Karate's Benefits Extend Beyond The Dojo
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Karate's Benefits Extend Beyond The Dojo

How commitment to sports can keep us physically and mentally fit.

Karate's Benefits Extend Beyond The Dojo

Ask someone who knows me to "Describe Alex in one word," and "athletic" will most likely be their 99th choice of adjective.

Although I enjoy watching sporting events and participating in spectator spirit, I personally have never been drawn to (or particularly gifted at) the team sports that kids and teenagers usually do. I don't get a huge rush from athletic competitions or have the fire in my belly required to drive the ball from one end of a field to the other. I really admire those who do.

Team athletics are not my niche. But, Karate, a method developed in Japan of defending oneself without the use of weapons that involves both physical and mental training, has been for almost half of my life.

When I began studying Karate at six years old, I could not have comprehended how important a part of my life it would become. I now understand that lessons from Karate extend far beyond the dojo.

As I reflect on my experience training at Marti Martial Arts Academy, I treasure the dojo’s infectious spirit, the sport’s lasting benefits and the community’s unconditional support, each which have enabled my growth.

In classes, we focus on perfecting details of Katas, sharpening our stances, focusing our moves, fighting with passion and dignity, developing our physical strength and learning to defend ourselves, amongst countless other things. Making the decision to commit to Karate, no matter the difficulty of the journey, has made all the difference.

I am incredibly grateful for my teachers' dedication to my training. In times when I was overwhelmed with academic and extracurricular commitments, I found their support incredibly motivating and inspiring. I love Karate because its philosophy is so well reflected in a fundamental value of my family, taught to me by my parents: “Engage. Find what you are passionate about. Commit to it with all your heart. Become the best you can be at it.”

Being a Black Belt means many things. Black Belts should maintain physical and mental strength. We have to work hard and put passion into every aspect of training. We must be steadfast, driven, and focused on our goals. We should aim to better ourselves and better those around us. Being strong does not mean taking down every sparring partner, punching so to “win” a match, or training hard at the expense of others. Being strong means staying committed through struggle, setting an example for other students, taking pride in hard work and staying humble about accomplishments.

The reward of wholeheartedly committing to Karate is not just receiving a Black Belt. There are lasting and meaningful personal benefits from the challenging and demanding journey. To me, these benefits are best reflected by the dojo's mission statements: “To seek perfection of character. To be sincere and honest. To show strong spirit. To practice courtesy. To control bad temper.” I have worked to incorporate these into my life. I have passed the philosophy along to my friends, my family and my teachers. Through Black Belt training, I have come to understand the core meaning of each statement.

To seek perfection of character means to have pride in doing my best, to have humility, and the willingness to learn and improve.

Being sincere and honest means being honest with myself and others. For example, asking for help when I need it, recognizing and being open to improvement, and always being truthful.

Showing strong spirit is key. I think about this statement when things are tough or discouraging. I focus on digging deep and having the will and strength to see things through to the end.

To practice courtesy is to show appreciation to those who have helped me reach my goal, passing on the knowledge I have gained to younger students through teaching and mentoring.

Finally, controlling bad temper means to have a balanced, steady attitude toward the journey and the stress associated with the challenge.

I have found that these lessons translate to all areas of life. They have proved invaluable not only in Karate, but also in school, in extracurricular activities, and at home. I am forever grateful for how much Karate has helped me grow. I am happy and proud that, despite my apparent unathleticism, I found a sport that I enjoy committing myself to and can use in the future.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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