What is Karate ?
A strange question to ask you may say, the fact is everyone, from the new beginner that enters the Dojo for the first time, to the experienced instructor with a number of years already committed to training and teaching, each will have their own concept of what Karate is and what benefits it has to offer.
Over the years we have all heard many reasons for a person wanting to start Karate, everything from a desire to get fit, lose weight, want to learn how to fight / look after themselves, want to learn how to control their emotions etc.
Any time an individual starts a Karate program they have their own idea of what they expect it to be like; some anticipate the class will allow them to perform a whole abundance of fancy TV / Movie type techniques within the first few classes, “HA!” , when what they really need to understand is what co-ordination, self control and discipline really signifies for themselves in relation to everyday living.
Some think it is a way of impressing others by doing a Martial Art, and again others just want to try it out for themselves and be able to say –“Yes I took karate once”, and then there is always the few that actually just want to learn and understand what Karate is and has to offer.
Each one to their own, and so it should be.
Every instructor chooses their method of teaching – the way that he / she feels is the best way to project the image of Karate to the students, the discipline, the physical exercise, the camaraderie that we try to develop within the student body, the self discipline and self understanding that we are all looking for. The list goes on.
Many times an individual will start their training with a single objective in mind, but once they get an understanding of what Karate really has to offer they realize that what got them started in Karate is no longer the focus of what they are now pursuing, then their attitude and reason for training changes. They get a better understanding of their abilities and weaknesses. Within Karate training is something that many people are looking for, whether they admit it or not, it is a desire to know just how far one can push oneself, if our expectations and goals are set too low or too high, if we actually do have what it takes !
One thing that I try to impress on all of my students is the necessity of understanding and performing the basic techniques, after all the basic techniques are the foundation of the style, the focus of the basic techniques determines the outcome of the rest of the training. If the understanding of the basic techniques is poor – so shall the rest of the techniques be lacking, which will in turn slow down or permanently curtail progress.
Remember it is through basic techniques that we learn how best to use our weight and speed, which is why basics are the most important part of our Karate training. Without them there is no foundation to build upon.
The physical side of our training is very important also because a process of internal growth takes place when you make yourself work hard, and go beyond what you had pre-selected as your limit, the idea that we can do more than we ever thought possible is a key to the next level of understanding, and should be a goal for every Karateka.
Many aspects of our training are common to all styles of Karate, simply because when you get down to it, the same scientific principles of action / reaction etc apply, whichever style you choose to follow.
The difference between styles is and always should be clear, the students of a specific style should be proud of what they are doing and be able to stand out in a crowd, being noticed as a practitioner of that specific style, just by their stances, body movement and delivery.
Each and every style of Karate has something to offer; undoubtedly some have more than others. Unfortunately, some Karate styles that are ‘out there’ are made up of partially and often poorly understood techniques taught to the unsuspecting public by a self appointed instructor, who has in all truth half heartedly tried to copy other styles and use what he / she thinks are the strongest techniques from every style to make up the ultimate style for themselves.
This is of course a fantasy, it is not possible to look at an accomplished and bonafide style of Karate for a short time and steal their techniques. Just to be able to acquire a very basic understanding of any of the Traditional styles of Karate takes time and a tremendous amount of effort, hence one of the reasons for the grading to advance a student has built into it a time frame, a specific amount of hours of training in-between each and every grading is necessary before you are allowed to even attempt to upgrade. This time frame is to allow the student to advance their knowledge and technique along with the emotional aspect (ego).
Normally if you ask any true Karate student what is their level of understanding, the answer is “NOT ENOUGH”, and that goes for students and instructors alike.
I have always found comfort in knowing that my instructors are always studying and analyzing their own techniques, along with input from other sources, in an attempt to make it easier for their own students to gain an understanding, and of course bring their own techniques closer to perfection.
This alone has been a great driving force for me, just to know that there will always be more to understand and conquer, always room for improvement, no matter what level one has attained, There is always more, if one is willing to keep an open mind and allow the influence of your instructors to give direction!
I was told many years ago by my instructor – “Karate is a way of life, something that lasts a lifetime, (without getting boring), one should always enjoy life to the fullest and consider your Karate training a gift, a gift that is to be passed onto others.
Arguably the most well-known martial art in the world, Karate is a striking based fighting style that does not include grappling in its training. Relying on keen focus and a firm center of gravity, Karate teaches you how to strike correctly but more importantly that you must understand the reason behind your strike.
The Philosophy behind the practice
Karate is far more than just a style of fighting. It is a way to understand oneself and the world. The word Karate can be understood in English as “empty hand.” Empty hand has two meanings within the discipline. 1) Referring to a practitioner’s ability to fight empty handed or without weapons. 2) Empty hand is interpreted as containing Japanese Zen principles. In this regard, the empty hand refers to a person holding onto nothing except the perfection of one’s self and art of the style. By being like a quiet valley where every sound can be heard a person can remove the selfishness and wickedness within themselves and become an exemplary and spiritually fulfilled individual.
In this sense karate is not a martial arts so much as it is a training path to spiritual knowledge. In fact, a founder of one of the first schools of karate, Gichin Funakoshi, thought that practitioners would have to use their training at most once in their lives. Except for an instance where you must defend yourself to avoid personal harm, all other situations should be resolved nonviolently.
Why study Karate?
At Swift Current Karate Club, we endeavor to not only impart the techniques of Karate but also its philosophy. True strength is not the ability to cause harm, but the ability to remain calm and resolute in the face of adversity.
When the people of Swift Current decide to learn karate with Swift Current Karate Club they will learn:
If you live in the greater Swift Current area and are interested in taking a class with us then please feel free to contact us through phone or email. We look forward to training with you.