Article 1: Learning Karate Techniques

By Krassimir Doynov, Ph.D., Shotokan Karate-Do Club & Kobudo at UH

Introduction

The purpose of this article is to show that learning karate techniques is no different than learning any subject at school or any skill in life. It requires effort, attention, persistence, discipline and organization. Learning karate techniques is based on the human brain functions of receiving through our senses, remembering, analyzing, outputting and controlling.

Analogy with children learning to tie their shoelaces

This process can be illustrated by the analogy of children learning to tie their shoelaces. In the beginning a kindergarten child just observes how its parents do that. The child forms a visual memory of the process. The visual memory generates a sense of comfort, which in turn encourages the child to experiment on its own. With help from its parents and after several attempts the child succeeds eventually in tying its shoelaces. From this moment on, the visual memory becomes linked to the particular hand skills necessary for the desired output. This linkage forms a thought pattern in the brain, which allows the child to see “the big picture” and to get a feeling of rhythm for the sequence of elementary actions needed for the completion of this complex process. (Yes, tying shoelaces is a complex process known only to humans among all living creatures in Nature). After several successful outputs the level of familiarity with the process increases along with the level of comfort, which in turn allows the child to analyze the elementary actions and to learn new ones. This analysis leads to performance improvements in all elementary actions. The child becomes more efficient and needs less time to tie its shoelaces. The process still requires full concentration of the mental energy or attention of the child. With practice, the child learns to control the process with less mental energy, which allows the child to redirect its attention somewhere else. After many repetitions, tying shoelaces becomes fully automatic and does not practically require any attention at all.

A karate master performs any technique in the same way adults tie their shoelaces – without thinking. A new karate technique is as difficult to a white belt student as tying shoelaces is to the kindergarten child.

Continue Reading at: UH Shotokan Karate-Do Club & Kobudo

Article 2: Benefits in learning karate

By Krassimir Doynov, Ph.D., Shotokan Karate-Do Club & Kobudo at UH

Introduction

The purpose of this article is to explain the benefits in learning karate as listed on the University of Houston Shotokan Karate-Do Club web site – www.uh.edu/shotokan:

  • Improve your physical and mental health
  • Build self-esteem and strengthen your self-confidence
  • Improve your academic performance by raising your level of energy, focus and concentration
  • Learn and master self-defense techniques
  • Make friends in the oldest karate club in Houston

Improvement of physical health

The obvious benefit from learning karate is the improvement of physical health. The student learns to exercise regularly several times a week, which is one of the most useful lifetime habits. This results in balancing blood pressure and circulation, lowering the cholesterol level, and reducing the number of visits to the doctor and all medical expenses. Moreover the student gets flexible muscles and joints, which increases the chances for surviving car accidents with fewer injuries when compared to a person who does not train karate.

Improvement of mental health

A little less obvious benefit from learning karate is the improvement of mental health. Imagine yourself on a beautiful beach with palm trees, or breathing the fresh mountain air while enjoying the beauty of a mountain lake. Without any psychological stress you simply feel light and your muscles relaxed – at that moment you feel the freedom to sense the beautiful things in life. Everybody has this state of mind firmly coded and permanently stored in his or her memory. After two hours of exhaustive karate workout the student feels totally spent; all muscles and the entire body get relaxed, which in turn brings back from the memory the firmly coded stress-free state of mind. This is one of the greatest gifts of Nature – a mechanism of recycling psychological stress through exercising. Whenever the student is pushed by the sensei to the limit, he uses 100% of his mental concentration just to keep going. At that moment the student cannot think of anything else because there is simply no any mental energy left. This is a perfect application of the Zen concept “Be Here, Now!” The student learns a valuable lesson in life – to handle only one task at a time; that efficiency in any activity comes when there is a 100% commitment of the mental energy to the task at hand. The real benefit comes from realizing that when you commit 100% of your concentration you get results more efficiently and faster which sets you free to take on the next task at hand, to achieve more

Continue Reading at: Article 2: Benefits in learning karate