The best martial arts schools in Canberra

Canberra Martial Arts

Tom Adam from Canberra Martial Arts, 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

Canberra Martial Arts

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
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
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.

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!”

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!”

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.”

If you’re looking for other ways to exercise in a fun environment, check out our articles on The Best Boxing Schools 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?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
18 Responses to The best martial arts schools in Canberra
shane shane 12:57 am 29 Jan 19

The Ni Bonchi Judo Club welcomes people of all ages to come and join us for a fun and friendly experience! You can participate at a level where you can compete or go at your own pace and just enjoy the sport.

The Ni Bonchi Judo Club is located downstairs at the Vikings Lanyon Rugby Club, Heidelberg St, Conder ACT 2906.

The classes run every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Come down for a complimentary first lesson or to talk to us about the sport of Judo.

Kasia Bail Kasia Bail 10:40 pm 01 Feb 18

I know this is an old post, but there is now kids Wing Chun in Tuggeranong if that’s at all helpful.

X10 X10 1:16 am 14 Jul 17

Just a plug for the Ni Bonchi Judo Club in Conder. It is a not for profit club that caters for children and adults that was founded 36 years ago.

They train downstairs at the Vikings Lanyon Rugby Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 6:00-7:30pm.

Parents can also train at the same time as there is lots of room and enough instructors for juniors and seniors.

You can train just to keep fit or start competing at local and national competitions and aim for the Olympics 🙂

For more info and contact details see:

HapkidoCanberra HapkidoCanberra 5:03 pm 26 Aug 12

I know this is an old forum, however Hapkido Canberra have a program called Little Tigers for kids between 4 – 8 yrs of age.

For a kids martial arts class in Canberra it’s a lot of fun, and seeing the growth in the past 12 months the parents are enjoying if for their kids too.

We also have classes for slightly older kids that let them train with their parents, check out the timetable at Hapkido Canberra’s website today.

00Daniel00 00Daniel00 4:54 pm 02 Jul 09

Yes, BJJ is probably a bit much for a kid of 4 years old, and probably not a real family thing either considering that most classes at comprised of guys from 18-35.

Where abouts do you train, vg? I don’t have the money anymore for it.

PickedANickname PickedANickname 10:28 am 02 Jul 09

Thank you!

me1337 – Amaroo sound just like what I want..but we live out Conder way and we have done a class (other hobby) in Nicholls but the drive is a killer over time.

Frank2112- ohhh! they have a Gordon jr class at a time I can make it home from work by!

I don’t get home till after 6:20 or so and thus the looking for a Saturday class. But if it is close at 6:30pm that might just work too.

me1337 me1337 9:45 am 02 Jul 09

Wan Kam Leung Practical Wing Chun Kung Fu is on on Saturday mornings at Amaroo School, 10.30 – 12pm. There are many families that train together, and children are very welcome (although at this stage there is no kids only class). Danny is a fantastic teacher, really friendly, and he really knows his stuff. My husband currently trains and my daughter will start in a few years, she just needs to master walking first.

G-Fresh G-Fresh 9:29 am 02 Jul 09

If you really want to punish them, send them to the Canberra Centre entrance on the Sunday of the next Multicultural Festival.

Free, and a real challenge.

vg vg 11:15 pm 01 Jul 09

Die Lefty Scum said :

If you’re after a martial art that actually works rather than Bruce Lee one-inch-punch-crap then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the go.

And highly inappropriate for a 4yo. And, before you ask, I am a long time BJJ practitioner. Just got home from class not an hour ago

Many of the karate styles cater to kiddies. They think they are the TMNT and expend lots of harmless energy. BJJ is for much older kiddies

V twin venom V twin venom 10:17 pm 01 Jul 09

Are you thinking of sending your child to the Super School identified in the post above.

Die Lefty Scum Die Lefty Scum 9:08 pm 01 Jul 09

If you’re after a martial art that actually works rather than Bruce Lee one-inch-punch-crap then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the go.

Special G Special G 7:49 pm 01 Jul 09

At age 4 they can do anything. Just don’t get sucked in by the ‘my kungfu is better than yours’ attitude. Each style has it’s own plusses and minuses. Check a couple out and see if you like and the rest of the family like it

Richard1234 Richard1234 7:09 pm 01 Jul 09

I’ve seen kids in kung-fu classes held at the ANU Sport and Rec center on the weekends. There seems to be a couple of different classes – one for the very young kids who like to jump and spin around (the parents go off to play badminton), and one for all ages.

I don’t know the name of the club.

frank2112 frank2112 7:08 pm 01 Jul 09

My kids do Taekidokai Classes are early evening during the week all over Canberra or Sunday afternoons at Page. They have juniors and seniors and they have a great time check out

lfinch lfinch 5:19 pm 01 Jul 09

I go to a Goju Karate school in Florey (opposite Dominos) which has a kids class on 17:30 on Thursdays among other nights. The kids there seem to really enjoy it.

Yellow pages:

Jivrashia Jivrashia 2:29 pm 01 Jul 09

I remember some time ago there was a pretty good kungfu dude who attended Dickson College.
Not sure if he gave out classes or if he’s still around. I think his first name was Jackie.

RandomGit RandomGit 1:47 pm 01 Jul 09

Kyokushin Karate caters for all ages very nicely. There’s one at Charnwood shops and one at the ANU that I am aware of.

The Brad The Brad 1:27 pm 01 Jul 09

I used to go to an Aikido class on the northside at a YMCA, from memory.
They hosted a class for the little ones, where they did stuff like tumbling, and dodgeball, using Aikido stances.

Not sure if it still exists, but worth looking into.

And if you are looking for a defensive art like Wing Chun, Aikido is perfect.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site