By Roberto Scolaro
January, 1995

Today, I am a brown belt in karate, and as I think back to my first lesson, I can't help thinking how much it has helped me through my life. When I joined karate, I was about thirty years old. I never dreamt of being the next Jean Claude Van Damm or Steven Segall, but every time I went for my work out a little part of the dream I had when I was a boy shone through, and for the next couple of hours I felt alive. The funny thing was though, I had never been a person who could simply laugh in the face of pain and suffering, yet there I was, lesson after lesson, coming back for more suffering until I had almost built up a tolerance for it.

Karate, to the naked eye, seems a sport dwelling on cruelness and roughness, two opponents fighting it out until their adrenalin is so high you can sense it. Yet karate is about more than just techniques and sparring. It's about control. It's about taking your confidence and skills to the level where you know you've got your opponent cornered, to the point where your heart is beating so fast you can almost feel your chest move with each beat, and when you know with only one more swift blow it could be all over, and then it's about having the control to stop the fight, to shake hands with no grudges gained, and no friends lost.

What's so special about karate is that besides teaching the skills needed to survive in today's society, ti goes beyond that and focuses on the patience and dedication needed to succeed in this sport, and in the outside world. I can proudly say that I have used karate many times outside my club, and with great success, yet it had nothing to do with kicks nor punches. When I first used my karate skills, I realized what my sensei had been trying to teach to us for so long. My karate skills carried me though a tough time in my life, because I used my acquired sills to face my problems like an opponent, using my control to get my feelings into perspective so I could reason them out. So you see, I don't simply attend karate classes to gain power, or increase fitness. I attend them because they help me maintain a stress-free life. Karate has helped me in more ways than I can count, and not once have I had to call on my fighting techniques to get me through tough situations outside my club. I simply rely on the patience, confidence, and self control that I attain through this wonderful sport.

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