The Black Belt Word of the Week, Courage, is summoning strength in the face of life's difficulties or, sometimes, life's big challenges. It means going on in spite of pain, cost, or risk. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the deliberate decision that action is necessary regardless. Courage acknowledges uncertainty, but perseveres because of conviction and resolve. It offers us focus and self-possession so we can call up our abilities to meet any challenge face on.
Courage is not necessarily an outward act of heroism; it can be purely internal, such as making the decision to be cheerful in sorrow, to adhere to values different from those around us, or to just make the decision to give something another go.
The instructors at the Port Credit Academy of Martial Arts are taught that when a student comes to class there are three things we can do for them because the students come to class with a certain amount of courage. We can discourage, encourage or have them leave with the same amount as they came with. As martial arts educators our goal is to constantly “encourage” the students to improve and be a better student, parent, employee, husband, wife, sister, brother or whatever by using the martial arts as the “tool of self discipline” to help themselves grow as a person and ultimately help those around them.
Let’s take a quick look at the essence of the martial arts, shall we. When we ask everyone what is a kata the normal answer is, “a fight against multiple attackers”, which is, in a sense correct but there is so much more involved in doing a kata that imagining fighting against others that is the reason why we can become fearless in the face of our challenges. When you do a kata there is not one spot in the kata in which you lose. Think about it. You block every attack, you stop the attacker! The kata is great for visualization, timing, speed, power, focus, distance, and doing the kata over and over is a great cardiovascular workout! Kata practice helps with memorization skills since each kata has a diverse number of techniques blended in different sequences with the longest being over 108 moves in a row! How many times in your life have you started something, like a book, and not finished it? The kata always has a start and a finish and we emphasize that you never stop in the kata. Finally I would like to add that the kata develops proper breathing habits which are vital to our health. The type of breathing we use is called “IBUKI” (In-Ibuki and Yo-Ibuki are the two types we implement) which roughly translated means “the breath of a warrior” and everyone knows that staying calm in hyper stressful situations can be controlled with proper breath management.
As you can see by the short explanation above of why kata training is excellent for a martial artist especially when faced with a “life challenge” that habit of doing (not practicing) your kata will develop the courage needed to embrace and face challenges head on. For the non-karate students I would like you to know that you also practice “kata” training during your classes. Every time you are doing a sequence of moves combined together with or without a partner you are doing the kata especially of you put everything you have into every move!
By the way, the best way to overcome being scared or overcoming our fears is to take massive action.
Yes, it means to get up and physically do something!