Your Karate Stinks Only If You Do

By Sensei Dave Hanson

Your karate stinks only if you do.  A lot of people try to compare martial arts styles and say, “This one is superior because it does grappling”, or “That one is superior because they work with weapons.” It’s a tale as old as the martial arts themselves. Yet I propose to you that your martial art only works if you do.  That may seem like a revelation to many, but the martial arts ultimately are only limited by our human experience and traditions that are ultimately expressed through our attitudes and actions.  When choosing a martial art it is wise not to select one because of how it compares to others, but how does it compare to you.  Does it meet your needs and fit your personality?  Does it challenge you and keep you motivated?  These are some important questions you must ask when deciding what martial art is best for you. After all you are going to be committing several years of your life to master it and make it, as Kenwa Mabuni once said, “A lifetime study.” So choose wisely. Once you’ve decided go out and make yourself your best and represent your style and your school with class. You should want to, “Be good, be better, be your best.” This is what every martial arts student should aspire for themselves.

To accomplish this takes a commitment to the process and relentless determination not to give up are get distracted by the many surprises life may and will throw your way.  You must stay focused on your goals and your motivations to train in your martial art and create longevity.  I say goals because that is your target, but I also add to that your motivations because that is what moves you toward your target.  It’s not just about having a goal to be a black belt one day that keeps you on course, but having a motivation to be a black belt because it will build your confidence to tackle your greatest challenges. Because it will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle so you can feel better and ultimately do better. Because it will give you connection and community to your fellow classmates who will come to support you like an extended family.  Because it will make you a better person.  These are motivations to reach the goal of becoming a black belt.  These motivations are bigger than comparing martial arts and seeing which one may have the most effective choke hold.

You make your martial art what you want it to be.  So make it the best you can and don’t fall into the temptation to compare it to others styles around you.  Simply become your best and your martial art will follow. The martial arts are like an empty glass and the person is like the drink that is poured into the glass.  The individual, like the drink, takes the shape of whatever glass it is poured into, but the individual makes the drink what it is and not the glass.  Whether the drink is sweet, or bitter has nothing to do with the shape of the glass.  It has everything to do with the individual.  Your martial art style, like the glass has a shape that is predefined. Although its shape is set you, like a great drink, have the potential to make it great and that is not determined by what martial art style you practice. If your karate, or martial art style stinks when compared to others, it is only because you do.  Your mindset and attitudes determine your results. Perhaps instead of evaluating other martial arts systems, it may be time to evaluate your own thinking and dig a little deeper to find the hidden gems within yourself and your chosen style.

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