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Why Study Karate?

Updated on October 5, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Peace, harmony, and lifelong learning are Liz's life philosophy. She's outspoken on education and is an activist in local politics.

Movements are quick; nearly impossible to photograph without blur
Movements are quick; nearly impossible to photograph without blur | Source

Why I Study Karate

It all began back in about 2006, when my then 13-year-old grandson was starting to have some trouble in school, hanging with the wrong crowd. I enrolled him in Karate class because it promotes self discipline, self confidence, and strength training.

Eventually, it paid off, though I must say, he was a bit of a hard case. For the most part, the younger the child starts learing martial arts, the better. That said, it can help with older persons, and certainly adults as well.

As I would sit and watch the class, I was mentally memorizing the assorted drills and blocks, and one day the instructor caught me off in a back corner, kind of following along. I was invited to join the class.

The rest, as they say...

All Ages, All Abilities

When I first began, I had to have several modifications made to the routines and movements to accomodate a bad knee.

This is very doable, and even people in wheelchairs have been able to attain the coveted status of black belt!

As you can see from the videos, even persons with limited mobility or severe disabilities have the ablity to defend themselves.

After my surgery for a new knee, I took me almost a year off from classes to heal fully and regain some strength. However, once I got back to class, it didn't take me too long to catch up, because I'd kept watching videos put out by the dojo I attended, as well as rehearsing the upper body movements.

As I said in the header above the video, "Any Age..." Yes, I was 63 (and using a cane) when I began instruction; as of this writing, I am 70, and hold a purple belt. This is an "advanced beginner" rank, but nonetheless, I have enough confidence that I am not afraid to be alone anywhere at night; thugs better find some other "little old lady" to mess with!

What About All Those Belt Colors?

As most people know, the white belt is the beginner level. From there, the colors progress up through black belt, which is expert. However, there are even levels of black belt, and increasing degrees of mastery. For example, my instructor is a fourth degree black belt.

There is also a designation of grand master, and our class has had the privilege of a visit and special training by one such practitioner.

The belts run in order as follows:

  • White--Beginner
  • Yellow--2nd Level Beginner
  • Orange--3rd Level Beginner
  • Purple--Advanced Beginner
  • Blue--1st Level Advanced Student
  • Green--2nd Level Advanced Student
  • Brown--1st Level Mastery Student
  • Black--Mastery Student (with ascending degrees, as noted previously)

There may be variations from school to school, and within the various martial arts disciplines, but this is a fairly standard progression. Some schools even add in their own variations, as my dojo did. They added orange with a purple stripe between orange and purple; purple with a blue stripe between purple and blue; blue with a brown stripe between blue and brown; and brown with a black stripe before black.

They also employed a red belt as a student instructor level indicator. This was for an advanced, though not yet black belt student sufficiently versed to teach the white and yellow belt levels, sometimes up through orange.

The definitions/levels I have given are from my own understanding, and not a formal ranking of the belts.

It should be noted that even at black belt level, there is an acknowledgement that the learning never truly ends. It is a lifelong journey.

Many Styles

There are many styles and variations among karate instructors and practitioners, let alone between all the dozens of different forms of martial arts in general.

The form I study is called "Shaolin Kenpo-Karate." Defining it would take too much space, but there is an interesting Wiki article which does so quite nicely.

In addition to the variations within forms, some of the most commonly known forms of other martial arts include:

  • Jujitsu
  • Judo
  • Akido
  • Hapkido
  • Kung Fu (Some of us above a 'certain age' will recall a TV show of this name)
  • Tai Kwon Do
  • and even the gentle Tai Chi exercise form comes under the martial arts heading.

But, Doesn't it Teach You to Fight?

Well, yes, and no. It teaches you to defend yourself. Any of us of an age to remember the original "Karate Kid" movie, and its sequel, are aware that the main character, Daniel, began studying martial arts to defend himself from a group of bullies.

Those bullies were using martial arts, but had the wrong mindset. Taken out of their group, and one on one, as seen in the tournament segment, Daniel prevailed.

As the character Daniel realized, when out fishing with Mr. Miyagi, he studied karate so he didn't have to fight.

Trailer From the Original Karate Kid Movie (1984)

Nip Bullies in the Bud

These days, we hear so much about bullying, that in this author's opinion, all children, especially girls, should be enrolled in self defence classes of one sort or another. If not karate, there are dozens of other disciplines with pretty much the same ends.

In fact, it would be absolutely amazing if such classes were offered in schools as a regular part of the physical education curriculum. Bullies would realize they couldn't successfully pick on anyone, thus taking the wind out of their sails, so to speak.

Never Give Up; Never Be Afraid To Begin Again

As I write this, I am again at a point of re-starting my training, due to an extended period of being caretaker for my ailing husband. Sadly, he has now passed on, but I know he would want me to pick up where I left off, and go back to class.

© 2018 Liz Elias

Comments

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  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    2 weeks ago from Oakley, CA

    Thanks, Shauna! It is pretty much the only 'exercise' I do. LOL

    I agree--your son was using the art as intended; for self-defense. Sounds like the Sensei was missing the point!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    2 weeks ago from Central Florida

    Liz, I commend you for taking up martial arts at your stage in life!

    My brother earned a black belt in Aikido when he was 15 and had his own Aikido school at the age of 16. At the time, he was the youngest in the US to claim such an honor. He later went on to earn his black belt in Tai Kwon Do.

    When my son was young, he had behavioral issues so I enrolled him in Tai Kwon Do. He actually got expelled from the dojo because he was using karate against kids in school who were bullying him. That doesn't make sense to me. He was defending himself. Isn't that the point?

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