What Karate Means To Me
I watched a lot of people come and go and I can proudly say that I have stuck with it. I never gave up on it no matter how hard I thought it was. I never thought I would ever be able to stick with anything. Karate taught me that I can.
When I first started karate I was 10 years old. I assumed it would be all fun and I would get to run around and punch things. If I remember correctly one of the very first classes I went to was a grading. I watched the kata and watched them spar. I more than anything wanted to be able to do that and I wanted to be really good at it. I was a fairly impatient child and I thought it would happen straight away but of course it didn’t. But I stuck at it and struggled through as many had before me. I watched a lot of people come and go and I can proudly say that I have stuck with it. I never gave up on it no matter how hard I thought it was. I never thought I would ever be able to stick with anything. Karate taught me that I can.
As a kid I would never stick at anything. I would go from swimming, to dancing, to netball, and all sorts of pastimes or hobbies. At that age I couldn’t see that karate wasn’t just a pastime, it would teach me and mean more to me than I ever thought it could.
Karate entwines with everything I do in my life from school, to work to social outings. I have learned and continue to learn so many life lessons: even little things like being able to look someone in the eye, or standing my ground in a confrontation. The level of respect I have for my teachers and my concentration levels at school, the self-discipline to study are all things I have learnt from karate.
Karate has helped me learn a lot about confidence. Performing kata in front of the class was always a extremely hard thing for me to do but with time and practice I can now do it no trouble. I have learned how to handle my self-doubt and not to second guess, which I’ve always had a lot of trouble with. I can take criticism a lot easier, use it to better myself which is extremely useful in and out of the dojo. I find I can take direction and listen to authority more than I ever could. I’ve learnt not just to listen, but to absorb what someone says to me and think about what they’re saying as they’re saying it, which is useful in school.
Sometimes there’s a lot of things going on in life. It builds up stress and can put me under pressure I can barely deal with. Coming to karate helps me deal with it. I put my mind on karate not on life’s everyday issues. This helps me get some peace and relax away from troubles. It’s the same when I practice. It takes me away and I can focus on karate. Without having karate to go to I would find everything a lot harder than I do.
I can honestly say I never thought I would get this far: never thought I was good enough to get to 1st Kyu, or to be given a chance to grade for my black belt. I watched other people get it and saw the other black belts train, and even as I myself improved I could never see it happening. But here I am.
I can barely imagine my life without karate, and with the unproductive things I would do with all my spare time. I’m so glad I did stick with karate. It has taught me so much, and there is still so much to learn. I know black belt is just the beginning of my journey through karate and through life.
Paige McDowell began training Goju Ryu with Shushin Kai on 14th April, 2005, at age 10 years. She was graded to Shodan on 8 th October 2011.