I hope this doesn’t come across as bragging. It’s not meant to be an ego trip. But karate empowered me in many ways and I want to share with you the practicalities of how that plays out in my life away from martial arts. Every once in a while the realization hits me. I am astonished at the things a once shy, sensitive, sad little girl could grow to accomplish in adulthood. And that is only with the confidence earned in traditional karate combined with the leadership skills required of an advanced practitioner.
KARATE EMPOWERED ME TO CAPTAIN NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH
This was the first accomplishment that made it evident that karate was changing me. A letter went out in our neighborhood saying we needed a new Neighborhood Watch captain. I wanted to promote safety and prevent crime in our area. So I volunteered and started to get our neighbors organized. Without the people skills, positive support and practice at initiating interactions that I had learned at the dojo, I would not have considered captain-hood. Karate empowered me to lead our community group.
KARATE EMPOWERED ME TO LEAD DANCES
Learning and practicing the moves in karate helped me to follow and learn folk dances with a local group. When we had a family reunion coming up, we thought it would be fun to do some folk dancing. My leadership experiences in karate empowered me to take it upon myself to learn the dances, often taking notes, and to learn the names of the songs. Then I led all ages of family in folk dancing at our reunion. Karate empowered me to teach and lead active motions, in an enjoyable manner. We learn best while having fun.
KARATE EMPOWERED ME TO START CONVERSATIONS
I remember Newland Renshi saying, “We have new people starting up at the dojo, and your responsibility is to say hello and introduce yourself.” I followed his instructions, and over the years karate empowered me to instigate many successful interactions. As I ranked up, initiating conversations with newcomers became more and more my responsibility. Although I am an introvert, I have used those practiced skills at parties, conferences, meetings, and even after-funeral receptions.
KARATE EMPOWERED ME TO TALK AT FUNERALS
Speaking of funerals, karate has empowered me to do something I’m certain I would never have the wherewithal to do otherwise. That is to get up at funerals and address the crowd in order to honor loved ones. Before the first such time, at my grandpa’s funeral, I didn’t even know if I could pull it off. But my sister-in-law showed her undying support. And I pulled on my experiences of addressing all-ages karate classes, on both good days and bad. And I got up there and I paid homage in gratitude for his life. I also used my skills to do this for other loved ones later.
KARATE EMPOWERED ME TO SHOW GRATITUDE
Speaking of gratitude, it’s best to show it when the person is alive. At the dojo I learned that it’s acceptable and desirable to go up to a person immediately after a class, talk or concert, and thank them for sharing their time and talents. I have done this with musicians and industry professionals. Karate empowered me to have the confidence, humbleness, and initiative to take the time to be grateful to other human beings when they have generously shared their time.
As a karate instructor, I commit myself to teaching even on the bad, grieving, low energy days. When I go to the dojo feeling like that, I bow in and do my best to leave it all outside. I focus on my students, what they need to learn, and what class activities will help this. By the end of classes, I’m sure to feel better. Most times 100 percent better. And in the long run, the skills built on those bad days help me even more to operate meaningfully outside of the dojo.
Karate empowers me in many ways. Practitioners, how does training in karate empower you outside the dojo?