"The Empty Hand"

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Why should YOU study Karate?

Why should I study Karate?


You probably haven’t been attacked by ninjas lately. You probably haven’t been in a bar fight, street fight, or brawl at a soccer game recently either. If you are living your life right and are not in a profession that puts you in harms way, then you hopefully live a physically peaceful life. So why, except for some “worst-case-scenario” reason that probably won’t ever happen, would you need to learn a self-defense system?


People come into the martial arts for all types of reasons. Some feel they need that self-defense ability, either because they are employed as police or some other job that involves physical conflict. Some just want that self-defense ability, just in case. Some are looking for improved physical fitness, a social environment to exercise, a way to increase their self-esteem, self confidence, etc. There are probably as many reasons to train in the martial arts as there are people training. And chances are that, if you stick with your training, you’ll gain much more than one benefit.


I can’t tell you why YOU should take Karate. But I can tell you my story and some of the many benefits that I have received from my training.


I have been employed as a police officer for the past 9 years. Although I am doing it on a very part-time basis now, I still put on all the gear, get in a cruiser, and answer calls for service not knowing what I will deal with when I get there. It wasn’t a career that I sought out, I just kind of found myself there one day 9 years ago. And I loved it for much of that time. And yes, unfortunately I have had to use skills I practice in Karate while working. Many times.

And if you don’t know me, I probably don’t cause fear when I enter a room. I’d estimate that at least 90% of the calls that I have answered in my police career, somebody was bigger and stronger than I was. I’m not loud and I don’t consider myself a “Type-A” personality. I was never a very confident person before my police career, never a “take charge” kind of a guy. People that have known me for a long time found my career choice as a police officer to be a strange one. And in lots of ways it was.


And although I may have been perceived to be at a physical disadvantage 90% of the time, something else was even more obvious. When I answered a police call, people knew that I was in charge. They knew it whether it was on a car stop, on the street, in a store, or even in their own living room. And I didn’t announce that I was in charge. I didn’t scream it or proclaim it verbally in anyway. But I believed it and it showed. And there were plenty of times that I was really scared or had no idea what to do, and maybe I didn’t truly feel in charge at those moments. But I was able to stay calm enough outwardly and still appear to be in charge. I don’t say any of this to brag. I just say it because that’s how it was.


So what changed? How did the short, quiet guy with very little self-confidence become the short, quiet guy that went through doors, not knowing what is on the other side and take charge of things that were already out of control before I got there? Luckily for me, about the time I started my police career was also about the time I met my Karate Sensei. And no matter what shift I was working (and it was usually some God-awful late night to early morning shift), I’d get in every week for my training (sometimes literally dragging in and out of class only half awake). And I’d train at home. And I’d think about my training all the time when I was working. My Karate was always with me.


The longer my Karate training went on, the more my confidence grew. The more people I trained with who were bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled than me, the better I got. The harder I worked at my Karate, the better I got. The more I studied and thought about my Karate, the better I got. It’s easy for me to see now how I became the person with very little self-confidence to the person marching into chaos and taking over. And as many times as things did become a physical fight, a large majority of the time they did not. It was more often the confidence that I had in myself that allowed me to take over the situation and not my fighting skills.


I don’t want to be overly dramatic and say that this confidence saved my life, but who knows, maybe it did? I’ve taken guns, knives, brass knuckles, and other weapons off of people. I’ve been punched and kicked several times, had someone intentionally drive at me head on in their truck, had my life threatened more than a few times, and many other unfortunate and pointless moments of violence to deal with. So who knows? Maybe some of those individuals saw a short cop answering the call and thought they had a shot at me until they saw how I carried myself? It’s impossible to say, but I am sure that my confidence never hurt me on the job.

The confidence that I seemed to have gained through my Karate training has clearly served me. In fact, it helped me have the confidence to go into business for myself and start my own dojo. Working for myself is something that I had wanted to do for a very long time but I never seemed to have enough courage to do it. It’s not surprising that I finally did it after so many years of training.


If you speak to most people who have trained in Karate for a certain number of years, they will be able to relate to you some tangible ways in which their confidence has grown over the years as well. For me it was a way to stay safe in violent or potentially violent situations, and later believing in myself enough to start a business.

I think it’s easy to see how you could apply this to yourself. Maybe you are a house builder and you lack the confidence to take on more challenging designs to construct? Maybe you are a school teacher and you want to implement a new learning project but you are too afraid that it might not go well? Maybe you are a health care professional and a patient walks in with a problem you have never dealt with before. You would need the confidence to be able to step back, analyze, and figure it out. Maybe you are a recent graduate and facing the job market for the first time? Or maybe you are looking to go to college soon and are afraid about leaving home and all of the unknowns you are about to face? Increased confidence can be a valuable asset to anyone.


How would you apply a surge of confidence in your life? What goals of yours seem too big to accomplish? What would you like to change in your life that you just feel like you can’t? As your days of Karate training turn into years training, I’m willing to bet that your unfulfilled dreams will seem much more of a reality than you ever thought possible.


Train hard and with intent! Thank you for your time



-john g

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