Learning Martial Arts has always been on top of my list since I saw Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) back in 1984. After watching the movie with a bunch of friends I went home and asked if I could join karate classes and there was a volley of optimistic “she’ll grow out of this phase” responses “Join the basketball team” “Play badminton like your mom and dad!” “Swimming? No?” “Girls don’t learn karate! Ladies don’t fight!” I kept persisting every time the “You should play sports” topic arose. I was so dead keen on learning karate but no girls don’t fight, it’s not ladylike. Eventually I gave up ever learning seeing how stubborn my father was on not letting me go for classes.
Somewhere during my teens I found a karate manual. Hey! wasn’t that how Daniel Larusso started learning karate? From a manual? So it began… page by page… in the privacy of my room I tried out punches and kicks (obviously not the right way and we grew up in a YouTubeless era) hoping that I was getting it right. A friend borrowed that book and that was the last I saw of it. My DIY Karate classes came to an end. The dream lingered at the back of my head.
Now out of college and working, perhaps I could possibly save and pay for my own classes. Yes, that was a sound plan til I walked into a teak sofa that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and I dislocated my toe. The classes came to an end. Took me a good six months because doctor Me set the toe right.
Three years ago, all hopes of learning karate was lost til I shared a friend’s post. A couple of friends did start class and told me that since I shared the post I should start too. I asked my husband if I could and here I am still going for classes. Well, I did take a year off.
Karate has helped me in so many ways and I highly recommend classes for everyone.
After an incident (fortunately very minor incident) that took place day before yesterday, I can’t stress enough on how important it is to know karate or any form of self defence. I am partial to Karate hence the harping on about it.
I was at the beach with my husband and a friend. We decided to have street food. The three of us stood by the stall waiting for our turn when a couple of men walked towards us. One of them had a daughter with him. As they approached us, the man with his daughter turned his back to me and started walking into me. I moved back a couple of steps and so did he. I moved sideways and he moved again, close enough to ensure there was contact both times. I moved the third time and raised my arm ready for him to make a move. He didn’t disappoint and he got a sharp elbow to the back. He spun around and I asked him where he was going. He put his head down and walked away. Smooth! no need to involve neither husband nor friend. I had enough confidence to handle myself.
Karate classes are definitely paying off. I can think of so many reasons why Karate is important but I’m only going to elaborate on what I feel are the main reasons and why I don’t want to quit.
#1. My main reason being anger management. If you have anger management hassles this is the best way to control anger. You can’t go out there and slap anyone you feel like but it teaches you control. It teaches you how to stay calm when people are in your face, pushing you to levels even you didn’t know you had. You stay calm because you are a karateka and Karate is all about discipline.
How I wish I had to start classes earlier than I did. I can safely vouch for the anger management part because I have trouble controlling my anger especially when I get pushed beyond my limits. I have what is known as the “Hulk syndrome” I blank out and I have no recollection of what was said and done during that time. In the past decade there have been a few incidents that drove me over the top but I was not training then. I usually walk away when I feel that surge of anger but sometimes it’s not possible to walk away. Karate has given me that control. I still lose my temper but I keep well within limits now and no one gets hurt. I do encounter an occasional irritant and when things get heated I do katas in my head and I keep telling myself “I’m a Karateka, I will stay calm”. It’s worked like a charm! However, there are those stray moments and people who get on my last nerve and I am learning control. However, I don’t “just” get angry, I do make it very clear that I am reaching the end of my tether and if someone decides to continue pushing me, they do so at their own risk and I tell them so very clearly. I’m definitely better at keeping my anger levels down now than I was my entire life and I have karate to thank for that.
If my mom was still around she’ll probably list out the number of things that got broken in the house because I lost control of my temper. A teak cupboard got cracked because I kicked the door with my knee (I was not training then) and the refrigerator, the door came right out I don’t know what I did but the door broke. I was incredibly puny and seeing that damage no one would have thought it could match my size. The number of plates and glasses that were smashed. Yes, definitely not proud moments for me and I’m pretty sure there must have been more damage done in that house but I can’t remember anything more.
#2. Keeps you fit. If you’re asthmatic this is a good way to get rid of that wheezing. Carry your inhaler along in case you can’t handle the exercises but after a few months of training you probably won’t need to look at the inhaler. I’m asthmatic and training has helped there too.
#3. Self defence. You can feel safe at all times. You may not always have enough time to reach for a pepper spray or grab your taser but you can definitely be fast enough to throw in a few punches and kicks. You will definitely cause a few injuries and there are high chances you will be safe at the end of it. We live in times when no one is safe. If you’re a girl then you need to know self defence to protect yourself if you’re alone. If you’re a guy, you still need to know self defence in case you need to protect yourself or your partner. It’s just something that will always be a useful skill to acquire.
#4. Helps your reflexes and reaction time. I don’t think this needs much elaboration.
#5. Builds up confidence and not just the way you carry yourself but all round confidence but I do admit, I am incredibly shy so this is still work in progress but again, I’m far better than what I was before.
#6. The Meditation. This may not happen at every class but when it does happen it leaves you feeling calm and makes you feel like you can take on anything. This is another thing that contributes in anger management.
#7. Helps keep depression at bay.
#8. Helps overall fitness. Tones the body. After training a little more seriously than I did when I started, I have dropped a few extra pounds. Still a long way to go but yes, it helps with weight.
#9. Age doesn’t matter. You may not be able to do a complete split or you may not be able to kick higher than a foot above the ground but don’t let that deter you. Just keep practicing and you will get there with determination and grit.
All I can say is learning karate is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made. Please do consider self defence classes of some sort, it doesn’t have to be karate. More importantly, stay safe!
Poster in our Dojo