Most physical aspects of self-improvement through Karate training are quite self-evident; fitness, health, co-ordination, flexibility and strength. The mental aspects are not quite so obvious. Many sports and physical activities will improve the same physical aspects, but few of them put the same emphasis on perfection of technique or have such a vast array of applications which can keep you interested in training for a lifetime.
Striving to improve and perfect Karate techniques helps to install a mindset of focus, concentration and aiming for high standards. This can be carried across to other aspects of your life (school, work, relationships, hobbies, etc).
Some aspects (especially Kata) are often referred to as “moving meditation”; as the internal voice and chatter in the mind is silenced as one focuses on their movements. Some people may call this mindfulness.
For most of us, violent confrontation is the most fearful thing that we are ever likely to face in our lives. In Karate we learn to face this fear. By learning to face and cope with our biggest fear, other things in life start to take on a different perspective. Problems in other areas of our life start to become less daunting and gradually we become more able to take them in our stride.
We all have “self talk” in our own heads which is usually negative. When we face an opponent it is natural to feel fear and that little voice will often say thing’s like, “he’s bigger than me”, “I’m going to get killed”, “oh please, not in front of my girlfriend/wife/classmates/etc”.
However, with regular practice over a period of time we can learn to quieten and even silence the voice which undermines and distracts us, allowing us to think more clearly and access our more intuitive nature. This is the level where Karate goes beyond just physical technique!