Finding Courage with Karate

There is a well known saying about Courage and Fear:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to enter into the unknown despite it”.

In this post we will look at the purpose of Karate to learning self-defence and how Karate can be used as the tool required to build our self-confidence and feeling of safety.

Fear is the largest contributor to failure. In most cases, fear stops a person from undertaking a task before they have even begun. This could be because they do not have the required self-confidence in their own ability which leads to the fear that they will fail. One lesson that life has continued to teach us is that each person has the ability to undertake any task that they set their mind to.

So what is fear and how do we overcome fear?

Fear can be defined as an emotion that we feel when placed in a situation that we are inexperienced to deal with, not physically able to complete or falls outside our comfort zone. Fear leads to a person giving up that task or failing to complete it. if a person underakes a task and fails at it, they they have shown courage and in order to complete the task the next time they may require more physical or mental training. If the person gives in they they have shown a lack of courage.

To challenge a fear we need courage. Courage is the quality of spirit required by a person to overcome the fear that is blocking them from achieving their purpose. So whether a person aims to climb a mountain, start a business or raise a family, we substantially increase our ability to achieve at our purpose if we are able to summon the courage to challenge our fears.

Karate gives us courage by challenging our comfort zone.

In Karate we are taught the tolls required to defend ourselves so that others cannot take from us what we have worked so hard to achieve. Karate also teaches us how to challenge ourselves and how we can summon the courage required to achieve other goals we have set in life. One simple model used to show how this works is the Comfort, Stretch and Panic Zones Model.

We live the majority of our lives in our comfort zone. In Karate we constantly strive to train within our stretch zone. The Stretch Zone is where we can apply our learning’s, gain our experience and test our current physical and mental ability. In Karate this may be by sparring an opponent with a higher ability, performing Kata in front of our peers or continuing to work hard even at the point of exhaustion. By undertaking this training our comfort zone is increased and we are more easily able to summon courage to overcome obstacles and subside fear. The Panic Zone is this model is also extremely important. The Panic Zone is an important reason why a student takes up Karate in the first instance. This Panic Zone is the area where we have no control, where outside forces may takes us to a place where we have not chosen to be. This could be in a confrontation with a bully that could escalate into a fight or any other real-life situation that induces fear and panic. In Karate we train with the intent of being in a situation where we need to defend ourselves against real-life challenges. This gives us the result of increasing our comfort zones and pushing the panic zone further away. A well trained Karateka is in their comfort zone in a street fight or confrontation because they have a heightened understanding of the situation, a self-confidence in their mental and physical ability plus they have endless potential to summon the courage required to defend themselves if they are outnumbered or beaten.

Defending against a gang attackMr Miyagi vs. Cobra Kai!

Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts on this topic or can draw on a situation where you have had to draw upon courage to overcome a real fear in life.