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Fall 2016 Term
Summer 2016 has been an amazing summer for Johanne, but I always look forward to the fall term. This is the term were kids return from the summer break excited, and ready to go. I love watching our returning students to see how tall everyone has gotten during the break. I often wonder who is more excited the kids or me?
The fall also, is one of the three times a year we take new students and I love to see the excited but nervous kids (and adults). They often are worried about the instructors and how hard or tough it might be. I am very proud of the instructor groups, we are not militant nor are we a push over, we have a lot of fun with the kids and we ask the adults to push themselves but not to the point of being hurt. It doesn’t take long before the new students settle in and start their journey on the martial arts path.
Many people have a hard time getting their heads around the idea of non-competitive karate and assume that if you practice karate you must enter tournaments. After all, isn’t karate a sport? Karate was originally developed as a method of unarmed self-defence, not a sport. In addition, over time many teachers realized that there were other benefits to be realized from the practice of martial arts beyond the ability to defend oneself. People who trained in karate for a number of years could learn to be more relaxed, calmer and more focused—not to mention more fit. While it is true that most of us have a certain amount of competitiveness in us, that doesn’t mean that every activity has to be turned into a tournament. We can be competitive without participating in a tournament. One can train or practice an activity without the need for trophies —whether it be karate, playing a musical instrument, running, or what-have-you. Skills can be developed and the activity enjoyed and loved without egotistical symbols. There is nothing inherently wrong with martial arts competitions, but it becomes a problem when too much emphasis is placed on tournaments and commercialism so that winning becomes the primary goal. This also frequently goes hand-in-hand with the glorification of violence. Karate practice without the tournament element can be a rewarding and fulfilling activity. There is time to fully study the techniques, allowing yourself to practice and learn with your training partners, rather than fighting, a joy in developing ones skills and improving. Older or less-talented students don’t get pushed aside in order to focus on the most skilled students who can win trophies for the club. And as we get older we can continue to train and develop our skills, not merely being relegated to coaching. In the KDS we believe that karate is not a competitive sport but rather a life-long activity with an ultimate goal of self-improvement.
At some point in a martial artists career whether they are youth or adult, something just clicks. It’s magic really and when “it” clicks, the learning and progress goes through the roof.
The “it” is more mental than physical and anything physical is more effort than talent. “It” is a point when the martial artist pushes through frustration, exhaustion and muscle fatigue. They discover great joy in pushing beyond what was once thought their limit.
I love seeing my students find “it”. As an instructor it’s so rewarding but in the end I can only guide them, it’s up to the student’s self discovery to make things click and find “it”.