Karate is a martial art. This means that karate started out as a means of survival, and has evolved into a form of art.
Most people understand karate as it is presented by the entertainment industry: glorified violence as a means to an end. True karate, however, is much different. A true martial artist understands the moral and philosophical responsibilities that go with the techniques. Might does not make right, and the greatest knowledge is how to not use one’s karate training.
Why, then, study karate? The benefits are diverse. Most obviously, the study of karate is a wonderful exercise program which engages both the body and the mind. In time, students develop greater self-confidence and self-discipline, as well as a better understanding of themselves. Karate is also a window to another culture, which allows us to consider new ideas and new ways of doing things.
On the other hand, karate does have its origins in ancient fighting systems. It is an excellent form of self-defense, and students are taught how to use it as such. Even though students are taught to avoid potential confrontations, they gain self-confidence knowing that they can defend themselves if this should become necessary.
Someone once said, “I study karate to learn how to live properly.” If you are considering karate training, you should be aware that it will influence your life outside of the dojo. Karate has been known to reduce stress, to increase self-confidence, and to increase fitness. These things, in turn, help martial artists to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.