"I want to quit karate."

April 5, 2019

Have you ever said that? Have you ever felt that way? Even a little
bit? Most probably, everyone who trains in Karate and/or has trained
in Karate has probably felt that way or said that at some time or
another. Let us look at some of the reasons why.

Boredom: Many times in Karate training, we do the same things over and
over again. It can get boring and sometimes it is easy to get
physically and mentally tired of doing these same techniques over and
over again! However, it is very important that we do these same things
over and over again so that our overall Karate gets better. Doing
something (anything), occasionally and then not doing it again for a
while will not make us better at doing it. Therefore, it is very
important that we do these techniques over and over again to make them
more “automatic,” so that we not only do them over and over again, but
also try to do them better each time we do them.

Belt test results: Belt tests are important. However, thinking too
much about how we did on a test can also make us want to quit Karate.
Sometimes we may get a “B” on a test or sometimes we do not pass a
test (which is not necessarily a bad thing), which can possibly make
us want to quit. It takes a lot of training to be ready to take a test
and sometimes we have not trained enough and/or are not ready to test.
This takes a lot of extra practice and patience. The opposite is also
true: Sometimes a student takes a belt test and passes, but then gets
lazy and thinks that he or she knows “enough,” and /or is “good,” and
feels that he or she can quit. This can also happen when someone has
been promoted to a higher rank like Brown Belt or Black Belt. It is
easy to think that he/she has learned all there is to learn in Karate
and is now ready to try another style and/or another Martial Art. At
times, upon earning Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) some students
(particularly children who are often supported by one or both of their
parents in this erroneous philosophy) will often feel that they have
reached their “goal,” and feel that because they have reached, their
“goal,” that they are qualified to quit training. Nothing could be
further from the truth. The longer one trains and the more advanced
one becomes, the more he/she will learn and the more interesting
Karate becomes.

Tournament results: Like belt tests, it is easy to think too much
about tournaments. Tournaments should be fun and a learning experience
for us. But sometimes, if we do not do as well as we would liked to
have (such as by making a mistake in our Kata or losing a Kumite
match), this can discourage us and possibly make us want to quit.
Tournaments should teach us something about ourselves whether we win
or lose. How to win and how to lose! This means if we win that we do
not show off and brag and if we lose that we do not blame other people
(such as other competitors, referees, judges or even one’s Sensei and
Sempai) and get angry. We must respect the other people (other
competitors, referees, judges and our Sensei and Sempai) no matter
what happens.

Injuries and sickness: Like any physical activity, Karate training
includes the possibility of injuries occurring while training and/or
injuries that we may possibly have that are not a direct result of
Karate training, both possibly limiting our ability to train at our
optimum and desired level. First, we must always remind ourselves that
first and foremost, Karate is a Martial Art. In Karate training,
injuries may be brought on by several possibilities, including a
mistake on one’s part such as not warming up properly before class,
weak stances, incorrect techniques, not blocking correctly and/or
strongly enough, not listening to and/or paying close attention to the
instructions given by the Sensei, not protecting oneself, not
maintaining zanshin (awareness at all times), not taking the opponent
seriously (regardless of the rank of either person), not taking
ourself seriously, a lack of confidence, a lack of control by the
opponent or ourselves, being unaware of our surroundings and several
other possibilities. Should an injury occur during training, we should
always try to continue, bearing in mind that a determined and
dangerous opponent in real life will no doubt use that moment of
injury to his/her advantage and inflict further injuries. Likewise, if
competing in Kumite in a tournament and/or during the Kumite section
of an examination (of any level), our opponent may have no idea that
we have sustained an injury and may not stop his/her attack. Injuries
that may occur during training such as a muscle pull or cramp should
also not be a reason to stop training during a class for the
aforementioned reasons as well. Should an injury occur during Kumite
and/or during Goshin-Jitsu (self-defense training), we should avoid at
all costs letting the initial shock of the injury shock us into being
unprotected (hence, possibly allowing more attacks and/or more
injuries). Reminding ourselves that Karate is a Martial Art, when we
bow to our opponent(s), and indeed bow into the Dojo, we are accepting
anything that may possibly occur. Injuries of any type must be treated
properly. Rest, proper care and medical attention (if needed) are
necessary for a full recovery. In all of these examples, we can “train around” the injury; i.e. not doing anything that may increase the injury further and avoiding doing any techniques that may do so, along with doing them slowly when we are able to. First, we must follow the instructions of our doctor.
Second, we must listen to our bodies and know our limitations. Third,
we must return to training at home very slowly and very patiently
before returning to training at the Dojo, while letting our Sensei
know that we have sustained an injury and/or were hospitalized and/or
had surgery. With any and all of these examples, it is very easy to:
A) Quit Karate training altogether, blaming Karate training as the
cause of an injury. B) Not returning to Karate training after the time
off, due to concern of sustaining the same injury or another injury.
Likewise, when we are sick with a cold, flu, etc. it is easy to stop
training and not return to training, even after a full recovery. When
we are sick, we should rest, recover and recuperate and then when
completely healed return slowly, gradually and carefully to Karate
training, gradually returning to our optimum level.

Wanting to try something else: It is important to have other interests
and things we like to do besides Karate. However, Karate can help us
do better in other interests and things. For example, Karate can help
us in sports by keeping us in shape and improving our reflexes and
co-ordination. Karate also helps our memory and ability to pay
attention, which will help us in our jobs, school and other things in
life. So, even though we should do some other activities and enjoy
other things, Karate should be something do regularly and not do off
and on.

Just do not feel like going anymore: One of the things we say in the
Dojo Kun is “endeavor.” This means to keep trying, no matter what. A
lot of times we are busy, tired, hungry or just “not in the mood” to
train Karate. But these are the times when we need to train the most!
It is easy to train when we are happy, feeling good, the weather is
nice, and we “feel like” doing Karate. But if we can make ourselves
(not because of our parents, a spouse, a child of ours and/or other
people telling us we have to) go to the Dojo and train, we will feel
much better afterwards and will have won over ourselves, along with
our own laziness and excuses. So many times, parents say how much they
have to make their son or daughter go to the Dojo. Rather than
debating about it, just go, be thankful that we are lucky enough to be
able to do Karate and that we are able to train in Karate! A lot of
people (children and adults) who would love to do Karate are not so
fortunate and cannot. Remember: If we quit Karate, the only person we
are quitting on is ourselves.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing:”1 Master Funakoshi once said
this about those who quit Karate. What he means is that Karate takes a
long time to really understand and how to defend oneself with, only if
necessary. And it will also help us to avoid trouble and conflicts.
The best way to do this is by not quitting Karate. Master Funakoshi is
also referring to students who train in Karate for a short time, quit,
then try to defend themselves in a real situation and are not
successful because they have not kept training in Karate. Also, he is
referring about to those who did “some” Karate, then try to hurt or
bully other people with it. By not quitting Karate, we can be more
patient, respectful, committed, careful and safer in our lives.

Karate is for life: If you are or were fortunate enough to start
Karate when you are or were young, you are really lucky! Even as you
get interested in other things (ballet, gymnastics, music, chess,
sports, etc.) you can always train Karate. The Dojo is open all year
round. And as Master Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan Karate)
stated, “anyplace can be a Dojo,”2 meaning that we can train anytime
or any place that we would like to. As one gets older, goes to high
school, college and has a job, life will get busier. Karate will help
us concentrate better and be more organized. It will also help us in
making right decisions, avoiding trouble and in staying away from bad
people and bad situations. You will also get the much-needed exercise
away from all that studying and work that we may be doing in our
lives! When in school and/or having job, life is even busier.
Sometimes we might want to quit school because we think it is too
difficult and/or too challenging. Karate will help us to not quit and
teach to keep trying! When we go to work and if we have a family, we
will be even busier! But Karate will still be there for us and we can
still do it. Just think how good your Karate will be in 10-15 years if
you do not quit! This seems like a really long time away from now, but
it will be here much sooner than it seems. If we ever move or travel
to another city, state or country, we can most probably find a Dojo
that does the exact same type of Karate that we train in right now! We
can take Karate wherever we go in our lives and keep training our
whole life. The longer we train in Karate, the better we will get at
it, no matter how fast or slow we make progress. As you we get older,
we will be really glad we did not quit Karate. One day we will look
back and remember just how long we have been training in Karate. In
addition, will be proud of not quitting Karate and feel much better
that we have trained in Karate for life!

1. Karate-Do Kyohan - Gichin Funakoshi

2. Karate-Do: My Way Of Life - Gichin Funakoshi

Copyright 2019

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