Young children may refer to class as “playing karate.”  However they will also play at cleaning house, going to the office, and building things.  Karate requires hard work; all martial arts do, when done right.


Karate physically challenges us, not just in endurance or strength, but also in balance, coordination and agility.  That’s good news; if you challenge those physical abilities then you will improve them.  Ryukyu Kempo requires mental work; there is a lot to learn, memorize, and put into practice.  The martial arts test us emotionally.  In training you learn about yourself and your own deepest ways of thinking, seeing, and feeling about other people, the world and your place in it.  This test often goes on unseen, and emotional hurdles may only bubble up occasionally for some karateka .

Karate is hugely satisfying, with the benefits of: a workout; a class where you learn applicable skills;  belonging to a positive, supportive group; the confidence of knowing you can protect yourself and others; and the pride in accomplishments you have earned.  Martial arts can be fun, but make no mistake, karate highly challenges the student.


A parent telling their karateka offspring that if they don’t get their grades up, they will take them out of karate is like Marge Simpson telling Homer that if he doesn’t take the trash out when full, then she will stop making him go to church with her.  Homer would look at that ultimatum and see that not only does he have the chance to continue being lazy, he also will not have to get up early on Sunday, shave, dress up, or try to understand or practice the church’s teachings.

The work at the dojo is hard, not child’s play.  Young students, as well as many adults, will take easy the path of relaxing and no longer attending karate classes.  “Not having to turn off screens to go to class, change into a gi, or try to learn or practice Ryukyu Kempo?  Less working out?  No pressure to represent my dojo teachers and students?  Less reminders, outside of the home, to be a good person, be honest, persevere, use respect, or use restraint?  I won’t have to work hard?  “Sign me up,” they say, “or better yet, I don’t have to do anything at all. Bring on the indolence!”

By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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