Karate Ain't Your Crutch

Angry - Do more Karate. Frustrated - punch a Makiwara. Sad - another 5 Kata ought to do it. Family relationships breaking down - at least I have Karate.

Sounds familiar?

For some Karate is the default to life’s curve balls.

Stepping into the Dojo is like passing through a portal where one’s troubles vanish and for those 2 hours there is nothing else in the world except to train.

After feeling that rewarding glow from the hard work on the mat there is little that those troubles can do now to effect this happy soul.

The afterglow may last into tomorrow and hopefully to the next lesson.

If it doesn’t then it must mean more work needs done.

Home practice, jogging, long sessions in the gym - they will serve your Karate, and provide that space away.

They allow you to reduce stress and ‘log out’ for a while.

Perfect solution, right?

Well, is anything actually getting done about the issues that require disconnection from?

Or is Karate in this instance being used as a bypass strategy?

Bypassing comes in many forms.

The simplest is alcohol, drugs and consumerism.

Next there is escape in art and media - watching that film for the 15th time, or getting that Platinum trophy on your latest game.

More prevalent now we have a huge fitness industry filling in the gaps for those who don’t take up running, swimming and martial arts as their form of crutch.

However, when we are actively taking part in the last form of escape, the ever frequent trips to the gym, it’s not seen as being that bad, seeing as the physical activity will serve to improve your fitness, your mental health and your general happiness in life.

Aside from that, it can, and is used, as a form of escape from life’s worries because to deal with those would take more mental and emotional hard work than people are willing to give.

At least with fitness you can turn up, do what’s asked of you, or simply try and hit that personal best.

It is generally possible to tell when Karate is being used as a form of bypassing.

It is when, despite the amount of training and effort put in, the practitioner is still becoming unwell, is generally unhealthy, is tired yet still at the Dojo.

Or when the issues of life seem to keep mounting up and worsening, seemingly outwith their control.

It goes without saying this is not something to paint everyone with using the same brush.

There are, however, very common circumstances where a person is allowing life to happen to them, instead of taking responsibility.

In the simplest sense it is when with a little more work and effort can help avoid trouble with money, mishaps when travelling and errors with contracts.

In the more complex sense it is when with the right effort and work we can reduce the troubles in our relationships, our work-life balance, our mental and physical states.

So as the title states “Karate ain’t your Crutch” I am trying to help you realise that Karate can be a temporary crutch, but then become a skateboard that you are in control of.

Karate will not fix your problems, you will fix your problems - Karate is there to give support to you.

Karate builds mental strength and stamina, that can be put to good use to help tackle some of the harder issues of the self.

It can give you the physical ability and energy to apply your efforts in self help, self regulation and self discovery.

Karate training, when done right, can propell your life experience, increase your awareness, and allow you to understand the root causes of problems.

You can hopefully learn that some of life’s sucker punches actually come from how we create our world from within.

In the simplest way, either seeing life as a glass half empty, half full, filling up or overflowing.

Karate should also teach you how to see life, and yourself, as not static, or written in the stars, but of your own making and design.

Sure, you can’t predict getting sick, or that car ramming into the back of you, and you didn’t go a choose the suffering you may have endured in your life.

But you can make choices that will reduce those chances in the future, and you can create your destiny using the tools you have, which you will use Karate as the grinding stone to sharpen regularly.