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Getting in Shape

I often see Karate students who are in poor shape. Sometimes these include yudansha (black belt holders and even instructors).

Getting in shape is part of Karate training. We often say this. However, I do not mean that students can only get in shape by Karate training.

In fact, I would say that Karate training is just part of getting into shape. Students also have to watch their diet and eat healthy foods. Student should avoid smoking, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Students should get enough sleep. These are all normal parts of a healthy lifestyle.

I was discussing this with my second son, Charles (age 25). My second and third sons are in really good shape. When I mentioned "getting in shape," Charles replied that we do not only practice Karate. We also lift weights.

That is true. I probably lift weights 3 or 4 times a week. My sons lift more than that, and they also do other physical activities. They also watch what they eat.

My point is that there is more to getting into shape than just practicing Karate (unless you train in a dojo that also does quite a lot of conditioning on a regular basis).

But whatever approach you take to get into shape, the important thing is that you get into shape. That is part of Karate training. However you want to approach it, Karate training requires that you try to get into shape. It is not just a matter of learning new kata and getting promoted from time to time. If you are not getting into shape, you should concentrate on that for a while. There will be time for new kata later. If you get into shape, you will be able to execute the techniques better. You will be able to train harder and longer, and you should be able to defend yourself, if need be, more effectively.

Getting into good shape is even more important as you grow older. I am a grandfather. I cannot compete physically with 20 and 30 year old men in their prime. In order to move more effectively than them, I have to optimize my body mechanics, avoid all wasted energy, and also be in the best shape possible. I have to learn to do more with less. If I am in the best shape possible, at least I will have more to work with.

And I am only 53. My Sensei in Okinawa is 72. He is in excellent shape.

Don't get me wrong -- being able to do 100 pushups in a row does not mean that you will be skilled at self defense. But if you are skilled at self defense, being in good shape will give you a definite advantage.

And I would think that you would be healthier too.


Charles C. Goodin