Real Life Skills from Learning Karate
by Staff Writer, 2019-05-18
Ask what karate can do for you
Karate may be known for dramatic moves like scorpion kicks, but the teachings of this sport go beyond physical techniques. That’s because karate is as much about training your mind as it is about training your body. Achieving both goals demands fierce determination and countless hours of practice, but that grueling process helps you develop many valuable life skills, as any karateka will tell you.
Karate life skill #1: Discipline
Whether you learn karate at a young age or as an adult, the sport teaches you that progress is only made through consistent work. Naturally, that means repeatedly practicing the techniques and getting your body into top shape, although some schools of karate, like Uechi-ryu, focus more on body conditioning than others. However, that physical preparation will always fall short if you don’t develop mental and behavioral discipline as well. That means showing up ready to give your all on the bad days, just as you would on the good. You need to respect those with whom you train and compete, and show deference to the sensei that mentors you. Follow these guidelines, and you will develop the discipline that will serve you all your life (plus you’ll be a skilled fighter, of course).
Karate life skill #2: Confidence
Many new students are attracted to karate because it’s known to build confidence. Seeing the real results of your training as you work your way up through the ranking system is a great way to build self-esteem over time. Countless karatekas report how they surprised themselves with what they were capable of achieving. However, the biggest selling point may simply be learning complex and powerful martial arts techniques that most people only see in movies. Once you know how to fight, you gain the confidence to stand up for yourself. Now there are few competitors who win every match, but even defeats help you develop an internal sense of confidence that comes from respecting yourself for testing your limits, no matter the outcome.
Karate life skill #3: Self-Defense
Even if you never aim to be a regular competitor testing your karate techniques against others, karate is a great way to learn self-defense. Karate means the way of the empty hand, referring to how it developed during a time when weapons were banned in Okinawa by Japanese leaders. Mastering a martial art that doesn’t rely on weapons means that even when you’re not armed, you have valuable skills that can help you get to safety in a threatening situation. We hope you never need to seriously defend yourself, but the moment that you do, you’ll be happy you invested all those years in learning karate. Taking this one step further, karate can even help you learn how to avoid fighting in the first place, making the sport a triple threat of combat, self-defense, and violence prevention training.
Karate life skill #4: Humility
Many combat sports are known for high-profile fighters that talk a big game ahead of their fights. However, karate is a martial art built on respect and honor, so humility is considered a valuable virtue. If you’re into bragging about what you bring to the table, try training to be the G.O.A.T. in a fighting system that has existed for hundreds of years. More generally, putting your skills to the test through competition reminds you that there will always be someone stronger, faster, and more skilled than you. That doesn’t mean that training is pointless; being reminded that you’re not the greatest ever just helps you recognize that there’s much to learn from others. For that reason, your mentors, competitors, and fellow students deserve your respect. So celebrate your wins and learn from your defeats, but don’t let either one go to your head.
Karate life skill #5: Focus
Last but not least, karate has been reported to greatly improve focus and attention span. Not only is it a great outlet for energy and anxiety, but the sport requires intense focus to learn and perform complex combinations and techniques. Maintaining that focus may be challenging at first, but through consistent training, it can become second nature. In a world where attention spans are rapidly decreasing, this skill is invaluable and can be applied to countless other tasks in your life. Thanks, karate.