Shōtō-kan

Karate-do is a discipline that requires years of dedication and hard work to master. Many people join a karate club with misconceptions of what it entails. This article aims to provide an overview of the true nature of karate-do and the requirements of students to succeed.

It's fair to say that many who join a karate club do so for the wrong reasons. They're often attracted by the myth of the invincible karate expert who takes on and defeats all-comers, and smashes bricks and wood with their bare hands, hoping to one day wear the magical black belt and become invincible themselves.

But what is not appreciated is the degree of hard work and discomfort, the amount of sweat and the years of dedication the young man or woman will have to survive before he / she has the skills necessary to make either objective feasible. While karate techniques can be used to smash objects and defeat opponents, if this is the primary objective, then that student would be better off avoiding the martial arts.

Karate-do is not a sport. Nor is it primarily a system of self defence. These are facets of a multi-sided diamond, at the heart of which is the rough, rugged, painstaking quest for the answer to the meaning of existence. Undertaken by a master and his pupils in their dojo. To understand this point is to advance and ensure clarification of many of the problems that may arise during the course of training. Some sensei (or instructors thoroughly trained in the Japanese spirit) can seem overly harsh.

Historically, charges of being unfair and overly-critical would be typical, but in reality, the student should welcome this. The sensei is showing that they accept the student as a serious student worthy of criticism. A sensei may sometimes test their students' spirit by pushing them to their limits and beyond in terms of stamina, courage, and willpower. In the dojo, the master can have no friends, and without the support of friendship, students become more self-reliant.

The student must cultivate the ability to see things dispassionately and be completely honest with themselves. Excuses for poor performance or contentment with just coasting through training are unacceptable. Eventually, students will understand that it is just as egotistical to be overly concerned with defeat as it is to rejoice in victory.

It's important to understand that during this period, the body is actually assimilating the new knowledge gained from training. Eventually, the student will suddenly find that things begin to go right, and this plateau will come and go, each time at a higher skill level.

Once you start karate for the benefit you derive from it, as your instructors, we hope that you will continue to train thoroughly until you gain a complete understanding of the art.

Many people become weary after initial training and tend to stop for a while. This is not exclusive to karate, but students may succeed or fail depending on their attitude during this period.

Once aware of this state of weariness, one must redouble their efforts and pass through this phase with inspired, spiritual effort. Allowing oneself to become discouraged or stop training will reverse previous gains. Any student abandoning training and giving up the art with only a superficial understanding of it exemplifies the maxim 'a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.'

The most common cause of falling into this state of weariness and dejection is falling behind in training, especially when others advance more quickly. Another cause could be sickness or injury, or even the inability to use limbs in a coordinated manner due to lack of training or physical ability. Poor tuition due to a lack of knowledge or an inexperienced instructor is another typical cause of student failure.

A student may also feel self-conscious in front of their fellow students due to lack of training, leading them to believe they are not suited for karate-do and eventually giving up the art altogether. To best progress, it's essential to keep a schedule of regular practice each day, to continue even if falling behind peers, as they can be caught up with easily. Firmly set light goals to achieve and practise without rushing or becoming impatient, and you will maintain your interest and enthusiasm in Karate-do.

Karate-do requires hard work and dedication, and students must understand this to succeed. Mottos such as "service not self, deeds not words, be prepared" exemplify the spirit of karate-do and students should strive to follow these if they wish to get the most out of their training. To fully appreciate the art of karate-do, find a dojo and enjoy the training journey.