Self-Actualisation: Karate's Obvious Secret


For many, stepping into the Dojo and donning the white and black is the continuation of that elusive search for ‘perfection of character’, better technique, attainable skill and the mental calm that proceeds the enduring trial for the session.

From the first Kata to the many learnt thereafter Karate contains no secrets, only things not yet understood, left open to the imagination of the practitioner.

On the surface of the Karate training, to those not ready to receive the fullness of what Karate teaches, the physical and mental improvement is the goal. Beyond that, however, lies the greatest lesson for all who would strive on.

Indeed, Budo culture has a lot to answer for making these the prime goals along with ‘spiritual’ fulfilment.

A system based on self-sacrifice that was muddled with the term ‘for honour’ that has shone a bright a light on the many benefits of Karate practice, but not the main purpose.


Self-actualisation. The means in which a person is able to reach their full potential as themselves.

Not, as some might think, the way of being the best like someone else; merely a good imitator.

Self-actualisation is the final step in realising that everything that you want to come to you in this world can be of your making.

(Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet, there is nothing stopping you from reaching it)

If you choose to have a struggling Dojo, dwindling numbers, hardship in making ends meet, then that is all you shall have.

Social conditioning, and the conditioning within many Karate Dojo, will have you continually believe that reality.

That the only ‘respectable and honourable’ method of teaching is to live hand to mouth.

That you can only teach a small group, that you can only charge so much, and that you can only keep students for so long.

“Like attracts like” as they say, and the mind is a powerful tool in attracting all that you know.

However, so many of us don’t wake up and look at how far our Karate has come to be.

How much faster and stronger we are physically and how much our potential has grown.

We thank Karate for it’s gifts, when we do not realise that Karate was mainly the conduit in which to imbue yourself with the gifts within.

Resilience, persistence, drive and faith.

All along your journey Karate has led you along “the way” that tests you so that you can get a step closer to self-actualisation.

It has pushed you to conquer fear and doubt. To show you greater potential, and to free you from the ordinary imagination.

I will admit that it is not easy for some.

When you are told that you must obey and follow what you have been taught, then you are stifled from the freedom of thought that Karate can allow.

When you are simply told “That is just how it is” and you do not question this reality then you will stop progressing beyond what you know.

Also, if you are caught in a negative situation seemingly out of your control then that can certainly hamper your ability to look further - but it wont stop you.

All the great people who have existed in this world have gained self-actualisation, and they have allowed their mind the freedom of expression required to create the greatness, despite what hardships and adversity they experienced.

Bruce Lee was one such a man, who questioned everything he was ever taught, and who believed in himself to be far greater than anyone could imagine.

You could call it arrogance and disobedience - if he hadn’t actually put in the work.

Watch this video on YouTube about when a Karateka met Bruce Lee who then opened his mind to the possibilities in the martial arts.

Now take that lesson, apply it to your karate, and then, as has been repeated countless times by Great Karate Masters - apply what you have learned in Karate to your life.

If it isn’t completely clear consider this: Take a walk out into the forest, all that you see was created by nature over billions of years.

Now consider the mobile phone you take a picture with, the watch you use to check the time, the trainers that allow you to walk freely, the car that drove you there, on the roads that provide access from the house that shelters you, running on the elements of life itself - all of that was created from the minds of humans.

p.s. - It also has to be said that Luck can play it’s part in speeding up or slowing down your progress - just keep climbing that mountain!