Benefits of Karate Training
One of the benefits I’ve gained from my martial arts is learning the ability to switch off from everything else and concentrate solely on my training. It’s all absorbing and as you bow into the dojo you have to leave any problems at the door.
Not focusing completely and allowing other thoughts to come into your mind (did I send that email, what do I need to do tomorrow) it all falls apart, and you forget what you’re supposed to doing. Not the best position to be in when your partner is about to step and punch you! And my partners always punch on target!!
In Wado-Ryu we learn ‘katas’; a set series of moves which we learn by rote. Think Karate Kid and the ‘wax on, wax off’. Kata training allows us to learn and perfect the moves by repeating them many, many times. We then develop the understanding of why we’re making these movements by learning the application of them.
Completing a personal development module for a management diploma I realised how deeply this training had conditioned me to be able to focus on the task in hand, whilst also being able to multi-task.
When we talk about a kata ‘move’, we’re actually referring to the physical act of moving potentially 3 limbs, simultaneously, adjusting our body weight, whilst pivoting our body around our centre line. When learning it for the first time there’s a lot of head scratching as you realise you’ve left a limb dangling by your side when it should be protecting your head!
This training teaches us to think of several things at once, putting them in order and completing them efficiently, effectively, and executing them properly. Whilst I’m talking about karate moves here I’m sure you can all relate this statement to your daily lives, personally and professionally.
Learning to switch off is important for our mental health as well. Life is much busier than it used to be, we have so many various channels of communication that it can become overwhelming. I sometimes wonder which one to look at first as all the apps have notifications alerting me to a message(s) which require reading and probably responding to.
The physical act of practising kata forces us to breathe, focusing on one move at a time. I’ve always been told, and now tell my students, don’t move onto the second technique until you’ve completed the first. This is just as relevant to our normal lives. Shortcuts do not progress us, they often throw other obstacles in the way that then have to be overcome, creating unnecessary delays.
We all need to find a mechanism that allows us to relax and rest our mind, whether it’s a physical activity, completing a crossword, reading a book or the act of meditation. There may be several, be sure to find what works for you and ensure you work in time for re-focusing your mind.