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"Get in shape to begin Karate"

This article is not what it initially may appear to be about. Karate is an activity that to many of us feels very unusual, at times awkward when we begin training and is always physically and mentally challenging in one way or another. We have to concentrate at all times and not be distracted. We have to use our bodies in ways that we are not used to, such as learning the different stances and using the muscles needed to make them correctly that have perhaps never been used and if so, not as in these Karate stances. Punching, striking, kicking and blocking correctly take proper technique, and once again using parts of the body that have perhaps never been used and if so, not as in these techniques.

Beginners learning rising block

Occasionally, someone brand new to Karate may feel that they are "not in shape enough" or are "not in condition" to begin Karate and therefore they are going to "get in shape to begin Karate." With this occasionally comes the theory that in order to begin Karate, one has to be "in shape" and that by doing other physical activities that one will be at a stage where they are ready to begin training. This is far from the truth. One can begin immediately, no matter one's physical fitness level. While other physical activities may be enjoyable, healthy and beneficial, they do nothing to get one to a point where one is "ready" to begin training. The fact is that the only way to begin Karate training is simply that: begin.

The only way to improve one's condition upon beginning Karate is to train Karate. Doing other things like jogging, weightlifting, aerobics, etc. are completely different activities and use the body completely differently as it is used in Karate training. There is nothing wrong with doing these other activities, but they are supplemental and in themselves do not improve one's Karate, nor help one be "ready" to begin training.

There is absolutely no prerequisite for beginning Karate training and continuing Karate training. No matter what one's physical shape and/or body type is, one can begin training and continue training. Even those who have physical limits and/or are handicapped can train. An example of this is Wheelchair Karate, as was devised by the late Master Tetsuhiko Asai

Wheelchair karate seminar

(a fellow instructor, fellow competitor and very close friend of Mikami Sensei since their time together at the JKA), who created his own wheelchair Kata (even though he was never confined in a wheelchair and was in fact always in outstanding physical condition from regular training, even in his later years) and included Wheelchair Kata and Kumite divisions in his tournaments in his Karate organization. Asai Sensei literally felt there should be no limits as to who can train. The late Master Hirokazu Kanazawa (another fellow instructor, fellow competitor and very close friend of Mikami Sensei since their time together at the JKA) was once presented by a mother whose child had no arms who wanted to learn and train Karate. While at first Kanazawa Sensei did not know how to reply to the request, he felt that to tell her son and their mother that he could not train would be very spiritually damaging to them both. Therefore, Kanazawa Sensei ingeniously devised a system to teach the boy by having him train using only stances and leg techniques. He also created some Kata especially for him and for others who he would later teach who had this condition.

Karate conditioning exercises.

Supplemental training such as using weights, running etc. are all excellent in improving one's physical conditioning, but they are no substitute for training itself. To improve in Karate one must simply train: correctly, regularly at the dojo and regularly at home alone. These are some of the keys to improvement and keeping oneself at all times "ready" to train.

Click below to see Karate Conditioning exercises on LKA blog:


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