Is Karate Improving Your Life?

The martial arts are more than a sport; they are ‘a way of life’. While these words may be muttered very common throughout the martial arts world, the truth of the matter is, at times, we all need to stop and ask ourselves “Although we say these words, do we really mean them?”.

The following is a quick and simple test for determining how much of a true martial artist you are:

Do you push to overcome challenges that you are having in the dojo?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you push to overcome challenges that you are having at work, home, school etc?

 □ Y  □ N
Lesson:

Our struggles in karate are designed to improve our overall self-image. When we overcome a challenge or fear in training we should see ourselves as a person who can do this in all areas of our life. The karate uniform is not a superman outfit. Just because we take it off, it does not mean we are less capable.

 

Do you always show respect to higher grades?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you always show respect to your elders?

 □ Y  □ N
Lesson:

Respecting our elders and seniors is the first part. Showing courtesy to all people is going to the next level. In the dojo, we all wear similar white gis. There is no class system, no Nike or Reebok. We are all there as equals with common goals. Life is no different. Although we wear different clothes, deep down people are more alike than different. And deep down we all want the same things. A true martial artist shows courtesy and respect to all people. They are both polite and humble. While many regards the term ‘Samurai’ as Japanese warriors, the terms literally mean ‘servant’. True Samurai were polite people who lived with integrity.

 

Do you always show courtesy to ‘all’ people in the dojo?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you always show courtesy to ‘all’ people outside the dojo?

 □ Y  □ N
Lesson:

A karate belt is a display of a person’s knowledge and experience. Just as we show respect for our higher grades for the advanced karate knowledge and experience they have, so too should we show respect for all our elders for their advanced life knowledge and experience. It’s true that just because someone is our elder, their experience may not always

 

Do you always hold yourself to a high level of discipline in the dojo?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you always hold yourself to a high level of discipline at work or school?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you always hold yourself to a high level of discipline at home?

 □ Y  □ N
Lesson:

We are taught discipline in the dojo because of the importance discipline has our on our lives. Originally in Okinawa Karate was only taught to the sons of nobles and its primary goal was to teach them to become ‘nobler’. The discipline that karate aims to teach is self-discipline. While external discipline has its place, once outside the dojo we no longer have our instructor to follow us around and tell us to do what we know we should do. Do not be a person of discipline inside the dojo and once outside choose laziness and procrastination. A true Karate-ka does not show discipline in the dojo and yet go home to a messy house and live with poor discipline. By taking the self-discipline we show in the dojo and bringing it full-force into our lives we are destined to a life of fulfillment and success.

 

Do you forgive people when they may hit you in sparring, understanding it was an accident and not a personal attack? Do you hold your anger and remain calm in these occasions?

 □ Y  □ N

Do you forgive people when they cut you off in traffic or a line in a store? Do you remain calm when anger kicks in?

 □ Y  □ N
Lesson:

In life, we will be told off, cut off and treated poorly. A true martial artist sees the good in people. A true martial artist has learned through training that controlling your emotions is not always easy and therefore understands why people will sometimes act poorly. This does not mean they are bad people, merely untrained.  A true martial artist can live with peace because they have won the inner battle. A true martial artist knows they are always in control of their emotions – if someone spits on us, do they make us angry? Or do they simply make us wet? They make us wet – becoming angry is always our choice. True martial artists do not curse and do not fret when cursed upon.

 

If we are one type of person within the confines of our dojo; respectful, disciplined, persistent, consistently confident, consistent in attitude etc. and then take on another persona once outside the dojo; inconsistently respectful, undisciplined, lacking persistence, inconsistently confident and inconsistent with our good attitude then we cannot say that our karate training is truly improving our life. A person should aim to always become the very same person they are whilst in the dojo.

 

Shihan Anthony Ryan

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