Kevin Cyr – First Degree Black Belt – Central Academy of Martial Arts
Martial arts is more than kick and punch. Martial arts is a life style, a code, a moral compass. Beginners see karate as a way to defend yourself physically, which is right, but it goes much deeper than this. It has unique benefits.
1. Friends, the Family You Choose
Students develop a group of friends. These are friends they see inside and outside the dojo. Martial Arts streamlines values; the respect it demands and the lessons it teaches. Students are shaped by the same hammer. The people you grow up with at the Dojo become your life friend. They become family. You see them when you train; you grow together. They’re either pushing from behind of dragging you from the front.
- Friends: The Family you choose
- Family: The Friends you’re stuck with
A bond comes from wrestling, fighting and sweating with someone. It gives an unfathomable trust in this person. I have best friends from the Dojo. These are friends I’ve known from birth, people I’ve done battle with. They are my lifelong friends and people I’d do anything for. This bond is unique to the Martial Arts. Martial arts evolves with you. When your body can’t support the physical demands, the martial arts becomes more philosophical.
There was a new wave of brown belts going for black:
It’s a Friday night training session. Brown belts are being conditioned to attempt for black. One of the older gentlemen, a black belt, comes to give support and better them. This specific class they’re working sparing, fighting with gear.
One of candidates for black belt is sparing this older man. The match begins calm. Personally, I respect the man too much to even consider striking him.
The candidate goes berserk. He chases him across the room, knocking him around and landing strikes on face and stomach. The older man takes the shots, bows, shakes hands and moves to the next match.
The room settles with silent rage, like a thick red blanket has been draped across everyone. I swallow and watch as the other black belts, the younger ones, ball their fists and clenched their jaws.
The candidate got pummeled. The black belts chased him across the room and beat him not by force, but by outclassing him. The candidate began to cry, but no one said anything.
This type of respect and loyalty for others I have never seen, except between students at the Dojo. It’s unique to the Martial Arts has to offer.
2. Learn How to Kick and Punch Real Hard.
Martial arts has tremendous physical application. It teaches how to use your body weight to defend yourself. You learn to be aware of your limbs, where they are, what they are doing and how to maximize striking efficiency.
Karate isn’t all kick and punch. The most import thing you learn in karate is not karate. It’s not restricted to being aware of yourself, but being aware of situations and things around you. You read body language, faces and remain in tune with your surroundings.
When I was young my father and I would play a game. We’d walk into a place, a restaurant, super market or department store.
Randomly through our shopping he’d tell me to stop:
“Shut your eyes.” He would say.
I’d shut my eyes. Dad had a way of using his authoritative Sensei voice when he wanted. My body reacted to the tone and listened by reflex.
There would be a pause. And then a question.
“How many clerks did we pass?”
The first time I’d have no Idea, I’d spew a random number. Eventually, I’d become aware. Every new place I’d count the clerks, know where they were and who they were dealing with. The question evolved.
“How many and where are the clerks?”
I’d answer right and wrong sometimes, but it bettered my awareness. The question became ridiculous, so exact they were impossible to answer.
“How many shopping cars did we pass? How many apples were in the apple tray? How many pot lights are on the ceiling?” The goal wasn’t for me to get the answer right, but to enforce my awareness.
My awareness built. I not only knew where everyone was all the time, but I subconsciously noted their postures and their demeanors. I learnt to read people, profile them, track them and consistently rate them as dangerous or docile.
Martial teaches you this, not only to be body aware, but to be aware of your surroundings. This is valuable lessons, sometimes even better than being able to kick and punch real hard. If you see it coming, If you see the strange looking man with concealed hands and you avoid him, threes no need to fight, no need to potentially risk your life.
The Dojo filters out students with hostile behaviors and malicious intent. They drown in genuine energy. You know the feeling when you’re at a family meal, for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter and look around? Your kids giggle with your nephews, and your parents laugh over wine with your uncles and aunts? And then you smile, you smile big because everything’s so right. The Dojo radiates this energy. It has a contagious Christmas dinner vibe, but instead of mashed potatoes, we mash faces. JOKES. But actually.