Why study The Martial Arts?
When you think of martial arts or karate, you probably think of fighting and violence. This is not the true way. A true martial artist never initiates violence but is prepared to respond to attack if necessary. A major part of martial arts training involves how to avoid violence, and genuine encounters when they do occur, are very brief.
Budo, martial way, implies that there is more to being a person than being strong and powerful. Having solely the strength to cause destruction will not lead in any productive direction. If you want to overcome others, you must first overcome yourself and that means overcoming your own weaknesses. The martial arts is not a battle with an opponent, it is a battle with yourself.
Who should train in the martial arts?
Anyone can and should practice martial arts. Athletes of all kinds have found it a method for improving their coordination, reflexes, timing, and general physical well-being. Women, children, and even older people find the combination of mental and physical activity to be stimulating and of such a nature that it can be safely adapted to the needs of the individual in actual training.
Won't the martial arts make you more aggressive?
No, because aggression is based on fear. Through training fear is replaced with self-confidence and self-esteem, thus eliminating the need to fight.
What about defending myself if I need to?
You should be able to defend yourself in any encounter or situation and we supply you with an extensive program that will enable you to do so with optimum efficiency. But you must also be responsible for not inflicting unnecessary damage upon your attacker.
When you reach real ability you will be able to become one with the enemy. Entering his heart you will see that he is not your enemy after all.
-- Sword Master Tsuji (1650-1730)
This is definitely more difficult and is a more sophisticated concept of self-defense, which requires that more control be developed in order to achieve such aims. When events overtake you suddenly, as they may if you are unexpectedly attacked, it will not be possible to pause, consider, decide and then act. You must react instinctively. But how will you react, and what kind of instinctive responses will you exhibit? This will depend almost entirely upon the diligence with which you have applied yourself to your training. Proficiency in the application of movements or techniques is not possible without continuous practice of the various movements, etc. The ideal is to go beyond technique so that after constant repetition of movements your techniques actually become a part of you.
Are there other benefits to studying martial arts besides the self-defense aspect?
Yes, as far as health is concerned you should develop and maintain six specific areas of the body: strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, balance, and coordination. The martial arts help you develop and maintain all these. For this reason, the Chinese and other cultures have practiced the martial arts for centuries for their benefits to health and longevity. The martial arts can help you realize physical fitness to the maximum extent possible and ward off the ravages of time. Also, more than any other physical activity, the martial arts significantly affects your mental processes and influences the way you live your life. It can clarify your thinking, increase your awareness, lead you toward emotional maturity, broaden your attitudes, and improve your way of dealing with other people. Since we are essentially creatures of habit, any habits learned in class will manifest themselves outside of class. For example, an improved ability to focus on the task at hand, improved concentration, and a drive to see things through. You will also discover that through training you will develop an all around I can attitude.
In your training, do not be in a hurry. Never think of yourself as an all-knowing, perfected master; you must continue to train daily
-- Morihei Ueshiba
Technique is essential in any martial art, but a student who learns only technique is not a true martial artist. To become a true martial artist the student must develop certain ideals. These ideals; physical―meaning body or technique, mental―meaning mind or heart, and spiritual―meaning inner energy or spirit, when combined as one, are the essence of Budo, martial way.
To fight and conquer in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy with no fight at all, that's the highest skill.
-- Sun Tzu