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I've never met a Karate expert who was in bad shape. On the other hand, I have met many Karate students who are in excellent shape, but are by no means experts.

Think about it. If you meet someone who is supposed to be a Karate expert, but find that he is in poor shape, then you will wonder what kind of training he does. Does he train at all? Does he practice in his mind only? At a seminar, does this "expert" train harder than everyone, or just stand around and watch, or take video?

But if you meet someone who is in great condition, that does not mean that he understands the principles of Karate. Sometimes, an instructor will hide behind conditioning to conceal that he does not truly understand Karate.

I practice bojutsu. I will carefully select the bo (many) that I use. Then I will carefully sand them and refinish them. If one develops the slightest crack, I will stop using it (I might cut it down for a club or yawara). I try to take good care of my bo.

Should I take less care of my body?

I also realize that people will judge me by my appearance (as shallow as that may seem).

Please do not get me wrong. I do not mean that Karate students should try to look like body builders. Karate students need to get in to the shape that is optimal for Karate training. When Shoshin Nagamine visited Hawaii in 1996, I drove him around the island with the sensei who had accompanied him from Okinawa. We stopped at a beach and one of the sensei took off his shirt. "Wow," I thought, "this guy is in bad shape." His body did not seem to have any muscles.

But later when he demonstrated, he was awesome! I was amazed. His body must have been like a thousand coiled springs. Was I ever wrong! He was in excellent shape for the type of Karate he practiced.

What kind of shape are you in? Do you take better care of your car than you body? If you don't take care of your body, it won't take care of you.

Conditioning is especially important as we age. One of the best ways to avoid injuries is to get into good shape. Good conditioning can lessen and postpone the effects of aging.


Charles C. Goodin