Our History


In 1985, Dawn enrolled herself and her two sons in Shotokan Karate lessons… and loved it! She earned her Black Belt in 1988 and began teaching children’s classes in after-school programs.

Parents were drawn to Sensei Dawn’s age-appropriate curriculum and “love-based” teaching method which balanced discipline, positive dialog, and fun!

In 1995, Sensei Dawn opened her first school. Following in the steps of pioneers like Itosu, Kano, and Funakoshi, she focused on “life-skills” such as honesty, kindness, and courage.

In 2010, after more than 20 years of teaching children, Sensei Dawn founded Gozen Karate, the world’s first “child-style” of martial arts.

Today, Dawn Barnes Karate Kids has one mission: To be the best martial arts school for children in the world!


Sensei Dawn created a style of martial arts to meet the needs of today’s toddlers and grade-schoolers — age groups not considered by the fathers of Karate. She chose the name “Gozen,” or “morning time,” for her child-style… the perfect metaphor for our childhood years.

Gozen recognizes that a child’s body is not the same as an adult’s. Many traditional techniques are confusing and physically difficult for a child to perform correctly. But with some subtle adjustments, children can learn faster and have more fun!

Sensei Dawn also put the emphasis back on self-defense over sports training… especially after one of her black belt students was hurt by a bully. Determined to offer her students more, she designed a list of child-friendly, playground-appropriate techniques that empowered kids to escape danger without being aggressive.

Gozen includes Karate techniques for self-defense, grappling for escaping trouble, fitness drills for strength, competition to face fears, a mentoring program for leadership, and manners training for social skill development.

In short, Gozen is the ultimate enrichment program. It inspires self-esteem, builds strong character, and prepares students to face life’s challenges.

Now you know what makes us so special!

We invite your child to grow up at Karate Kids! Together we can build strong minds, strong bodies, and strong spirits!