With a commitment to providing a safe, nurturing, and inspiring environment, CMA is a fantastic place to try martial arts, no matter the experience or level of fitness. CMA’s motto is “Fun, Safe, then Martial Arts” and it works to ensure each class isn’t too rigid – or old school – and that everything they do is safe enough for people with injuries or physical impairments. Both kids’ and adults’ martial arts classes at CMA are taught with a focus on non-violence.

CMA boosts students’ confidence with long-term programs, fitness challenges and gradings which allow students to really see their improvements progress over time.

Run by an Internationally Certified Chief Instructor with more than a decade of teaching experience, and backed by a team a team of Certified Black Belt Instructors and Fully Qualified Personal Trainers, CMA is sure to be a fun and fulfilling class.

Google reviewer Kyle Moes writes, “Fantastic place to train, with very knowledgeable and friendly staff. They create a welcoming community atmosphere and I would highly recommend training here.”

Unit 1, 10 Townsend St
Phillip ACT 2606
Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts (KRMAS), in Weston Creek, offers martial arts and self-defence and fitness programs for the entire family, kids, teens and adults. Ladies only classes are available. So too are individual classes and group classes.

KRMAS has been operating in Australia for over 30 years, with the Canberra club opening in 2016. The program has evolved over these years and is based on proven, realistic and effective self-defence.

KRMAS has helped build fitness, confidence and self-defence awareness. Classes contribute to greater health and wellbeing, including through new friendships formed. Many KRMAS students have advanced to become state, national and international champions.

Kumiai Ryu Martial Arts class

The unique programs available through KRMAS are traditional Muay Thai (Thai Kickboxing) and traditional Okinawan and Japanese karate. They’re designed around greater fitness and self-defence with measurable goals. Classes cater to all fitness levels.

To protect students of all ages, KRMAS instructors are accredited, including through Sports Australia and the Martial Arts Industry Association. They meet ACT Government requirements, are first aid trained and registered in working with vulnerable people.

Sarah L wrote in a website testimonial, “New friends, overnight training camps and one amazing Sensei! The end result is protection for herself or friends if they are in  bad situation… The goals along the way are building resilience, determination, mindset, discipline, respect and mental strength – priceless!”

Canberra Martial Arts Academy

Canberra Martial Arts Academy

The Canberra Martial Arts Academy, established over 30 years ago, boasts a wide range of classes and styles available, including traditional Japanese Karate (Kyokushin), weapons, mixed martial arts and kickboxing, available for all ages and all levels of experience. The classes are structured so students will enjoy their training, get fit, gain confidence all whilst learning practical, real world self-defence.

The Academy’s teaching record and team of qualified instructors are equally impressive. Over the years, they have produced dozens of Australian and state champions in almost all forms of martial arts competition. The principal instructor, Shihan Gibbons, has decades of martial arts teaching experience and is the highest ranked Kyokushin karate instructor in the ACT. Shihan Gibbons is also a Government Accredited Judge and Referee.

As Google reviewer James Tuckerman writes in their review, “Owner has unparalleled practical experience and is an excellent teacher. Great with everyone from kids, to beginner adults to training for competitions.”

Level 1, Fadco Building, 13 Charnwood Place
Charnwood ACT 2615

Cummings Karate Dojo

Dedicated to the practice and preservation of traditional Okinawan Karate-do and Kobudo, Cummings Karate Dojo is a not-for-profit martial arts school that has operated in Canberra since 2009.

With classes for kids, families, teens, and adults, Cummings Karate Dojo caters to all levels. The team at Cummings Karate Dojo promises a committed and professional learning experience.

As Facebook user Tracey Em writes, “An amazing dojo, wonderful Sensei and community of teachers – now streaming Zoom classes. I am very appreciative as my two teens love karate and now can keep training! Thank you Reece and teaching team.”

Kyodo Shuho Karate

Kyodo Shuho Karate is a dojo dedicated to the preservation of traditional karate teachings. With 35 years of experience behind the dojo’s founder, Kyodo Shuho Karate is one of the most well-informed and professional martial arts schools in Canberra. The dojo offers classes 5 days a week for all age and experience levels.

As Facebook user Anna Fitz writes in their review, “We love the team here! They are an amazing balance of discipline, compassion and safety. my kids love coming along and they have been so accommodating to the additional requirements for our family! Highly recommended!”

If you’re looking for other ways to exercise in a fun environment, check out our articles on the best boxing gyms in Canberra and the best dance classes in Canberra for some more interesting recommendations!

Your Experience with martial arts schools in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you attended classes at a martial arts school in Canberra? Share your experience below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How fit do I need to be to get into martial arts?
There is no level of fitness required when starting martial arts. When you start, most programs will put you into a category such as "White Belt" or "Beginner". As a beginner you'll be learning the basic moves, starting to learn techniques and more. It will all feel foreign and different. Even fit people struggle at the start. All you need to be is keen to start training.
Do I need a uniform to get started in martial arts?
Most places will organise a uniform for you, but many will allow you to try martial arts without one. If you're concerned about the uniform, ask the instructor if a uniform is necessary during a trial.
Will I get injured training in martial arts?
Avoiding injury is an important part of any physical exercise. The best strategy is to work on your flexibility and fitness. You should also make sure you try things at a comfortable pace to ensure your body can do the moves. Whilst rates of injury in martial arts can be similar to playing a sport or doing a workout, if you are being guided by friendly, professional instructors, you are almost certain to be safe from injury.
Can I watch a class before I join, or get a free trial?
Most clubs should be absolutely fine with you sitting in and watching a class. However, when it comes to a free trial, one class is unlikely to give you all the information you need, and most clubs are on pretty tight budgets anyway. The best policy is to ask if they have a paid trial program – that way you'll get more than just one class, you'll show the club you're keen to really get a feel for the martial art and the instructor will be grateful for your support.
Which style of martial arts should I train?
There are a variety of martial arts styles and each has its own fitness benefit. Some styles are strength-based, others are agility-based, others require speed and flexibility, and most require a combination of these. You might find that you are more suited to one style over another. On top of the physical aspect, each martial art also has its own philosophical focus. A good way to look at which martial arts style is to see how the arts' focus aligns with how you see the world. Find a club that offers multiple styles – or more specifically, find a club where the instructors cross train. You can ask them why they got into their practice, and see if that aligns with yours.

What's Your Opinion?


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90 Responses to The best martial arts schools in Canberra
Radha Ravi Radha Ravi 5:52 pm 27 Jun 21

Sangrok World Taekwondo Academy, Australia Good location, friendly atmosphere, plenty of equipment and lots of support for new students/beginners. All of the information is available online

Daniel Perez Daniel Perez 7:58 pm 07 Jun 21

All martial arts are good. If you’re keen, google some local clubs and find one that you likeand go for it.
I teach at https://taekwondo-canberra.com.au/contact-us-2/

Anthony Knight Anthony Knight 1:13 pm 07 Jun 21

Goshukan Karate Academy is amazing,Sensi Ben is a awesome trainer and has gotten the best out 2 kids 👍 5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Silpa Vemana Silpa Vemana 6:39 pm 05 Jun 21

Kenbukan Australia – Goju Ryu Karate
Our son started training at Kenbukan over 8 years ago. Sensei Kayla, Sensei Adam and many other mentors have worked tirelessly with him over the years. Karate has taught him discipline, respect, active listening and self esteem. He is calm yet focused, humble yet strives for excellence and now enjoys mentoring young children. We would highly recommend Kenbukan and it is one of the best things we did for our son.

Fiona Allardyce Fiona Allardyce 6:52 pm 03 Jun 21

Synergy Self Defence and Fitness in Hume

Kerstin Oberprieler Kerstin Oberprieler 6:19 pm 31 May 21

Synergy Self Defence and Fitness in Hume

Alex April Alex April 7:28 pm 29 May 21

Karate Canberra - Cummings Karate Dojo - Matsubayashiryu & Yamaneryu gets my vote. My child loves going and such a great nurturing atmosphere for kids.

Rhiannon Davis Rhiannon Davis 7:10 pm 29 May 21

Korean Martial Arts Academy - KMAA in Belconnen - a very welcoming, supportive Taekwondo academy with excellent teachers. The family classes are great.

    Vivian LyPhang Vivian LyPhang 6:02 pm 27 Jun 21

    Highly recommended Korean Martial Arts Academy - KMAA 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻🥋

Justin Digglemann Justin Digglemann 2:43 pm 29 May 21

My two sons and I train with @Goshukan Karate Academy ACT. We all love it.

In my 36 years of training I would judge Sensei Ben Brillante not only as one of the best teachers in Canberra but as one of the best sensei in Australia.

His technical skill and actual understanding as to how to teach make learning much more accessible. On top of this Sense Ben actually adheres to the values he expects from his students.

I highly recommend Goshukan for anyone who seriously wishes to study karate.

Caandi Jay Caandi Jay 8:24 am 29 May 21

Sangrok World Taekwondo Academy, Australia is such a family friendly space, which is so hard to find in any sport or exercise facility. They truly encourage families to come together and train and learn together, without pressure and totally roll with the various moods kids can turn up in.

Jodie Commens Jodie Commens 9:28 pm 28 May 21

Sangrok World Taekwondo Academy, Australia are amazing, great club with skilled and friendly instructors... The classes are run as family classes so kids and adults train together... Great training and inclusive community 😊

Lisa LaMaitre Lisa LaMaitre 6:29 pm 28 May 21

Mara Turnbull have you seen this

Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby 3:42 pm 28 May 21

Karate Canberra - Cummings Karate Dojo - Matsubayashiryu & Yamaneryu

I first got on the mat 2 years ago to help my almost 5yo, then joined the adult classes myself (karate and kobudo).

Sensei Reece is absolutely brilliant, instructors are friendly and helpful. The dojo culture is very supportive and welcoming (among students and parents).

I remembered my decision to have my children train in this dojo was a no-brainer when I overheard a conversation between a parent and Sensei during our trial classes... the parent was asking why her child was not invited to grade though the child has achieved all the stripe tests, and Sensei explained that to earn the next kyu (belt), one needs to demonstrate the 3As: attitude, ability and attendance.

I believe we have an amazing dojo because Sensei stresses on the importance of respect as much as our skills. I also love the dedicated mat talk that Sensei has with the children - from karate history to dealing with bullying, to values (what is humility/integrity).

Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate 10:20 am 28 May 21

Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu karate runs children's and adults classes with instructors that have lived and trained in Okinawa Japan.

The adults class also has a weekly zoom session with one of our sensei's located in Okinawa.

Myra Domigan Myra Domigan 10:18 am 28 May 21

DARK CARNIVAL! Friendly environment. Great coaches! Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA and self defense classes. Plus the kids program is really good!

Reece Cummings Reece Cummings 10:05 am 28 May 21

Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate are also great!

    Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate 10:16 am 28 May 21

    Reece Cummings thank you!

Andrew Drake Andrew Drake 9:23 am 28 May 21

My entire family Training with @Goshukan Karate Academy ACT.

Since swapping to Goshukan we have increased our speed and focus. I highly recommend as one of the best schools in Canberra.

Nathan Lofthouse Nathan Lofthouse 8:40 am 28 May 21

Action Tae Kwon Do is an amazing school fuelled by a great master instructor and passionate instructors who love their art and it shows.

    Warwick Alsop Warwick Alsop 10:09 am 28 May 21

    Agreed. My son attends there and it's great.

Tripharn Teki Tripharn Teki 8:35 am 28 May 21

I'm an instructor at Sangrok World Taekwondo Academy, Australia so a little biased! But I love our community of families who get to train and achieve their goals with their children. We also invest all our profits back into the club and various scholarships, and all the staff are unpaid.

Overall though, I enjoy the friendships within the Canberra martial arts community and working together for the betterment of everyone. Karate Canberra - Cummings Karate Dojo - Matsubayashiryu & Yamaneryu are awesome and friendly. So if I'm not voting for myself, then Reece gets my vote :)

    Erin Barry Erin Barry 9:29 am 28 May 21

    And Kayla et al at Kenbukan Australia - Goju Ryu Karate in Gowrie <3

Katherine Stanton Katherine Stanton 7:25 am 28 May 21

Karate Canberra - Cummings Karate Dojo - Matsubayashiryu & Yamaneryu - fantastic and friendly instructors, welcoming space to train in, classes for children and adults (including Kobudo/weapons).

The behind the scenes and admin side of things is also very well run - great communication channels and organisation, including special dojo events and activities. We were also fortunate enough to be able to continue training through COVID last year thanks to a quick set up of an online training system.

Highly recommend!

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