“I started karate during high school simply as something to do for fun. As the years went on however, I found the training became an integral part of my life and vital to maintaining my health and performance. This was especially true during the last few years as the amount of study and stress related to it increased.
I find that one of the best aspects of using karate to stay healthy is the variety of exercise. Karate training is very thorough in its conditioning, involving strength, endurance and flexibility in all parts of the body. It also has a strong emphasis on cardio, especially for those students interested in competing in tournaments. Every student is expected to achieve certain levels of fitness at each rank and therefore progress is monitored. I find that this type of goal setting always motivates me to improve. When this is combined with the many aspects of karate training, I can be reasonably certain of my physical health long term. I would also attribute my strong physical performance during high school to my Karate training, especially in athletics.
I also found that karate had benefits for my mental state. Apart from the effects of exercise on improving my overall mood I used karate as a kind of sanctuary from the rest of life. While preparing for a class to begin I would do my best to let go of all external thoughts, worries, assignment deadlines etc, that would impact my training. I found in doing this karate became an almost relaxing and refreshing experience, after which I could attack projects and everything else with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
The final point I would like to talk about is competition. Attending tournaments is not an absolute requirement to gain benefit from karate however, there are several benefits to participating in competition. Firstly, there is the ability to deal with being nervous. Many strategies on how to deal with nerves and nervous energy are discussed in class. Everyone discovers through experience what works best for them and this ability is developed constantly as we compete. Furthermore, competition gives a chance to push the limits of what is comfortable and perhaps even face our personal fears, either through sparring by being hit and dealing with aggression or through performance in front of both peers and strangers. I feel that learning how to perform under pressure and better control my emotions are great life skills that have benefited my life.
I believe that my karate journey so far has had a profound positive impact on my life, both physically and mentally. It has fostered a love of exercise and a drive for constant improvement. It has gifted me with a refuge from external influence and a chance to recharge, improving both my mental state and outlook on the world. Finally, it has provided the strategies and mental strength to perform well under pressure. The benefits of karate have had deep lasting effects on my life and can do the same for anyone willing to take the journey. ” ~ Jack Graham