What is the purpose of Karate?
To become famous?
To be looked upon like some semi-god and bowed to? Of course I don’t think anybody actually thinks that way (although some probably do). But as a matter of fact, with Karate comes knowledge, and as we all know, knowledge is in fact power. So… it’s only natural that some people will use it in more or less sneaky ways. But let’s just forget that ugly side of the coin for now.
I ask again, what is the purpose of Karate?
“The purpose of Karate is to make the muscles and bones hard as rock and to use the hands and legs as spears”
That was said by Itosu Anko, the “father of modern Karate”. In that quote he specifically addressed the physical side of Karate.
And many people are stuck here. If you ask them what the purpose of Karate is, they will most probably say something “physical” along the lines of Itosu Anko. Maybe “to get stronger/faster/flexible” or something else.
And that’s fine.
Lets do a quiz. And this isn’t like other quizzes… So don’t bother getting a pen and paper. Just read the questions and answer them in your head.
Easy enough? Ok, here we go:
- Name the five wealthiest people in the world
- Name the last five Oscar/Academy Award winners for Best Actor/Actress
- Name the last five winners of the Miss World contest
- Name ten people who have won the Nobel (or Pulitzer) prize
- Name the last five World Record holders in any Olympic sport
- Name five great living democratic leaders from different countries
How did you do? I can say that I did really bad.
I guess you did too.
The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday.
And these are no second-rate achievers. They’re the best in their fields.
But the applause dies. Achievements are forgotten. Awards fade. Diplomas and certificates are buried with their owners.
That’s the truth.
Now here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:
- List a few teachers who aided your journey through school
- Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time
- Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special
- Think of five people you enjoy spending time with
- Name a couple of actual heroes whose stories have inspired you
- Name five people who have taught you something worth knowing
How did it go?
It was easier, wasn’t it?
The lesson? The people who make a difference in your life aren’t the ones with the most credentials, the most money, most expensive stuff or the most awards. They’re the ones who care…. and how they make you feel.
You forget names and titles.
But you never forget the feeling people give you.
When you train Karate, take every training as an opportunity to practise this! And when you are going to the training think of the true purpose of Karate. Not the physical side that we discussed, because at least I don’t think that is the real purpose. Learning self-defense is cool, and getting stronger is great, but that is just a bonus, or side effect if you will (and if you really want self-defense, go buy a Magnum .45…)
Give a compliment once in a while. Help others. Show others. Maybe teach something.
Laugh. Make others feel happy, and good about themselves. You will feel good in return. Take every training as an opportunity to make people glad to be there with you.
Enhance the quality of the people around you, and you will get it in return. Sometimes it’s just more important to be kind than to be right (I know, I know, now I sound like the back of a random pocket hippie best-seller in your nearest book store).
But I mean, if we think the purpose of Karate actually is the physical side, “using the hands and legs as spears”… well, aren’t we then just wasting our time while fooling ourselves at the same time, trying to win competitions, showing off our black and bruised knuckles while getting ranks and titles to impress people?
Do the quiz again if you want a reminder.
In the end, maybe the purpose of Karate… is not that different from the purpose of Life?