There is a popular phrase that tells us that in life we need to ‘roll with the punches’. This can be interpreted in a few ways. We can just topple over and let ourselves literally roll with the punches or we can stand up and punch back. Karate teaches young kids valuable lessons on the best way to effectively overcome difficult and trying times in life, on and off the Mat.
Three ways in which karate training can help kids overcome adversity include.
1. Understanding and appreciating the importance of defense: Many kids and adults sign up to karate to learn how to kick, punch and use weapons. This perspective is usually fuelled by the desire to attack, rather than defend. Many use martial arts in general as a way of reducing stress by letting their anger take it out on the poor bag or in some cases, their sparring opponent. However, a fast kick or strong punch, will be short-lived if you cannot or do not have the skills to defend yourself. The ability to literally take the hit is just as important as performing the hit. Understanding how to think calmly and with clarity during situations of high pressure and stress is a skills that needs to be learnt and developed. Karate training focuses on this element very well.
2. Not only is you ability to protect yourself and defend attacks important, but the way in which you choose to respond will have a great affect on whether you come out stronger. Imagine you are in the final 30 seconds on your competition round and you are screaming for oxygen, your muscles are on fire and your legs feel so heavy that you don’t think you can pick them up. Will you give up and let your guard down because you are tired? Or will you see these final 30 seconds as a chance to test your abilities and find the strength you didn’t think you had to finish the round? In karate, you cannot afford to drop your guard for any second. You need to push through, be resilient, persevere and finish the round even if your brain is tired. This is where true self discipline comes into play.
3. As you climb up the ranks, you learn new techniques. But often, these new techniques also come with an increased difficulty. A technique that may have taken you 4 lessons to learn, may now take 12, due to the intricacies and high level of the new techniques. The true test comes with the ability to be patient, dedicated and committed to mastering the technique over time. Techniques do not just happen, they are practiced. The ability to stay calm, breathe and focus to keep going is just as important in life as it is in karate. There are some situations that can be resolved in one conversation. Other times, it may take more time. The ability to be patient, respect the process and allow for time to assist is a key skill that many need to keep practicing.
Training karate brings about a treasure chest of skills and attributes that can be applied to the real world. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this topic where we will discuss further ways in which karate training can help kids and adults alike, overcome adversity in their life.