WHAT KARATE IS TO ME
by Peter Leitch
I can't remember exactly when it was that I first became interested in Karate. Undoubtedly it was the exposure to the countless Martial Arts films and television programs of the sixties and seventies that sparked my interest. But it wasn't until I was in my late teens and attending university, when some friends from Hong Kong encouraged me to pursue my interests, that I began learning about Karate firsthand.
My few sessions in the university dojo were a disappointment and I hastily concluded that perhaps my preconceived notions were a little naive.
Several years later a close friend took up Karate, and in spite of his genuine enthusiasm I remained skeptical. A couple of years ago I found myself explaining my prejudices to a colleague at work who taught Karate at the Black Sea Hall. After much discussion he offered to take me to the dojo so that I could watch a work-out. What I saw dispelled any misgivings I had had, and after my first work-out, I knew that I had found what I had been looking for so many years before.
In the two years since, my understanding of Karate has begun to grow. The lightning speeds and impeccable control that had me mesmermized twenty years ago still fascinate me but I have come to appreciate Karate for much more.
Apart from realizing that Karate is a practical and effective means for self-defence, I have discovered that Karate is in the truest sense, a sport. This has been apparent not only at any of the Wado-Kai tournaments I have attended, but also within the regular club work-outs. The respect for opponents, fairness of technique and keen sense of competition are unmistakable and for me, a constant source of inspiration.
I have found that learning Karate demands both physical and mental discipline in proportions not often found in other sports. Endurance, flexibility, balance, reflex, control, and strength are a few of the objectives of the physical discipline demanded by Karate. They are also the objectives of the mental discipline essential to learning Karate. To succeed in attaining such goals requires sincerity, honesty, humility, patience and respect. These are all valuble qualities to posses in any worthy endeavour in life.
I have only begun to learn Karate. But the more I learn, the more enthusiastic I become. It has become an important part of life for me and with luck, will continue to be so for many years to come.
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