For 10 years, I have been training at the Academy of Martial Arts, I have learned more about myself and what I am capable of doing than I would in a lifetime. My family and other people close to me that know I train assume that I’ve only learned to strike, block myself and go through self-defense sequences, but I tell them it’s much more than that. In general, karate helped me to become a better person physically, mentally and emotionally. From this, I realize I’ve become more confident, assertive, have more self-discipline and, overall, discovered myself in ways I would not have before.
Physically, karate not only helped me to become more fit but it allowed me to get out of my comfort zone to do certain things I doubted myself in doing. For example, before I started training, Sensei Percival, who was Ms. Carrie Percival, came to my school in grade 3 to demonstrate how to stop someone from bullying you. I had been interested in what she had to show us and later went to the dojo to try a class. Being in the environment and around Ms. Percival, I already had a feeling of comfort and was willing to show what I was capable of doing, which was winning in a game of ninja stars. As I got older, I matured and realized that watching advanced belts and their ability to keep up their energy, breathing and technique all at once is what I wanted. For instance, my technique in Jiu-Jitsu has become better than when I was a red belt. Knowing how to resist, push and pull and how to gain mount, I realized that I had to be comfortable moving my body in certain ways to get out of situations. I also realized how important it is to become comfortable with my partner, no matter if they were bigger or smaller than me because karate prepares you for real life situations and you never know whom may be attacking you. Over the years, my form in kata and basics have improved drastically, my cardio went from doing 10 pushups to 30 pushups in the same time, and I am now able to control my breathing more, which is not what I would have expected when I was a white belt. Shihan and the other black belts pushed me to my limit and out of my comfort zone to better myself and made me realize that I don’t always have to do what is expected and if I’m able to go beyond, that is okay because I have done something that benefits me and makes me happy in the end.
Self-discovery is what I hadn’t hoped to find when I first joined AMA but I realized that’s what I’ve been doing every time I bow in the dojo. Along with the training, karate benefits me mentally. Every time I go up to do a kata, whether it’s up in front of people giving me feedback or at a tournament, I find myself preparing mentally, telling myself that I am confident and determined to do the kata to the best of my ability. Going up in front of a crowd made me nervous in the past, but being in the dojo around people I know and am comfortable with made me nothing but confident when I do now. Everyone at the dojo is positive and open-minded and with such outstanding personalities, it has reflected onto others to become like that as well. In my mind, when I train, I realize I’ve become more assertive rather than aggressive in my techniques. I’ve set better morals, gained self-discipline and opened my mind to seeing things from other people’s perspective. For example, learning the bunkai of a kata and going into depth of every move as it would be done in real life is done by a mental picture, which not only helped me better my form but my intensity.
I find myself coming to the dojo to get my mind off things when I’ve had a bad day. Karate not only helps me physically and mentally, but emotionally, too. There are many days when I come to karate to release negative energy I may have and every time I finish class, I feel better than I did before. We are taught to put our emotions into our kata, for example, so that it feels more realistic. Karate is not only what we are taught but also how and by who. At the dojo, there are a lot of people who assist other students, teach classes, do private lessons and clean up around the dojo. In knowing this, it makes you become a better person because you realize that people will go out of their way to do good things for others and you want to do the same. Every day that I train I am developing as a better individual as I work on being on time for class, making up for things I’ve missed out, for pushing myself to limits I wouldn’t usually do, reaching fitness goals, having integrity and finding my own happiness.
Karate isn’t a hobby that I go to throughout the week, it’s a passion that has helped me become who I am today. Karate isn’t just about the form and techniques that we learn but the mindset and intensity level that comes along with it. Physically, mentally and emotionally, karate has made those three factors of who I am ten times better than when I first started training. The time, effort, consistency and dedication put into my training will always be worth it because it has not only helped me to become a better martial artist, but will reflect on my actions in the real world when I’m not training. I’ve set many goals, made better relationships and choices with the influence of what I would do if I were in the dojo. Karate is a part of me and one of the biggest accomplishments I could ever achieve and I am more than grateful to say so.