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Karate Was Not Meant for Kids

Updated on February 5, 2014

Originally, karate and all forms of martial arts were not intended for children to learn. Long before extracurricular classes, like karate gymnastics, were ever thought about, karate was reserved for physically talented adults in Japan who would serve in combat. Karate was taught to students over the course of a lifetime and even students with various degrees of black belts were considered pupils. In fact, the only color karate belts at that time were white and black. Students had to train for years, if not decades be proficient enough to wear a black belt. At that time, it had not occurred to karate teachers, or senseis, to teach children a discipline that demanded obedience.

In today's modern American society it is not uncommon to see a child walking around in a karate gi, or uniform, with an obi, or belt, wrapped neatly around his or her waste. In fact, it is more likely to see a child walking about in a gi than an adult. The needs and uses of karate have changed and a discipline that was once reserved only for adults is now dominated by children as young as 4.

Karate is now looked upon as a hobby because most people to do not need to physically defend themselves. Those who do feel the need to learn self defense are part of the select few adults who continue to learn karate long after they have acquired their black belt. In addition, white and black are no longer the only color belts. Depending on the karate style there may be several different belts and they are all designed to give karate participants the feeling that they are still accomplishing something in karate and working towards something. Karate belts and the desire for a higher ranking belt keep both adults and children going back to karate class week after week, month after month, and year after year.

Higher ranking karate belts are still not easy to come by, it takes years to reach a black belt ranking, but karate participants are no longer to practice until they are exhausted. Most classes are about an hour long and include more than the traditional kicking, punching, and blocking that made karate famous. Most kids classes include games the children can partake in that also strengthen them physically, such as dodge ball, jump roping, or trying to keep from getting hit with a stick. In this instance, karate has become less disciplined while also teaching some of the same self defense skills.

In today's society, karate offers children discipline, obedience, and the ability to defend themselves when necessary while making a fun and enjoyable atmosphere. The adults who do partake in karate get the chance to teach younger people or less experienced people while continuing to learn themselves. Overall, karate has changed but it has become something more than it was when only adults were allowed to train. Karate has become a place where the learning and teaching is an experience that children and adults want to make a part of their life.

© 2012 morningstar18

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