“You cannot expect to be good at fighting if you are scared of being hurt.”
This is what our karate instructor would always tell us when we were still newbies in the art. I couldn’t agree with him more.
In my first class, there were about 70 participants initially. We had to be split into two groups because there was not enough room on the floor for all of us to learn together. Though we were so many, I knew by what my dad told me earlier about karate, that most of those there, would not stay in the class. The need for discipline and obedience would defeat them.
In each class, we did a lot of tough workouts. Karate is an art; and it is no joke. It is a full body workout, but more than that, it requires mental as well as physical concentration every single moment. I worked very hard at all I was instructed to do. In fact, I pressed myself so much that I would struggle to sleep at night because of muscle cramps. One time I even cried myself to sleep because every inch of my body hurt. Every muscle I had (and even some I never knew I had!) was screaming.
As time went by, I realized the art requires a lot of discipline, concentration and endurance. After two weeks, the class was reduced to barely 20 people. In the group that was about 50 percent female at the start, there were now only two women. I have stayed with it now for almost two years.
There are many great lessons to be used in other parts of life that come from practicing the discipline demanded by karate. For me, one thing I now know is that learning how to fight is an art; learning how to be disciplined and avoid fights is a commitment. The truth about karate is that if you are scared to get hurt, you’ll never learn. During each lesson, you have to open your mind, let go of fears and restrictions, listen to the instructor carefully. You must put forth all that you have with each new move or position or kick that is learned. If you hold back because you are afraid, you can never come close to doing karate properly.
I suffered at least two injuries within the first six months after joining my karate class. The one that hurt so badly was when I overstretched my right hip because I executed the round kick incorrectly. The injury lasted for three months. I couldn’t walk well. My friends told me to quit my karate class, but I turned a deaf ear. Giving up was not an option for me. I had made a commitment to that discipline and I intended to see it through.
I have reasons for my keen interest in martial arts.
In my first year at NUST, I was almost kidnapped in a taxi. It wasn’t supposed to be a kidnapping at first, but because of my stubbornness in not allowing myself to be robbed with no response, it almost turned out to be.
A man in the passenger seat next to me, snatched my phone as I was about to get out of the taxi. I sat back in my seat and demanded my phone. When he couldn’t convince me to get out, he signaled the driver (who was obviously his partner in crime) to start moving the car. I was terrified. I had no choice but to leave my phone. I opened the door and jumped out of the car while the car was still moving. I fell on my right side and hurt my ribs quite badly. But bruised ribs are nothing compared to whatever the two monsters in that taxi would have done to me if they kidnapped me.
After feeling so helplessness, I had a reason to learn how to protect myself with karate. I needed to be able to defend myself if I had to. More than that, I wanted to learn the discipline and self-confidence to know that I would not live my life as a victim.
What really disturbs me is people’s perception of the art. They think martial artists are barbaric and cause fights out of the blue. This is not true. We are taught how to treat others with respect. We are warned to only fight if there is no other alternative. We are encouraged to use our skills and what we have learned in a way that will benefit society. We have discipline and obedience, too. Check out karate. Maybe studying the martial arts will help you too.