Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Did You Start Learning Karate?

There are so many reasons to start karate. I have heard several: self-defense, self-esteem, discipline, balance and coordination, health and fitness, inspired by the movies or a life long ambition. When I ask a new student, why they are taking karate the most common answer is self-defense. I am often asked about why I began and my answer is simple…people.

My karate journey started in 1993 when I stepped on the dojo floor for the first time. However, my initial exposure was through my husband. We were married in 1992 and he was a brown belt at the time. I was young, 24 years old, and newly married. So imagine a newlywed sitting at home alone three nights a week while my spouse packed up a gym bag and headed to class. I was a dutiful karate wife and I would attend tournaments and promotions to cheer on my husband.

Then it happened, the trip that would change everything. My husband wanted to travel with his instructors and training partners to New Orleans to attend a large tournament. I decided to go along because I always wanted to see New Orleans. I asked my sister to go with me and we spend the trip site seeing while my husband attended the tournament. During the course of the trip, I met his instructors and other members of the dojo community. They were enthusiastic, empowered, real and simply fantastic people. They suggested that I start taking karate classes. I told them I would think about it but it was less than two weeks later that I stepped through the dojo door and never looked back.

There are times when I wish my “Why” tale could be more elaborate or exciting. I think most people assume, because I am female, that I started karate in order to learn self-defense. Many assume that my husband is my teacher but he is not. We are students of the same instructor. The dojo community is an important part of my life. It is the reason I started and it is the reason I continue.

Why did you start learing karate?


Hack Shaft said...

I started for two reasons.

1. My daughter began first, and it would be an awesome opportunity to have a shared activity.

2. I studied Tae Kwon Do for a year or so when I was 15-16, but lost interest in favor of other teen interests at the time. Watching my daughter in class made me realize that I wanted to pick up where I left off.

Ultimately I would love to teach, and like you, I find my school to be an incredibly close-knit community. My instructors are patient, charismatic, energetic, and completely demonstrate the ideals that martial arts teach. I aspire to become the same.

Anonymous said...

For me it was Kung Fu the old TV series. No kidding.

It took awhile, for sure, for me to find the right combination of place, time, and maturity to really commit. But it all started there. And mainly, it was the philosophy. It always stuck with me and affected me in ways that Bruce Lee and other martial art movies never did, as cool as many of them are.

I keep doing it because I love the movement, the people, the focus, and the challenge. And -- it's hard to describe -- but there's a refuge in it that stays with me even when I'm frustrated with my practice and progress.

Steve said...

My 12 year old son started and I was looking for an activity to do with him. I'm a goal-oriented person, and what better thing for reaching for milestones than getting belts. I also saw adults slowly trying out the class (which was mostly kids at the time) and I said, I know I can do that better!

Anonymous said...

Well, my aunt and uncle taught it and to be perfectly honest i wanted to fight people? :]

Martial Arts Mom said...

Sounds like a concensus...many of us started martial arts to help our kids in one way or another. I sat & watched my son in the kids' class and video taped new moves and learned them myself so I could help him practice. Guess who got their yellow belt first? I'll give you a hint...it wasn't him!

BobSpar said...

I wish I could get other family members involved in martial arts, but I can't.

To be embarrassingly honest, I took a little tae kwan do more than two decades ago after watching The Karate Kid. I only did it for about six months, but I really enjoyed it. When in my 40s I realized I needed to do something about my health, I figured martial arts would keep me engaged more so than the gym--and that was seven and a half years ago.

Yasi said...

HI Michelle,

First of all, god bless you for leaving me a comment. I have been on your blog for the last two hours reading all your ACL posts. I feel like there is one other person out there who understands and is going through, or at least did, go through what I am dealing with. I tore my ACL in Thailand training muay thai/MMA. I am four months post-op and each day is just gets harder. It is nice to finally read a blog that tells me how the knee feels after the recommended nine months of recoup. I am subscribing to your blog now. Thank you again. You have no idea what a comfort your blog has been for my mind tonight.


Michele said...

Thanks for sharing your "Why?" stories!

Michele said...

Yasi: Thank you for your comment. It is nice to hear that my blog has been helpful. You may want to check out my ACL Stories link list. There are several other martial artists writing about their experience with ACL surgery and recovery. Good luck!