Confessions of a Karate Nerd™


Deep down, that’s the force that drives us.

Or at least, it used to drive us.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a magician. I became a Karate Nerd™ instead.

Back when things we’re much simpler.

As kids, our possibilities always seemed endless and amazing. There was no limit to our passion.

We awed at each new experience and gave freely with our hearts. We had passion for everything we did – whether it was running, playing in the woods or picking our nose – because nobody had yet told us to hold back.

Pirates, astronauts, aliens, kung-fu masters…

We could be ANYTHING we wanted.

But, as we moved on to adulthood, reality roundhouse kicked us in the liver. Without mercy. Along with that reality came a whole bunch of responsibilities, which gradually shifted our outlook on life.

As we grew up, our whole belief system changed – without us even knowing it.

We substituted ‘passion’ with ‘comfort’.

And that was the biggest mistake of our life.


Because we became afraid of passion.

We thought it was reserved for other people.

We found comfort in routine. We became irritated with people who seemed happy all the time. We called them ‘naive’. We turned inward. We became cynical. We got lulled into a Disney-like sense of stability, with a 9-5 job, because it was “secure”, “normal” and “expected” of us. We got an education to make our parents proud, and then a job to pay for the things we bought to make ourselves proud.


In the process, we forgot about that child we used to be.

With hopes and big dreams.

So we began to feed our own ego to cover it up. We became selfish. We focused on our immediate needs and wants, because to satisfy them gave us temporary relief from our fake life. We silenced that naive child inside of us, too afraid to release it into the adult world. To afraid of what people would think.

We forgot where we came from.

“Three things cannot be hidden for long: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Buddha

And if you ask me, it’s time to resurrect this lost part of us. This passion. Because, believe it or not, all hope is NOT lost.

There’s ALWAYS hope.

That hope is spelled:


See, the strength to resurrect your true passion can only come from being completely honest with yourself.

But listen…

I’m not a “life coach”.

I’m just a Karate Nerd™.

Coincidentally, though, life often intersects with Karate – especially if you consider Karate more than just a sport. So, since Karate is a passion of yours, let’s apply some honesty to it, shall we?

Ask yourself this:

Why are YOU doing Karate?


Are you doing it for yourself, or for somebody else? Why? (Why not?). Why did you start? Why do you continue? Take a minute to examine yourself. Then…

Leave a comment & let me know.


You’re shy.

I get it.

I’ll go first:

“Why am I doing Karate?”

I train Karate because I’ve been doing it since I was little. I never chose it. My parents did. And today I keep doing it because if I ever stop I will feel like my childhood was partially wasted.

(Stupid argument, I know, but that’s how I rationalize it.)

That being said, Karate gave me passion, direction, belief, identity, confidence and strength of body and mind. For that, I’m immensely grateful. Although it’s a really weird lifestyle today, as an adult, and although I’m constantly afraid of being asked “What do you work with?”, Karate taught me almost everything I know. And I think that’s pretty cool.

But to me, Karate is like brushing my teeth.

Or taking a shower.

Or taking a crap.

I’ve always been doing it.

So it pains me more NOT to do it than to do it.

Recently, my passion for Karate made me launch my own Karate uniform (gi). Will it succeed? Dang right it will. Because I’ve decided so.

And that’s why I keep doing it.




But the stronger a passion is, the more sacrifice it will always require.

That’s why the universal symbol of passion is fire, right? It gives you warmth… but it burns you too.

In my case, this means I have had to make some sacrifices. (Beside the obvious ones, like pretending to break air bricks at every dinner party I attend, and fake a hearty laugh when people tell me they wouldn’t want to “meet me in a dark alley”, for the 137th time.)

But that’s okay.

At least I’m not stuck in a cubicle, dreaming of escaping a dispassionate life.

You see, deep down, my true passion is…


And that’s why I keep doing Karate.

Because to me, Karate is a Way of Life.

And I love life too much.

To ever quit.





  • Jack M
    I love karate very much, I love doing it, I love being it. What better reason could there be.
  • Sören
    To fulfill a child-dream of mine: To become a Karate instructor who can stand in front of 100 or more students and tell them something so easy and deep at once that they just freak out in a state of understanding something. To hold on to a dream that was merely implandet into my mind with Mortal Kombat back in 1995 at the age of 10 letting me say: "I want to be like them!" (The movie really implanted the Karate-virus into my body, mind, soul, heart, even more than the games did.) To be one of the good guys. :D
  • Pete
    Mine is almost like your's Jesse-san. I started in shorin-ryu when I was 8. When I was 16 I moved, 1500 Miles from My Sensei, But still, Had to Keep Training. So I flew back and trained a few times a year, Sent VHS tapes of me doing kata, etc. it was hard...still is. When I was 21 I took a 4 year hiatus to "get life going" (plus an non supportive Girl) It was awful! I had nightmares about it. The Disappointment to my teacher and Parents etc. Finally got off my butt, ditched the girl (for a number of reasons) and got back. Started training a friend so I had a work out partner... Few more friends wanted to join... before I knew it. I had a small school. Now we're training hard Opening new doors for people to join up Train ing Traditional Karate/Kobudo. Its been awesome. Teaching people has taught me so much, The questions that I've never thought of has made me find answers and improved my skills and knowledge. Thanks for all the reading material Jesse San.
  • Adrian
    Love it ! It's just good fun! The people I train with at my dojo are good people! The people I meet at seminars are good people! The ethos, the tradition, the etiquette make you want, and need, to train more, and harder! It kind of becomes a way of life. It makes me happy. :0)
  • I started karate at 18, 1st year University because all the other sports seemed way too intense and "serious" for me. I kept training because it was fun, and I liked the people I trained with. I stopped training because "life got in the way" - building a career, building a marriage. Before I started training again, I went through a few other activities in order to keep fit... and in time I realized that I wasn't motivated by them or passionate about them because they "didn't make sense" anymore. Karate changed my perspective on the world as a whole, and now it's a laugh to think about playing Badminton or Volleyball or standing on an Elliptical machine... or even doing Zumba. Others may find them fun, but my brain asks me "but what do you USE it for?" These days at 40, I train because it's through the consumption, processing and sharing of knowledge that I find myself the most excited and passionate about life. With many years of experience in the consumption and processing phase, I'm VERY excited to be able to share my knowledge through my own teaching slot at my club, and through my website, blog and YouTube channel! Osu, thank you for your question and for your perspective too! Jill in Winnipeg Admin of MyShotokan PS: I was a swimmer as a kid, perhaps that's why I never felt it was a waste of my childhood to move to a new sport. Life skill, etc.
  • Julie D.
    I love feeling strong and the mind-body connection I get from Karate. I love how Karate saved me from the pity party of chemo. I love how when I empty my mind, my Karate magically improves. Don't always want to get off my butt and go to class, but I love doing Karate.
  • Agata
    My parent's didn't chosen karateto me, I have chosen it by myself, at first I thought that it's just a sport, but day by day, Karate became my biggest passion, I can't outlast even one day not doing karate. Karate is my way of life.
  • Elsa
    I started karate when I was 17. The reason to train karate was to get more self-confidence. I was a shy girl, who was regurlar being teased in (and out) school. I had quit with horseriding and was looking for something else. I am now almost 32 and still training. Almost every day I am doing something with karate. It is becoming a way of life more and more. For more than 3 years now I am teaching karate to children and adults. It is wonderful to watch children grow in their self-confidince while they are training karate. Sometimes children come to me and tell me how they have stopped other children teasing them. And at that moments I wished I started karate at 6... When I see myself when I am 60 or something, I do not know where I will be, but I am surely still teaching the way of karate to other people.
  • I started karate a couple of years ago because I needed some form of exercise, and it seemed like a martial art was a good way to stay motivated/disciplined in the long term. I continue to train because I love it. Even with all the pain and frustration, it's never boring. It constantly engages and challenges me in constructive ways; physically, intellectually, and personally. My life is better on track now than it's ever been. I won't pretend that's solely thanks to karate, but it's certainly played an invaluable part.
  • because...............I........................can. And I love learning, and exploring and having fun with my friends - all of whom also train in Karate. As does my family. Oh, and its my aspie obsession.
  • I LOVE ROUTINE! After over a decade of working in prisons and war zones as a humanitarian, I love knowing what's going to happen each day of the week, especially my karate training. The dojo is a place where I don't have to be anything other than who I am. Nobody cares about what what I did or didn't achieve in my work life, what I'm wearing, if I watched the latest episode of whatever sitcom, or what I plan to do with the rest of my life. We just show up and train. It's a chance to be really present in a life that has been and can still get very chaotic at times and I cherish that.
  • Paul
    Oss Jesse san, I have come to karate late in life (54yrs young). On the 14th November 2011 at 9:45 am I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, a time and date I will never forget. As you can imagine this was devastating, both for myself and my family. I attended the physiotherapy department at are local hospital to help me cope with my mobility and balance on a daily basis. My physio at the time was a young lady called Siobhan (pronounced "Shove On ") and she had told me that she practised the art of Shotokan Karate, she had suggested that I come along to one of her classes as she believed that I could benefit from karate. I was also advised to keep as active as possible for as long as I could by my Neurologist . And so I decided to attend the next class, this has got to be one of the best decision's that I have ever made. I noticed and vast improvement on my over all mobility , balance and not to mention , state of mind. Shotokan karate has helped me cope with my diagnosis of Parkinson's in many way's. I now have a great bunch of friend's who except me for who I am and not stare etc when the tremor's in my hand's are on overdrive. The daily practice of kata has also helped me with the cognitive problem's that are associated with Parkinson's. In short karate has given me something to live for, as I have discovered that it is addictive and that I find the harder I train , the more I want to learn. I train every other day along with my Sensei, unless Mr Parkinson is having a bad day! Karate has given me the confidence to face my diagnosis head on and to fight the fight and not give in to this degenerative condition Osu,
  • Bruno Menezes
    I was around 15 years old when I finished watching Van Damme's Bloodsport for the first time (and believe me I've whatch it many, many other times since then) and straight away I knew that I had to train some kind of martial art! The thought that through some kind of training regimen one could get stronger, agile, self-confidente and unafraid of any bully (or even a bunch of them) seemed so appealing to me! Even before attending karate lessons, me and a very close friend of mine (till this date) started imitating Van Damme's moves from his films, even those crazy groin-riping splits that aked for 3 days in a row! It didn't matter, we we're living the dream! Back then there weren't many places where you could find a martial art school in the area, in fact there were only a couple of Karate schools in the region (hence I lived and still live in a 75Km2 island...) and nothing else! Soon after me and my buddy joined one of those Karate schools together. A few months later he quit but I persisted and continued...I admit that often times I wish I had quit aswell but somehow for some reason I always went back to practise, class after class, week after week, year after year and today I can honestly and proudly say that my personality, my convictions, my beliefs, the way I look at life and the World I owe to Karate! That's why today it gives me so much pleasure teaching Karate to others, trying to pass on to them the same passion that I had and still have practicing the art, for as long as my body and mind will let me! P.S.- my long time buddy came back to Karate a few years back and now he is also teaching! That's Karate! Cheers!
  • Keith
    Two things came up in class that I think best answer this question. One of the younger black belts said, "Go to your happy place." I was already there, in the dojo. Then a short while later another person said, "It is 80% mental and 20% physical." That is when it really hit me. I must be mental. I train, because I can't imagine not training. K
  • Paul Mc Court
    Oss Jesse san, I came to karate late in life (54 yrs young). On the 14th of November 2011 at 9:45 am I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. A time and date that I will never forget. A few week's later I had to attend the physiotherapy department at are local hospital to help me with my mobility and balance. The physio treating me was a young lady called Siobhan (pronounced "Shove On ") she had suggested that I take up karate , as she had heard that it was known to help people with movement disorder's. Siobhan was 3rd Dan in Shotokan karate and she accompanied me on my first of many karate classes. My neurologist at hospital is also under the believe that the practice of martial arts is very beneficial to people with Parkinson's. In the week's that followed I noticed a vast improvement in my overall condition , not only mobility and balance but also the cognitive problem's that are associated with Parkinson's Disease. Karate has given me a renewed confidence to be able to accept my diagnosis and fight the fight and not give in to this horrible degenerative condition. Through karate I have also made fantastic new friend's who accept me for who I am and not my condition . I also have discovered that karate is addictive, and that the harder I train the more I want to learn . I practice kata on a daily basis, and train with my Sensei every other day. In short I now live ,breath and sleep Karate and I thank Siobhan for introducing me to such an noble art. Osu.
  • Diego Romero
    it's fun, it's an intellectual and physical challenge on multiple levels, and it was a big part of the many factors that got me through my teenage years while remaining psychologically sound.
  • Sebastian
    I first started doing martial arts as a little kid (around 5 or 6 years old) but then stopped for about ten years, since I lived in a town that didn't had much options for training. Then I moved to a city that did and after a couple of years of searching, I met my sensei in a curious manner, but that's another story. At 16 I returned to martial arts simply because I wanted to become a great martial arts master, one of those guys you hear about in great tales of legend, the type that could take on an entire army and barely break a sweat. Also, at the time, I started reading the Tao Te Ching, the Bushido and the Art of War, so I decided that I wanted to follow the budo as a path to achieve virtue and enlightment, as cheesy as it might sound, and become a wise man à la Lao Tse (but with the added benefit of kickassery). I still think that is why I keep doing martial arts.
  • Dan
    In the beginning, I trained just so I had something to occupy myself with. I did acting back then. Casually, next door, there was a karate dojo filled with remarkable people. I didn't feel tired when going to bed those days, so I thought "hey, let's do some exercise!". Karate was a magical thing for me. Like a whole world embraced me, giving me friends (and even a girlfriend) and a passion, but, more importantly, beliefs, which guide me to this day. I trained in that dojo, and that dojo made me travel. A lot. To other cities, other countries. Sometimes not even to compete, but just train (and train, and train). I developed bonds like I never thought I could. I surpassed my limits like I never thought I could. Also, there was the learning. They told me to always keep the mind of the beginner, and such a mind is beautiful. Learning how to strike, how to stand, how to dodge. Learning that those little dances were actually recipes holding everything a warrior is proud to have. And I've been curious ever since. If anything, I started karate to do stuff that would get me tired. Now, I do karate because I love martial arts. It's not about beating people (I've always felt like hugging my opponents after competitions. Weird?), but for the whole beating myself thing. It's all about getting out of the comfort zone and improving, surpassing myself, bit by bit, everyday. Your post came in a funny time, Jesse-san. I've been on a comfort zone in my own dojo, with no feedback nor any pushings. I've been on this state for enough time, and I'm currently preparing to migrate to another dojo... or another art entirely, if I can't find a good one. Aaah, it's good to share this kind of stuff. hahah
  • Cassie
    I always wanted to do karate from when I was a really little kid. My parents wouldn't let me though until I started 5th grade at a very small school and was physically and mentally bullied. The school wouldn't help me, my confidence was shot, I had no friends (if you're friends with the class pariah, you run the risk of being attacked too), and I needed a way to defend myself if necessary. I wish I could say karate solved my problems, but it helped me survive until I made it to high school. 10 years later, I'm able to pursue karate because I want to, not because I need to. I find it mentally & physically rewarding. I enjoy the people I practice with. I'm so enthusiastic about it. I wish I could do more. I'm a perfectionist and I think it's awesome that there is so much more to karate than most people realize. I'll always have something to learn or improve on. I'll never get bored and it will always be a challenge. :)
  • I was 9 when Bruce Lee died, and although I couldn't watch any of his films because of my age, the story of his death and life were widely publicised. This was how I found out about martial arts in general, and as I became more interested, I began to search for an art that I thought I would like to practice. After a few 'mistakes' I settled on Karate, Shotokan karate in particular with it's long low stances that remind me so much of the pictures I used to see of Bruce Lee ( I know it was a different art). During my time in Shotokan, I have met so many really good people, and had so much fun that when I leave a lesson, I start to look forward to the next one. So I just keep on doing it because I believe that it has always been in me to do karate.
  • Boban Alempijevic
    Speeding by the comments so to not read them, not to influence my own heart in any way when it comes to answering such an important question, and important it is. I have had to answer it so many times and every time I have felt that I need to somehow wrap my own answer in a veil of secrecy and lie so that people around me will not look weird at me. Its not about being insecure or afraid that my beliefs in my self will be shattered if I uttered my own reason why I train karate to people around me, it just makes them feel more comfortable if they get a nice "normal" answer instead of the real one. There is one single simply answer for me to this question, I wanted to get strong, I wanted to be able to stand up straight and look up in the faces of my tormentors with a smile knowing that they could not do anything to me. I was 13 when I took up Karate and I pretty fast realised that the road to be strong is a very long one and it will never stop no matter how hard I train, because there are always those stronger then me. As I grow though I learned that strength is not about physical power or ability to beat people up, not even in a defence situation, it is so much more. I had to get a strong calm inner, to be able to walk through life with my head held high and for this I choose to once again after many years of no training take up Karate. To train ones body to its limits and push beyond, to always take that one BIG step outside your own comfort zone is like pure meditation for me. When your body can barely keep you up, when you are shaking and trying to wipe the sweet running in your eyes, that is when I find my zen, there is no other place then that exact moment, when you are exhausted and weak. I train karate because I still dream of becoming Bruce Lee, I still train because I still dream of living by the warriors code, training my body, training my mind, training my personality and who I am. I still train for same reason as I did as a kid, doing my best to follow the path I choose for my self, never again turning away from it. I promised the memory of my father the day I took my Shodan, that if I do this, If I go through with the test and pass this will be my life and I will never turn around or regret it. So, my answer.... It is my path in life, the only path I have kept straight, the only path I burn for, give up so much for, dream for.
    • Mil
      Thank you for putting words to my emotions ... "To train ones body to its limits and push beyond, to always take that one BIG step outside your own comfort zone is like pure meditation for me. When your body can barely keep you up, when you are shaking and trying to wipe the sweet running in your eyes, that is when I find my zen, there is no other place then that exact moment, when you are exhausted and weak. "
  • Gary Hodge
    Ive always thought Karate looked its both its complexity and grace. There was a dojo near my grandparents house when I was growing up and I used to stare at the lines of students drilling in perfect synchronisation and think "wow, I want to do that". However life got in the way and I came to karate late in life (mid 30s) and was afraid that possibly I was too "over the hill" but karate surprised me in its accessibility to everyone and the simple premise that it lets you take from it as much as you put in, she is not a demanding mistress :) So, a few years down the line, Im older and training gets a little harder...but she still surprises first I was merely trying to learn seemingly disjointed techniques, but now Im being exposed to the bunkai and understanding the kinetics and psychology behind MA...there will always be something to learn :) And when I get downhearted or my enthusiasm wanes (lets face it, we all have "urghh"" days in the dojo) Ill always find something in Karate the gets me pumped again...and theres always karate by jesse to read that no matter where you train, in whatever part of the world, theres a huge community of karateka to be inspired by
  • I was 9 years old when Bruce Lee died, and although I wasn't allowed to see any of his films because of my age, the story of his life and death was widely publicised and had a great effect on me. This was my first encounter with any type of martial art. From then on, I started to look for a martial art that would suit me. Eventually, I settled on karate, Shotokan karate in particular, with its long low stances that reminded me so much of some of the stances I saw Bruce Lee use when I was young. Although I tried many different martial arts, some good, some bad, I alway felt subconsciously drawn toward karate. Some of the Japanese Sensei's I have trained with have been in their late seventies, or early eighties, and this gives me the hope that I will never have to give up this fantastic art. Even now, when I leave a lesson, I start to look forward to the next one.
  • Kat
    I started practicing at 31 years old, with my husband, who was 35 years old at the time. He wanted to get back into karate- he had a brown with black stripe at 21, then quit attending classes. A dojo within walking distance to our house and he asked me to buy him 1 month worth of classes for me and him for his birthday. I had never trained in karate- ever- so I thought, why not? I loved it from the first class and have not thought of quitting. It's been a wonderful physical and spiritual journey that I plan to continue. Our dojo is open 5 days a week due to the wonderful instructors we have (who volunteer their time for free.) And of course, it's a daily practice at home as well.
  • Ralf
    I felt attracted by martial arts since i've heard of it for the first time. i was 7 or 8 at that time. not sure yet. ok, my first contact with "martial arts" were movies. one worse than the other when i look back. but nonetheless since then i feel a passion that i cannot explain. this fire (to use your metaphor, that came to mind without having read your article) is burning constantly deep inside me since i started practising few months before i turned 13. The reason i started practising? I got beaten up by 2 older boys. I had an arguement with a classmate and she sent her friends after me. Well, by lucky accident a classmate of my sister used to practise Karate at a nearby Dojo, so contact was established and i started practising. In those days we practised Shotokan. 2 years later we changed from JKA to BSK (Budo Studienkreis under Werner Lind). That lasted for some years. But my Sensei searched for a Master teaching the old Karate. Not the modern things you can see on tournaments. As a former policeman with some experience in real life combat he wanted us to be able to defend oursleves in real life combat. And he felt this wasn't able with Shotokan. By lucky accindent again my Sensei found what he was searching for. So we moved on to a new, relatively young organisation teaching authentic Karate. i was one of those to follow. and since my Sensei passed away last year i'm one of those taking over the lessons so the Dojo stays alive. That was my Sensei's last wish. That his Dojo keeps on running. These are the reasons why i practise Karate. The desire to be able to fight, and the promise towards my Sensei to keep the Dojo he founded alive as he said farewell to me before he died.
  • I chose it! From the first time I saw a class at the condo I lived, I was hooked! I`ve asked my mother to start and she gave me the money. Some 34 years later and I`m stil passionate about it and training!
  • Hisaye
    I got into karate through another martial art, tai chi. At the suggestion of my doctor, I began taking tai chi classes to manage the stress that built up from looking after my 91-year-old father, who has dementia. I enjoyed tai chi---it very calming and great exercise for someone with arthritis and an injured knee, though after several months I sensed I could try something a little more "hardcore." I should add, I was never athletic or even a physically active person. I've always been the classic nerd, hiding out in the library with a stack of books, playing video games, watching movies and anime. Sports were for jocks. Besides, I was naturally thin and was careful with what I ate, so why did I need to work out? Which is what I used to think until I started seeing my blood pressure soar and I had to force myself out of bed because my joints were screaming with pain. Then one of my classmates told me our tai chi instructor was also a sensei in karate and ran a dojo in another part of town. I became curious: the instructor was nice enough, but he always seemed a bit aloof and stern. Maybe 'disciplined' is the better word for it: he didn't joke around with the students or try to make them feel better when someone complained the moves were too difficult or their back/knee/shoulder/name your favorite joint hurt that day. Anyway, I asked him about his karate classes, which seemed to surprise him---I was probably the last person he'd thought would take an interest in karate. He invited me to come watch a class and maybe "try some karate." I went that Saturday and was frankly intimidated, especially after the sensei handed me a gi and suggested I join the other students on the floor. It was crazy hard and I sucked! But oddly, I wanted to keep going. Before I really understood what I was doing, I had bought a gi and written a check for my first month of classes. Three months later, I'm working towards getting my yellow belt, which is a little amazing (for me anyway) since I never thought I'd qualify for any belt. I've lost five pounds and gained a lot of muscle. My knee also stopped hurting: my physical therapist says it's because I'm supporting myself with my muscles instead of resting on my bones all the time. (Plus I'm getting off of my butt and moving.) And did I mention the mental changes? I feel more confident, comfortable with being myself. There is a lot of Zen in karate: it teaches you to focus and be present in the moment, instead of trying to multitask and think of all those things you need to do after class. My friends find it hard to believe---when I told them I was taking karate, they all thought I'd be breaking bricks and punching people out in bars---but karate is profoundly calming. It centers you, reminds you of where you are and where your priorities should be. Yes, I'm aware that there are some ego-driven people in karate, but that's their loss. They're missing out on some of the most important qualities of the art. So thank you, karate! I don't know if I'll ever get close to a black belt, but I love what you've given me!
  • The reasons for me have changed over the years. I started in the Eighties because my parents dropped me off at a dojo after complaining about bullies bothering me at school. I always loved watching the Sunday morning kung fu matinees on tv, so it was a natural fit. I fell in love with martial arts. Karate increased my self esteem, self worth, gave me athletic ability, and mental stimulation. Karate was the friend that I always had that would never let me down, never judged me, was always there for me, always pushing me to be a better karateka, a better person. Since there is no such thing as 'perfect' in karate, it has helped to to pursue perfection in all I do, while helping me realize that there is always room for improvement in every part of life. Now in my thirties, after the experiences of teaching karate to others, it has helped me help other people in life, to guide them to attain their goals and help make them better people as well. It has helped me to be a better leader, better teammate, better coach, better father and better husband. Karate is my best friend, and I couldn't imagine a day in my life without it!
  • Francis
    I train karate because is a life style and this is my life style. I want practise them until I become a elder and I believe that this life style will help me have a long life. In other hands while this dont happen I have a shelter after a hard day of work in the office. In the dojo I forget all my problems while I sweat my karate gi. It's wonderfull.
  • Elizabeth
    I started karate because I am a very active person and cannot stand to sit still! So it drove me so crazy sitting and watching my oldest son do it when he was six that I joined a year later (at age 45). Also my husband was in the throes of end-stage alcoholism and the three evenings a week of formal training that my two sons and I did plus all the fellowship with our "karate family" helped keep us sane during a dark time. I stay in it because I am so grateful for what karate and our karate family means to us. When my husband died, the head of our school was the first person to come by my home. My church was a little miffed because our karate family had already done two weeks worth of meals for us before they could even get a sign up list for us circulated! My sons are both "junior black belts" now (in our school, the juniors have a different track than the adults). I am a first degree "adult" black belt and my oldest is about to take his "adult" brown belt test. We are all going strong. Karate has helped us with everything: health, school, jobs...LIFE! I will continue to give back to my karate family for what I have received and to train until I am in my grave!
  • Cesar Gonzalez
    For me in life there are always choices, in this case could be Train Karate or could be not going to train Karate. But when I see the lives of people who do not train a martial art, I realize that karate training (or any martial art) is not an option. Training martial arts since he was 11 years old, perhaps you can leave a while, but after all these years I have one link in my chain of DNA called martial arts, and is genetic ... and I'm glad so be English google, sorry
  • Ryley
    If I am to be honest, I started doing karate at the age of 5 because I enjoyed watching the teenage mutant ninja turtles. I've been doing it for almost 20 years now and also train in Japanese Jujitsu (because my local karate dojo closed), which is an incredible benefit to my karate training. Nowadays though, I train because I have "the itch"; I'd go crazy if I stopped. Too much to learn.
  • The reason I started was because my best friend was attacked at our school bus stop and I've always been a very weak/scared child so I wanted to become stronger. The reason I continue to do it is because I want to be a man of integrity and a man of my word and I said that I would continue at least until I get a black belt and have the chance to teach. But I have come to love the art form aspects of it as well as the opportunities it has given me to grow as a person.
  • Naoki
    I started practising karate at the age of 6 years old, I remember, in my first class session, I didn´t enjoyed it too much, because I wasn´t very good at that. But I continued going at the classes (of course, against the decision of my mother), 2 months after that, I started to like it and appreciatted. It started ass a pain ass, then became a hobby, and finally became what is now for me, a passion. Karate taught me constance, self control of my impulses and my body, etc. Im just a black belt first dan and I have just practised karate 12 years only, Im so inexperienced and I have not much knowledge about karate at the moment. But spending 12 years of your life practising and studying something, is so much time to give up training and studying because Im just an ignorant about karate. I want to know everything about karate and everything about martial arts in general. When I was a child, karate wasn´t my passion or dream, but now, it is.
  • As a kid in the early 70's I tried like hell to get my parents to let me join the classes at the local jr. college. I was always rebuffed because somewhere along the line mom heard some horror story about somebody somewhere that signed a contract and the kid never went back and they got hung with the payments and on and on and on....... I got out of the house at 18 when I left for college. The university had an excellent instructor that taught judo, karate and police self-defense classes as part of the physical education curriculum. I was able to get into one of the classes every semester I was there and loved every minute of it. I graduated in '79 and moved to a new town. After a few years of taking classes with instructors that had a penchant for moving out of the state, I was fortunate in that my brother-in-law at the time was studying with a local group. I checked it out that afternoon in August of 1985 and never looked back. As before, the instructor moved on in 1994 but I was given permission by the head of the system to assume the position. The first time I put on a gi, the first time I assumed a stance, the first time I made my first attempt at performing a kihon..... I knew that this was going to be a major part of the rest of my life. It has been since that day and will be so long as I can physically continue. Why? I have not answer other than there is no way I can see a future in which I'm not sweating through a gi, sore the next morning. It isn't something I do, its who I am. The job is what pays for my habit. My wife (this one, anyway) understands that I am going to the dojo and training.....period. I'm grateful for that. And not once did I sign a contract...................
  • I started karate a few years ago at 23 years old. When I was little I wanted nothing more than to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but due to where I grew up I had no place to learn. When I finally joined a Karate club after graduating from University, I was only the second student (it was new). Since then I have stuck with and am now the senior student in the class and am soon going to be recommended for grading to Shodan. I have always been fond of accomplishing difficult things and especially things that most cannot do. When someone tells me something cannot be done I become driven to be either the first or one of the few. I recall a day when one of our Federation's senior Black Belts came to visit our club; he told us that for every thousand students, maybe one will make it to Shodan. When I heard that, I didn't want to be one of the other 999. What I love about Karate is that one strives to be perfect and complete in all ways, while knowing that being perfect and complete is impossible and therefore, Karate never ends.
  • Fabio Burch Salvador
    I have a very different story about Karate. When I was a kid, my parents were obsessed with the notion that we (me and my sister) had to to some sport. I was the very exact description of a NERD, and saw the body as merely a carrier for the brain. So I entered many sports classes just to make my mom happy: swimming, soccer, and... Karate. I did not go far on the one. I am a competent swimmer, an awful soccer player, and was an average karateca. Maybe a slightly bad one. I was tall, skinny, and moved slowly. I did Karate, initially, because it looked cool and I wanted to impress people (girls) by brawling like a master in my school. Then I discovered the exstence of that whole phylosophical thing, the discipline, and I disliked all of that. But kept training, in hopes of being champion of something. As it proved harder than I expected, I quitted. Now, 15 years later... I resumed training Karate. I restarted just two weeks ago, but I seem to remember 50% of what I knew. Being much heavier, with much more muscle power than then, I find it easier to do things. And as I am training seriously, things come out faster and better than before. But... why did I come back to Karate? Life if a funny thing. For many years, I shunned in face of any physical activity. That changed, as I understood that the human being is his mind, and his body, not one thing without the other. I understood, by myself, the importance of being serious about some goals, and follow them. My goal in Karate is to reach Black Belt. Not to impress someone, or to punch people on the street (I haven´t had a brawl since I was 14 years old). I will not say that I won´t compete, becuse I will, and I hope to collect some awards. But that´s not the mais point: the point is to accomplish something to myself. And when I get older, and reach that black belt, I will teach Karate. Not that I think it will make me rich... It won´t. I already have a job and a carreer. It´s something different. I want to do it just because I think it will be nice to do it when I reach a certain age. Maybe I will teach some classes at some low-income community, to take kids off the street and away from crime and drugs. I don´t know.
  • Blind Karate Sensei
    Love this site, its great to hear all these stories of why people do karate. I lost my eyesight 10 years ago and got a bit depressed sat around in house all day been bored and blind. Starting Karate was the best thing I ever did, it gave me a hobby, made me friends and got me out of the house, not to mention the health beneifts of keeping fit. Ten years later I am a 1st Dan Black Belt and an instructor, I also have my own Karate website and karate videos where I offer free video tuition to anybody interested in karate, self defense ot the martial arts. I am quite poorly at the minute in need of a new kidney though my diabetes, but karate is what keeps me focused and hopefully will pull me through. Bonsai to you all ;-) Blind Sensei
  • Ian
    Passion? Child-like enthusiasm? Yesterday I was at the supermarket parking lot, and a guy who by the looks of him was well over 50 goes by returning an empty shopping cart. But he isn't walking, he's riding on the back at top speed, like a little kid. "Cool", I though. The only other guy I know that age who'd do that is probably my Sensei. . . . . ... guess that kind of explains why I do karate, too.
  • I started karate as a child because the ninja turtles were awesome. My best friend at the time had gotten into it so I followed suit. The instructor not only taught us punching and kicking but concentration, disciplines, and respect. He was very good with children, knowing intuitively when to be firm and when to be a clown. I was always an imaginative child so when I was told that kata was fighting imaginary enemies on all sides, I really dug it. As an only child with no neighbors or cousins my age, that’s what I did anyway with light sabers and cap guns. As competing interest of high school took hold, karate got put on the back burner. After getting out of college many things converged in my life. There was a ton of debt, only paltry income, and a brutal job market. I was overweight, in poor health, and nursing a broken heart from ending a long term relationship. I saw that there was a dojo in the area that offered the same style of karate that I did as a child. I started over as a white belt. At that point karate became physical and mental therapy. It became part of my routine. For that hour or hour and a half on the dojo floor I had no problems. I could leave them all outside the door and concentrate on just doing karate for that dedicated period of time. It turns out that I was lucky enough to have an incredible instructor. Through his approach, karate became like this puzzle as we peeled away layer after layer only to fine more to learn. The monotony that drives many out of the dojo had turned into a joy in repetition. That was 14 years ago. Now, I am addicted. I have an itch, so I scratch it. I can’t quit. Maybe I am obsessive, but if so, karate is a perfect fit for that obsession. The attention to detail and the repetition sound a little obsessive compulsive. This now reminds me that I have to make sure that the refrigerator door is shut for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. ;)
  • J. A. Michaels
    I started really training karate when I was an early teen, and it was not for a good reason. My step-father was very emotionally and physically abusive, and I am not ashamed to say I was training to take this man's life. I never had to, because by the time I could, he knew it, and had backed off. As for why I continue, it is because of my karate training that I became strong, able-bodied, and self-empowered. If I were to ever just stop, I would feel as if I had lost my backbone. I don't think I could ever stop, anyway. I see the effect my training has had on the way I walk, the way I open doors, even the way I stand at work. It is part of me, and if I were to ever truly lose that, I think I would be useless to anyone, myself included.
  • Mike Black
    Why am I doing karate? I never chose to do karate, it just happened. If it were not for three brothers who I worked with in high school, it's anybody's guess if I ever would have started training in karate. They nagged me to check out the dojo where they were training and I finally relented. When I watched their class that Saturday morning, it was not the punching and kicking that intrigued was something else, something almost mystical that made me sign up that day in 1968...before Bruce Lee became famous. I am still doing karate because it still fascinates me. I owe karate big time. I met my wife through karate. I made life long friends through karate. I have traveled to foreign countries because of my karate. Karate keeps me much healthier than the average person. Finally, I am happy when doing karate. I will never quit karate because I owe it too much. I have to give back as much as it has given me. Mike Black
  • Farorin
    Martial arts movies were the only good memory I have of someone that should have been a good role model for me, but wasn't. So rather than dwell on the negative, I have accepted the only positive he truly gave me, and that was an interest in the martial arts. Since then, martial arts have always been a part of me, regardless of if I was training them or not, and I have practiced various styles and arts. I currently practice and am focusing exclusively on both Judo and karate, although I have no teacher in karate anymore. I don't know why I have chosen karate in particular, but out of everything, for some reason, it seems to be the thing that keeps me coming back for more, and it seems to be the only thing I can keep training even when I don't have anyone to guide me. Maybe it's all I know? Without Karate, I wouldn't be me.
  • charles miller
    "to live" "those who do not seek to improve themselves are the same as dead" I started a week after my buddy did cause I thought it might be fun. He quit after awhile, I didn't. He returned after a few years. I started a number of other friends down the path, that is my reward. Seeing my students grow and learn, those are my proudest moments, and why I continue to train.
  • Mil
    Why am I a Karate nerd? I asked myself this question a while ago… Few years back my life took a bad turn and sent me into a very dark place. Along with other things the circumstances forced me to stop my training. I got into an emotional black hole. During all that time I felt like a part of me was missing. That continued too long until one day I decided that I had enough. I needed to get back on my feet and stop waiting for help that I wouldn't get. I asked myself what I missed the most and it was exactly the passion that you, Jessie-san, are talking about. I used to be very passionate person one of the “naive ones”, I used to jump directly into the fire, and I love the fire. But I had lost it all somewhere on the way… except a little passion for Karate that was left. Karate helped me break out of this dark place that I was in. I honestly don’t know why I hold it so dear. It is like I … feel it. I am not an instructor and I wouldn't say that I am good in it. But I can say that I feel it. I still remember the first time when I stepped into the dojo and got that feeling that I found my place, this inner peace that you get when you find where you belong. I know that this might sound profound but it is how I feel it. For me karate is far more than just sport, it is not a habit, it is not something that I do because of others or something just to fill the free time. A long time ago I chose Karate to be my way. It is my shelter, my passion and I practice it because I simply love it more than anything else.
  • Alex
    “Why am I doing Karate?” Simple: in first grade friend had a Bruce Lee comic book. We went to the local Police Boys Club and started aikido. After class they had a karate class, which involved kicking and punching. Started seriously training karate when I was 11 or 12 maybe, pre-teen. Quit for a while, started again, finally achieved my black belt. Why do I still do it? Well, my dad would always say "You probably know deadly 'tricks'". He thought that I could beat anyone, get out of any arm-lock, head-lock, you name it. Well, I'm knee-deep in bunkai these days and I'm turning to decipher it all, and learn all those "tricks". Thanks, dad! :-) Why will I continue? Well, once I know all the tricks, I'd like to give back my greatest strength to the world, and maybe someone out there somewhere will dig my bunkai :). Karate has given me so much, and I really hope to do it til I'm 105.
  • Name*Marcelo Luna
    Hello Jesse! I started training karate at 11 years of age. I started practicing after I saw "karate kid". Indentifiquei me a lot with Daniel san. Was weak, shy, small, but with a very strong personality, oq took me forever to be beaten in the street (Rsrsrs!). As a child I always dreamed of being a hero, to protect the weak from the abuses of the strongest. With 15 years I quit karate because it is no longer a passion (teenage thing), and started surfing. Well, I could not train Karate for almost 18 years. Kendo trained for years, trained with a strong team of MMA (including training with UFC fighter Erick Silva). But my passion for Karate again, and could not stay away. Stopped with Kendo, with MMA, and went back to my old passion, aged 34, so two years ago. Today not see myself farther Karate. As I'm from Brazil, here Shotokan ryu dominates, and despite this training style, admire and try to learn q can of Okinawan styles. Today my Karate is totally geared for efficiency and defense, q makes me walk in the opposite direction, since I am affiliated with CBK / WKF, here in Brazil is totally devoted to competitive sport. I feel happy Karate training, always seeking the strengthening of both the spirit, as the body! OSU!
  • Cian
    Hi Jesse I started learning Wado-Ryu Karate here in Ireland when i was 8 years old. I am now 16, 1st kyu and going for my black belt. I started karate as i had been mugged and wanted to learn to defend myself, but soon after starting my passion grew and a few years ago it exploded until i was researching every source of information i could find on karate. I am now training hard and my goal is to win the all karate open japan tournament someday. Karate is my life.
  • David Alexander
    Hello Jesse-San! My name is David Alexander, I'm 12( I'm turning 13 in November), and I am about to take Karate and I've read almost all of your articles and I personally feel that you're the best person to give me advice and any tips. I am really nervous and I don't know ANYBODY that can give me any advice or tips about going into Karate, performing all the moves, and doing all of the hard work that comes along with practicing Karate or any martial arts for that fact. I really need you to help me and give me any advice or tips of yours....PLEASE Jesse-San!
  • I do Karate because it was a childhood dream of mine( and by childhood I mean 5) to join karate, sadly my parents said that it was to dangerous, well I don't blame them, during their times, their Karate or Martial arts was unlike the sports version we have now, although, I didn't know why, I wanted to join karate, I felt like I wanted, no needed to do it, even before I started karate, so my parents promised me that the would let me enter training when I was older, I spent those years wisely, I self trained at home and improved my stamina and such to be prepared for training, when I finally got to training, I finally was able to understand why, because Karate is a way of life, in a short time of 1 year, which is now, now I'm 13, and I'm completely different person, because Karate is my passion no matter what, because Karate is. my. FREEDOM
  • maja
    I've actually started pretty recently and I'm still ‘’just’’ a white belt (I honestly love being a white belt! I know from previous experience that being a beginner is one of the most rewarding things there is. It’s as a beginner that you see the most improvement from day to day and everything is new and exciting and you always hear something you’ve never heard before. I’m not gonna make the mistake of not savouring this). I started for several reasons, some of the easiest ones to sum up are the standard ones like taking care of my body, having fun and self-defense and my best friend goes there and encouraged me to start. I also hoped it’d help with my adhd (it really does, btw!) it took me a long time from the point where I started maybe wanting a little bit to start to the point where I actually started (two years). I had several things that I needed to overcome before I could start. as a kid I used to play handball, but I had to quit because both my team and my coaches bullied me and abused me. The way I was treated there is the only experience I've ever had in any kind of sport or similar things. While I was never fully conscious of this until after I had already started training this led me to expect to be treated roughly the same way, if not quite as bad. Obviously this led to fear and I had to know that I was willing to go through all that before starting. (I was so wrong though! I’m really lucky with the dojo I found. I’ve met none of the things I feared, no one looks down on me for being inexperienced, none of the instructors pretend to be some kind of superhumans and they never cover up any flaws they might have. Haven’t encountered any misogyny either.) I've also always been very afraid of getting any injuries (especially any that might make me have to take it easy while it heals) and while you're not supposed to get injured while training accidents happen. it was pretty obvious to me that I'm most likely to get injured when I myself make a mistake or don't have the right amount of control. luckily I love challenging myself and trying to face my fears so as not to let them hold me back, so that was only a small issue and after my first time free sparring (I made a rookie mistake and injured my hand. it took a few weeks, but it's mostly fine now) I got that problem out of the way and learned that the scariest part of getting hurt is before you get hurt because it's almost always worse in your (at least mine) imagination than it is in real life. another thing that held me back was the fact that I'm a girl and I'm unusually weak (or rather, I have very, VERY weak arms.. my legs and core muscles are quite strong) and I've always believed the lie that it would be impossible for me ever to get stronger. I've also believed the lie that if you're a girl you had to have a very specific kind of personality to train karate or any other martial art. I was never fully aware of this either until I read an article by howtofightwrite called ''tip: women are not weaker than men''*. It was as if someone punched me in the face with something that should have been obvious. I realised I've been brainwashed to believe that I can't fight! after reading this it still took a bit more time for me to really start believing it and I still have to get over the ''but I don't want to hurt anyone!''-mentality that sometimes hold me back (I struggle even wanting to hurt imaginary people while performing kata unless we’re using elbow or knee-strikes. That’s the only time I can imagine myself actually using what we do for real if I should ever be forced to), but I'm getting there. By the time I finally felt ready to start karate I knew I was making a commitment for life. I know it's not like that for everyone (the friend I mentioned earlier has started to lose her fire), but it was (and is) important for me to do it like that. even after I started I was a bit worried about what kind of long term goal I'd give myself that would ensure me not ever feeling like I'd accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and then end up quitting or just settling there without trying to improve. It also had to be something that would really mean something to me and that would be able to help me relight that fire when it gets tougher. I needed something to keep me wanting to never give up even in these periods where you see little to no improvement. Getting a black belt would never do that for me because it's honestly just a piece of fabric and besides, when I get that, what then? Would I stop after that? Eventually I found out that I want to get to the point where I can teach this to others. I find immense joy in seeing other people grow and improve (even more than when I do it myself and that says something considering how I'm one of those lucky (or annoying?), super-optimistic people who know how to find joy in every little improvement while still seeing flaws), especially children and I know that a great teacher never stops learning! as a teacher one gets the opportunity to truly learn from everyone and because people learn things so differently it's important to be able to adapt the way you teach or explain something to the person you're teaching to. To be able to do that you need to truly understand what you're trying to teach and one often gets a deeper understanding of things when one has to think of it in a different way or from a different point of view. While it's maybe a bit ''risky'' to say this as a white belt I truly believe I'm going to be doing this for life. I know that I want to branch out a bit eventually to fill out some of the ''holes'' I see in my style, but I fully intend to keep going with this. It’s not without reason that it took two years for me to make that decision. I personally think it's a waste of time to do something like karate unless you really want to do it for life. There are so many important things in life and while it really is true that you can become ANYTHING you want in life, you can't become EVERYTHING. Choose wisely, because to become great at something you need to make sacrifices and maybe give up some (or many) other dream(s). So many people talk to me about how the fire will die down eventually and this honestly makes me really annoyed and a bit angry. no matter how many times I explain that I know myself well enough to notice when the fire is dying and that I've never had any problems with getting it burning merrily again or at least to keep going even when it's boring in the things I've really committed to! the only thing that could get me to stop the things I've committed to (art is my other ''hobby'') is if I got a really clear message from God that He wants me to stop and I honestly believe He wants me to keep going with this. My body is a part of God's temple and I've finally found a good way to take care of it. As long as I keep God central in my life in everything I do then I see no reason why I should stop. (sorry, I know the part including God is super weird for many of you, but the rest I hope you can understand). *link to the article I mentioned:
  • Thanks for posting, Maja. Normally I wouldn't read something that long all the way to the end, but yours I did. To me, the great thing about Karate is that there isn't "a goal" to chase and reach, but many, many goals that serve as mileposts along the lifelong journey that need never end.
    • maja
      thank you Ian! yes, I totally agree.
  • I practice karate so that when an idiot even dares to attack me I will know that in the next few moments(lots of blood and saliva included) he'll be on the floor regretting the fact that he even tried to attack me
  • Ken
    I have always loved karate martial arts in general since I was wee tiny watching blood sport. I had always wanted to do it but never had the nerve to try it. One day I signed up for a free month at a local strip mall school of kick boxing. I was there for a while but after two years I knew I wanted karate. I lucked out and found the best club full of new friends and an art that is to quote daft punk's beyond. "A journey of the soul" I train because it I has been my dream and I don't want to wake up. OSU!
  • Buzdawg
    I started martial arts training 6 months ago from the time I'm writing this. Just 6 months in and I already can't imagine life without it. About 4 or 5 years ago I started asking my parents whether I could do martial arts but they said it was too much money. (Frankly, I'm glad I didn't start then... Lucky that in my dojo, you're eligible for adult classes at 15, or 14 if you're close enough to 15 for it to not matter. Anyway, the adult classes are much better than children's classes). Without martial arts training, I would not have the fitness or the techniques that I have now and I wouldn't be as confident in myself. I can guarantee that. So I started martial arts for the ability to defend myself, but also to get fit and to be more confident in myself. I absolutely love it.
  • MrsJones688
    I initially started jiu jitsu as a schoolgirl in Northern Ireland, to protect myself from the unwanted attentions of someone. Now after a huge lazy fat 10 yr break, I've started Shotokan at my work place, on a secure camp in Nigeria. This was to get away & protect myself from the hedonistic frustrating expat lifestyle & the hostile environment. Our senseis (usually we each have our own sensei in class - the advantage of here), being Nigerian know exactly what vicious street fighting is. So all is good now in the 'Golden Prison' :-) I love the big wide stances & wacking the sensei as hard as possible, in abs built of steel - ouch!! - no pain, no gain :-)
  • Nate Francis
    So, mine's a long-ish story. Like most 40-somethings, I became enamored of the martial arts during the Karate Kid / Sho Kosugi ninja movie craze in the 80's. My family was pretty tight-fisted with money (even though my stepdad was loaded, with a capital-L), but managed to talk them into letting me take Shotokan karate classes at a local dojo owned by sensei John Jenkins. For awhile, I was in love. I had enormous natural flexibility and an exceptional sense of balance, which seemed to go hand-in-hand with what I was learning in the basics of karate training. Then, about a year in, I discovered what other Stephen K. Hayes afficianados came to realize in their own training: Karate is pretty hard. At the time I was promoted to my blue belt, I took a good look at what I was going to have to learn to continue advancing. This would have been 1986, I suppose - I was 13, had crushes on girls, spent a lot of time at the malls (particularly the arcades!), and was simply too lazy to continue to dedicate myself to learning kata that were becoming terrifically more complex (in my mind) as time wore on. In short, I got lazy. So I quit. In adulthood, I became fascinated by Japanese history and culture (a byproduct of a youth spent consuming any martial arts film or literature that came by way, intersecting with a more mature outlook on life that made me appreciate the incredibly rich history, culture and ethos that lay behind the Japanese arts. I tried to join sensei Jenkins' dojo again in my early twenties, which lasted for all of two months. My work schedule was too demanding, I was starting to have a harder time getting through the warm-ups without facing exhaustion, I was in a serious relationship with the young woman who would become my wife and wanted to devote time to her, etc etc etc. Again - lazy. In 2002, we had our son, Connor. In 2011, he'd just turned 9. Sensei Jenkins had long since retired from teaching, but I wanted to expose my son to karate, if he professed an interest - to which he did. I enrolled him at another dojo in town, Pelletier's Karate Academy, whose owner, sensei Rich Pelletier, had a great reputation in the community. Like me, my son is gifted with a natural flexibility and balance. Unlike me, he had a dad that talked to him about the history, culture and historical importance of the martial arts - who explained that they're the study of a lifetime, and not a belt to chase. That the goal is physical, mental and spiritual well-being, which is the work of a lifetime. Unlike his dad, Connor faces adversity better, and didn't quit when it got hard. It was an awfully proud moment for mom and dad when he was promoted to his junior black belt last year, and he's continuing to study and train diligently toward his true black belt somewhere in the years to come. He works with the dojo's demo team to create awareness of the school in the community (because any dojo needs enrollments to stay open!) and has been on their competition team for a year now, winning a wall-full of trophies (of which he is suitably proud). So, for the last three-plus years, now, dad's been taking him to karate classes, watching all of this great karate going on, giving his son those great encouraging words you mentioned in another post (I love to watch you train!), and becoming immersed in the culture of his dojo, which came to feel less like karate class, and more like a visit with family as time went on. And, as time went on, I was given a gift, of a tragic sort: I watched sensei Rich, who'd been afflicted with brain cancer a dozen years ago, work with Connor and other kids day in and day out. By the time Connor was training, sensei had lost substantial use of the right side of his body. During the years we've been attending classes, we watched sensei struggle with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, watched him excuse himself from the floor to be sick, watched him struggle to teach techniques when his body simply couldn't do the things he needed it to do. Yet, through all of this, with the assistance of his highest-level asisstant instructors, he was able to still train up a stable of kids that were strong, fit, exceptional karateka. Sensei inspired me, at 40 years old, to put my excuses aside, and get to where I've known all of my life I needed to be. My son inspired me. The community of wonderful people I saw day in and day out at the dojo inspired me. Finally, my love for all things Japanese inspired me. In December, I strapped on my white belt, dragged all 230 pounds of my bloated carcass onto the floor, bowed in and began the next part of the rest of my life. I've done it out of respect for a culture which lives on through martial arts practitioners the world over. I've done it out of respect for sensei Pelletier, who provided the greatest example in my life of how we can overcome pain and sickness to continue to live our dreams each day. I've done it out of respect for my son, who has accomplished something that I dreamed about as a boy but lacked the drive to achieve. Most of all, though, I've done it because I finally discovered that thing within myself - the switch that allows me to put all other considerations - pain, fatigue, sickness - aside, in order to do something I love: learn karate. Sadly, sensei passed away after his long struggle, last year. His school continues on, though, with exceptional instructors and a great stable of students that are a testament to his kindness, his empathy, his great sense of humor, and his inimitable devotion to perfecting his art. The great gift that he's given our community will continue on, through people like me that have been changed forever by the example he set. So, now I bust my ass in training. Each class, I use your advice on Mokuso, and "flip the switch" in my mind -everything goes away but the training, the work to perfect something which I can never perfect - and I wouldn't have it any other way. Karate is now a forever thing for me, and I finally understand that the black belt I'll receive one day will not be the end - but will only be the true beginning. Oh, and I've lost 35 pounds, too. Woo!
    • maja
      long-ish stories are the best! loved reading this :)
  • Liz
    I've always wanted to do karate as a child as I had an older cousin who was an instructor, but I was convinced that I was too weak with a heart murmur and bruised too easily. This year, I could no longer afford my evening art classes and decided to go for it and start Goju Ryu and I am so glad I did. I LOVE it. It's fitness, it's a community, it's focus, discipline, strength, grace and tradition. I can't see myself ever stopping training willingly.
  • sven
    I started doing karate because I wanted to belong somewhere. I started Goju Ryu with the mindset that it's like an xbox game and I could unlock "achievements" and thát would be my motivation and drive to (dare I say) "keep on keeping". It ended up changing me. I've become a better person, a more patient person. A calm person. I don't do karate to impress anyone. I do it to feel like i'm part of something good.
  • Wow, a lot of great stories here. Thank you all for sharing. For me, it all started when I was about 6 years old, back in the mid 1970's, I watched a TV show, Kung Fu, and I thought, hey, I can do this. I started to practice the things I saw on that show, and then adapting them and doing them in different ways. When I was a teenager, I still didn't study traditionally, but I would spar with friends that studied, and I found out that if I really watched what they were doing, I could pick up on the techniques that they were doing and use them, and use them against them. In my 20's, I was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia and I stepped into my first dojo, it was a Hapkido studio, and I started officially studying for the first time in my life. I really enjoyed this, but as I was in the Navy, it wasn't long before I was transferred to another base and had to start looking again. Eventually, I was transferred back to Norfolk, but I wanted something that I felt suited the way I moved more, so I started to look for Japanese based Karate. I found a guy that was teaching Karate and self-defense training on the base, so I went to a class, and he had a few of us spectators participate in the self-defense class, but I started to question some of his self-defense techniques, and he wasn't happy with me and I wasn't invited back. A little while later, I met a guy that taught Tang Soo Do, but again, I wasn't happy because I didn't like all the jumping kicks. When I got out of the Navy, I moved to Pennsylvania, and I found an instructor that taught Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate, and I felt I found what I had been searching for. Very few jumping kicks, one to be specific, a good combination and hand and feet strikes, natural body movements. I really enjoyed the classes, and I discovered my joy of learning kata. I used to think that kata had no purpose and had nothing to do with real life situations, but my Sensei in Matsubayashi-Ryu really helped me understand and love kata. When my Sensei joined the Air Force, I was kind of in a loss for a martial art again. There wasn't anything like what he taught in my area. I did try a few different dojos, but most of the ones I looked at gave me the impression of being McDojos, so I kind of wondered from art to art, just kind of incorporating different things into what I already knew. In my late 30's, I moved to Bangkok, Thailand, and I found a good Muay Thai instructor teaching kids at one of the schools I worked at, and I studied with him for about 6 months, but then the company I worked for at the time lost it's contract with the school, so I couldn't go back. In my early 40's, I started studying Tai Chi, and I studied that for about 4 months, but I still didn't feel like it was the right fit for me. I just felt like there was something that I was missing. Then one day, my wife and I were heading back to our house from the weekend market, and I noticed the sign for a dojo that was teaching Shotokan. I googled the name of the dojo and found exactly where it was at, and the next weekend, my wife and I headed off to the dojo to observe a class. The Sensei and I tried to talk with each other, but his English wasn't/isn't very good, but he seemed like a nice guy and very knowledgeable. I've now been studying Shotokan going on 4 months, and I'm loving it. Reminds me of when I studied Matsubayashi-Ryu back in the States. There is just something about Karate that I just love. I love how there is a good mix of hand and feet strikes, how the blocks can be crisp and sharp or soft and slightly redirecting as the situation needs. I also love how Karate can be very accommodating, and adaptable. I also love the different layers a technique in a kata can have, if you just look at it with an open mind.
  • Rach
    I started Karate 6 months ago. My husband and I wanted our 5 year old to start. He contacted the sensei of the dojo who train at my son's school. Luckily this isn't a McDojo or doesn't seem to be. My husband took our son to his first class and encouraged me to take him to the second. The sensei asked if I wanted to join in and train with them and I obliged (not sure whether it was curiosity or fear.....he's a somewhat imposing looking Anyway I loved it so much that I kept going. I was having a chat to my Sensei (doesn't scare me so much now!!) the other day....6 months down the track and just ahead of my first grading as to the demographics of TJKN here. He said "and you are one of the "parent who started with their kids" group". I said "ok - that is why I started.....but not why I stayed". The reasons I have stayed and why I love it so much (as I explained to him) are: (1) I love the concept of life long learning, (2) I love how I feel when I do it and in between times (3) I love the focus it has given me in all aspects of my life / the control I fear / the calmness / confidence (4) I love that I can share something so important with my son and hopefully if he likes it as much as I do that I can see him come to realise the benefits I see in it and not just the "fun stuff". (He already likes kata though probably different reasons than me).
  • Kar
    I started 25 years ago when I was 5 y/o. (Wow, has it been that long, am I that old?) Just had to let that sink in my brain. I had started because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were amazing to me. I stayed because the values I was being taught were interesting because there was a usefulness to self defense. Yes, when I was younger I wanted to quit sometimes. Mum would let me take a month off if I was adamant about it but I always went back. It kept me balanced and more tollerable to be around at home when I was a moody teen. I had left my home dojo while I was at University and started training in a completely different style. This made me understand more, opened my eyes to the knowledge and history of the arts and taught me different skills and honed skills I already had. It was a way for me to connect the dots, so to say, learning the similarities from one style of karate to another. Now I have trained in multiple styles of Martial Arts learning the values each has to offer. From Kung Fu to karate to Jujitsu I hope to be a well rounded student and teacher. The biggest reason that keeps me walking thru those doors day after day is that once I am there it is all about training, learning, and moving. Nothing else exists. Once I walk through those doors I don't have problems at work, a laudry list of things to do at the house, I don't have to remember to pick up milk and lettuce from the store on the way home....nothing...only karate. I have entered a world that is only mine for the next 90 minutes. It is my sanctuary, it restores me, it fills me with peace and control that when I walk OUT those doors I can take on the world until the next days class. Karate IS my way of life.
    • Nate Francis
      Great response. I find time at the dojo incredibly restorative, as well - bruises and all. Terrific stress relief.
      • Rach_the_vego
        lol....the bruises are just there as a reminder of doing something you love! Well perhaps I am weird but that's how I think of them!
        • Nate Francis
          I'm always proud of my bruises. Bruises signify that I haven't been holding anything of myself back from my training.
          • That's exactly how I feel. I've left everything on the dojo floor.
  • Carolina Moraes
    Man, this comments are big, i star reading then i stop like "i surrender" hahahaha [...] I started karate one year ago. When i was a kid, my dream was train some martial art, doens't matter how, just train. Now, i'm almost 25 years old, and i love it, i'm feel very bad for not enter in a dojo early. Every time that someone tells "i started when i was 7 years old" i'm fell so bad and envy, but i'll probably training karate all of my life, and i will do my best doesn't matter how old i am.
  • Patricia
    Whoa!!!!! Amazing article.... I read some of your sentences and I was thinking... hey, that's me!!!!! Karate is my life. I couldn't imagine my life today without it.... it's my therapy, my challenge, my time for myself... like you said Jesse-san, It's my way of life.... I started training in 1994 and I stopped one time for 4 years because I got married, started to work and moved away from my hometown... it took this long to find a new dojo (without the Mc preffix) and now i feel I'm complete again... so complete that i took my husband to the dojo with me and now he is a karate lover too.....
  • Nathan
    Why do I do karate? I started after seeing my older siblims training hard, having fun and going through grades, that's why I started. I carried on after my siblims packed it in because it gave me friends, confidence, and goals in my young life. I carried on after having time off, after meeting a girl, getting married, and divorced, because if not I would have rotted, I made contact with my old Sensei, we rented a small room in a sports center, and he let me take out all my anger, rage and fear on him and a punch bag. I carried on after meeting my new Women, and having a daughter because of how it made me feel, hating my job, and having somewhere to go to get rid of stress. I now run a karate club myself, because I see this in friends and family, all the stuff I've been through, and having karate helped me, one in a million person that went through this, and I want to help that one person not ruin there life because of hardships, and in such a small amount of time I have, and not bragging, but I saved a young ladies life, and that's why I do Karate
  • Karate_Nick
    I started karate when i was 12 (14 now) because i was fat (still a little) short shy and an easy target for bullies. My mom told me karate should do me good. My father who had a history in martial arts agreed. So i went to a Dojo nearby where they teach wado-ryu and after 4 free lessons i decided that i want to do it. I turned out to be pretty good at it (i did judo that was handy) and i liked it al lot! It became more than a tool to overcome my shortcomings andI can't stop doing it and when i don't have training and i've finished my homework, i'm practicing at home!
  • My journey to Karate was kind of roundabout, but the long story short(er): I moved away from where I had been doing Tai Chi (for about three years)and needed something else to do (I was 30 years old). There was a Karate club that met just six miles from my new house. WOOT! (I wasn't picky, it could have been ballroom dancing for all I cared) I went to Karate class for only a year and a half though and left for various reason. Didn't click with one of the instructors; the breathing was the complete opposite of Tai Chi and therefore I couldn't feel the energy movements like I had with Tai Chi; I had started doing another activity in parallel and wanted to focus on that; I was marathon training and thought doing two high-level physical activities would be a little much; the list goes on. I'd made it up to 4th Kyu in that year and a half of study and was content. Though it had been fun at first, it no longer was. I'm not a viscous "fear me in a dark alley" type of person. I'm pretty meek and submissive actually. The level of aggression (and commitment) needed to continue was frightening to me; so I walked away. For nearly three years. Then something changed. The instructor I hadn't liked retired, I had run my marathon (and had no desire for more), I had forgotten how awesome Tai Chi had been and my tandem activity had fizzled out as well. I was itching to do a physical activity again and that only-six-miles-from-home thing was quite compelling. (I'm shallow I guess) So I went back. And oddly I suddenly loved it! Sensei saw this (re)newed vigor and pushed me to test for my 3rd Kyu just three months after returning. It was stupid on my part to accept testing. I hadn't touched *any* martial arts for almost three years, but he saw potential drifting around somewhere in my wishy-washiness and so I went searching for what he saw and I found it (or at least enough to keep going). I passed my test (barely) and then achieved my 2nd Kyu a year and a half later (delayed only because I was caring for my elderly father-in-law). This March will mark the second year of my return to Karate. It's not a long time, I know; but I still love it. I love the physical challenge. I love that I'm always learning something new. I'm learning how to find those ever-elusive energies flows that are so easy to tap into with Tai Chi (which I'm now assistant teaching at a sister dojo 'cause I really do still love it). I love that though I was not-so-gently nudged to take that 3rd Kyu test, I can take my training at my own pace (which I will admit is rather fast now that that fire has been lit). I learned that the "aggression" I had feared before doesn't have to be "meanness", but rather confidence. I stand taller now with my back straight and my shoulders back. That's pretty cool. I'm becoming a better, stronger person. I'm also having fun though and to me that's all that really matters.
  • Akshat chaudhari
    What actually matters is what choices we make or what we do passionately rather than at what we are talented . I have not discovered my talent but i do know i thing that i love karate and simply can't leave it.
  • Rob Lapping
    I started karate when I was 12 years old because I thought it was something "cool" to do, but quit a couple of years later for reasons I now can't remember. I started retaining just over a year ago, I had lost my mother to cancer, and karate seemed like the ideal way to take the negative energy I had and turn it into something positive. I was right, it was the best thing I have done, its filled the void left and given me a passion in life again.
  • Akshat
    I did karate because 1- i had to chose between karate and music ( who cares for musicians?) 2- i continied cause i made new friends 3- i continued cause it became a kind of hobby 4 -i continiued cause i imaginied myself as a black belt 5- i went on because it gave me many medals 6- i went on because soon it became very interesting 7- I CONTINIUED CAUSE IT CAPTURED ME 8 - I WILL NEVER LEAVE IT CAUSE NOW, IT's IS PART OF MY LIFE AND IT IS MY PASSION I LOVE IT ( thanks to my sensei ) 9- I WILL PRACTISE IT CAUSE AM A [KARATE NERD] ( thanks to jesse san )
  • Andreas
    I started Karate after a friend of mine encouraged me to do. It was during our apprenticeship. He was a 5th Kyu and his passion convinced me to start. As a child i was the one which was bullied at the schoolyard. I lately had to learn to defend myself, but without knowledge of any Martial Arts. When i started with Karate, it was because i wanted to learn how to defend myself better, but what i learned was to fight against me and my inner demons of the past. I got more self confidence. The funny thing is, that everyone i tell that i do Karate, reacts in the same way, saying:"So i have to fear you" ... But after i say "yes you have to fear me" ... i smile and then explain what Karate really is. And what it means to me. And that is what keeps me now doing it. I love to explain people what an enrichment it means for my life and also to share it with my children. Take care - Andreas
  • James
    The reason I joined my local dojo is because I used to always be doing something I saw in a karate movies as a. Kid then I got into it and I was amazed with every fiber I knew what I wanted to do is to open up my own dojo
  • Gary Knowlton
    Hey there, I started training in karate when I was in 7th grade for two reasons: First, I was being bullied. And second, I was in special needs classes. I stayed with it throughout middle school and high school. When I graduated high school it was with a special education diploma. Years would pass, and I would keep training. I ended up getting a GED, going to a two year college, and meeting a girl who would latter on become my wife. So, why am I doing karate? It's has been apart of my life for so long. Through it, I have learned to not give up on myself. And to never stop growing.
  • Inês
    I started practising karate when I was about 10-11 years old. My younger brother was already taking karate lessons by that time and I went to cheer for him on his first tournament participation. I was fascinated with what I saw that day and immediately decided I also wanted to give it a try. I loved karate from the very beginning, and by the age of 17 I was among the top 5 athletes of my country. Despite that fact, I was very shy, insecure and approval-seeking. Constantly engaging in competitions was becoming exhausting and practising karate almost solely as a sport was taking away all the joy I felt about it. And then I started Med School and the passion and drive to become a doctor burnt everything that was left where once stood my karate aspirations. A 15 year hiatus followed, in which I had to learn how to face pain, suffering and death on a daily basis and to develop the skills necessary to win those daily battles more often than I lose. Meanwhile, I got married to a fellow doctor/karate practitioner and became a mother of 2 young boys. All these life experiences made me stronger, more mature, resourceful and self-reliant. My older son is 7 years old by now and currently a 7th kyu. He takes lessons from my Sensei, whom I was also very happy to reencounter. All my previous fellows from competition are now gone. I recently decided to give myself a second chance with karate and I am currently and happily preparing to finally take my Shodan exam. Despite the fact that now my body is weaker, my mind is stronger and that makes a really big difference. I understood that karate is and always will be a part of who I am, and one that I cannot deny to myself, it is my Way of Life.

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