August 2009 - Lesson of the month
SELF-ESTEEM AND KARATE
The lesson of respect:
One of the first lessons of karate is respect. The child is taught to respect the instructors as well as the other students, the dojo, and himself/herself. The student learns that even opponents preparing to engage in combat bow to one another. Having good role models is important in the development of a child. Karate training starts as a relationship between the child and the instructor, a respected adult role model, who lets the child know exactly what is expected of him. Children strive to meet the expectations placed upon him, he feels capable and valuable.
Communication and Attention:
The karate instructor’s job includes communicating with the students on their progress. The instructor spends time focusing on individual needs of each student so that individual progress is made. In addition, the karate dojo is a wonderful place for your child to meet new friends with similar interests. It is a great environment in which children can practice communication and social skills.
In karate training, discipline is an important ingredient. It takes discipline to consistently focus on improving one’s skill. It takes discipline to consistently come to practice and to concentrate on the work. Karate focuses on positive action and the accomplishment of mental as well as physical feats. It is the philosophy of karate that both the body and the mind must be disciplined in order to overcome the obstacles that hinder one’s growth.
Discipline is essential to developing healthy self-esteem. Another benefit that comes from this disciplined approach is the improved ability to concentrate on achieving a goal. This increased concentration carries over into other areas of child’s life, including school work and team sports.
In addition, in the karate dojo, as a child gains in ranking, other students begin to look him for guidance. He learns to feel confident in his abilities. He learns to effectively communicate what he knows to others. And he makes new friends. Although mastering a martial art can be fun and rewarding, it is not easy. Karate requires much preparation and practice. This value of preparation and practice instills a sense of responsibility in a child. Although karate training takes place in a team atmosphere, it is essentially a sport and art of individual accomplishment. The student strives to improve his skills for his own benefit, and this reinforces the idea that he, in and of himself, is an important and valuable person. The karate student is taught to identify his unique strengths, and take pride in them.
One important side effect of responsibility is the realization that, ultimately, the individual alone makes the difference in how well he does in an endeavor. A sense of responsibility adds to the self-esteem of a child because he realizes that he is in control of his own behavior, that he can make a difference. And that the achievements of goals are possible when he applies to them.
In karate dojo, students take on many responsibilities. They are responsible for their own accomplishments, for showing up for practice on time, for eating right and taking care of their bodies, for their treatment of other students, and for picking up after themselves. When the child moves up in rank and earns the honor of the next belt color, he learns the valuable lesson that responsibility feels good! The belt is a sign of how much hard work has committed to the goal of moving forward in the art. It is a sign respected by the other students in the dojo. It is a proven positive reinforcement.
Recognition and Praise:
The need for approval and recognition from others is very important, especially for children. The job of martial art instructor is to let the child know what is expected, and encourage the child with the knowledge that, although the goal of reaching the next belt level will require work and effort, it is attainable. The Karate instructor is trained to effectively teach the art by regarding students with the attention and recognition they need when they have accomplished a goal.
Reinforcing positive behavior is essential for the proper development of both a child’s positive behavior and self-esteem. Karate incorporates positive reinforcement into a program of self improvement based on a system of structured goals. The student learns to have confidence in himself, to praise himself, and value his own efforts and talents.
One of the more obvious benefits that come from practicing karate is the respect of a healthier, more fit body and mind. Children who learn karate gain improved agility, balance, coordination, and reflexes. And this translates into better performance in team sports.
Sometimes children who before might have been passed over when it was time to choose teammate in baseball game are now first around draft picks. Karate students also more often than not see improvements in their grades at school and the quality of their schoolwork. This provides the child with yet another area in which he can be proud of himself.
The true armor that karate gives to a person is the strength of self-esteem. Strong values make the child a stronger person. In karate he learns respect for others. He learns to avoid dangerous situations, yet feels confident in his ability to defend himself. He feels proud of his successes in the dojo, on the field, and in the classroom.
He learns to think positively, to have belief in his abilities, and to look forward to new challenges. Training in karate provides the focus in all goals, the method to achieve them, the patience of learning skills one step at a time, and the positive reinforcement kids need. The martial arts can build your child’s self-esteem, step by step, by improving his physical and mental abilities, teaching him discipline and responsibility, improving his social skills, and instilling a deep rooted confidence in his own abilities.
As parents, you want the best for your children. You want them to grow up to be good people, successful and happy. You want them to make friends and feel good about themselves. You want them to recognize their strengths, use their talents, and believe in their own ability to achieve what they want. When a child can take pride in his actions and what he can accomplish, he gains a sense of direction and purpose, increased confidence, and improved feeling of self-esteem.
Karate training is a structured, time-proven way to achieve all these benefits. Your child will enjoy the training that instills these values. Values that he will carry forward with him throughout his life.
July 2009 - Lesson of the month
KATA and KATA-CHI
It is not a coincidence that the word “Kata” and “Kat-chi” overlap in meaning. Therefore, it is surprising that nearly all Karateka (Karate stylists) know the first word, yet virtually no one is familiar with the second.
The Ka of Kata comes from the character for “God”; the “ta” means “a field of corps". And so we may infer that Kata, among other things, reveal the link between man’s fundamental nature – toiling on earth—and his aspirations to the divine. Indeed watching Kata we can see movements which must have their origin in sowing and harvesting, and those which mirror religious rites. Kata exists not just in Karate-Do, of course. We find Kata in ceremonies, in Noh drama, in nearly all disciplines in Japan ritualized series of movements intended both to polish one’s techniques and convey a feeling.
When the character “Chi” is added to Kata, the second meaning becomes clearer. Chi denotes a deep and not easily explained sense of power. Ikazuchi, for example, are the deities within the lightning, according to Japanese folklore; Mizuchi are the Gods of water.
Often when a well-trained Karateka is asked if he knows a Kata, he’ll reply “I know the outside movements”. What he means is that he has memorized the physical actions. At this stage, the Kata is an exercise, a catalog of techniques partially revealed to him. Initially, his practice related only to his body, forcing it to make appropriate motions. Soon, his mind is engaged as well, as he tries to memorize the Kata, to compare it with previous forms he has experienced.
At this point, many Karateka believe their Kata performance can be improved only by further practice, solidifying it in their memory, honing their bodies to a faster and stronger application. They are incorrect. Their Kata, no matter how long it is practiced, will still lack that certain something------which is Katachi.
When Kata is infused with Katachi, it glows; power emanates; it resonates. Even slow movements express feeling. Pauses in the Kata have a sense of purpose when Katachi is present. The Kata executed not with just hands and feet; it flashed from the eye, exudes from the reparation. The Kata imbued with Katachi possesses qualities beyond the physical, even beyond mental boundaries.
Observers will be spell-bound, and the performer will seem to be in the center of terrific energy.