Karate for a Fit Life
Thanks to popular culture, we often associate the martial arts with icons of the silver screen like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. After all, these incredible athletes are the ones who brought karate to the Western world.
The history of this fighting style goes back a lot further than that though and is even slightly hazy in places.
Karate is the Japanese term for ‘’empty hands’’ and is most often associated with this nation. Some experts insist that the birth of karate as a type of self-defense occurred simultaneously with a Japanese weapons ban in the Okinawan Islands. It was later influenced by Chinese kenpo traditions, introduced by Chinese settlers on the islands.
Another theory is that karate was originally brought to China by a Buddhist monk from India who used the exercises as a way to strengthen mind and body and then landed up in Okinawa.
Whichever way you look at it, the ‘’art of the empty hands’’ has been practiced for thousands of years and is one of the most popular martial arts today.
It’s the mind-body aspects of the sport that give it mass appeal.
Benefits of Karate for Living a Fit Life
Karate is a discipline and a way of life as much as it is a sport. The practice of karate in all its forms requires exacting discipline and routine, which makes it a fantastic sport for children as well as adults. As a sport, karate involves constant motion, decisive movements, and disciplined training.
As a result, you can look forward to the following physical as well as mental benefits when you take up karate:
Physical Perks of Karate
As a form of exercise, karate improves strength, flexibility and power. Manipulating your body weight for effective blocking and striking is an excellent toning exercise for the tendons and muscles.
The gradual progression of the steps means you can work through initial stiffness easily to build endurance and cope with longer, harder workouts.
The more advanced exercises in karate work to increase the speed, refinement and power of the movements. This helps to fine-tune your reflexes, agility and balance.
As you learn to fine-tune your moves and become more mentally aware of your body and its relation to your surroundings, your coordination improves in leaps and bounds. Better coordination and spatial awareness means less injury.
Kicking and punching, as well as sit ups, pull-ups, crunches, and push-ups are great physical workouts to get your blood pumping and improve cardiovascular health.
Needless to say, all this exercise leads to improved muscle tone all over your body, burns kilojoules and can help you lose weight.
Mental Health Benefits of Karate
An intensive karate session is exhausting both mentally and physically. The intense concentration required induces a dream-like state which allows your mind to reboot totally.
During classes, students are pushed to the limit, which forces them to concentrate intensely on their next move and reach deep into their inner reserves to keep going. They soon learn to focus all their attention intensely on one task at a time. There’s not a moment to think about anything else except the sensei’s instructions.
The overwhelming benefit of these mental exertions is the satisfaction of realizing how powerful your mind really is and learning to apply these skills in everyday life.
With this realization comes a determined sense of your own abilities and worth, along with increased self-esteem.
Karate levels are measured in belts as follows:
- White Belt – For those who are just starting on their journey.
- Yellow Belt – To signify that the student has mastered the basic moves of karate.
- Orange Belt – Awarded to those who have mastered the 10 self-defense moves of karate.
- Green and Blue Belts – Symbolizes the next two levels of growth as the student’s skills are refined and strengthened.
- Purple and Brown Belts – Shows that the student is ready to progress to the advanced levels of study.
- Red Belt – Proves that the student has learnt dangerous techniques that require caution and self-control.
- Black Belt – The black belt is the epitome of karate and shows that the student has gained a deep understanding of the mental and physical teachings of karate and is ready to start passing that knowledge on.
As the students meet the criteria for one level, they are promoted which gives them a sense of purpose with a strong emphasis on focusing on one goal at a time. The levels are difficult and not awarded easily which inspires the students to relish in a sense of accomplishment each time they attain the level.
These goals are important to give people purpose and direction. They help to emphasize the importance of order, planning, determination and discipline.
It follows that the teachings of karate can only benefit school-going children to harness their energy and discover the true power of concentration. When they apply these teachings to their school work and other sports, the results can be dramatic and positive.
It goes without saying that karate is an excellent method of self-defense using only what nature gave you. Karate clubs are sociable places filled with the camaraderie that comes from facing and overcoming shared challenges.
Types of Karate
While the basic principles of karate are universal, there are a few different ‘brands’ of the sport based on a preference for one technique over another. The main ones are:
- Chito-Ryu – an ancient style kept alive by Okinawan karate master Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose.
- Goju-Ryu – distinguished by circular techniques, close range sparring and special breathing techniques.
- Shito-Ryu – emphasizes power in executing the techniques.
- Shotokan – places a high importance on the moral and spiritual elements of karate.
- Uechi-Ryu – emphasizes open hand techniques, single knuckle punches and front snap kicks.
- Wado-Ryu – the focus is on moving fast, lightly and correctly.
Like Boxing, karate forms part of the Martial Arts highlighted here.
What to Wear for Karate
Official karate suits are specifically designed for the sport and will allow you to get the best benefit from your workouts. However, there’s no need to splash out on all the kit until you’ve decided to continue with the sport.
For your first few sessions, you should wear loose fitting comfortable clothing. Always bear in mind that the dojo is a place of spiritual enlightenment, so dress modestly and in neutral colors. Full sleeve tops and long pants are essential.
A track suit or other loose-fitting clothing is best. Cotton fabrics help to absorb sweat and keep you cool. You’ll be getting into all sorts of positions during your training, so avoid deep necks or short clothing that could gape and cause embarrassment.
No jewelry or watches are allowed, and long hair should be tied up.
You don’t need to wear shoes for karate but if you do, choose shoes with a flat flexible sole and a low lining around the ankle.
Where to Find a Karate dojo
Karate is a popular sport for all ages and you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a place to learn the art. Dojos are advertised on social media, on websites and on community and school noticeboards.
Are you ready for the mental and physical challenges of this ancient sport, or are you still searching for your perfect fit on the way to living a fit life. Keep reading our website for all the advice and information you need.