The journey from a Man into a Karateka


The change that I have seen in a fellow karateka in my club has actually stunned me, not because I never thought he would become skilled at karate, but because it seemed like it happened overnight. I remember when he first joined our club (2+ years ago now?), when it came to training you could tell that he never done anything like a martial art before, the main example that comes to mind is that when he sparred he had this very, very unorthodox style of what looked like old fashioned boxing (with the arms in uppercut positions) but with the elbows out. He was very easy to hit, and the main worry with him that his style was so unusual that you might get hurt by accident.

He has always been one of the nicest guys that you could ever meet, but you could tell that anything could easily hurt him, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have the heart to keep going. Then I saw the first big change at his last grading, I couldn’t attend the grading myself because of something that had happened to my mum at the time, and family comes first. I saw the photos  and I nearly had a double take, he didn’t look like the same guy he had an air of confidence about him, something about the way his jaw was set, and how brutal and efficient he looked in the photos made me wonder how come I had never seen this version of him before.

He was always the first to follow sensei’s orders, and put as much effort in, but this was the first time I had noticed such a sizeable change within him. Then last Thursday at training we were doing bunkai, and he was paired with a blackbelt who is as tough as nails and is going for his Nidan the 30 man Kumite. This basically means that he is tougher than nails and probably eats them for breakfast.  The blackbelt has always had this MMA mindset and so laid into our fellow, with strikes that make my injured ribs shiver, and I felt bad for him for a second and thought he might get hurt. But that was the old karateka, the new one now forged by the battles of the martial way absorbed the with ease and took the blows like a champ.

It made me now wonder what it would be like to spar with him again (though work and injury I haven’t sparred him in a long time, probably prior to his last grading). He is the second person that I have witnessed (my previous blog post about the path of karateka, my best mate who is now a brownbelt) whose strength of character seems to of been moulded by the mental, physical and spiritual fires of a grading. It makes me realise just how important that they can be for some people to have your inner beast fight against your inner demons and not only survive but flourish and grow.

I have always liked and respected him as a person, but now I respect him as a karateka, with the inner will that he has always had he has grown tremendously through years of hard work, which to me may of only seemed like it happened only a few months ago. It is an honour to witness this change in him, and how martial arts can benefit us all.


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