The Endless List of Karate Feelings

By Jesse | 50 Comments
  • That mixed feeling of frustration and letdown; not having punched even harder, faster and better than your previous punch – as you’re standing in front of the mirror practising your punches.
  • That bitter feeling of having to stop practising a technique because you know that your muscles are starting to get tired, yet you desperately know you need to practise more, and more, and more – but don’t want to sacrifice quality over quantity.
  • That near-death, close-to-the-edge, feeling of twirling a heavy Kobudo weapon in 120 mph; not knowing whether it will violently spin out of control and kill somebody – or successfully arrive safely in your hand.
  • That feeling of just wanting to practise a technique over and over and over again – all night long if you have to – because it is one of those rare moments when you can actually feel a (small) sense of joy and improvement in E-V-E-R-Y single execution of the movement. Happiness in motion.
  • That feeling of silently thinking “Oh… my… god? Is this for real? Am I about to do a perfect kata? This is a historical moment!” as you approach the end of one of the most difficult katas you now – just to miserably fail the next move precisely because you naïvely thought that this would be the “perfect” kata.
  • The feeling of looking into a parents face when they tell you how their kids attention deficit hyperactivity problems seems to have completely vanished ever since they enrolled in your Karate school.
  • That feeling when you, without even having planned it, seemingly effortlessly tie together a perfect 1.5 hour thread of knowledge during Karate class, as you approach the crescendo and connect all exercises throughout class; into a sum that is ultimately greater than its parts.
  • The feeling of disappointment as you later realize that almost nobody understood the gist of the class you just gave – perhaps still being stuck in the first or second exercise you did. Probably like conducting a world class symphony orchestra, only to later hear that the audience was sleeping the whole time.
  • That strange feeling of compassion in the heat of battle – as you look into the hazy eyes of the opponent you’ve just kicked to pieces – knowing that all he really wanted was a hug and somebody to tell him that they’re proud of him.
  • That feeling of looking at a young promising athlete – who kicks way higher than you, punches way faster than you, and screams way louder than you – knowing that in five years he will have grown tired of Karate, and you will still be standing in the dojo working on some tiny detail that you “still haven’t got hang of”, just yet.
  • That feeling of teaching a set of seemingly random, nasty, simple self-defense Karate movements to a class – only to hear somebody in the back silently whisper “Hey, that looks just like kata X!”; when that was the idea the whole time.
  • That feeling of secretly preparing to poke your opponent’s eyes out, smash his Adam’s apple in, fish hook his cheeks to shreds and pulverize his shinbone (with your hidden tekko); as your opponent puts on his 4 oz UFC gloves, loudly declaring that your silly Karate, “where you’re not even allowed to touch your opponent!” has got nothing on his ultimate fighting art of MMA.
  • That undescribable feeling of putting on a white belt – when visiting a new place or learning from a new friend – seeing if and how you will be treated.
  • That feeling of asking your sensei to teach you something which they have already taught you earlier, but you have neglected to practise. Sorry, I just realized that there can’t possibly exist people who actually have the stomach to do this?
  • That feeling of knowing that even though everybody in the dojo is nodding enthusiastically as your sensei speaks, you are the only one who really understands what he is talking about; because reading (the right) books have been your pastime obsession your whole life.
  • That feeling of seeing somebody great; and actually looking forward to all the training that will hopefully take you to their level in ten years.
  • That feeling of seeing your opponent leave an opening, catching the moment and flying in head first – not realizing it was a trap until it’s too late to turn back – and all you can do is close your eyes, suck your vital parts in, and hope that he has mercy on you.
  • That adrenaline filled feeling of doing all-out, 120%, Kobudo kumite – with live weapons and no protectors -  knowing that one wrong move on your part means sudden defeat; weapons whistling dangerously close to your head.
  • That feeling of having survived both of the situations previously described.
  • That sweet feeling of knowing that by making your students laugh a little, sweat a little, talk a little, and learn a little – you’re steadily adding not only to their weekly progress in the dojo per se; but more importantly, to their daily life quality overall.
  • That feeling of seeing the spirit of an 11-year old junior black belt girl – with a swollen and bandaged hand – doing thrice the number of push-ups the adults around her did before they gave up.
  • That feeling of walking down the street, knowing that you can break anybody ;)

Your turn.

About the author

is a self-titled Karate Nerd™, best-selling martial arts writer, unreasonably handsome elite athlete, autodidact, karatepreneur and carrot cake aficionado. He really thinks you should become a Karate Nerd™ too.


  1. Chris

    December 10, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    That feeling of relief when your sensei says “and stop” just as you were about to drop you arms out of position after holding the last position of a kata for AGES while everyone else catches up/takes instruction from your sensei.

  2. lionel

    December 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    That feeling of… “What for years you thought was complex, is suddenly quite simple, and you feel stupid for holding onto those dumb ideas for so long.”

  3. andi

    December 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    The feeling of having practiced your secret most beloved Kata for years and years only in order to have to do in on an Enbu with a strange robot-counting which is not yours at all.

  4. cipo

    December 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    That feeling of watching white belts do kihon in a very wrong, awkward, silly manner and smile remembering that you used to be like that…

  5. Deshi

    December 10, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    That feeling of the almost-christmas-like excitement when you learn something new about the history of karate that you know will lead to some great research in the near future.

  6. Diego Romero

    December 11, 2010 at 7:12 am

    the feeling of being too busy to feel because you’re training

    • Jesse

      December 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

      Is that a paradox? ;)

  7. Sayo

    December 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    The feeling of watching your own student for the first time passing end of year exams :)

  8. Alex Kirri

    December 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    -That feeling when your sensei says ‘One more time!’, but really means (and you know he means) ‘One more time five more times!’ :P

    -Knowing that the person in front of you supposedly training, is not committing, and a lack of control on your behalf for a single second will result in lights out for them :P


  9. Mike

    December 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    The feeling that the world, time and space can actually be stopped for what feels like an eternity, but in actuality is a fraction of time, at the moment Sensei counts that thousandth technique. Your body is about to collapse, your lungs about to explode and your mind has never been clearer in that blink of an eye everything comes into focus.

    Thanks Jesse

  10. Leo

    December 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    The feeling of finally understanding a movement for the first time after years of practicing.

    The feeling of not understanding the same, moments after.

  11. Tobias

    December 12, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “as your opponent puts on his 4 oz UFC gloves, loudly declaring that your silly Karate, “where you’re not even allowed to touch your opponent!” has got nothing on his ultimate fighting art of MMA.” -- please, kick this guy’s ass and post it on your youtube channel!!! I’ll donate my house (my parent’s house) to you if you do this!

    • Luis

      December 22, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      The feeling of realizing that you are, indeed, far superior than this prick for not crushing his head and slipping from every attack because you read his clumsy movements ’cause he’s no expert at anything, only at “huggin ryu” (that thing when you go to the mat huggin your opponent and hopping this gives you points to “win” the fight)

      • AlexM

        December 21, 2013 at 5:59 am

        The feeling of realizing, as the UFC guy throws you around like a ragdoll, that sometimes there’s no correlation between bad behavior and lack of skill. And all you can do is swallow your pride and keep on training. For your own sake.

  12. Igor

    December 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    The feeling of…

    - Trying to control the smirk on your face when one of your guys hits his elbow with a nunchak and makes that awesome sound, and waiting to end so you can tease him (in a good way ::)).
    - Gratitude when your sensei tells you that you don’t have to pay until you have enough money, no matter when, as long as you keep practicing.
    - Not going to classes for 4 months and having nightmares about dissapointing your sensei.
    - Pulling of a totally new move during kumite that just popped up during the heat of the fight.
    - The weird feeling that time has slowed down when you evade a hook and have your opponents whole ribcage as your playground.

  13. Julia

    December 18, 2010 at 6:48 am

    The feeling of just having completed an awesome kata-and then being told that your back was bent, your punches were locked, and your head was down.

    • Diego Romero

      December 18, 2010 at 7:03 am

      the feeling of knowing those are the best kinds of compliments a sensei can give

  14. Jim

    December 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    That feeling when you have had to spar the entire class seniors and juniors non stop one after the other that even though you can hardly stand, or hold your hand up to defend yourself that no matter what you are not going down. That feeling is literally the essence of life itself.

    • polerin

      December 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      Though I’m from TKD, I couldn’t agree more. The reaching and surpassing of your limits and realizing that there is more power, grace, and vision in yourself than you ever realized… The realization that it can only become more if you just…. study… MORE!

  15. Igor

    December 19, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Loosing 30 kg and many health problems and defeating your worst enemy: yourself

  16. Joshua grose

    December 20, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    The feeling of Taekwondoe people saying they have better sparrers, and then personally showing them a mix of George Kotaka and Wayne Otto highlights.

  17. Ramon Gonzalez

    December 28, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Hey Jesse, on one of those karate feelings, you put “while belt” was that a typo or something else?
    I love your website very cool, keep doing what you are doing all karate people appreciate it!

    • Jesse

      December 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      It was a typo indeed, thanks! ;)

  18. Oscar

    January 8, 2011 at 6:53 am

    The feeling of reading this website. Thank you Jesse, and thank you everyone :)

  19. ore-sama

    January 20, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    That awkward feeling after winning a practice kumite match with your close friend who is actually a senior from you.

  20. Carla Lunnon

    February 8, 2011 at 5:43 am

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  21. Manuel

    April 11, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    aahaha the last one I love particularly…it made me giggle wide.. =P

  22. Peter

    May 12, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Can I just say what a reduction to find someone who actually is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know methods to bring an issue to light and make it important. More folks need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre no more common since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  23. herrle 58

    May 29, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    The feeling of anger if some drunk tries to start a fight with me, even if i know i can take him down easily without even hurting him and everybody around thinks i acted cool because i didnt.
    But i am ashamed for the anger i felt. :-(

  24. Glenn Lougheed

    May 31, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Admiring the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you provide. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  25. Allegro

    June 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

  26. Evelyne

    June 22, 2011 at 6:49 am

    I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally, I decided to write this post in order to thank you for providing us such a fine content!!! :)

  27. portuguesegojuryu

    June 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    i get that last feeling a lot XDDD it feels so damn good :3

  28. marziotta

    June 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    The feeling you have the first time you train, tired but satisfied, and the energy you didn’t know to have you feel in your body the day after.
    A feeling that doesn’t leave you, ever after one year.
    We’ll see, if I will be that enthusiastic in the future as well. :)

  29. Stotler

    July 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

    This is the correct blog for anyone who wants to seek out out about this topic. You understand so much its nearly hard to argue with you (not that I really would want…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

  30. Evelyne

    July 21, 2011 at 5:35 am

    You’ve got an excellent site. :) I really enjoyed to visit it. I thank you for all that you share with us here. I’ll come again and again to see what’s new.

  31. warrioress

    August 11, 2011 at 2:55 am

    The mixed feeling of shame and pride when you’ve failed despite trying your hardest to perfect a technique, but your sensei sees your effort and compliments you on it.

    And btw, thanks a lot Jesse. Brilliant, amazing, fantastabulous post! ^_^

  32. dave

    September 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    that feeling where you seem to magically see your sensei’s incoming technique, block and counter it…(mushin??)without really thinking…a perfect, fluid, reflexive response…only to be impaled by the next one as you were busy admiring your own progress

  33. Stacey

    March 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    That feeling (lack of feeling?) when you are competing and ALL THAT PRACTICE kicks in, and you are suddenly fighting without trying or thinking, just being and doing.

    That feeling when you see your junior black belt candidate students come close to (or all the way to)tears during testing from exhaustion, effort, and terror of failing, then take a deep breath, straighten up, and continue better and stronger than before.

  34. Matt

    July 12, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Thijnking I am trying to convince my wife to let me spend more money on Karate and getting told to shut up and do it, it’s the best thing I have done in years and she would kick my arse if I stopped!

    • Jesse

      July 12, 2012 at 7:51 pm

      Haha, gotta love it! ;)

  35. Ben

    July 16, 2012 at 5:58 am

    The feeling of pulling your sweat soaked gi from the last training session out of your bag and thinking’eeeuuuuwwwww….’.

    The feeling of putting on the same sweat soaked gi a minute later on a (pick your worse off scenario here) 1/ stinking hot summers evening, 2/ freezing cold winters night.

    The feeling of taking off the same sweat soaked gi at the end of the training and wondering what you were so worked up about 2 hours ago about putting it on, it wasn’t so bad (but you remind yourself to definitely wash it this time because you don’t want to put it on a second time in a row).

    • Vasili Vasilievich

      August 19, 2012 at 5:20 am

      LOL :-D been there done that…

  36. Isaac

    November 24, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    The feeling that when in the dojo what seemed like a hour was really three, that time really stop and you forgot all problems

  37. Jack M

    March 27, 2013 at 2:48 am

    That feeling after a full out full contact sparring session when your focus breaks, your breath catches up with you and pain surges in and you laugh and embrace your partner in your shared agony and satisfaction.

  38. TerrificErik

    May 26, 2013 at 3:08 am

    --That feeling of loss you get when you Best student (whom you’ve trained up from his/her kihon kata) has to leave town and find a new dojo to train.

    --That feeling of peace, you get after you’ve regained the form you lost because you stopped training for 4yrs. feels like you stopped living for exactly that long

    --That feeling of indestructibility you get after training at camp for a competition then participating. you know ur body and mind is in one of the best conditions its ever been in… your walk develops an extra spring…lol

  39. winecandy

    December 19, 2013 at 8:16 am

    The feeling of eating a steak before training, training then eating another steak after training. . .and still being hungry.

    • Jesse

      December 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      I feel ya, winecandy-san! ;)

  40. someone

    March 19, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    The excitement you feel when you finally step into the dojo after you were banned from sports for a month because of an illness.

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