I started karate when I was around fourteen years old. I had always loved martial arts. When I saw that my local leisure centre had lessons going I asked my mom if I could join one of the clubs (there was Aikido, Kung Fu and Karate being taught) and she said, “Sure, which one?” and I was completely surprised. I chose Karate and he (Sensei) gave me the standard five day trial to see if I liked it and I loved it, my mom approved and so I joined the club.
One of the black belts who first taught me was so cool. She’d reference The Karate Kid and how she wasn’t going to make me, “Wax on and wax off” and that broke the ice. My Sensei (the main dude who ran the club) was loud but friendly and confident. It was a lot of fun and a great way to release frustrations.
He would make you come to the front and demonstrate the kata (a series of movements for each belt) you had just learned. At first I thought this was some form of cruel punishment as I was really shy and not that confident. However after the hundredth time he made me do it I got over it and it didn’t bother me anymore. Although I have to say he didn’t force me to go to the front and demonstrate and if he saw you were shy there was always two others who were strongly encouraged to go upfront too. The atmosphere was friendly and I eventually saw that even if I made a mistake the kids wouldn’t tease me or anything because our Sensei (we called him Sensei, him and the other black belt teachers as Karate is Japanese and Sensei means teacher) didn’t allow bullying or anything like that.
So through the classes I gained confidence in public speaking and doing presentations in class. It was thanks to Karate and thanks to church as in church too they would strongly encourage us to go upfront and read something or pray.
Also Sensei really cared about his students outside of Karate and tried to give us skills that would help us out in life. I’m thankful because it made those presentations we had to do in University easier.
Another way Karate helped me was with my temper. Sensei would always say never use anything you learned outside of the dojo. Now I would never but it got me thinking, “Like wow I have a responsibility now”. Plus we would get paired up with someone who was a lower belt than us to teach us control as they would naturally know less than us and so we were to go easy on them whilst still giving them a challenge. We would also get paired with someone of a higher grade and when I hit brown belt I got paired with black belts who weren’t teachers (baby black belts) and I was so nervous! But it turned out to be okay.
I don’t specifically know how it helped me with my temper. It’s not as if I was given breathing exercises or anything but I had an outlet to release stress. I was taught control and discipline which helps when controlling a temper. I mean I still have a temper but now it’s like a tame Jaguar I’ve learned to control.
Oh and I also got flexible doing Karate. I had to quit when I went to University as I was moving away but I carried on doing the stretches and kata and one day I was like, “I wonder how low I can go”… I almost touched the ground y’all! I was so chuffed. Karate did that, I’m bendy lol.
Anyway that is all. That is how Karate helped me. I definitely want to take it up again, along with other martial arts I have gained an interest in as I have grown up.