When you think of martial arts, do you think of someone who can fight? That’s not unusual, and if anyone claims to be a martial artist, that person should have good self-defense skills. But martial arts teach so much more!
The first things taught in martial arts class, are the positions Attention and Bow. We learn that when standing at Attention, we are using self-control to stay still, display good posture, and we are practicing our ability to focus and pay attention. Attention is the first thing necessary for being ready to learn anything. Our Bow comes from Attention position, and it shows respect, which is the primary base for all human relationships. In learning Attention and Bow, we are learning how to learn, and how to relate to others, including how to choose when to use our martial arts skills. Control of ourselves and how we respond to others are the hallmarks of a true martial artist.
Also in the first lesson at Karate West, we will teach a basic front kick and a punch, so a student learns some techniques that are useful for self-defense right away. We had a student many years ago who successfully used those 2 techniques within a week of learning them, when he was attacked in a bar. Most members may never be physically attacked, so self-defense is not our only focus in teaching techniques, but it is part of it. Members learn to block and to evade, and how an effective offense is often the best way to be defensive. Martial artists also learn how to defuse or avoid situations that could become threatening, without using physical contact. Besides self-defense, martial arts teach balance and fitness (flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance). Martial arts can be practiced as competitive sports, or practiced with focus on the artistic aspects. Which benefit is most important will depend on each student. Karate West teaches martial arts to offer experiences in all of the different aspects, and requires a certain level of mastery of each, in order to earn ranks. However, each student gradually finds his or her own special love for some aspect, and will tend to develop more strengths in that area.
Karate West helps our students learn to set goals and achieve them; how accomplishment can take hard work; how to strive for excellence in all endeavors; to be respectful to others; and how karate can be so enjoyable!