The meaning of Karate to each individual is not always the same. We all have our own personal growth, our own challenges, strengths, setbacks, learning. We ask our students to write an essay on what Karate really means to them, this self-reflection on this can bring a lot of learning to the individual on its own. This is done at a couple of different times in their training because as we grow the meaning grows and changes too.

Here is one of those essays we received from a teenager who has been training with us since a very young age.

What Does Karate Mean to me?

Karate was essentially just a form of defense. I had only thought about it in that way for an extremely extended amount of time; eventually, it became something that I would learn to appreciate in many ways. I was able to walk around without feeling anxious about things that others wouldn’t dream of happening. I could think more intelligently and strategically in the event that something were to happen to me; I felt more confident that I could defend myself against the dangers towards youth.

Eventually, I came to a realization that when I walked into class I didn’t think of karate as just a defense mechanism but a place I could feel at peace. A place where I was
more confident and self-assured in/of myself. In the end, karate was my daily lifestyle where it had become a part of me I didn’t want to get rid of.

Furthermore, when I was in the gym and/or other fitness activities I felt somewhat proud of myself that I was able to do what others struggled with – I had become more proud, had more self-esteem, and had a healthy mind. I didn’t even know that this had happened from Karate and the place itself. As the years went by, I felt myself trying to convince my parents to bring me for more classes and volunteering events because of how fun it seemed. Although this may be true, eventually I started to lose interest in Karate and any activities I was doing and was always tired – I didn’t want to do anything; go to school, go to sleep, eat. Every time I went to class I felt myself getting more tired and eventually I was telling my parents if I could go to a tutor instead and cut down on my class in Karate. My parents disagreed, saying I still have a lot to do there and to continue it so I pulled myself together and went there – and for some reason, I didn’t want to leave after the class was over, so much so I decided to just stay for some volunteering after class.

Undoubtedly, something struck me that made me snap out of whatever trance I was in; and to this day I still don’t know what did it. Even so, I would like to believe it was the atmosphere, the people, and Karate itself. In spite of me not enjoying moving around a lot, I still brought myself to enjoy doing it.

Apart from this, karate was always apparent in my life from the way I walk, talk, and act. I got angry in recused amounts and on fewer occasions. I was able to keep a calm mind in nerve-racking situations. Moreover, when I talked I could hold conversations without feeling agitated. Whenever I walked, I used to make it apparent (unconsciously) that, “I am here” “I was there” “I’m going to be there”. Now, I walk normally. My habit most likely came as a consequence of no one hearing me whenever I talked; therefore I used to try to make myself “loud” so others could hear me.

But, it was when covid struck that things had changed. From having a daily active
life, I slowly couldn’t bring myself to work out by myself and whatever walks I went on daily kept me from shutting out my active life. Eventually, I came to the point that I couldn’t care less about my extra classes and just spent my time studying, taking a break/and or walking, eating, then sleeping. I didn’t see the need to do more than necessary to let myself do the minimum I needed to pass each of my classes, I couldn’t take online lessons since studying took up most of my time and any time I had to myself was only spent for myself. It was after two years did classes start up again and I pushed, convinced, and told myself to go back even though after such a long break I didn’t have any want to.

Upon going to classes, I had thankfully noticed that my stamina hadn’t changed much but my body itself wasn’t used to working out. Everything that I could do with ease before had suddenly needed more effort than I was willing to put, furthermore, because of bringing back karate into my life – I didn’t see the need to go on walks anymore so I didn’t take any breaks during my time doing homework/work. But, in spite of that, I still wanted to get back to my old schedule so I got myself to do it for a while before covid struck once more causing the industry to go back online.

Undoubtedly, online was a touch harder as neither of my Wifi devices was of the best quality, never the less I went on with the hope to achieve something. And eventually, getting my grading papers was more or less the same as giving me hope that Karate was something truly special. Additionally, when I learned that I had gotten “the pass” to go to brown belt classes I was even more surprised and somewhat proud of myself for getting to where I am.

In addition to this, going to my first brown belt class felt much different than all the classes I went to before, it reminded me of when I first started blue/purple belt classes – it confused me heavily and the techniques were new. Nevertheless, it was a whole new experience that was much more fun than I expected. My whole confusion was overshadowed by how much I loved these classes.

In the end, I can’t tell if I love or couldn’t care less about it. But it still means something to me, and it holds a special place in my heart about how much it’s done for me. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t done karate, but it changed me as a person, and I don’t want to forget about it no matter how many years pass.