Karate is a system of self-defence that has developed over many years and which now contains elements of keeping fit and keeping a supple body. Both the mind and body are focused whilst karate classes take place and this gives the practitioner the opportunity to escape the normal pressures of everyday life. In a good karate club there should be a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, so that somebody who is new to the club does not feel intimidated or frightened.
How does karate actually benefit your health?
A new beginner to a karate class is introduced to this Martial Art firstly by a systematic stretching routine. This loosens up the body and allows blood to flow to joints and nerves that may have been somewhat starved in the past. The moves of karate, e.g. the blocks, strikes and kicks are explained in a step by step manner, so that the practitioner has the chance to repeat these moves over and over, until they eventually become second nature.
The movements described above bring the body into a toned condition, the posture is encouraged to remain upright and one becomes generally more alert. As the techniques of karate improve so does ones general health. Practitioners who smoke often find that after a few lessons they don't feel the need for nicotine, and nine times out of ten, they stop smoking. As the student's skills improve, the techniques become more fluid and quicker, and thus one's aerobic capacity gradually improves, bringing benefits to the heart and lungs.
After a while the techniques that have been learnt are practised with a partner, in a controlled and pre-determined manner. This is the point where karate can help your mind. You need mental concentration for this part of the class and the concentration, together with the physical techniques that have been learnt, give the practitioner a great sense of elation and achievement. It is quite noticeable in the student's faces and in their conversation after the class, that something quite positive has taken place.
Some people practise karate for life. It is known at many clubs for students in their 60's and 70's to regularly practise karate. Many younger people start, and many parents are introduced to the classes by their children attending. A good karate club will encourage students of all ages to enjoy karate. Children however, usually do not begin karate before the age of six.
Yes, Karate can help your mind and body achieve and keep good health, but as an ultimate test for this we should look at karate as a means of self-defence. As a system of self-defence karate may one day save your life or save the life of a friend or family member. That is surely one of the best ever benefits to your health.
By Rod Butler
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