The Benefits of Karate

It’s much more than learning how to defend yourself.


Andrea Deyo

Posing for the camera with Shihan Steve after my test.

Timothy Zaluski, Staff Writer

Karate is a martial art that has been around for generations. It teaches people how to defend themselves, to be disciplined, and promotes their overall fitness and health. It also rewards those who have mastered certain sections of material with different belts and ranks.

But what makes it truly beneficial?

Dave Richard with his sensei Al Gagne (Dave Richard)

I asked someone in this very building, Dave Richard, who is also a karate instructor, for his point of view.

I began the interview by asking what skills or traits can people learn from taking karate.

He said, ¨I feel that the traditional arts from Okinawa, where it stemmed from…gives you the confidence above and beyond the skills to defend yourself.¨

He added, ¨I preach to my students…if you take the lessons learned in karate about paying attention to the details, and transform it into whatever else you do in life, whatever you do, you will be that much more efficient at.¨ 

But what makes it truly beneficial?

Since he is very experienced, I decided it was necessary to ask what is the most rewarding aspect of teaching karate.

¨The most rewarding part is the students that have a lot of trouble with coordination or older people who don’t think they can do what you’re instructing them to do…when you have those students that are physically challenged or mentally challenged.

“I’ll teach a kata to one student and they’ll pick right up on it. But I’ll teach the same kata to another student and they’ll have so much trouble with it, and then one day it just clicks and they get it, and they are so much more happy than the student that it came naturally to…It’s just so much more gratifying.¨

I get into an impressive stance during my karate performance. (Sutton Memorial High School)

In my experience, I have seen people of all ages practice karate, and it is always great to see everyone put in their best effort even if they are not in perfect shape. So I asked him if he thinks that karate is accessible to people of all ages.

¨There’s obviously some modifications that need to be made for a five year old or an eighty year old person…but karate can be practiced by all ages and physical abilities. There’s plenty of videos of amputees doing karate with modifications; it’s just a great thing for people in general…and that’s part of the magic of it.¨

From this interview, I realized just how important it is that people of all ages can experience karate. Although there are adjustments made for people, there really is no age limit to participate.

When people grow older it is especially important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and taking karate is a great way to help. If people have their doubts about whether they should take karate because of the rigorous and exhausting workouts, they should know that there is more to it than that.

“…karate can be practiced by all ages and physical abilities”

Stretching is a tremendously important part of karate because it helps to avoid cramps and prevents you from being stiff with your movements. Working on your flexibility is always beneficial to your day to day life.

It’s not just older people that can find the benefits of karate beyond what is on the surface. Little kids as young as five years old can use karate to stay productive. Kids in that age range have an abundance of energy that they can pour into martial arts.

For those who are younger, the exercises are never too difficult to the point of being discouraging. But they are just challenging enough to encourage the kids to reach their full potential, while staying fun and engaging.

Kids of all ages enjoy the moment of advancing in rank. (Andrea Deyo)

Beyond physical health, karate can have a positive impact on your mental health, from teaching important skills like discipline and focus to the younger students, to improving your overall self-esteem. Karate can even allow for you to release your emotions in a constructive and defensive manner.

A major reason why some people might not want to give karate a chance is because they think that there is a substantial risk for injury. But the truth is, safety is paramount when practicing any martial art. There are many instances where fellow students must execute techniques on one another, but everyone learns how to do things properly and with control. Whether it is grappling, takedowns, or sparring, it is all produced in a safe environment.

When you take karate, you experience a physical artform in which there is always somewhere to improve. You greatly enhance both your physical and mental health, regardless of your age or athletic ability. You also are provided a way to collaborate with people in all walks of life.

Therefore the benefits of karate are available for you–if you are willing to give it a try.

Therefore the benefits of karate are available for you–if you are willing to give it a try.