Training woman doing karate

Published on March 20th, 2014 | by Joe Starks


Exercise Spotlight: Karate

Karate is an ancient sport. Its roots can be found in the teachings of Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism in western India, who trained his monks very hard. Daruma wrote a whole book about his harsh training regime, which contains the basics of Karate training. Thanks to the Buddhist roots of Karate it is a sport that incorporates both meditation and physical exertion.

Later on Master Fukanoshi, the father of modern Karate, took this sport to Okinawa and transformed it into the Karate we know today. It has become an Olympic sport and it is also learned worldwide. In this article we’ll look at the basics of Karate, how to train for it and what benefits Karate can offer you.

Karate Training

Karate is a very high impact sport. It is common to get minor injuries while training seriously for Karate and people with illnesses should never attempt this type of sport. That being said, Karate is a great sport for healthy individuals and even can be great for children, as long as the coach is specially trained to deal with young athletes.

Karate training is very structured and should always contain these components:

  1. Meditation. This is not a religious component as many might believe. Meditation simply means to learn and control your thoughts and to spend some moments deeply thinking about yourself and your mental state. It is scientifically proven that meditating can help people with stress managements and anger management.
  2. Warm Up. Like any intense sport, you need to warm up thoroughly for Karate. A gentle run and some easy exercises usually are enough to get your muscles warm enough for action.
  3. Learning the moves. It takes a lot of repetitions to be able to learn karate moves. The Karateka has to learn to control anger and impulse. Karate is not a violent sport, like one would think, but a means to control your strength.
  4. Stretching. After exercising you have to stretch your muscles. This is the way to increase muscle flexibility. Remember that you should only stretch when fully warmed up and never stretch too long or too violently. Stretching has to be very slow and smoothly done.

Benefits of Karate

Karate can be great for children and young adults. Since Karate is taught to teams of people it actually has many of the benefits of a team sport. Children will get to know other children their age and learn together. This can give kids a new social circle to try and find friends in. Karate is more competitive than most team sports, but it also teaches mutual respect, since you need to learn your boundaries and respect those of your opponent to spar correctly.

It has been proven that sports like Karate can be a great way for people to relieve stress and anger. Men especially, who usually have higher testosterone levels than women, can sometimes feel very oppressed and angry in modern society. Vending than frustration in a structured and socially acceptable manner can help prevent outbursts of violence when they aren’t acceptable.

Unruly teenagers can benefit from learning how to control their strength and competitive nature. It is healthier to spar with opponents in karate than to start a fight in a street corner, but both can be equally causing an adrenaline rush one might desire.

Karate is excellent for people with low self esteem; since it does help you improve yourself. You don’t only become fitter and stronger; you also learn to respect yourself and others more.

When choosing your Dojo, you should find a place that teaches people your age. Be sure to talk to the coach first to see if you like his mentality and ideas. There are many types of karate teachers and you might not want to train in a very competitive or very casual manner.

If you’re thinking of getting your kid to have karate lessons, don’t start before the age of five or six. Find a school that has children his or her age to train with. If your kid doesn’t like it, don’t force him or her to continue. Karate isn’t for everyone.

To round things up, here are some basic tips if you are thinking to start learning karate:

  • Make sure you have no medical issues. It is a taxing sport. If you have a frail health you should think of doing a lower impact sport.
  • Be mentally prepared. There is structure and tradition in karate. If you don’t like bows and shouting Asian words, then karate isn’t for you.
  • Be very thoughtful. You will be sparring with other people. Make sure you can handle the responsibility of controlling your strength and frustration.

Karate will change your lifestyle and who you are to some extent. Usually this is a positive change for people joining this sport.

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