By Krassimir Doynov, Ph.D., Shotokan Karate-Do Club & Kobudo at UH
The purpose of this article is to explain the benefits in learning karate as listed on the University of Houston Shotokan Karate-Do Club web site www.uh.edu/shotokan:
The obvious benefit from learning karate is the improvement of physical health. The student learns to exercise regularly several times a week, which is one of the most useful lifetime habits. This results in balancing blood pressure and circulation, lowering the cholesterol level, and reducing the number of visits to the doctor and all medical expenses. Moreover the student gets flexible muscles and joints, which increases the chances for surviving car accidents with fewer injuries when compared to a person who does not train karate.
Improvement of mental health
A little less obvious benefit from learning karate is the improvement of mental health. Imagine yourself on a beautiful beach with palm trees, or breathing the fresh mountain air while enjoying the beauty of a mountain lake. Without any psychological stress you simply feel light and your muscles relaxed at that moment you feel the freedom to sense the beautiful things in life. Everybody has this state of mind firmly coded and permanently stored in his or her memory. After two hours of exhaustive karate workout the student feels totally spent; all muscles and the entire body get relaxed, which in turn brings back from the memory the firmly coded stress-free state of mind. This is one of the greatest gifts of Nature a mechanism of recycling psychological stress through exercising. Whenever the student is pushed by the sensei to the limit, he uses 100% of his mental concentration just to keep going. At that moment the student cannot think of anything else because there is simply no any mental energy left. This is a perfect application of the Zen concept Be Here, Now! The student learns a valuable lesson in life to handle only one task at a time; that efficiency in any activity comes when there is a 100% commitment of the mental energy to the task at hand. The real benefit comes from realizing that when you commit 100% of your concentration you get results more efficiently and faster which sets you free to take on the next task at hand, to achieve more.
Building self-esteem and confidence is based on the fact that the students sets a goal, puts his mind on it, does whatever it takes, achieves the goal and at the end gets promoted to the next belt. In a nutshell that is the formula for success in life. The student sets a goal to become a black belt. A journey of thousand miles can be walked through step by step.The sensei splits the long-term goal into number of short-term goals the color belts. Once the goal is set, the mind calls for behavioral changes it shifts the attention, initiates action, and applies persistently effort in organized and disciplined manner. Progress in karate is measured with the belt ranking system. After each belt test the student receives feedback from the examiners he learns about his strong and his week points, and receives carefully selected directions for further growth as a martial artist. Each belt is an award for a completed short-term goal that frees the mind and opens the horizon for the completion of the next goal. That is the moment when the student realizes that he managed to succeed despite the difficult odds and almost overwhelming circumstances, which in turn is the psychological food for growing confidence and self-esteem. That is the moment when the student grows more confident with his self-defense skills, when his self-esteem elevates to the awareness that:
Improvement of academic performance by raising the level of energy, focus and concentration
One hot afternoon in Texas an old cowboy and a young cowboy were confronted with a corral full of high-spirited young horses to break and train. The young man started complaining about how many horses there were to ride. The old man turned to him and said, "Son, quit worrying about how many of them there are. You've only got one butt, so you just have to ride 'em one horse at a time.
Well, that is exactly what the UHSKC teaches in class quit worrying about how many projects or homework or karate techniques there are to complete; handle one task at a time. Why, because only 100% concentration and focus on the task at hand is the best use of your energy anything else is just a waste of your time and energy, and since we know that time is money - the UHSCK does not want to see you broke.
Learning and mastering self-defense techniques (See Article 1)
The psychological wealth of mastering self defense techniques is in knowing that you have whatever it takes to defend yourself whenever it is necessary, which brings a feeling of confidence and piece of mind.
Making friends in the oldest karate club in Houston
It is easy to make friends when you have common goals, and sweat together to achieve them. It works on the battlefield, at school, at work. It is even easier in the dojo because you are certain that most of the karatekas share something in common - their strong will and fighting spirit. It is more difficult to maintain these friendships, but the UHSCK has the right recipe: we socialize after training at lunch or dinner at the Chinese Star restaurant on the main campus; and everybody volunteers his/her best talent - organizational, design, advertising - to keep the best dojo on campus alive and efficient.