Santa Monica Dojo

Welcome to Santa Monica Dojo

Santa Monica Dojo Floor

Founded by Sensei James Field in 1972, the dojo has been teaching traditional Shotokan karate to men, women and children for over 50 years. We are a fully-accredited traditional martial arts dojo affiliated with the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Santa Monica Dojo is operated by the Community Karate Foundation, a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

News & Announcements

Schedules & Fees

Group of students performing kicking techniques

Save your spot for in-person training by pre-registering online.

Please plan to arrive 30 minutes early to allow for check-in time.

In-Person Adult Schedule

All levels:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 – 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Intermediate (green and purple belts):
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 – 7 p.m.
Advanced (brown and black belts):
Monday and Friday, 6 – 7 p.m.
Wednesday, 7 – 8 p.m.

In-Person Youth Schedule

All Levels:
Tuesday and Thursday, 4 – 5 p.m.
Saturday, 1 – 2 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 6 – 7 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday, 5 – 6 p.m.

Pre-Register for In-Person Class

In-Person Class Fees

Per class: $20

Three month unlimited training: $300 (special discounted rate)

Kyu Exams (includes belt and certificate): $45
Dan Exams (includes belt): Contact for pricing

Online Payment (Per Class)

Online Payment (3 Month Special)

Our Dojo

James Field and Mohammad Rafifar

Founded in 1972, this traditional school is fully accredited and registered with the Japan Karate Association. It attracts visitors worldwide.

Santa Monica Dojo has produced numerous champions at local, national and international tournaments. Our competition team continues the dojo’s winning tradition.

Membership entitles one to:

  • Daily class training
  • Unlimited attendance of regular classes
  • Orientation seminar
  • Optional participation in
    • Regional karate camps
    • Regional and national tournaments
    • Regularly scheduled training seminars
  • Exams and gradings
  • Subscription to local and national newsletters
  • Instructor training program (ni-dan level)

There are no contracts to sign.

Special Classes

Advanced and special training is offered throughout the year.

Semimonthly Sundays, from 10:30 a.m. – noon, there is a special kata class for brown and black belts. There is a nominal fee for enrollment. Advanced level kata are introduced and the basic 15 kata are reviewed for the advanced student.

In addition, there are special team trainings periodically scheduled, early morning classes, as well as winter and spring training, and classes by special guest instructors. Times are subject to change.

Children’s Classes

For children from 5–12 years of age, the dojo provides special training in basics, form and one-step sparring.


Facilities include punching and kicking equipment, stretching barre, showers and mirrors.

The Chief Instructor

Sensei James Field

James Field is an eighth-degree black belt. Sensei Field was one of the first four Americans certified as an instructor. He is also a highly-ranked examiner and judge. He has been teaching karate locally, nationally and internationally since 1968.

Sensei Field is also an internationally famous competitor. He was captain of the US International Karate Team, many time National Collegiate Champion, two-time National Grand Champion, two-time Pan American Champion, US Representative to the Olympic Games in Mexico and medalist in the 1976 World Tournament. He was also assistant coach of the US team for the 1983, 1992, 1993 and 1994 All Japan Tournaments in Tokyo.

Mr. Field is a strict disciplinarian, and insists on Japanese etiquette, but his warmth for his students is ever present.

Santa Monica Juniors

Children in gis sit in a line on the dojo floor

Children and Karate

Karate training is a unique fitness program which teaches children to focus their mental and physical energies in productive and non-violent ways. The most obvious benefits of karate training for children are physical development, coordination training, and good health. There are also additional psychological and emotional benefits, which are not immediately apparent. Often-mentioned results of karate training are greater focus, higher self-esteem, increased self-discipline, calmness, and a more positive attitude toward life — besides, of course, knowledge of self-defense. However, the main focus of karate training is perfection of character.

Karate has many aspects — mental, spiritual and physical. It is both an art and a sport. Whether your child wants to pursue karate in the competitive arena of tournaments, for self-defense, for the art, or for the exercise and mental gratification it brings, Santa Monica Dojo promises to deliver personalized attention and maximum focus towards fulfilling your child’s goals.


Karate-do is a martial art with the ultimate aim of the development of character through training. It is an empty-handed art of self-defense, in which the body itself is used as a weapon through techniques of punching, kicking, striking and blocking.Of primary importance in the study of karate are form, balance, “centered-ness,” power, speed, kime (explosive concentration of power), rhythm and timing. The quality to accomplish this is self-control. To become a victor, one must first overcome one’s self.

The Dojo

The Santa Monica Dojo was established in 1972 under chief instructor James Field, certified instructor and eighth-degree black belt. Ranks achieved at the Santa Monica Dojo are recognized worldwide.

Enrollment/Emergency Cards

It is very important that we have current information on your child, in the event of an emergency. Please notify us of any changes during the year.

Dress Code

For the first week, new students may wear loose clothing that they can stretch in, such as a T-shirt and sweat pants, After that, they are expected to dress in a traditional white gi (karate uniform). No shoes are allowed.

Holidays and Special Events

Classes continue throughout the year. Occasional single holidays are also observed throughout the year, without tuition adjustment. Participation in youth tournaments is offered, as well as special parties, camps and training sessions. Exams are given every 3 months.


Parents and visitors are welcome to visit at all times. Please remain off the floor and be as quiet as possible.


James Field and Mohammad Rafifar

Karate is the art of unarmed self-defense. Karate-do is a Japanese phrase meaning kara—empty, te—hand, do—way, or the way of the empty hand.

Karate is a centuries old martial art, formally introduced in Japan by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Since the 1950s, karate has been practiced throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Karate is an excellent exercise, utilizing 90% of the body muscles. The mental aspects are as important as the physical. The main objective of karate training is development of character, although karate is also a practical and effective self-defense system.


Men and women of all ages can learn the art of karate. Children can begin as young as 5 years old. Training at Santa Monica dojo is highlighted by personal, individualized instruction in small class settings. Equal emphasis is placed on the mastery of basics (kihon), form (kata), sparring (kumite) and self-defense techniques. Instruction is safe, professional and easy to understand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Shotokan karate?

Our school follows the traditional Shotokan style. Shotokan karate is one of the most widely practiced forms on the world today, and one of the most traditional. Introduced to Japan from Okinawa by Master Gichin Funakoshi, Shotokan puts heavy focus on kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring) to develop a range of powerful and dynamic techniques. The designation “Shotokan” derives from “Shoto,” which was the pen name of Master Funakoshi used when writing poetry.

Can anyone practice karate?

Yes! The only real requirement is a disciplined commitment to work hard and train patiently. As long as that commitment is there, karate is for everyone—regardless of age, sex, or ethnic background.

Do I need to be in excellent physical shape to start karate?

Not really. Since karate will gradually improve your fitness, your starting point is less important than the effort you put into it along the way. Our traditional focus on the basics and on the correct form make it easy for beginners to train together with experienced individuals yet still progress at their own level of fitness and expertise. If you are less fit, your progress at the start will simply be more moderate; as your fitness improves, so will the pace at which you advance.

What is expected of me if I join?

Four things. You are expected to be committed to your karate training, and to attend classes on a regular basis. You are expected to give your karate training your maximum effort, and to work hard during practice. You are expected to demonstrate the respect, humility and courtesy upon which karate’s long-standing tradition is founded. And of course, you are expected to pay your membership dues and other fees.

What will training involve?

A typical karate practice session usually begins with a comprehensive warm-up, followed by the various training exercises. The exercises are divided up into three main categories: kihon (basic techniques), in which you learn the basic blocks, punches, kicks, stances, etc. of karate; kata (forms), in which you practice and physically remember the various kihon learned; and kumite (sparring), where your kihon and kata techniques are matched against a real opponent. As your skill level increases, so will the difficulty of the exercises. Of course, there will be times when you are taught theory, dojo etiquette and the more philosophical aspects of karate.

What are the benefits of karate training?

Karate has tremendous benefits for body, mind and spirit. Physically, karate is good for the heart, strengthens bones, builds muscle, creates resilience, develops hand-eye coordination, and makes the body less susceptible to sickness and injury. Mentally, karate helps develop patience, discipline and perseverance, understanding and open-mindedness, as well as concentration and focus. Spiritually, karate builds confidence, develops self-control and increases calmness and peace.

How long does it take to learn karate?

It’s really up to you. The more you practice, the more you will improve for your entire life. There is no limit to mastering karate, no “final destination” at which you can arrive. There are benchmarks along the way, however. In the JKA, you progress through a series of belt levels (9th to 1st Kyu). After that, you receive a black belt, and progress through another 9 degrees of black belt (1st to 10th Dan). A student with no prior training joins the JKA as 9th Kyu, and is eligible to take ranking examinations every 3–4 months of training. Since there are 9 examinations you must pass to attain a 1st level black belt, the 1st Dan requires a minimum of three years of diligent training. It takes several years to attain each subsequent Dan. At these higher levels, you will see that karate is not just something to be learned, but something to be lived. And that takes a lifetime.

Do I have to wear a karate uniform?

Eventually, yes. To begin, you may wear something you can stretch in, such as a T-shirt and stretch pants. Uniforms (dogi) are available at the dojo.

When can I start?

Start at any time that is convenient for you. Training is ongoing.


Santa Monica Dojo

1218 5th Street
(between Wilshire & Arizona)
Santa Monica, CA, 90401

Metered street parking is available or you can park in the city parking structures on 4th Street (90 minutes free, no validation required).

(310) 395-8545

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