West Los Angeles Karate

We offer Martial Art classes for self defense, competitions and personal growth. Beginners and advanced levels welcome. Classes emphasize core body movement for effective execution of techniques and sharp physical focus.

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At West Los Angeles Karate we are dedicated to teaching traditional Japanese style Shotokan Karate-Do and have operated non stop since it was founded in 1972 by George Takahashi. The instructors all have  30 – almost 50 years of martial arts experience. They are all volunteers who share teaching duties while continuing to train themselves.

The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants ”           

Gichin Funakosh

Ura mawashi geri

Shotokan Tradition

Shotokan Karate is a strong traditional form of Karate and the most widely practiced style of Karate in the world.  At WLAK we honor that tradition in our training. We practice traditional Shotokan Karate with emphasis on form and practicality of Karate as a self defense system.

Strength and Flexibility

Front kick. self defenseTraining provides physical exercise, builds endurance, enhances flexibility and fosters mental discipline and courage in the face of adversity by emphasizing core body strength and movement, hip rotation, rapid limb expansion and sharp physical focus. The result over time and with proper training is concussive, powerful technique, sufficient to defend oneself against physical attack.

Self Defense

Shotokan karate is a very effective self defense system. West LA Karate teaches the practical side of karate and how one would use powerful blocks, punches, strikes and kicks to defend oneself in virtually any self defense situation.

Raphael executing Mawashi geri - Roundhouse kick


We train and teach Shotokan Karate, the most widespread style of karate. It is a strong style with powerful punches and kicks. Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring). Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs and the entire body.

Practice starts with a warmup of joints and light stretching, followed by basic kihon exercise that gradually expands into more complex and multiple technique combinations as the student progresses in their training. Karate training often addresses the practical side of the techniques and how they would apply in real life situations. Emphasis is on effective technique – techniques that would really work in the event one’s life were in danger. Kumite (sparring) is divided into several categories depending on the level of the students. Students start with predetermined attacks and blocks and over time evolve into defending against multiple attacks and eventually to free sparring where the attacks are not predetermined or announced in advance.

Shotokan is a profoundly interesting martial art with a deep cultural memory spanning many centuries. There is a lot to learn, an incredible world of physical and mental challenges for the student who wishes to pursue this path. Students advance over time up to the next belt or kyu until one reaches the black belt or 1st Dan. But achieving black belt, while a huge accomplishment, is actually just another beginning. From there, over time, the student can take on the challenge of training for and reaching another 9 Dan rankings. The world of Shotokan karate opens up even more after the student reaches black belt.


Rooted in long history and tradition we concentrate on practicing effective Shotokan style karate for both physical, mental and self defense purposes as well as more modern competition style Karate or sport Karate. Our instructors have collectively more than 100 years of experience in the Art of Karate as they each have trained for more than 30 years, and two have trained for more than 40.

The West Los Angeles Karate has been a Westside community resource since its founding in 1972. Originally founded by George Takahashi of the UCLA Oriental Languages Department.

Currently housed at the beautiful Collins & Katz Family YMCA – Room# 221 located at 1466 S Westgate Avenue 
Los Angeles, CA 90025. 

The  membership is diverse, comprising students to senior professionals. Present and past members include educators, artists, writers, entrepreneurs, doctors, attorneys, IT professionals, engineers and scientists as well as high school, college and law students.

West Los Angeles karate is operated on a non-profit basis. Instructors are all volunteers who share teaching duties while continuing to train themselves. Classes are held Wednesday nights and on Saturday mornings. Visitors are welcome. Beginner and advanced students are welcome.