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