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Learning Karate (and other Martial Arts)

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I recently started a karate program at a local dojo and it's great. I've always wanted to learn martial arts, basically for as long as I can remember (since the time the Ninja Turtles and van Damme were popular), but my family held me back due to a physical disability and a weak cervical spine.

Although I'm merely a white belt (graduating to yellow very soon), I know that I want to run with this as far as possible, to just under the point of a "career" - a serious hobby guess. The physical and mental benefits I've gained in just the last month have been incredible, and I can say that I absolutely love knowing how to fight. Not to say that I ever actually want to be in a real fight, but just knowing what to do in case of an assault on me or my wife is freakin' awesome. It has been a big confidence booster.

It even seems to come fairly naturally, even while trying to slough off 8 years of sedentary living as well as getting my light handicap to work properly. I haven't tried sparring yet, but I think when I do I'll be able to handle myself pretty well.

So how popular are martial arts with people here? Has anyone had to use their abilities in real situations (probably the military and police folk have). If so, was it hard to remember your training? Does anyone practice a really obscure martial art?

I don't want this to become a "which style is better" thread, but rather how fun martial arts can be, and complimentary styles. After going for awhile with karate, I want to get into jiujitsu. I think the striking from karate would go really well with the groundwork of JJ or BJJ (what exactly is the difference there anyway, aside from the instructor's country?). I've also tried basic classes of tai chi and muay thai; tai chi seems too abstract to use in a fight, and muay thai seems to only focus on striking without any joint locks or defensive capability.

What say you?

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I spent 14 years across 21 years with a traditional Okinawan karate instructor. While I am neither military nor police, I've had occasions the skills acquired were used. I did not "remember" my training in such a situation. I just handled the situation based on how I had trained.

Through training, you automatize your actions/reactions. As you acquire the techniques and execute them, by yourself, with a partner, through prearranged exercises, and extemporaneous exchanges, you discover what works for you, and more importantly what does not work for you. I think this is true of any style. There are no superior martial arts, only superior martial artists, and every superior (martial artist) has a superior (martial artist).

Train hard. Train often.

edited for minor typo.

Edited by dream_weaver
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A little over 13 years spread out over 20. Ju jutsu and jiujitsu mostly but also a bit of Muay Thai, Ki Aikido, Tenshin Katori Shinto Ryu, Arnise...less of a few others. (I moved around a bit) No preferences either. They all lead to the same place; turning "moves" into good movement, good body mechanics.

Brazilian is closer to judo than ju jutsu. Emphasis is on locks and holds, choke outs...sports orientated...almost no, or no striking depending on where you train. Japanese ju jutsu is battlefield based combat...so breaks, suffocation, organ rupturing, disarming, quick incapacitation...that sort of thing.

I wouldn't knock Tai Chi's usefulness in application. I got a lot of improvement in my ju ju from my short time in ki aikido. Mixing the soft with the hard stuff like Muay Thai is a great mix. Even if you're not into it now, keep it in mind for later when you want to broaden your game a bit.

Needed it a few times. More earlier on than later. Eventually you'll find how much more effective body language is at solving things than actually fighting.

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More earlier on than later. Eventually you'll find how much more effective body language is at solving things than actually fighting.

Self-confidence, self-assuredness, self-efficacy. While martial arts is not the sole source of these attributes, it can be a contributor.

When you know how to take a baseball bat away while minimizing any injury that may be sustained in doing so, the look on the face of the guy with the bat looking into your eyes when he recognizes that you are ready to deal with him, I have seen him reconsider, and back down.

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I've been training in shotokan karate for over two years now, I am 1st kyu and will be grading for my 1st dan (black belt) some time next year. It has had an incredibly positive effect on my life, I am now significantly stronger and fitter than I was and my general health has improved. I had problems with my hip before I started doing it, which has not been an impediment, the exercise has helped it and I now have problems only very rarely. I think it has also been a great benefit to my mental health as well. I do have more confidence and self-esteem and I carry myself much higher and stronger now than I ever did before.

Whilst there is an element of irrational spirituality behind most Eastern martial arts (and my Sensai's Christianity), there are quite a few cross-overs from karate to Objectivism.

The Dojo kun recited after every session are as follows -

To strive for the perfection of character

To defend the path of truth

To foster a spirit of effort

To honour the principles of etiquette

To guard against impetuous courage

The first three are fully consistent with Objectivism. Our club motto is "do mu kyoko" - no limitations in life :)

I've never been in a situation where I have needed to use my training and hope I never am! However, it is good to have the confidence of knowing that I can handle myself if some mindless thug seeks to use force against me.

Best of luck in your training.

Edited by rebelconservative
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We haven't gotten into the spirituality parts of karate. I guess different dojos practice different philosophies. The motto of my school here in Toronto (Northern Karate Schools) is towards more of a personal best philosophy (I can't exactly remember their phrasing).

It's possible that they get into this stuff at higher ranks, or during our Hanshi's monthly Quest Events, which I haven't attended. But I like those 5 kun you listed, it's good to keep those in mind.

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"Be the best you, you can be."

The philosophy was one of Budo, essentially the way, or the path, "Kenson", or humility, "shinri" or truth, "kunren" or practice-training-self discipline/effort, "wa" or peace/harmony just to touch base on a few. Every class involved some aspect of history or a basic principle over and above the physical training. Sensei's focus was always mind and body. Karate meant "empty hand" not "empty head".

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I had Karate lessons when I was 9 or 10, but I had a horrible time with structure when I was young so I gave it up. A few years ago I revisited martial arts, specifically Lima Lama and Bujinkan. I spent a little more time with Lima Lama, which was lots of fun. The only reference to mysticism I heard while at that class was (paraphrased), "Grand Master Tuiolosega bows to nobody but God, so we don't bow here either." Part of me respects the notion, but on the other hand I don't think bowing (when appropriate) is in any way self-disrespectful. Lima Lama taught palm strikes very early, and the first few kicks they had us practice were to be directed at the knees of the opponent. Some people might consider it "dirty," but I really appreciate those kinds of syles.

I had one of my friends studied with a Bujinkan instructor who was a co-worker of mine. I stopped by for a few classes and had some fun. They start rolling/summersault training right away (for evasion and, presumably, to practice getting up quickly). I got some wierd back bruises before I got the hang of it. They were very upfront about using any tool available when in a conflict, at one point the instructor even mimicked picking up sand during one of his evasive summersaults. The main instructor has some videos online of him using his "Chi" to extinguish a candle. Chi looks a lot like pushing air with your hand.

I personally believe that the best "fighting" training involves a firearm, but these kinds of classes are good workouts for those of us who find it difficult to maintain an exercise schedule. Lifting weights and running is boring to me, so I might start classes again if I find myself slacking off.

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