What Karate Means To Me

I first joined this club back in 2015. I joined because from a young age I’d wanted to pick up a martial art which I’m glad my dad made me wait until I was older so that I could appreciate karate for more than just a way of defending myself and I sure do.

From the start of my journey I had fallen in love with the intellectual nature of this style of martial arts and how technical it is. Yes, it can be frustratingly hard at times, but I realise that it’s the reason I keep coming back. This way of learning has allowed me to have more self-discipline and self-control as well as a better understanding of my own body and mind.

I find that the things I learn in the dojo help me overcome challenges in my life and in times where life isn’t going particularly well. Talking to other people in the club has helped me drastically with the way I go about resolving problems in my day to day life. Even Shihan’s messages that had been directed toward the entire class have assisted me during times of struggle.

Shihan often mentions that our club is like a family, to me it seriously feels that way. Many of the people that have been or are currently a part of the club feel like uncles, aunts, cousins and some almost like a brother or sister. In this regard karate has led me to feel a strong connection to many of the older members of the club despite the difference in age.

Back in 2015 I had to have quite a big surgery done on my chest and although I earned a few new nicknames like iron man or metal chest, everyone from both dojos helped me with my recovery in some way. Although many times I have contemplated going to class and I think of other ways I could be spending my time, I feel the complete opposite after most classes.

Karate has been a large part of my life over these past few years and memories have been formed that will probably stick with me for a while. One memory that has followed me since I started was when I met Sensei Tsubamoto on his most recent visit to our club. I was in awe of the strength of a man his age and knew that karate was something I wanted to continue participating in. It still blows my mind how strong this style can make you and impresses me every time I move my hip just the slightest bit and how different a block, attack or stance feels. Over the last few years I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in my strength from doing karate and have become overall much healthier. As well as the strength that you can see karate has also shown me a way of defending myself by using no brute force but instead precision or an alternative to combat. Although it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to perform each kata to a perfect standard, when applying techniques to bunkai I personally find it extremely satisfying to get them to work against a proper punch. I couldn’t believe how well it worked when I first blocked using a proper block.

I believe that karate has changed me as an individual and has shaped me into an entirely different person. This is something that no other sport or after school activity I’d ever participated in has done. I have found myself to have a much better perception of the world around me and where potential dangers may lie. These are attributes that I hold dearly and help form my identity.

A big thanks to Shihan and Sensei for helping me achieve a sense of greatness within myself and I’m looking forward to embarking on the next part of my karate journey with Shihan, Sensei and everyone else in the club.

By Alex Hodge 29th September, 2018

Alex Hodge began training at Shushinkai karatedo on 3rd March. 2015, at age 13 years. He was graded to Shodan on 6th October 2018, at age 16 years.