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.

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.

martial arts school

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 & 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
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.”

Korean Martial Arts Academy

Korean Martial Arts Academy is a full-time professional martial arts studio with over 20 instructors. It has been operating for more than 35 years. The Academy offers engaging Taekwondo classes for all ages from 3 years, 6 days a week, in a safe, family-friendly environment. Classes are for students of all abilities, from beginners to black belt. Two complimentary trial classes are available for new members.

On Google, Clinton Pollheim wrote, “We highly recommend the safe, professional, and family friendly environment.”

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.

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Katelyn Morpheus Durden8:16 pm 16 Mar 22

A few good dojos/schools here, but very few people know about the secret karate dojo hidden in narrabundah 😉 Senjo Dojo Canberra – run by 4th Dan Kyokushin Sensei Janelle Field: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057208820016

Always surprised by how many dojos there are hidden away in Canberra! Shop around, took me a while to find a good one.

Firedragon Australia is a great kung fu martial arts school to train with. These guys regularly do demonstrations in the multicultural festival and locally in Canberra. They Train in Ainslie at the All Saints Church Hall on Cowper Street, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30pm.

Their instructors are all qualified in the COVID Safe Martial Arts School Certification Program from the Martial Arts Industry Association. Check it out. https://www.firedragon.com.au/

Daniel Perez7:58 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/

Silpa Vemana6:39 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 Allardyce6:52 pm 03 Jun 21

Synergy Self Defence and Fitness in Hume

Myra Domigan10:18 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!

Dark Carnival. Some martial arts clubs focus on elaborate choreography without contact. Others feel like Fight Club and throw you to wolves to see if you survive. Both are fine if that’s what you’re looking for- but Dark Carnival has a great culture and struck a good balance between teaching effective, authentic Muay Thai/BJJ through robust sparring sessions without leaving you to explain to the boss/client why you turned up to work concussed or with a black eye. Great kid’s program too!

Katie Sefton8:51 pm 27 May 21

Dark Carnival … amazing for any age any level. And so welcoming and supportive

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.

nibonchi.org.au

I know this is an old post, but there is now kids Wing Chun in Tuggeranong if that’s at all helpful. http://capitalwingchun.com.au/kids-class/

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:
https://www.vikings.com.au/sports-and-community/judo/

HapkidoCanberra5:03 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.

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.

PickedANickname10:28 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.

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.

http://www.practicalwingchun.com.au/index.html

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.

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 venom10:17 pm 01 Jul 09

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

Die Lefty Scum9:08 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.

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

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.

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

http://www.taekidokai.com/

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: http://www.yellowpages.com.au/bi/international-goju-karate-do-belconnen-act-5840753.html

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.

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

Katelyn Morpheus Durden8:17 pm 16 Mar 22

I didn’t know there was one at ANU! Do you know who runs it? Would be curious to know what organisation they are with.

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.

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