Karate as Life Skill

Our karate is for everyone who wants to do it. Not just for a few competitors, not just for unusual people who are dedicating their lives to the pursuit of a martial arts ideal. We do have some amazing athletes in our style. We have a few who are dedicated practitioners, aspiring at a very high level. They make a great contribution to our group. Our style is good for them. But it is not only for them. It is a life skill. 

It is for everyone. You feel stronger and stronger the longer you train. You move with skill. You learn to focus your mind, and all the focus you develop in training transfers naturally to everything you do – to work, school, family, athletics, whatever you do. 

Keeping a cool head under pressure, moving without hesitation when the time demands it, collaborating naturally with the people around you, and stepping up to a challenge when the opportunity arises, are life skills. They all are developed from the day you start, and go deeper for as long as you train. 

We have excellent competitors in our style. But the life skills we develop are for everyone, not just a few. The effects of consistent practice, practice built into the flow of life, day to day, year after year, has a transformative effect that no trophy, no tournament, can match. 

Our approach to martial arts is challenging right away. It is for anyone who wants to train their body and mind to their potential. It is for anyone who will not accept the complacency bred by comfort. It is for anyone who is unwilling to submit to the agitation from the rapid-fire stimulation and mixed-up messages which bombard us. 

We do not have to accept the conditions of a toxic culture. We have an alternative: a better way to orient, and a better way to live. 

Our karate is unique in some respects. The depth of understanding and the practicality of our training methods make the techniques work, the training process clear, and the results obvious. 

Our approach makes our martial art a true life-skill. Like being able to read and write, to add and subtract, to drive a car: life skills help make you independent, and to make the most of life.  

To stay healthy, alive, confident and strong are life skills. And like all the others, they take work to achieve. Not everyone who learns to read aspires to be a scholar. Not everyone who learns to write writes novels. Not everyone who learns to drive needs to wants to be Formula One racer. But sometimes people get into martial arts thinking that only a championship will validate their effort.

 It used to be that people would get together and sing and make music, just for the enjoyment of it. Somehow the idea has crept in that enjoyment is second rate, and your musicianship is only validated if you perform, record, get attention and make it a career move. This is a loss, for people, for music, for life. Life skills used to include building, farming, hunting, taking care of your family and knowing your way through the world. People did these things because they were important, necessary and good, not because they made you famous or special or rich. 

In the olden times karate like ours was practiced by whole villages, together. There were different levels of interest and ability. People challenged and tested one another. It was serious. But they also practiced together. They enjoyed it and everyone got the benefit of doing it. 

There wasn’t a limited amount of strength and skill to go around. Everyone got stronger. Everyone got more skillful. Every life got better, and the life of the whole village got better as each person aspired, stepped up and did their best.

That is a good approach. We are not all the same. We do not all have the same abilities, or interests. We do not all invest the same amount of time and commitment. But we all do get strong and skillful. And we all can draw on our skills – even if we are never threatened or intimidated – we can use our confidence, strength and focus every day, in everything we do.


Post by Jeff Brooks, author of the influential book True Karate Dō, instructor, Yamabayashi Ryu, Mountain Karate, Saluda, NC

Post Copyright © 2023 Jeffrey Brooks

Photo Chris Sabor via Unsplash

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