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Karate: A Challenge

It would be easier to learn Karate if there was one and only one way to move. Once you learned this way of moving, you could do the same thing for the rest of your life.

However, there is not only one way to move in Karate. When we learn the basics, we are like children learning to print the alphabet for the first time. We make rough block letters. It takes a long time to even write the letter "A", but with time and effort, we master our letters and become faster. Soon we can write words, form sentences, and express ourselves in a written manner.

But even then there are "enhancements." We learn to write in script. We learn to type and use the computer. We can even dictate words into our computers. The block printing form of expression is not only one way. There are many ways to write.

Now what would happen if a child learned block letters but refused to learn any other way to write? He certainly would have a difficult time in high school and college!

Karate is the same way. As soon as we become comfortable with a certain way of moving, our instructors will challenge us to move in a more advanced or different way. Our instructors will build upon our knowledge. If we are lucky, our instructors will never be satisfied or complacent -- they will always challenge us to improve ourselves.

This can be a little confusing and unsettling. It may seem that our instructors are constantly demolishing the building and rebuilding it. However, if we look closely we will notice that nothing we learn is ever lost. A college student who uses a computer can still print, if necessary.

I have an undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees. School was pretty hard. However, I would say that Karate is even more challenging as it is physical as well as mental. I went to college for 8 years but have practiced Karate for over 30 years. Each and every time I practice Karate it is different and challenging. It is never boring. It is never the same.

I wrote earlier about my friend commenting that some people who say they have practiced for 20 years, have actually practiced for 1 year 20 times.

If Karate is always the same, if there is only one way to move, then a student is doomed to repeating a year over and over.

If, however, we are challenged to constantly improve ourselves, to exceed our limits physically and mentally, then Karate will be an ever changing, fascinating, lifelong pursuit.


Charles C. Goodin