Why Martial Arts is More Than a Good Kick

Traditional Martial Arts is more than a good exercise and more than a means to bragging rights.  Done right, karate will instill obedience, respect, control, and confidence.  The benefits of training in the dojo will carry into all aspects of your life, and make you better for it.

Emilie in a Flying Side-kick, photo credit Mrs. Nykol Dugan

Flying Side Kick Photo Credit: Mrs. Nykol Dugan

I trained for approximately 6 years in Yoshukai Karate Alliance under Sensei Dugan.  In the beginning, I just wanted to be cool and tough like my older brother, Troy.  I was also drawn to Japanese culture through my love of anime, but through my training my motivations changed; I wanted the confidence that came with knowing that I could protect myself. I admired the black belts and desired to earn that same respect from my peers.  However, I didn’t want to be just like any black belt, I strived to become like the ones I feared and admired the most.  As I climbed in rank, I began to love the other side of karate, too – teaching, instilling the blessings I received in my life into those under my lead.

Karate is now a part of who I am.  The moves are engrained into my muscles, and the spirit of karate has shaped parts of my personality.  My experience in the dojo has followed me into the world and has given me the confidence and self-respect that I lacked.

Here are the main things I see in my life that Yoshukai helped me learn:

  • Respect for Others and for Self
    • In karate we have a mutual-respect policy.  We respect everyone : older, younger; stronger, weaker.  Of course there is added respect for higher ranks, but the respect is still mutual.  Everyone is given respect, everyone is a human being.
  • Self Discipline
    • Discipline is a weakness of mine.  I’ll admit, there are many times I skipped a Tuesday or Thursday night class, but that’s not what made me a black belt.  It’s the hours that I showed up that shaped me.  The same can be said for any successes in life. When I dragged myself to the dojo when I still had a paper to write; The summer camps and winter trainings, when the weather and elements would be tampering with my body; Testing when I feared I wasn’t ready.
  • Confidence
    • There’s a certain confidence that comes with knowing how to knock someone out …or kill them.  Walking down a city road, or in a shady part of town, would have my girlfriends trembling, but I walked with my chin up.  I was still keenly aware of my surroundings, using my peripheral vision, watching the shadows, and listening for footsteps, but I was ready for anything. Keeping your hair out of a ponytail, your hands out of your sleeves, and your chin up are all a part of protecting yourself from predators.  I still monitor when I’m on night walks with my husband.
  • Teachable Spirit
    • Having a Teachable Spirit is the number one human characteristic to strive for.  Life throws you a lot of punches, and we need to be ready to learn from them, bounce back, and be flexible.  We all have faults and flaws.  To stand out, it is key to have the humility to learn, accept, and fix them.

This is just the short list… Self-protection, discernment, throwing a good punch could all be added to the mix, but it all works together to make a stronger and healthier you- mentally, emotionally, and physically.

If you’ve taken a traditional martial arts, what has it meant to you?  What are other physical disciplines you’ve taken that have impacted your life?

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2 thoughts on “Why Martial Arts is More Than a Good Kick

  1. Nykol says:

    Very awesome Mrs. Tapscott, well said! You were such an awesome partner in class, I always looked forward to going through the ranks with you by my side! Miss you there! OS!

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