Karate is an ancient form of combat developed in Japan with underlying principles of self-discovery and self-improvement. The ultimate aim of karate training was to aspire to live by a set of core beliefs and values including courage, loyalty, self-control, honour and justice. Karate Philosophy as above plays a part within learning Karate.
Martial arts today are usually modified for modern sport and exercise but many karate styles still have their emphasis on the core values. I believe that karate training is not just kicking and punching, but actually gives students a purpose.
1. Physical Activity
Regular physical exercise is vital for the healthy development of children and to sustain good health as an adult. With today’s youth facing unprecedented levels of childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease, it’s essential that dynamic, fun and challenging activities like karate are introduced to children.
2. Learning Respect
Students are taught to treat others with dignity and respect. Young children have no concept of these values but karate teaches this in the dojo. From an early age, bowing to others or a simple handshake is introduced as a sign of good sportsmanship, respect and dignity. Students also learn respect for rules and authority.
3. Self Defence
Students are taught skills to defend against an attacker and so live life without being a victim. ‘How to fight’ is just as important as ‘why not to fight’. Learning karate develops confidence which will deter bullies.
4. Inner Strength
Regular exercise has been linked to many psychological benefits. The intense physical training of karate will develop an inner strength to cope with intimidation and adversity. ‘Getting knocked down 5 times and standing up 6 times’ is an over-riding message of karate training. This concept transcends from the dojo into all aspects of life.
Karate teaches stillness, an ability to not respond emotionally to aggression. Contrary to the distorted image created by the media for commercial and entertainment purposes, studies have shown that karate practice actually makes students less aggressive.
Obviously, there is some risk of injury with karate training. However, injuries are negligible when compared to more popular sporting activities like football, basketball, etc. The emphasis of karate practice is always on self-control and safety is paramount in the dojo. Students learn by striking padded mitts and shields and in sparring, wear padded gloves, gum shields and foot protectors. Karate is a safe way to get fit and active.
Sensei Stephen O’Brien