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An Introduction to Motivation in Karate
Mental Training in Karate
It is difficult to imagine anything being more important for achieving success in karate than motivation. Close scrutiny of the training and preparation habits of all great karate-kas can be traced to a combination of physical ability and a drive to be the very best. If the individual wants to strive for the gold medal in a tournament, whether it is of a local or national level, he or she must have the passion to train hard and sustain that effort. Motivation comes in many forms. Sometimes it is internal in nature and comes from a personal desire to find success independent of external rewards. If, on the other hand, it is external in nature, it will come from a desire to gain notoriety, fame, or other form of rewards.
Motivation to achieve success in Karate, however, is not simply an innate drive, such as the drive to satisfy hunger or thirst, but is one that is developed and learned. If the individual’s intrinsic motivation to take part in a tournament is greater than her fear of failing at it, he or she will take part. Self-confidence and motivation are not synonymous concepts, but they are very closely related. A highly motivated karate-ka will tend to be more self-confident about his or her abilities.
The eagerness and goal to join and practice Karate is a good start of intrinsic motivation. The root of the word motivation is the word motive. The Latin form of this word is movere, meaning “to move.” The desire to move, as opposed to remaining stationary, is the essence of motivation. Hence, once a Karate practitioner begins Karate, he or she has begun to move forward in his or her journey of a possible life-long practice. This is the way and beauty of Karate, when you pursue this art with a heart that is not only eager to practice the physical aspects in the dojo, but to also incorporate the spirituality of the art in your daily life.
By Christine Lesslar Work
San dan in Goju Ryu Karate
Senior Students at Traditional Karate Center
Sugar Land Texas
As Goju founder Chojun Miyagi said, “the essence of Karate is within the kata.” When looking at the Karate of today, we see that it is a sport, a pastime, an art, and more. Everyone who studies does so for their own individual reason, with their own individual purpose. Regardless of this fact, the original spirit of Karate does still remain. It remains crystallized in the kata; hidden within forms, like poems, whereas meaning waits dormant for a worthy practitioner’s interpretation. Karate is what you make of it; give a lot and you will get a lot. Look deeply into the katas if you wish to understand this essence.
Master Yoshio Hichiya Hanshi, 10th Dan, Performing Sanchin KataAs stated above, everyone has a different purpose in studying Karate. Some do it for the conditioning aspect, some for the art, some for the kumite, some for the kata. But kata is the root of Karate. Study kata whole-heartedly or as a secondary priority and the benefits will apply to everything. Kumite is just a branch of the tree. It is a highly regulated sport whereas the original kata techniques have been redesigned for scoring highly visible points*. Kata has hidden within it the techniques and concepts designed to defeat and destroy an opponent, not score points. Even so, train Kururunfa and learn to spar at a very close range. Train Seiunchin and learn to fight low and throw. Kumite aspects are a perversion of what was originally within kata. Practice kata and it will positively affect your kumite.
For those who study for the art, kata also has within concepts of an artistic/philosophical nature. For example, every kata’s first technique is a block. Interpreting kata is like interpreting any piece of art. There are many ‘correct’ interpretations and also many ‘incorrect’ interpretations. If you have a favorite kata, try to understand why. There is something hidden within, possibly below consciousness, that attracts you. In this way, like all art, kata can serve as a mirror for reflection.
And lastly, for those who most value the conditioning aspect of Karate, kata is an absolutely demanding and well-rounded physical and mental exercise. Kata is moving meditation. The kata “Sanchin,” for example, is usually translated as “three conflicts” or “three battles.” The three battles supposedly refer to the battle between the body, spirit, and the mind. It requires, like every kata, intense focus and discipline.
Practicing kata earnestly will make you strong physically, spiritually, and mentally. The path of Karate has no end except that which you make. Learn to read, then read to learn.
” I am not meaning to say that kumite is worthless or that it should be less regarded. Concepts like distance, rhythm, timing, and control are most safely developed through Kumite training.”
By Nathan Work
4th Dan JKF GOJU KAI
Instructor The Traditional Karate Center
Sugar Land, TEXAS