l Heart Karate | Learn Karate
My Interest in Karate
I had always wanted to learn karate since I was in fifth grade. One of my teachers told me I needed to learn martial arts for self defense. He was concerned because I was a shy kid and didn't have very many close friends. He said I would need to be able to defend myself.
On his recommendation I took judo as an extra-curricular activity at school. However, I didn't really enjoy it and didn't stay in the class very long.
There was a karate school near my home and whenever I passed by it I would see the students practice the different movements and I thought karate was more exciting than judo. However, at the time I had to concentrate on a lot of school work and didn't really have the time for other activities. So I put the idea of learning karate in the back burner.
It wasn't until I was in my senior year of college that I had the chance to pursue my interest in karate. I had completed all my course requirements and had plenty of extra time. I was trying to find something to do that would benefit me. Then I saw an ad on the paper for karate lessons, and that particular school happened to have a dojo (studio or training hall) near where I lived.
So one evening I went to visit the dojo and observed the beginner's class in session. I was really excited about it and as soon as the class was over I approached the instructor and signed up for the class.
Why I love karate
- It's a great exercise. Exercise is important for healthy living, and if you're going to do it you should choose something that you really enjoy. Besides helping me build my flexibility and muscle strength, karate is also a good form of self defense.
- It builds self confidence. Doing any form of physical exercise will eventually improve your self confidence but learning martial arts takes it one step further. You are taught to respect others and the world you live in, and only use your skill as a last resort to defend yourself and others.
- I get to do it barefoot. Yeah, I hate wearing shoes and most martial arts schools don't even allow you to enter the dojo with footwear on. To me that's a big plus because when I exercise I want to feel comfortable and free.
If you're interested in learning karate
You should first do your homework. Visiting the school and observing a class in session is a must. That way you will be able to see what it's like and whether you will enjoy it. In addition, you will also see the environment of the dojo, and how the instructors and students treat each other.
You also need to ask some questions like how much the lessons cost, how often you can get promoted and what the promotion fees are. Unfortunately, there are less than reputable karate schools that focus more on how much money they can make. They would create additional levels of rank and promote just about any student (even when they're not up to standard) just so they can earn more money. These unethical schools are often called "McDojo."
Ask around for references and recommendations from people you know. This is your best bet because if they are happy with their karate school, chances are good that you will be too.
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History of Karate
Karate developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to its 19th century annexation by Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te, which means "hand", and Chinese kenpo.
This martial art was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration.
In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs.
In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from "Chinese hand" to "empty hand" - both of which are pronounced karate - to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style.
After the second world war, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.
Read more about karate history and the different styles on Wikipedia.
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