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Thick Skin

We often think about how important it is to have excellent Karate skills. Being able to punch, kick, and block effectively is important. It is something we work on for most of our lives.

However, Karate skill can be easily abused. We are taught that Karate should be used for self-defense and as a last resort only. Karate is not for fighting.

Before you even get into the application of Karate techniques, there is the issue of the student's ability to handle conflict, bullying, taunts, etc. I could see two problems. Some students might immediately react violently. Others might be so intimidated that they are unable to defend themselves properly. Both problems are serious and should be addressed during training.

A student should have thick skin. Little things should not bother him and he should not allow little things to escalate to violence. Even if a student is called terrible names, the objective should be to get out of that situation -- not to make a point.

Let's say that someone says that my Karate stinks. Is that something for me to fight about? Hey, I also think that I have to keep working to improve myself. I am not content with my level. There have been many time when I have thought that my Karate ability "stinks."

I should let it go. It is not something to get upset about or fight about.

Basically, to me, there is nothing worth fighting about except my safety and life, and the safety and life of loved ones (possibly innocent people too). I'm not going to fight because someone calls me names or says terrible/ridiculous things.

Let's say that my wife and I are walking in town late at night. Some guy starts insulting my wife. My objective at that point is to get my wife out of there and to safety. My objective is not to teach this nut a lesson. And who knows, there may be others lurking that I do not see. Getting away is the proper action -- not arguing.

Like I've written before, when the time comes to use Karate techniques for self-defense, then the can is open and everything goes. Karate, at that point, become a truly terrible thing. Until then, I would hope that I could have a "thick skin" and a calm demeanor so that I could avoid most conflicts.


Charles C. Goodin