exploringkarate

I've been a keen karate student for 16 years, Shukokai and Shotokan, but there still seems to be no shortage of things to learn and explore. I'm hoping this blog will allow me to share my experiences and hear other martial artists thoughts.

Archive for Physical

Funakoshi’s Essence of Karate No.1

I’m reading a couple of Karate books at the moment, Iain Abernethy’s Bunkai-Jutsu and The Essence of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi.

The Essence of Karate is a slim little book and I’ve been reading a chapter and then having a think about what it’s important messages were. I read a chapter last night and Funakoshi was quite explicit at the end in setting out what he wanted martial artists to take on board.

I thought each chapter would provide good inspiration for blog posts so I decided to start reading again from the first chapter. The initial chapters set out how Karate originated so I was a little disappointed there didn’t seem to be an explicit idea to take away from the chapter.

In Chapter 1 Funakoshi writes about how Bodhidharma traveled from India to China and taught the priests of a Shaolin monastery. It seems that he was frustrated at his lack of progress which he felt was due to their poor physical strength. He came to realise that strength of mind and body was important to enable their studies.

I’m sure getting fitter is one of the things new students to Karate have in their minds as one of the benefits they’ll receive from their studies but perhaps it’s only later you start to realise that it extends further than just being able to do reps of punches and kicks. And for me it’s the development of mental strength, that wasn’t something I was looking for when I walked into the dojo, that is something I value greatly.

I’m not a priest but in my own way I’m looking for enlightenment. I want to be as good a person as I can be and my karate studies have given me strength of mind and body that help me every day to live my life. And perhaps Chapter 1 is giving me another lesson. Karate doesn’t yield all it’s benefits at a first hasty glance, it rewards it’s students who embrace it’s many facets.

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What keeps me coming back?

I sometimes find myself wondering what answer I would give if I was asked why I study Karate. Perhaps I don’t need to bother as I don’t think I’ve ever actually been asked. But what has kept me returning to the question was the fact that I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was specifically that I must enjoy so much to have kept me hooked for the past 15 years and I’m sure for many years more.

Recently I think I’ve come to a realisation that it’s not just one of two specific elements that I enjoy it’s a whole range of different things.

At a more superficial level I enjoy the more physical aspects, padwork, focus mitt work & sparring, for the surge of endorphins they provide and the opportunity to let rip a little.

I enjoy the physical challenge Karate training provides. Both the fitness to be able to execute multiple reps of combinations and kata to a high standard but the precise control of your body to get your body placement right all the way through a technique. That’s given me plenty of work to take away, particularly with my flexibility which is a big challenge.

I enjoy the mental and character building side. Whether it be having the mental determination to push a tired body to raise it’s game for the next kata. Or in response to more traditional training to accept the bashes youve taken and return with the determination to spot the punch or the kick coming earlier and improve my evasion and blocking.

I enjoy being a bookworm and researching different aspects to get new insights into how I can improve.

And I love the feeling that after everything I’ve learnt it feels like I’m still only just getting started and there is so much to learn and try and master.

What’s keeps me coming back is the fact that Karate feels like it’s become a big part of who I am day to day, week to week and has taught me so much more than simply how to punch and kick.

What keeps you coming back?