Karate, it’s a mental thing

People must think that we are mad to follow the karate path, getting smashed in sparring, thrown to the ground, joints bending, I have had broken ribs, a broken tooth and two knuckles that have sunken into my hand and yet I still keep training, and still aspire to be more than I am.

Why do we keep fighting? Why do we keep wanting to improve, it is through the power of the mind that we as people can become the best versions of ourselves possible, it is through this attitude that athletes get better every year, strongmen get stronger and martial artists get more skilful. It doesn’t matter what your capabilities are, as long as you have the right attitude, the right passion for your chosen art, this could easily relate for me to strength training, but I want to talk about the karate attitude that I think we need to succeed.

My professor once told me that the moment you think that you are the best at something, that you know everything there is to know about it then move on from it, as your ego will limit you to the potential that you could achieve, these words have stuck with me ever since. The great thing about karate is that it doesn’t matter when you start the journey, we as karateka are all on the journey, the more that you are willing to learn the more you will develop from it, as a brown belt I have made kinship with grades of different colours, from my own all the way down to the novices grades. If I let the ego of my grade get in the way, I would not of made some of the best friendship that I have made in karate, as for example when I was purple belt I was shocked when this orange belt was kicking my ass. It turned out that he studied for a long time under another kickboxing/karate system. My ego could of got in the way and I could of just tried to smash him, but we became instant friends, and through that friendship I have become a much better karateka through our passion and extra training.

As you can learn from the higher grades, you can from the lower grades, there outside experience (which is one of the greatest assets of our club, because we have grades who have experience in Judo, Kickboxing, wing chun, taiji etc. which makes us a much more rounded club) and fresh perspective helps you to develop more as karateka.

Another example of this is when I was trying to teach kids the first kata, Geksai dai ichi, and I did the kata with them, they seemed to of absorbed the way I did the kata, and when they demonstrated at the end of the class, the difference was staggering to me, the techniques weren’t necessarily better, but the emphasis was there, the energy the character of the kata was brought to life! It made me very proud of them, and it will be a memory I will cherish that I enabled them to bring the kata to life.

For kata is the heart of karate, it is the character, the energy the power behind what we do, it is what makes us stand out from other styles of karate, of other styles of kung fu, the kata shapes us. You can’t just learn the moves just like a dance, well initially you can. You have to have a feeling for the kata, what Go and Ju means to you, what each kata’s character represents to you, it doesn’t matter if your interpretation may seem wrong to others, what matters is what it means to you, how you can bring these moves to life, because if you can’t then they are just moves the rhythm is gone and you really have lost the essence of karate.

Karate is a form of art, the best artists in the world have a passion a feeling for what they do, the beauty behind it is what drives us, and the same should be for the path of a karateka. It is because of this attitude which is Go and Ju, the go with fighting through a fight, through life through pain, and the Ju with expressing the passion and the heart of karate. The near instant friendship that I have formed were through a shared passion of not just martial arts, but for what Goju ryu itself stands for, I have a passion for martial arts, I have a bigger passion for  the art of Goju Ryu.

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