Stressing the New Year
by Lauren Fast.

The New Year is coming up and it's time for everyone to make their New Year's Resolutions! I have decided to work out more and start to really focus and delve into karate. Now I realize that you shouldn't have to have a motive like that to get you to go out to the club more often. It's hard enough for me to go out all the time while I have essays to write and tests to study for. I have days where I have a million things on my mind and the teachers have been on my back all day for assignments. On those days karate class is the last place I want to be. Yet on those days karate class is the best place to be! Many people find their peace of mind training in karate. They look for something that will get their minds off the stresses of everyday life. Karatekas, like myself, practice karate for the love of the sport, competition, adrenaline rush, character, form and beauty. It boosts self-esteem and helps people reach their fullest potential. Karate is more than just a fitness exercise. Through many sports you can gain that much needed physical fitness. However, karate teaches more than just that. It expands your mind to new things. It gives you control, discipline, peace and harmony. Not only that, but it is a safe way to vent out past aggressive feelings.

Control is learned in the process of karate training. It is not just mastered through experience in kumite but from karate as a whole. Not only do you attain physical control, but you also learn to control your emotions. Anger, fear, pride and jealousy are just to name a few. The way you learn this is by interacting with other karateka on the floor or in tournaments. If you have a fear of sparring, you control your fear by practicing sparring. With anger, you learn that you can't just drill anybody, it's just not allowed. You get your emotions out physically by delving into karate, transposing that excess energy into physical work, there by releasing that tension. Through controlling your pride, you learn that you are not the best by being defeated. If you expect to win, you might be disappointed. You learn you are not the worst either. What you learn isn't confined to the dojo floor. It is what you live every day and what you decide your life is going to be.

Underlying every feature of karate is how to deal with real life situations. It all comes together. In entirety, there is a deeper meaning. Kata will teach you how to properly perform stances and techniques, where they are elongated an exaggerated. They are deeper and more defined. By practicing them you will discipline yourself to do these stances properly when you are in kumite. In kumite, you don't necessarily fight the way you would perform a kata. Instead your stances are shorted, the blocks and strikes are quicker, but yet you still retain the proper forms. Here, the reason is so that you can get in and out as quickly as possible, aiming to score a point without being scored on yourself. You will spar in a point tournament differently than you will if you were defending yourself on the street. In a real life situation you have to change over in your mind. Your attitude is different her in the sense that you must go at your attacker until he is down and no longer a threat. You must go 100% at your opponent, using as much as you have learned in karate. When training in karate it is essential to have this mind setů yet without injuring your opponent. The control, discipline and techniques are a major help to you or anyone in a street fight. By using what you have you can execute a strong and victorious battle. Not only will you have full control of yourself but also you will more than likely have control over where the fight is heading. Also an important aspect of karate that you must grasp is to stay away from confrontations as much as possible. Use karate as a last resort and only if you are being physically attacked upon. That way you will win honor and respect amongst your peers.

Karate is by far more than just a fitness exercise. It expands your mind and helps you reach your fullest potential as a human being. These are the attributes that draw people like myself who want something deeper to the practice of karate. That is why it is important for me to come out despite all of the stress I may have. It gets rid of the tension and puts things into proper perspective.

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