I Practice Karate Because…
This blog post is all about how karate helped me find myself, the reasons I do it and how I reap its benefits.
I took my first Karate lesson back in 2016, I remember practising roundhouse punches and it was so boring for me but my brother carried on and got himself to green belt. When I was in year 7 there were constant fights breaking out at my school, usually based on some silly gossip. Though thankfully I hadn’t got into one, I knew I needed to be more prepared, in case I was attacked. In that moment I wished I had carried on with Karate like my brother, so a couple of weeks later, I had a nice new Gi and a white belt on and I was ready to learn!
I have been doing Karate now for a year and a half and unfortunately a couple of months of that year and a half has been virtually on teams. Despite my short time in the dojo, I discovered a lot, and a lot has changed for me through doing karate. Instead of coming just to learn how to defend myself, I’ve found more reasons why I’m excited to come to the DoJo every Thursday.
One of the main reasons I practice Karate is still however for my self-defence. Karate gives me more confidence in my ability to react appropriately in a fight scenario. Rather than helplessly covering my face with my hands, I could perform Jodan, Chudan and Gidan blocks if required. Karate has taught me how to react to different attacks and that has boosted my confidence knowing that I am learning how to defend myself if it was ever necessary.
The second reason I do Karate is for personal development. When one is moving up belts one feels a sense of achievement and though Karate is a tough process. I’ve found myself out of breath multiple times in a single half hour, you can see yourself getting better and moving towards the higher belts. And maybe the privilege of becoming a Yudansha one day!
In December 2019 I was given my first belt, my red belt, and I felt so happy that I was getting better and making progress. I am looking forward to achieving my orange belt. Self-encouragement is very important, not just at gradings, but any time I feel like I am improving, I congratulate myself. This isn’t anything physical, but just acknowledging that I have done well has given me a more positive mindset.
Another reason I do Karate is for the numerous health aids and benefits. To start, it can be considered a sport and that entails physical activity which has numerous health benefits. To put it in a nutshell, it will keep your body running smoothly and helps to avoid illness.
I have specifically noticed a number of health differences; 1) I get less out of breath, 2) I have become more flexible through warm ups and stretches. 3) I think that the health aspect of Karate is one which is particularly important to support. 4) I ensure that I have eaten a meal prior to he session and give it time to settle down. 5) I also drink plenty of water a few hours before the session and during it to ensure I avoid dehydration. 6) I try to stretch to my best during warm ups to avoid any injuries and 7) I often implement Sensei’s advice on mindfulness and outdoor time into my daily life with walks, bike rides and outdoor sports. A favourite activity of mine has been playing SwingBall in my garden.
Karate has really helped me with discipline and focus. Especially when we do mokuso (focus breaking). It helps me to clear my mind and prepare for the session. I also enjoy the warm up, it helps you to get ready, and though Karate fun, there are penalties for things that require them (penalties include press ups, sitting out or sit ups) and these help to improve both focus and discipline. I have implemented many of the mindful techniques we practice into my everyday life.
When I wake up, I take 5 minutes of silence to think about the day and things I need to get done, I also do a quick stretch to wake up my muscles. In the evening I do child’s pose, cobra pose and butterfly pose which are grounding and relaxing poses for sleep. Overall these short daily habits have helped to kickstart or peacefully end my day.
The final reason I practice Karate is because of its history. Personally, I love history as a subject – in fact, it’s my favourite subject. It evolves analysing our past to see how we can change the present and future for the better. And the history of karate is very interesting. The way it evolved and travelled throughout the world. The way weapons bans made training almost like a crime which evolved the art into what we know it as today.
Overall there are so many things that excite me about returning to the Dojo every week and hearing another inspiring tale to boost my journey as a Karateka.