The martial arts offer a very valuable journey of self-discovery. There are different stages within this journey all the way from beginner to black belt and beyond. At each stage there are different challenges and obstacles. This article will look at the common doubts that most beginners of the martial arts experience on their journey.
- Is this really for me?
This is a big question at the beginner stage and also at the intermediate stage. In fact this question will need to be answered on numerous different occasions all the way up to black belt, and maybe even then too!
Self-doubt is not a bad thing, it is a way for you to take a step back from your training and logically ask yourself if martial arts (Taekwondo, karate, muay thai, jiu jitsu, whatever) is still for you. Only you can answer this question but to make sure that you continue to give martial arts a chance I recommend that you focus on three things: why did you get started in the first place; what has martial arts done for you so far; and what do you still hope to get out of your martial arts practice?
If you still feel that karate has a lot to offer you then your answer to question #1 should be a resounding yes!
- Do I have the potential to become a black belt?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Everybody has the potential to do anything they want. The question you should ask yourself is, Will I allow myself to reach my potential of becoming a black belt?
- Can "Karate" really help me to defend myself?
Yes and no. After three months of training the chances are that you will not be able to defend yourself unless you are taking a specific and intensive self-defense course that is solely focused on street survival. You are probably taking a mainstream martial arts class in which case you should expect to gradually develop self-defense skills over a significantly longer period of time. If your primary goal is self-defense then take a course that deals with that specifically and also read and learn about basic awareness tactics for going about your everyday life.
- Is all of this talk about ethics and spiritual values really true?
At first it seems as if punching and kicking don’t really match the values of discipline and respect and I can’t blame you for thinking that especially after picking up your daily newspaper and reading about the latest mugging, rape or local school violence. However the fact of the matter is that self-awareness leads to a greater appreciation of truth in your life and what it means to you specifically. By practicing martial arts you learn about your own strengths and weaknesses and through hard physical training you learn how to break through previous limitations and take yourself to the next level in your growth and self-discovery.
This usually translates into higher moral and spiritual values, which in turn lead to greater self-discipline and respect for our fellow citizens. I believe that all of this is true but it obviously takes time, effort and commitment to make any kind of lasting behavioral change.
- Will I ever get these techniques and drills right?
The more you practice, the more likely you are to get the techniques and drills right. Your ultimate success in karate is in direct proportion to your effort, focus and persistence. The more that you focus on the fact that you are not getting the drills right, the more you will become frustrated. Change your focus, keep it positive, and suddenly you will get the techniques right.
- Doesn’t everyone get hurt in sparring?
Everybody gets minor bumps and bruises in sparring even if when are wearing protective gear. This is part of martial arts training. Don’t believe anybody who tells you differently. However, very few practitioners experience serious injuries while training at a reputable school that takes every precaution necessary for the safety of its members. The use of safety gear is one reason for this, but a more important reason is the care and knowledge of a competent instructor who knows how to gradually introduce sparring drills that are both age-appropriate and rank-specific. A competent and caring instructor is more important than any piece of safety gear.
These are some of the common doubts in the early stages of martial arts training and there are obviously many more.
Good luck and best wishes on your journey in martial arts.