Why do karate? One of the biggest reasons (in my own estimation), is to be uncomfortable and learn how to deal with this discomfort. Now before this scares you away, please hear me out. To truly grow and succeed in life it takes a lot of hard work. Often this hard work requires you to take risks and to seek out challenges that may seem impossible at first. The combination of hard work and selective risk-taking amounts ultimately to a state of being uncomfortable. The more comfortable you are being uncomfortable, the more you will thrive against the challenges of life.
This is where karate comes in.
Karate, especially Budo karate like Kyokushin puts you constantly in a state of discomfort. Sweat, muscle soreness, and even some light bruising are a common fixture for anyone training hard in the dojo. If this physical discomfort wasn’t enough, we sometimes experience mental discomfort – am I doing this right? Am I going to get “yelled at” for making a mistake? When will I be “good enough”?
On a more personal level, without a doubt I would say that Kyokushin has turned me into the man I am today. When I started karate over 25 years ago, I never realized how difficult it would be. Every belt and stripe earned came with even more challenges, and even more sweat. When we’re uncomfortable we tend to find a little voice that starts reminding us how uncomfortable we are. Reminding us that we had other options than coming in to training tonight, perhaps a lazy evening on the couch watching TV in an air-conditioned house. A couch that won’t kick or punch you. A house that’s a lot cooler and won’t make you sweat. It’s when this voice starts speaking up that we need to learn to tell it to be quiet or as my teacher, Shihan Tom Flynn would say, tell it “thank you for sharing” and politely ignore it.
This ability to shut down the voice in our head is what allows us to be comfortable when everyone around us quits due to discomfort, leading us to be more successful in the face of adversity.
Karate is hard. Because it is hard, we get stronger, physically and mentally. It prepares us to take on life’s challenges. There is no better way to prepare yourself to be successful than to get comfortable being uncomfortable. And no better way to help a child grow up ready to face a difficult world.