How do I Love Karate? Let me Count the Ways

My husband and I started karate nearly 21 and one half years ago now. We loved it from day one. Sometimes I am asked to share my single most favorite thing about karate. That may change over time. But my list of the many things that I love karate for, mostly stays the same. That is, other than the list getting longer. After over two decades of karate, here is my countdown of the things that I love.

Top 20 Reasons I Love Karate

20) Coolness Factor

This is a perception and it’s last on my list, yet I enjoy it. When people hear that I do karate, it conjures images of Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and the Kung Fu TV series. Or maybe Kung Fu Panda – but I would love to be as cool as him.

19) Common Ground 

When people hear that I do karate, it gives relatable conversation. Most people, even if they haven’t trained, themselves, personally know a martial artist and they have something interesting to say and/or ask. Martial arts give us a common reference point that other lifestyles often don’t provide.

18) Martial Arts Adventures

Martial artists have the worlds of tournaments, special seminars, camps, field trips and even sometimes world travels opened up by their art. That is true for me. I enjoy meeting others and studying the art together.

17) Seeing Others Improve Themselves

I don’t always have to be involved, but karate is. I’ve seen others quit smoking, lose weight, gain muscle, reach out in friendship, leave abusive relationships, and improve their grades. And all because of karate empowering them to make healthy choices.

16) Helping Others Improve Their Lives

Sometimes I help in the above and support students in getting to a better place in life. That is one path to happiness.

Always Getting Better

15) Striving for Excellence

I, myself, must exemplify life-improving choices. And I gain the myriad benefits from this path. This way that I love karate is, however, three-fourths of the way down my list, because, even though it is very helpful and gratifying in my life, I admit that it is hard!

14) Fun Workout

This was one of my first reasons that I love karate. I was never really an active person. But karate gave me a way to get moving and get exercise. And because I’m learning a lot of interesting skills, I don’t find it a grueling, tiresome workout.

13) Strength Building

This is separate from the above, because karate is more than just the strength of being fit. Add to that the challenges of improving your overall ability to move in the world and around other people. And the emotional strength you gain from karate. Plus, the stronger willpower and the cultivation of a fighting spirit.

12) Ninja Challenges

These can happen in class as we perform activities that improve eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, balance, etc. And they can happen in real life, like when I deftly caught the edges of the plastic holding orange peels, as it fell, before a single one fell to the floor. Karate win!

11) Games with a Purpose

We incorporate karate games into classes, especially when there are kids participating. I love the games as much as they do. And I enjoy coming up with new ones and trying them out.

10) I Love Karate for the Positive Support Group

It has been my experience that the vast majority of people at the dojo are improving themselves. And they encourage their dojo mates to do the same, in a positive, supportive way.

I love karate for the positive support and fun workout

A Positive Dojo and a Positive Individual

9) Positive Attitude

I don’t remember being instructed or encouraged in a positive attitude until after I became a karate student. I know that instructors are people too, and not all karate instructors have a positive attitude. But I hope it’s the norm. My experience is that both of my main martial arts mentors are living examples of choosing to adopt positive attitudes.

8) Historical Tradition

Traditional karate is a living art. The people of the Ryukyu Kingdom learned it and passed it down. They developed it in a conscientious, thoughtful way as they started teaching members of their community. When we went to Okinawa, a native man there expressed his appreciation that we are perpetrating his country’s art.

7) Being a Part of Something Bigger

Separate from the above, today, now, we are a part of something bigger than just our own singular improvement and karate coolness. We are part of a dojo, no matter how small, which helps each member to learn and grow. Our dojo is a part of the URKA (an international alliance of traditional dojos). And we are all a part of the martial arts community, which brings good things into the world.

6) Making the World a Better Place

How does karate do this? It holds up values such as respect and peace. And if someone is disrupting the peace and trying to hurt others, traditional karate was designed to put an immediate and effective stop to that person’s actions. The more people that practice traditional martial arts, the better the world may be.

The Most Traditional Teachings are some of the Top Reasons I Love Karate

5) Traditional Values

Our style of traditional Okinawan karate upholds the traditional values of good moral character, honesty, perseverance, respect and restraint. It is sad that today many organizations and people let go of such values. Not only do these values help make the world more peaceful and hospitable, they help each individual who practices them to lead a better personal life.

4) Self Defense Skills

Traditional karate was developed for the self defense ability. It is tried and true and I know that it works. Enough said.

3) Goal Setting

My karate training introduced me to setting, pursuing and attaining goals. That has been a life-changer for me. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t set goals you’ll never reach them.” And my favorite quote of his which I find rather funny, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

2) Knowing my Family can Protect Themselves

As a mother, it gives me a deep sense of peace to know that if my children had to protect themselves, they are highly skilled to do so. And as a wife, it doesn’t hurt to know without a doubt that my husband can handle himself in dangerous situations.

1) Confidence

Confidence is my number one thing that I love karate for, and this has changed my life immensely. You can read more about it in my prior blog, here.

The poem, “How do I Love Thee?” inspired this blog’s title. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote it in the 1800s. For me, this poem could be all about how I love karate. Along the way, I have met other karate practitioners who have a similar passion for the art. I am privileged that some of them are my students. And some others are my mentors. And I am grateful for all of them.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Leave a Comment