The Benefits of Karate
Karate is one of the most popular martial arts practiced in the world today and the benefits of karate training are numerous. If you visit many karate web sites you’ll see most talk about benefits such as fitness, confidence, self defence etc . . . it’s almost like we’re all working off the same script however they are true! Yes, not everyone will gain all benefits but collectively we see and hear the wonderful things that karate training has helped people achieve.
Karate training embraces highly dynamic movements using speed and power yet also combines slower, more graceful flowing moves involving skeletal control and applied muscular tension and all this results in a complete body workout using a great number of the body’s muscles, joints and organs that cannot be gained from most physical exercise regimes.
Karate training involves, what would appear to those new to this martial art, complex movements with rapid accelerations and decelerations often done at high speed and these elements make the training comparable to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise. These physical effects are one benefit gained through continual karate training but there are many more:
Probably the greatest motivator for people to start training in karate is they want to learn how to defend themselves. In this uncertain world, it’s easy to feel a sense of uncertainty and foreboding that one day you may be placed in a situation where you have to protect the lives of you and your loved ones. This may seem somewhat melodramatic but learning how to defend yourself is really in two parts – the physical and the mental. Yes, karate will give you ‘tools’ to use should a situation arise however the highest skill we can pass on to you is anticipating such a situation and avoiding the conflict altogether. Karate will give you a better ability to physically protect yourself, and surprisingly this ability doesn’t take a long time, however you’ll also gain a certain ‘street awareness’ and gain enough confidence to know how to win a fight without fighting.
Focus and Concentration
Karate training can involve a series of moves, or combinations, that may be unfamiliar to you . . . your body won’t be used to them and this is a natural thing. Amazingly though, with consistent training, you’ll adapt and you’ll be able to perform these routines and the reason is not only due to your physical body (muscle memory), but to a great degree the power of the mind. During a training class you’ll be focussed only on your body and your actions and will learn to tune out distractions . . . even tiredness! This focussing becomes easier the longer you train and the benefit is it can translate through to your normal life where the added concentration, and the ability to tune out other distractions, allows one to focus more on a particular job at hand and this is of particular relevance to students at school or university. Karate is indeed not just a physical art!
Building Self Esteem and Increasing Confidence
Probably one of the greatest benefits of karate training that we see is the increase both in a student’s self esteem and their confidence. Goal setting plays a part in this – setting a goal, putting their mind on it, doing what ever it takes and then achieving that goal and a good example of this is achieving a new grade (rank). This is particularly important for children but also for adults as it can instil a new found confidence not previously there. Also, the confidence gained through learning how to defend yourself can’t be understated especially for women. Knowing you have the ability to defend yourself will give you a freedom you never thought possible.
Sir Winston Churchill once said; “never give in, never give in, never, never, never …” and so it is with karate training. Perseverance is an invaluable character trait that’s the ability to ace a challenge, overcome it and move on . . . just as Churchill did with Britain’s effort in World War II. A new student watches complex moves performed by his or her seniors and thinks “I could never do that”. But life is a marathon not a sprint and by trying and trying again and again, that student can eventually perform those moves and in doing so they’ll progress deeper into their karate training and karate knowledge. Not seeing an obstacle as a road block but rather as an opportunity and taking the time to grab that opportunity, by constant effort and training, is a marvellous achievement in itself. Being able to help students persevere to achieve things they never thought possible is one of the primary goals of all instructors within the World Shotokan Karate-do Federation of Australia and one of the terrific benefits of karate training for participants.
An integral part of every training session at World Shotokan Karate-do Federation of Australia is a warm up routine. This is essential as it prepares the body for the training to follow. Because Shotokan karate uses a wide range of body parts for the execution of kicks, punches, strikes and blocks, it’s essential a student gains a good degree of flexibility in their muscles and joints and hence in our style we place great emphasis on gaining flexibility at every training session. Of course we’re all different . . . some people are naturally flexible whilst others are not and so progression with flexibility can occur at different rates. Being flexible allows one to perform head high kicks or spin 270 degrees to execute a punch but the added benefit is once one attains a certain level of flexibility it also reduces the possibility of injuries (such as torn muscles) that otherwise may exist. Being flexible also increases the range of motion of your joints and muscles, as well as improving balance and posture … another one the of the many wonderful benefits of karate training!
Fitness, Strength and Weight Loss
Karate training is a whole of body routine that is both an aerobic and anaerobic workout and at times can be comparable to an interval style of training (HIIT) routine. The karate student is constantly in motion and all these factors combine to burn off calories during a training session. This constant, and at times intense, continual moving, punching, kicking etc, will undoubtedly help a student lose weight but also, an increase of fitness and general body strength will follow. The good thing about karate training is that unlike running on a treadmill or riding a bike for hours on end, karate classes aren’t boring and as well you’ll gain a lot of other benefits as detailed on this page.
Classes at World Shotokan Karate-do Federation of Australia clubs include many types of exercises and drills that improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance. They help build muscle strength and flexibility and are ideal for anyone wanting to improve their overall fitness.
Improved Reflexes and Coordination
It goes without saying that having good reflexes and co-ordination can assist us in some many ways. Driving a car, catching a ball, being able to perform that new dance craze . . . all these things rely on one having good reflexes and coordination and whilst some have these abilities at a more honed degree than others, they can be improved. Whilst World Shotokan Karate-do Federation of Australia classes may use specific drills to improve reflexes and coordination, the wide range of techniques we practice in our normal training sessions will definitely improve these factors as well as giving you better balance and posture. As well, karate training tends not to favour a left side or right side, we train the whole of the body as well as performing multiple techniques at the same time giving a whole new meaning to the word ‘multitasking’.
Karate is a very disciplined martial art more specifically, self discipline. In fact it’s one of the major tenets upon which the art is based and one we demand from all World Shotokan Karate-do Federation of Australia students. It’s the nature of the training that the karate exponent is disciplined with the use of the skills they are taught as some can be extremely dangerous. In our classes we are disciplined in everything we do . . . from bowing to an opponent, referring to the teacher as “Sensei” and not showing any bad temper or ill feeling whilst practising. Many things like this may seem unusual to the newcomer but with time they become second nature and the benefit is the student whilst confident in their abilities, is disciplined and humble in their approach to others.
These are just a few benefits of karate training. Make no mistake you can and will achieve some or all of these plus a number of others BUT you only get out what you put in. That sounds a bit cliched but Shotokan Karate training is a strong, disciplined art and if you don’t put in the effort – train regularly, commit to hard training and focus – you’ll achieve very little. Contact us for more information.