Purpose of the Black Gi Grading

Here at Brisbane Goju Karate the karateka is given a choice at 3rd kyu (brown belt in our system) whether to attempt a black gi grading. A black gi grading, as the name suggests, allows the karateka to wear a black coloured gi (karate outfit) during training in classes. We would normally wear a completely white canvas gi.

The Purpose of the Black Gi Grading

As I have mentioned in the post on the purpose of karate a karateka begins training in the karate system with a particular purpose or intent in mind. What the black gi grading begins to undertake is a process of committing the karateka to a purpose that is outside of their original intent in training. It is a challenge that they are unaware of until requested to attempt. During training they are obviously exposed to the thought of a black gi grading as they would have seen higher ranked karateka wearing black gis that had successfully passed the grading. Regardless of possibly hearing about the grading, there is an enormous element of entering into the unknown, which we know requires tremendous courage. Overall the purpose of the Black Gi Grading is to challenge the karateka in a way that they have never chosen to be challenged in the past. The purpose of this is to train the mind and provide a platform for the development of skills that are required in times of panic, extreme stress and guaranteed failure. My simple way to explain this is that you are forced into a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ environment and to pass you must attempt to fight through the flight response.

If you have any specific questions about the Black Gi Grading please ask them in the comments section below and we will answer them more specifically.

Chris Cappellone Kohai

After last months Black Gi Grading I asked the students that attempted the Black Gi Grading to write down their thoughts and provided some questions to stimulate their minds after the aftermath of the torrid event.

This is what Kohai Chris had to say.

The Black Gi Grading – Chris Cappellone

What sort of special training did you undertake to prepare for the Black Gi Grading?

Training for the Black Gi Grading was something we were informed by Shihan Jamie would help us, but by no means get us through. It is a grading that we were told ‘you cannot prepare for’. When you haven’t seen one of these grading in the flesh (like myself, Mark and Michelle Sempai hadn’t), it is very easy to get caught up in the magnitude because it is that fear of the unknown. Although obviously physical training and fitness is absolutely critical, there is a large side, more like a majority of the preparation, which is more so mental.

Physical training entailed sprinting, loads of pad work, Bunkai and Kihon. Training really needed to have high work rates, with the aim of reducing the rest and recovery periods in between. So pad sessions and sparring helped in this regard as well as conditioning training. When completing any of these, we would have a set work rate time, and a set rest time. Then every week, increase the work period whilst also decreasing the rest period. The biggest improvement in fitness was especially noticed after a few weeks of short sprint training.

Mentally however, the lead up was tougher than any of the sessions we completed. It is the fear, the doubt, the thought of failure and the unknown which really makes you question your abilities and very thing you have ever done, in karate and life in general. It is extremely difficult to convince yourself that all will be okay, when you know (or dont know) what you are up against. Conversations with Shihan and Sensei inspired and aided me to push, on as well as the support of my brother, Michelle Sempai and family.

Music played a massive role in my preparation, just finding that song which had more than bass and heavy metal, but with lyrics that inspire. Having said that though, there is only so much in music that can help you. So there were a few nights of google searching inspirational quotes and videos. I had a print of these quotes and would read them before bed most nights.

These were my two favourites:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do” – Eleanor
Roosevelt

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear” – Rosa Parks

The first of these quotes I could really relate to. The Black Gi Grading was always something I felt I couldn’t do, so when I found this quote it made me realise that the fear and doubt associated with the grading was reason to actually do it. It sounds like it was cut and dry, but there is so much more to it that is difficult to express. There are I guess, massive lapses of confidence and questioning of one’s self throughout the lead up to the grading, moments where you feel like “yep I can do this” and then later that same day, or even hour “what am I doing, I cant do what they have done”. It is a huge mental battle, but one which puts so much of life into perspective.

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Images provided by Cookoo Design & Photography

 

What were you feeling the morning of the Black Gi Grading?

 

The morning of the Black Gi Grading was horrible. This massive day had finally arrived and the old ‘butterflies in the stomach’ could only be described as more of swarm of wasps. It all seems like a blur. It was kind of a relief for the Saturday morning to finally be there. I just threw on a few psych up beats and read a few quotes and really just tried to tell myself that this was it. It wasn’t a good feeling at all, but really, it’s all worth it when you’re done and dusted.

Was there any point throughout the grading that you did not think you could make it and what allowed you to find the strength to get through?

black-gi-hr-0490There were so many points during the grading that I questioned whether I was going to be able to finish. The tile break was probably the point when I was most doubtful. I knew I had to break the tiles, but the thought of failing this, which would be the end of my grading, was something that was tough to get my head around. I had never done anything of the sought, didn’t know how to go about it, and knew I had to find something. I remember standing there looking down at the tiles closing my eyes and running through some quotes in my head. Its corny, but I actually recited a quote from the movie the matrix. It was something I felt really applied to myself as a person and I stood there closed my eyes and the little voice in my head went “you have to let it all go, fear, doubt and disbelief, free your mind”. I opened my eyes pretty much as my hand was almost at the tiles I think, I’m not exactly certain, and they smashed. I couldn’t believe it. I actually had a little smile to myself and thought, I can do this, I can finish this grading. It was at this point where I really felt that I could make it happen.

How would you describe how you were feeling when the Black Gi Grading was finished?

At the end of the grading I was emotional to say the least. I remember standing, listening to Hanshi Marty’s speech, with tears making there way to the surface. I never thought I would actually be there. And when Shihan Jamie presented me with the Black Gi top, it was a feeling of disbelief, but actually a good disbelief! I had actually achieved this ‘thing’ that I had on so many occasions thought I couldn’t. It is really hard to describe. You can succeed in so many things in life, but as I have come to realise after doing this grading, nothing will ever compare or relate it. The Black Gi Grading will be a day which will never be forgotten.

What advice would you give to someone that was going to attempt the Black Gi Grading in the future?

I guess the first thing would be to say that you just have to do it! I had never thought 3 years ago when I started karate, that I’d get to yellow belt, let alone be wearing a black gi. I think my piece of advice would be just to try and tell yourself that it has to be done. It is very easy to start to question why? Why am I doing this, why am I freaking out, and all of the what ifs? Im not saying I didn’t, because all of those thoughts went through my head every day. It’s just a very personal quest I suppose. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to make it without the support and belief of Shihan, Sensei and all of the Sempai.

So another piece of advice is to realise that although you will be up against this massive force of black, they want you to succeed just as much as yourself or anyone else. I think that constant discussions about the grading helped in realising the road ahead. I know I had countless chats with my brother over a coffee about the black gi, and all of the associated thoughts and fears that came with it in the lead up. If I didn’t have him to chat to I guess things would be a lot different. So I suppose, when you look at it, you are constantly learning by seeking advice from others. Just like anything realIy, its a matter of constant reflection and analysis of the situation, because, sometimes it might be something trivial that someone says, but becomes a cornerstone in the way you operate. It is hands down the mental battle which is most difficult to grasp in preparation for the grading, so I guess you could say you need to mentally train just as much as you physically train. I found that through discussion, I was able to realise a lot about myself, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, because it aids you to understand yourself as a person and where you want to be or what you want to change.

How would you describe the way the Black Gi Grading has changed you?

It is still sinking in really. I cant believe that the first Monday training after the grading I could actually wear a black gi and although it was amazing, it seemed very strange. The grading has undoubtedly changed me. I’m sure there will be further realisations as time goes on, but I suppose the biggest discovery is one of overcoming the force of anxiety, fear and stress at the thought of such a task. When I look back, I actually can’t believe that it is all over. I remember the constant feelings and the gut-wrenching notions of facing a dojo full of unbelievable martial artists. And so the realisation is that those feelings were probably the worst I have ever felt to date in my life, so what then is really ever going to be a problem. My outlook on work, uni and life in general has changed or matured dramatically. It is difficult to fully describe the way the grading has changed me, because it isn’t a tangible thing, and with time, I will undoubtedly reflect and realise even more changes. Karate has really changed me into someone I never thought I could have been. I had really started over the last year or so to notice significant changes in my personality after I saw some old photos, and the black gi cemented these transformations I guess. Aspects of fear, doubt, failure and disbelief were all things I struggled to come to grips with. But now after finishing the black gi grading, you begin to realise that nothing really matters and all of those feelings can’t stop you from doing something, its just a matter of acceptance and doing that ‘thing’ despite those apprehensions and feelings. And no matter what – you survive. It sounds arrogant and cocky in some respects, but you start to believe in yourself, which is something I never really did.

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Paleo Diet for Karate

I recently stumbled upon this great infographic created by Greatist which does an excellent job at summarising the Paleo Diet.

For the past few months I have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet, and furthermore the Paleo Lifestyle (as diet is just one element of this). The results spoke for itself and echoed with many of you in my post on .

Since returning from my holiday in America I have maintained this Paleo Diet style of living and eating and today would like to evaluate it from the perspective of the karateka. Essentially creating the framework for the ultimate Karate Diet.

The Paleo Diet for Karate

Since beginning this Paleo Diet I have found my performance in my Goju Ryu Karate improve in the areas of endurance, strength and focus. I have discovered that I can effectively use fat as my primary energy source and regularly consume both complex carbohydrates such as Sweet Potato or Yams post training or fruits such as banana, berries etc the night before to ensure my glycogen levels in my muscles are ready for a big workout or training session.

Fueling on fats for karate has its benefits in that alot of the time that we are at training we are oscillating between high intensity and low intensity movement. Especially during the beginning of our training session when we are warming up with pushups, situps, squats and core exercises my heart rate maximises and I am working my muscles to the point that I need to work in that glycogen energy state. Then as training for martial arts gets into Kihon Ido and Kata we regularly move from high intensity explosive movements to almost no movement as we sit in seisa and listen to our instructor explain the mechanics of the movement and its application to generating power.

Other changes I have noticed include better endurance for training after the warmup. So when I have completed all those pushups, situps and squats I can transition more effectively into Kihon Ido and don’t suffer from the usual muscular fatigue that would take up to 10 minutes to wear off. I have also found that I am less effected by my blood sugar levels as my body is constantly pulling energy from my fat stores.

Running on fat does have its issues from time to time. If I go too low on the carbohydrate intake I can really hit a wall. This makes movement more lethargic and I feel completely wiped out after training. This has been overcome by making the switch from complex carbs to like sweet potatos to more available energy found in fruits. The change can be felt within minutes as my muscles are refueled.

At the end of the day. I find the Paleo Diet for Karate to be great and I will continue down this path. There are other great benefits around sleep, training outside of karate including weights and high intensity interval training that I will explore in further detail as I continue along the paleo path.

So if you are playing around with Paleo let us know how it is working for you in the comments section below. If you are looking for the Paleo Diet for Karate or just looking for some ultimate karate diet then I highly recommend giving it a try for yourself. Some great resources to get started include reading Robb Wolf’s and reading his blog. I also really enjoy what Mark Sisson has to say.

So give it a try and let us know how you go.

paleo-022012/” target=”_blank”>The Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

Karate, diet and weightlifting for the holiday body

I am going to make a lot of people jealous writing this but never the less when you are preparing to head off on a one month holiday to America you need to share your secrets and tips on what you did to lose weight, get leaner, stronger and have more energy.

As a karate ka in Goju Ryu I feel it is my duty to test the limits of what can be achieved when we put our mind to something (albeit with the correct knowledge and tools). Bruce Lee once said “Knowing is not enough, you must apply, willing is not enough, you must do” and I have had a poster of that quote on my wall or written down somewhere since I was young. I haven’t always stuck to this mantra at everything in life but when I get that burning passion to succeed at something I could pretty much bottle it and slap that Bruce Lee quote to it.

Ok, so what was my burning passion, my purpose, my goal. I wanted to be fit, strong and looking my best for my first ever “tourist trap” visit of America. I don’t have any before photos but I have included a graph of my weight below (I use the Target Weight app on my iPhone to track some key metrics to help me achieve these weight loss goals).

But essentially the story goes that I hit 87kg, the ‘oh shit’ moment where I realised that I had only about 6 weeks left before I was heading to the States and was no where near what I wanted to weigh or how I wanted to look. Time to implement the usual karate and weight loss plan. I started by watching what I was eating, and running as well as a bit of weights and skipping. This worked until about the 1st of May when I was running up the Mount Gravatt Lookout, hurt my knee and spent the rest of the day hobbling like a cripple around the office at work.  An expensive trip to the physio that included acupuncture, some hard rolling with the forearm (give me foam rolling any day) and they shaved my leg for crying out loud!  Anyway, it  revealed that I had swollen my ITB (that pretty important band that runs up the outside of your leg and stops you from collapsing sideways when you walk) and that I should lay off the running for a week before attempting another 8 kilometres run up some enormous hill somewhere (I never died try that hill again).

ITB injury from running

Needless to say, I wasn’t very happy with this. So I decided to do a bit of research and find out why this happened to me and what I could do to avoid it. What I was about to find out would be one of the single best discoveries of my nutritional/fitness exercise and overall health life since starting Goju Ryu Karate. I stumbled upon a podcast by the fat burning man Abel James  who had a podcast called ‘What is the Paleo diet‘… well, I took one look at it, thought, what the hell is the Paleo Diet and had a listen. Boomtown! I hit the jackpot on that one. Thanks ITB for failing on me. Also you can see exactly where I implemented Paleo, just above 13 May at 84kg’s. You can also see how I was able to control my weight fluctuations (that I thought were normal once I started cutting out grains, wheat and lowering carbs in favour of healthy fats).

So I am not going to go into ‘Paleo’ or anything here just that I found it and it worked and it fit into my Goju Ryu Karate lifestyle and philosophy seamlessly. Finding this podcast then led me onto Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and from Mark Sisson I stumbled across his post on building muscle using Mehdi’s stronglifts.com 5×5 approach.

Eat, Lift, Eat! Karate time!

The result is that I cut down on my cardio, spent less time on exercise, ate more, felt less hungry (then my karate diet from a previous time) and spent less time in the gym lifting heavier things then I had ever lifted before. This allowed me to strip down to 80kg’s (as of today) and perform a lot better during my karate classes.

From today’s post, I encourage you to take a look into incorporating Paleo into your lifestyle, whether that is Goju Ryu Karate or for any other weight loss or strength gaining goals, or just give it a try. I am happy I stumbled upon it and I am sure the word about it will continue to spread like wildfire. Additionally, the concept of lifting heavy things, doing ‘less’ cardio for weight loss and just burning more energy doing things that you enjoy, like Karate! will stick with me long after my trip overseas!

Until I return, enjoy your training and if you have any other tips on what has worked for you in regards to karate and weight loss or just achieving your goals in general, feel free to share them below.

I’m outta here and will be returning in July ready for some more awesome karate good times! Probably going to have to go through my karate diet again too 😛

Karate dead lift

I know it ain’t pretty but you gotta work hard!

Goju Ryu Karate t-shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Losing Weight in Karate

Peak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceedPeak of my fitness to date and what I plan to exceed

Now that the new year of karate training, or whatever martial arts style you are into, many of your will be struggling with getting back in shape after the Christmas/New Year binge. This most definitely includes myself, and it sucks big time. You may have worked extremely hard, also like myself, getting in tip top condition for your end of year grading. Or in my case, the biggest grading I had after two years being my Nidan Grading.

So now that we have established that we are all hurting, you can’t get out as many pushups as before, you can feel your new gut getting in your way during your sit ups and you are generally more tired and lethargic, sleeping more, drinking more and eating more. We need to find a way to put the brakes on and get this karate journey back on track.

Hopefully, my list below will help you with this. Now I am no dietitian, personal trainer, doctor or astronaut. What I am is someone that has previously seen results through the following list of tips:

Weight Lose Tip 1. Know Your Daily Recommended Calorie Intake

Naturally, there are more calorie/kilojoule calculators on the internet than there are fast weight lose schemes. With a little bit of research (I wouldn’t go past your countries health department/government website such as The Department of Health and Ageing for Australia) you should be able to come up with a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is how much energy your body needs to survive if you become a couch potato and a Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) that suits your age, height and current weight. The DRI adjusts based on your activity level and will give you a calorie intake to maintain your current weight.

Weight Lose Tip 2. Set SMART Goals

Once we know this we can set a daily/weekly calorie deficiency target that is SMART. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (or words to that effect).

A good SMART objective for weight loss for a myself as a young, fit martial artist would be something like this

“Lose 5 kilograms in 3 months by reducing my calorie intake by ~400 calories per day on average”

Obviously it is specific as we have figures in there, it is achievable as it is within the range of a healthy calorie deficit for someone my age and fitness level. It is achievable as I can lose the weight and still have a healthy BMI. Realistic as I have done it before and timely because we are doing it in 3 months.

Weight Lose Tip 3. Make it Your Decision

It is all good to have a plan, set smart objectives and tick all the right boxes. What we ultimately need is the personal drive and discipline to go through with it. This won’t work if you are not doing it for the right reasons. You may need to reevaluate why you are doing this before you start. If it is to achieve your goal of passing your next grading then that will be a good motivator and one that your instructor will support. If it is because someone else is telling you to do it you may end up applying a negative association to  the journey you are about to embark on. This in my opinion happens a lot with personal trainers. You pay someone to push you but when they are not around you have no desire to push yourself. You cannot outsource will to a personal training. As martial arts instructors we aim to change your discipline and behaviour by giving you the will to do things outside the dojo and not just in the training arena.

Find strength in yourself and you increase your changes of success.

Weight Lose Tip 4. Find Support With Your Friends and Family

Next step is to get someone else on board that you can be accountable to. Your friends and families, or even work colleagues, people that you see on a daily basis or in regular intervals will help you with this. I would recommend someone that does not have too close of a relationship as they may be soft on you and allow you to take shortcuts. Also it is good to talk about goals we have set ourselves with other people as it goes from being an idea to a choice.

Weight Lose Tip 5. Change Your Diet

Now we come to the bits that will actually help you to get the weight off, and hopefully to keep it off.

Most karate students or martial artists are already getting a good amount of exercise in their weekly routine of training. What is lacking is the discipline within our diet.

First thing first, research the foods that you currently eat and find out their serving size, calories per serve and compare that to your target daily calorie goal. You will be surprised how many calories are a serve of honey, or in two slices of white bread or a latte. This gives you a very good point of reference especially once you get a grasp on how many calories you burn running or riding a bike or training in karate for 90 minutes. It starts to become very apparent that it is easier to not consume the energy than it is to burn it off.

My personal strategy is to increase my protein intake (tins of tune, chicken breast, kangaroo, protein powder supplements, egg whites, soy milk) along with fibre (psyllium husk, whole grains), minimise my carbohydrate intake by cutting out simple carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Do some research on the glycemix index (GI) of food as this measures the rate at which the your body absorbs energy and impacts blood sugar levels, insulin and has a huge impact on apetite, hunger pains and the underlying desire to eat.

Find some super foods such as freeze dried acai for antioxidants, white tea to boost your metabolism and and get stuck into your vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, spinach and drink the recommended daily amount of water. A lot of emphasis on water and magnesium to help the body to absorb the water and use it for greater functionality.

Weight Lose Tip 6. Lift the Weights

To substitute the new diet we are going to take on, we will opt to lift some weight so that we grow those muscles (which will feed off the high protein and carbohydrates) and ultimately increase our overall basal metabolic rate as our body requires more energy to be a couch potato with those new muscle fibres to feed.

For someone that is new to weights, the easiest way to begin is by working the large muscle groups by doing bench press, squats, dead lifts and chin ups. Anything that will get those large muscles pumping. Also some of the smaller muscle groups such as the abdominals, calves, triceps will be worked during your martial arts class and you may not have the appropriate recovery time for those muscles to repair themselves between weight training days.

If you are unable to gain the equipment to work these muscle groups I recommend a martial artist to research kettlebells as they require minimum space, can be done in short training sessions and give a complete workout for the body.

Weight Lose Tip 7. Implement a Cardio Routine

Skip, run, cycle or swim either before class, after class, in the morning, when you get home from work. Anytime you get a spare 30 minutes to an hour, you can do this at a low pace just to get your heart pumping into the fat burning zone. This may add up to an additional 300 calories burned per session and will be another stake in the coffin of the Christmas gut.

Try not to overdo cardio for weight lose and follow the general rule of 80% of weight lose coming from diet and 20% from exercise. The greater the energy put into cardio exercise the more you start to use energy derived from within the muscles and this needs to be replenished usually by eating carbohydrates after exercise. So you can run a marathon a day but you need to up your carb intake to align with your activity level which negates the calorie deficit objective. Stick to long walks on the beach.

Weight Lose Tip 8. Measure Your Progress

If you don’t have a set of scales you will need to go out and buy some, find some, borrow some, beg for them. As part of our SMART objectives we had measurable and the scales will be the key factor in success or failure. If you do not measure you do not know whether what you are doing is working.

Measure your body weight whenever you want but keep it to a routine that has little variables that can effect it. Also only measure yourself once per day as there are too many factors that can change. This is why most people measure themselves after they wake up and after relieving themselves. Keep it consistent, do it daily where possible and track it on a graph or write it down, get an app on your smart phone or tell someone who can.

Weight Lose Tip 9. Give it Your Top Effort

Once you have the fitness you need to work harder to take advantage. Don’t leave anything in the tank.

If you find that the results don’t come straight off the bat, give it some time. This is not a fad weight lose diet, this is about changing behaviour so that when you have reached your goal you do not go back to the old ways and be back at square one.

Part of the journey of karate is learning about perseverance, determination and will. Think of it as part of your overall karate journey.

Weight Lose Tip 10. Results Equal Reward

After achieving the goal, you need to be rewarded. The weight lose itself will be reward enough, but you need something special that isn’t a binge fest. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break, enjoy the moment and show off the results to your friends and those that have supported you along the way. Be vocal and bask in the sunshine of success. This will also make you remember down the track if you ever find yourself off course what it feels like to give it your best shot and give you the motivation to get back on the fitness band wagon.

If you are still here reading this than thank you for your time. As always, you get inspired to write these based on events during the day. In this case it was speaking to one of our students who is attempting their 2nd kyu later in the year and looking themselves for inspiration to lose 10-15 kilos. I will go back through and re-link to more sources as I go to help you out.

But if you do have any further advice to add or want to talk about it feel free to comment below. I am more than happy to help and share some of the things that I have learnt after crawling the internet for information, applying it and getting great results.

Less is More

“Less is More” is a popular saying in the Brisbane Goju Karate dojo, one that is repeated by both James Duggan Shihan and Kain Johnson Sensei as often as Ichi, Ni, San. Usually in the context of movement, but with an unspoken relevance to intent and purpose. This post aims to explore this “less is more” concept and gain a better understanding of how it can improve our performance as a karateka.

I will start by exploring two other quotes that I have come across more recently when trying to understand “Less is More”.

The first quote

“I just carve away anything that doesn’t look like a lion, and I’m left with a lion” – Michelangelo

When we headed down the road to becoming a black belt in karate every action was to learn a new technique, increase our fitness or find a new height of mental strength. This is the journey to black belt, learning these basic techniques in order to give ourselves the best platform to mastery. If we are honest with ourselves, have trained hard with skill and an open mind then our instructors may reward our efforts with the black belt, the symbol that we have achieved the basics. In order to achieve mastery we now begin the journey of extraction.

Now for the second quote

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This sounds simple, right? Or is it possibly the most difficult task and a journey that a black belt karateka and any martial artist alike spend their entire lives trying to achieve. Removing inefficient movement requires the highest level of understanding of body mechanics, energy flow and process of thought. This decision can be simple but difficult to achieve or it can be difficult to even conceive and once identified by our instructors very simple to remove.

So what is the reward? “Less is More”.

In simple terms, by removing inefficiency of movement we can complete techniques faster or reduce the time spent on redundant movement. This translates into more time and less energy expenditure. Giving us increased performance.

And to finish up, a quote from me…

“Everything in life that we wish to attain is already within us. We just need to remove what we do not need and find happiness in what is left.”

For the karateka’s feel free to comment on a part of your karate that you have been working on improving and what you aim to get out of it.

For everyone else… what in your life have you removed and have ultimately been given more. You can’t pick bad stuff either like drinking or smoking, it has too be something that you have been doing because you thought it was good.

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.