Takoma Park Karate Club

Currently, karate classes are free and available to individuals over 16 years old. We meet on Monday & Wednesday at 7pm – 8:30pm.

In exchange for no-cost workouts you must agree to work hard, come to class on-time and train frequently. No previous experience is required (although it is welcome).  Please wear comfortable workout clothes if you do not have a Karate Gi (uniform).

Classes are located at:

Takoma Park Recreation Center
7315 New Hampshire Avenue
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912

You can send any questions to : takomaparkkarate@gmail.com , but here are some more frequently asked questions:

What style of martial art do we teach?

We teach Isshin-Ryu Karate.

Isshin-Ryu Karate was created by Tatsuo Shimabuku in 1956, who combined parts of the Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu schools of Okinawan Karate that he had mastered, as well as adding his own unique additions. Isshin-ryu is different from other Karate syles in several ways. A vertical fist is used for many punches, and there is a focus on quick snapping techniques that quickly retract. In addition, kicks are almost always targeted at lower areas of the body.

What are the classes like?

The class sizes are small, and usually the instructor to student ratio is high. That means students usually get a lot of individual attention. No two classes are going to be exactly the same, but typically we start with a quick warm up, some light jogging, jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups and similar exercises. We do plenty of stretching to avoid injuries.

From there we might focus on basic techniques such as kicks, punches, elbows, knee strikes or other moves. We could concentrate on Kata ( prearranged sequences of techniques), self defense moves, or hitting pads held by a partner. It’s going to vary a bit every time, but will be adapted to whoever is attending that class and their abilities. We have had students over many different ages and fitness levels over the years.

It’s worth mentioning that we have a traditional focus to our training. For example, we formally bow at the start and end of classes, and we use Japanese for counting and the names of techniques.

Is it really no cost?

We don’t charge any membership fees or dues or anything of that nature for the classes. Our club believes in offering this training for free, but there are some related costs. After an introductory class if you wish to continue you will need to be a member of the Takoma Park Recreation center. You can purchase a 1 year membership here: Membership . This is required to participate. Occasionally we will have a high ranking guest instructor, or attend a training offsite with several high ranking instructors, and in those situations a small donation is appreciated. We would also ask that a student join the Isshin-Ryu World Karate Association (IWKA), as well as contribute to some miscellaneous club costs, such as a small yearly insurance payment. You will also need to purchase some additional items detailed below. Please contact us for current details about the costs of these if you have questions.

Do I need any special equipment?

For the first 3 months of classes you can wear sweat pants, T-shirts or similar informal workout attire. After that, we will expect that you will purchase a Karate Gi (uniform). We don’t sell any ourselves, but we will be able to help you find one, and often our club often can get a reduced price.  At some point after your first 3 months you may want to purchase additional equipment, such as focus mitts and sparring gear.

What sort of connection does this club have to any official Karate Organizations?

We are an affiliate of the Penn State Karate Club. Sensei Dane Sutton, Hanshigo, 9th Dan, and Head Instructor of the Penn State Karate Club, monitors and approves the students’ progress through belt ranks. Through Sensei Sutton, we maintain affiliations with, and certifications through, the Okinawan home dojo of Sensei Kichiro Shimabuku, Hanshigo, 10th Dan of the Isshin-Ryu World Karate Association (IWKA).

What sort of instructors does the club have?

At the Takoma Park Karate Club, you receive regular instruction from black belts ranked from 1st to 5th Dan. These instructors volunteer their time to teach in order to help the community. Several have travelled extensively, and have diverse backgrounds and life experiences.  They have excelled at both local and world championship karate tournaments.  We also feature instruction by associated advisors and visiting instructors who have more than 25 years experience in Isshin-ryu karate and other styles.

Monthly Training with Sensei Paul Cote, Kyoshi, 7th Dan

Takoma Park Isshinryu Karate Training and Evaluations (Mon, 7:00-8:45pm) on the following days:



For reference, there are training notes that detail what was covered on previous sessions with Sensei Cote.