Rants, Ramblings and Nothingness

A messy collection of random stuff really!!

Why I Choose Karate?

Why not other sports? Why not other martial arts? In short, karate was my first dedication to physical exercise, I wasn’t quite good in sports or any other physical exercise, but just like some kids at my age that time, seeing Jean-Claude van Damme was always exhilirating. I took up karate during my junior high. My dojo only had less than 10 students maximum, so my sensei was able to watch the individual one by one. The training was hard and we were exposed to kumite from the beginning. Doing karate made my ability in other physical activity far better. Maybe that’s one of the cause I left karate also, besides some other reasons of course(my first sensei went on hiatus, friends leaving the dojo, bored, etc). I left karate after less than four years and pick up football until I moved to Singapore. I didn’t have any mates to play with, then the idea of picking up martial art again came to my mind. I actually kept practising on my own during my absent from karate, so I was able to pick it up again quite fast when I resumed my training.

All that talk, but still the question remains, why karate? 🙂 I was always interested in martial arts, that’s my first reason. Of course I picked karate by chance, I was tagging along with my friend to his dojo, and although I was only intending to watch, but my sensei asked me to join the training, after that, I decided to join. If I was exposed to other martial art first, then I might not picked up karate. But, since I left karate and pick it up again, kept training until now, there must be some other reasons.

First and foremost, it has became integrated with my life, I read karate for my past time, I eat to practice karate better, I dream about karate from time to time, my circle of friends are karate related, I often think about karate, basically almost all aspect of my life became integrated with it. Secondly, karate can be practiced, practically, until I die. Unless I lost all my four limbs before I die, I will keep practicing it. Karate is different from other sports and some sports based martial arts that relies on physique. If it’s practiced correctly, the practitioner should be getting better and better regardless of age. Of course compared to sports based martial arts, the progress is longer to at least be able to defend oneself. Some people might say, why spending 10 years to be able to properly defend ourself? There’s a lot of martial arts out there that can transform you into a fighting machine in two years time. It’s really a valid argument, why should people wait for 10 years? They’d be lying on their back if they meet with trouble on the street. My answer is it depend on your own preference. Chinese martial art also take years to be called decent, tai chi practitioner might even take longer than 10 years and still not able to defend themself if they don’t understand the concept. So why people still practicing those traditional arts? I certainly won’t be able to answer for all the other practitioners, but for me, the pre-arranged form called ‘kata’ is the answer. The depth of information inside kata are enormous, mastering even one kata is extremely difficult, but if we can master the concept, understand the meaning of the movements(bunkai), integrate the kata to ourselves, then 10 years of training is considered short. Most practitioner that doesn’t practice kata, usually will leave karate. I didn’t like kata, and because of that, I got bored because the training becomes very one dimensional, nothing else to train except for competition style kumite. I wasn’t able to progress, and leaving was very much an option back then.

I understand that some martial arts practitioners are sceptical with kata or tao lu(in Chinese Martial Arts). Why do kata when we can just learn some kicking, punching, throws, submission techniques without it? Just learn those techniques, practice it with your partner, spar, spar and spar. The progress is very fast compared to traditional approach. Once again, these arguments are valid. But for me, kata or tao lu is the soul of the art. I will not talk about “do” or “the way” concept, but the kata the richness and depth in kata is worth the time to master it. There’s so much to learn in it, and practicing it is also some sort of a meditation, physical training, mental training blended into one. There’s a different kind of feeling when I do my kata, I feel like I am immersed into something that I don’t understand, and I always want to feel it again to understand it more. It might be an ecstasy to a practitioner. Of course kata is not equal kumite. The ability to fight is not only from kata, but it is from our kihon(basic), hojo undo(suplementary training), conditioning, kata and bunkai(application) as my sensei once said. Neglecting one of it, will result in a kumite without backbone. Meet a practitioner with a strong backbone, he/she will be pummeled easily.

And why is it karate can be practiced until we die, and we will still achieve progress? It’s because physically we have our peak physical condition. Most athletes will go down the hill very fast after 35 years old, even if they still train the same amount of excercises or even more. It is the law of the nature. That’s why we rarely see in competition sports that needs physical ability, athletes above 35 years old. The younger athletes has more to give physically, the older won’t be able to compete with their speed, power and agility. Karate is different, the older we get, the better we should be. One very good example is Higaonna Sensei of IOGKF, he’s about 70 years old by now, and I don’t think anyone will dare to challenge him to a fight. He’s still very much active, and still able to kick anyone’s ass. What is the difference, won’t karate also needs physical ability? Yes, but we’re building out body to be able to move economically, effectively and also in conjuntion to the concepts found in kata. Advanced practitioner doesn’t use to much power when delivering techniques, but with a proper body mechanic, correct posture and the ability to move the whole body without wasting the energy, even when the muscle power dwindling as he/she aged, it will not hinder the technique. Hmmm… why is it possible might be the question. Punching is punching, why is it different? To explain it will take a long time, but in short, all of it can be found in the bible, the kata itself, training will be the long answer from me, by training, we will understand those aspects a lot better than words can say.

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August 27, 2008 - Posted by | Goju-Ryu, Karate, Martial Arts, Shito-Ryu | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Hey, I found your blog today! I love Martial Arts too! You should visit my new Martial Arts Humor blog! I’m gonna post daily martial arts jokes! Hope you like it!

    Comment by thomascarlson | August 30, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for visiting Thomas, went to the url you left behind, but can’t seem to find the blog you were talking about. But those tshirt designs are good 🙂

    Comment by fuermischung | August 31, 2008 | Reply


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