By John Shires-Instructor Karate USA of CNY

I’ve been studying Martial arts for over 30 years. I hold a 5th “Dan” blackbelt ranking in American karate (a combination of Shotokan and TAE kwon do). People don’t understand the value or impact that Martial arts can have on a student and why more parents should consider it as in investment.

Martial arts is “not” just kicking and punching. The disciplines and values it requires instill respect. An old saying within the karate culture is, “karate begins and ends with respect”.  We begin teaching this with the simple act of bowing.  Bowing before entering or exiting the dojo floor or working is defined as a symbol of thanks and respect throughout history in many cultures. Therefore, just the act of bowing before and after class to one another instills the need to acknowledge your opponent while display humble self-discipline.

As a student practices they are learning self-control. This is very important since part of self-control, implies keeping your hands, feet, and mouths to yourself. When a student does not display self-control it is sometimes taught with discipline from the instructor. This could include a stern talk, push-ups, laps, or a stripe or belt demotion. (The stripe system tells a student where they immediately stand in their training) reinforcing the principle of respect along with the ability to preserve through challenges.

Students learn… no matter what the obstacles they encounter, they can overcome it and ultimately succeed. This creates a streamlined focus that can be used in all areas of a student’s life. Discipline provides an understanding regarding the importance of achieving their goals, inculcating the trait of perseverance.  Martial arts builds character, and mental strengths you do not get in other sports.

Therefore, as I stated initially martial arts is so much more than fighting, or even fitness, it is a way of “life” that builds champions for life.

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