The essay below has been re-printed, with images added, with the kind permission of Paul Sexton Sensei, Rokudan, Canada.
By: Paul Sexton
Dated: July, 2019
Essay for Godan
Karate is an important part of the lives of many people and has the potential to help many others, both physically and mentally.
Many people are less physically active because they spend a lot of their time on computers, watching TV, or playing video games. Karate is a good well-rounded way to improve physical condition and health. Two to three sessions of karate week will go a long way to improve a person’s physical health and with this comes a greater resistance to disease.
Karate will also help people develop self-confidence, and a more positive outlook on life. Many people in modern society, are also more focused on wealth and possessions rather than personal integrity, morals or character. There seems to be a “me first” attitude for many people. The principles that are taught in traditional karate can lead people on the path to personal development of important values such as bravery, perseverance, sacrifice, honesty, and honour.
Currently, in Canada, there are more children than teens and adults participating in karate classes. This may be due to the greater variety of alternative activities available. For many teens and young adults, mixed martial arts have become very popular. Even so, many parents realize that traditional karate offers more than the brute violence and gang type mentality often found in the mixed martial art environment.
As instructors, we need to maintain high standards and teach all aspects of karate as a complete martial art. There is a trend in Canada, for some clubs to focus only on tournament kumite, completely ignoring kata and realistic self-defense as well as character development. This is a troubling trend as it ignores some of the most important elements that can be learned from karate training: kata as an encyclopedia of possible responses to habitual acts of violence, as well as a way to practice good body mechanics and mental discipline.
There is a place for sport karate as an entry level to all that karate has to offer, but it’s crucial that we as instructors don’t just focus on this. We need to develop well-rounded karateka that practice kumite, kata and realistic self-defense. We also need to help them with personal character development.
Karate, in the future, will continue to have a positive influence in the lives of many people as long as we as instructors, teach all aspects of karate as a complete martial art and continue to teach karatedo –the way of karate.