Thursday, 15 July 2010

Things I Love About Karate: Part 1

I’m sure there’ll be many more of these as my training progresses but I thought I’d start by talking about the few things I already love about my karate training (even after only 8 months).

The first of these can be pretty much summed up by one of the first tenants of Dojo etiquette:

In the dojo, karate is your only concern.

This appears a simple statement, and to me its meaning is two fold. In the first instance it’s an instruction. When I’m in the dojo I should only be thinking about my karate. That should be what I’m concentrating on. Like teacher telling student, you should pay attention in class.

On the flip side of this statement, to me, it’s also an invitation (if that’s the right word). Let me try to explain what I mean. Like most people these days I lead a pretty busy life. I work outside the home, I’m Mother to two small children, I’m a wife and a homemaker and all the other things that that encompasses (nurse, teacher, accountant, chef, CEO, taxi driver, PA, referee, time keeper, maid, laundry worker, IT expert, engineer). I have so many things to think about in my daily life it’s a wonder I can keep anything in my brain for more than a few seconds without something displacing it.

That’s where the invitation comes in. To me this statement:

In the dojo, karate is your only concern.

Says “when you come into the dojo, you DON’T HAVE to think about anything else. You’re ALLOWED to let everything else go”. It’s permission, to not be all of the things I have to be every other minute of every day and to just be the best karateka I can.

From the moment I hear the first “Mokuso” to the time I bow the final Rei of the evening. For 2 blissful hours my harried, tired, overworked, over stimulated brain is occupied only by karate. Is my arm in the right place for this block? Did I swivel on my foot for that kick? How can I get generate more power in that punch? What’s the next step in this kata? Where do I go from here in this escape? What’s the best way to execute this control? Can I see a gap in my opponents defence in kumite? All karate, all the time. And you know what? It’s blissful. It’s a relief. My brain breathes a quiet sigh.

Then I go collect the kids from my ILs, and they can pretty much manage to unpick the calm in a matter of minutes *SIGH* For those 2 short hours though, karate provides a small island of calm for the maelstrom of my mind. Heavenly.



  1. Hi Marie, a while back I wrote a post about why we wear gis in martial arts. One of the reasons was: "A different place. The wearing of a gi reminds the practitioner that the place where he trains is different to the place where he lives and works. When he enters the dojo, he enters a place where the realities and worries of the world can be set aside and he can focus entirely on the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of his training." (If you want to read the whole article here's the link:

    For me, the putting on of the gi is symbolic in that it seperates the dojo from the outside world. For that reason I would never wear my gi outside the dojo (I always change when I get there). When I put on my gi I forget what is happening in the outside world and focus my mind on the training to come. I think you lose this sense of 'different place' if you travel to and from the dojo in your gi. What do you think?

  2. Nice post!

    When I walk through the dojo door, all my worries are temporarily left behind. My focus is completely in the present moment.

  3. Wonderful... The second I enter the dojo and make that first rei, no matter how tired I am, frazzled from the workday, frustrated by traffic, and no matter whatever else is going on in my life, for that 90 minutes, karate is IT. And I find that when I exit the dojo, making that final rei, I have far less worries and frustrations than I did, prior to entering the dojo. :-)


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Maira Gall