Of the many things that are too numerous to mention here, parents often are delightfully surprised on how karate positively effects nearly all parts of their children’s lives. Karate makes children stronger, better mannered, kinder, smarter, and happier with their further development.
1. Respect – The one virtue that karate-do holds is a profound observance and manifestation of respect. Parents and teachers often suggest that there is a lack of the respect shown in young people, today. In karate-do, there is no choice in learning to show continued respect. It was once said by a karate sensei, if not for so much respect in karate-do, we would be engaging in very aggressive behavior. What we understand, do, and teach in karate is even those who we do not align with at any given time, in the dojo, at home, and at school, showing respect is one, very essential, duty of a karate practitioner.
2. Confidence - Learning karate-do takes something nested inside one that is not always nurtured in other activities. Karate is not a team sport, it is not natural at first, and is essentially learning how to become a humble combative artist. That means one has no one to blame in times of frustration, one must step into an element of the unknown to accomplish learning something unlike anything else, and a karate student must learn to face someone in ways that many will never understand. This all builds confidence that propels strength and understanding, and teaches to take personal responsibility throughout their lives.
3. Increased mental capability – We understand from psychology, academics, and from observing the effects of karate education, the ability to learn and grow continues often beyond anticipations. For everyone, most profound in younger people, the effects of karate training create circuitry in the brain that would mostly not exist without cultivation. The learning of movements, the terminology, hand-eye-coordination, distance and depth perception, proper kinesiology, and the strong aspect of focus is something unlike anything else, but to learn and do karate properly, that is what it takes. This makes the mind more robust, more curious, and makes everything else easier to do and learn.
4. Physical strength – Unlike most physical activities, karate training refrains from isolating development of the body, like many other physical activities, for robust performance of the entire body. In fact, karate trains muscle directly and indirectly right down to the muscles that control eyes. Karate emphasizes a large range of motion and the continuing development of the entire body working together.
Practicing karate makes the body stronger, more durable, adapted to healing faster and more resistant to disease. Studies prove, karate people have lived even three times longer than their fellow countrymen throughout history. They also lived better because karate strengthens the bones and muscles helping in digestion and circulation. Students benefit from not only being able to defeat others physically, but often look and feel better than they would without karate training; this is developed considerably beginning during childhood.
5. Awareness- For many adults we see that young people are often consumed by electronics or other devices that keep them from not only experiencing much of the non-cyber world, but often making the world dangerous. In karate, focus remains a corner stone. Karate practitioners must learn to pay attention to everything, at all times. The concept of “lingering mind” (zanshin) and total awareness becomes something instilled in being alert, which not only helps student with mental preparedness, but increasing elements such as attention to detail; situational awareness; and quick reflexes. Whether during driving, sports, or walking down a low-lit sidewalk, greater awareness, taught in karate, makes the world safer for everyone.
6. Self-Defense – Among the many purposes we practice karate for, self-defense remains the real intent. True karate teaches effective self-defense and children learn the psychology and physicality of attackers and how to understand aggression from an intelligent and practical point of view. Not only learning to physically protect themselves against anyone, they learn the tools to avoid entering into a negative situation in the first place. If not for anything else, learning karate, for this reason, may save ones’ life.
7. Discipline – Learning karate is not easy and there is no real secret other than having a good instructor; it takes hard work. In learning karate students learn that nothing they do in karate will ever be perfect. However, they learn to continue to make progress and try to become better. Karate artists are often known to be relentless in accomplishing their goals, often not satisfied without becoming the best that they could be. Young people involved in karate often can take a look at their progress and incorporate discipline as part of their character permanently.
8. Cultural understanding - Because our tradition is of Eastern decent, the Shotokan Karate Dojo incorporates Eastern cultural understanding. Much of the language, philosophy, and history is all part of learning karate-do. With further understanding of the purpose of effective karate, it gives students a greater ability to understand a wider grasp of other cultures and the extent of humanity. This becomes important in learning combative arts because aggression can come from people that know and understand culture, the environment, and the human experience very differently. Moreover, to understand the effectiveness of defensive combat, we should not only learn the how but the why.
9. Community – Among many groups in society, karate artists retain a respect of both each other and others who do not train. The is a brotherhood/sisterhood of people who dedicate some of their life to being a karate artist, and a self-driven motive to being a better person. When karate-ka all train under the same ideals with the willingness to take on the seriousness of learning karate-do, they become more than peers, they become fellow karate artists. The strong respect and bonds that become part of our fellow karate artist becomes something highly honored. Not only for a local community, but because karate is practiced the world over, karate relationships form worldwide, and often for life. For children, very few things bring friends and relationship so close together as the karate community.
“Of all things I could have given my children, karate has the most benefits. It was not one thing, it was a start to many gifts. It’s even hard for me to imagine them not having karate as part of their lives” – Parent of karate-ka.