Up the River (Thanks to the Paddle)
Purpose. According to almighty Google, purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
I’m in the role of business analyst and my work is to figure out the purpose of proposed projects: what is needed and why is it needed. Where is the added value?
Karate as a whole, Karate at a group level, and Karate on an individual basis, needs to have a purpose.
It is said that Fang Chi Liang’s purpose for creating the White Crane fighting style was to avenge her father who was beaten and killed by a band of brigands. Folklore has it that she studied the fluid and deadly ‘evade and attack’ methods of the white crane bird to perfect a deadly technique.
Around AD 525, the monk from India (Bodhidharma), taught Chinese Shaolin monks a series of movements and techniques. His purpose was to build their stamina for the long hours and focus required for meditation.
Much is written about the people of Okinawa who learned Te as a means of defending themselves without the use of weapons. Their primary purpose seemed to be mere survival.
Perhaps Funakoshi’s purpose was to present society with a means of self-betterment through Shotokan Karate.
Today, some Dojo’s exist to make money. Some exist because some ‘Sensei’ love that they are called Sensei and enjoy the status.
On the flip side, most Dojos and most Sensei exist because they understand the value – physical, mental, and spiritual – of Karate. They appreciate the value in keeping alive a tradition that, at one time, helped keep people alive, and today can help people be healthier, stronger, and more mentally resilient.
I still do Karate because I have so much respect for the people who are teaching me; for what the Art gives me; and for the opportunity to pass on what I have learned.
My daughter (15) seems to do karate because it’s ‘her thing.’ She is good at it, and while her friends talk about their accomplishments in basketball or hockey, she can talk about her experiences in Kumite or Kata. She also said it helps work her way through anxious times and times of frustration.
Everyone needs a purpose: a thing.
“Having a purpose in life is important for your mental wellbeing and can help you live a more fulfilled and content life.” Emotional Matters, UK.
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that Karate can be purposeful for everyone, but it’s true that is has multiple purposes for many.
You readers already know this so why and I reiterating it all again? For two reasons: to pay homage to those of you who teach the Karate that ranges from helping kids protect themselves from bullies, to helping individuals like me understand the true value of the Martial art and its ability to improve your life (and the lives of others).
Our Dojo (Power Karate Academy) is full these days, simply because the Dojo teaches Karate as the three Ks, and it facilitates growth and confidence.
No one will say my purpose in life is Karate, but it is perfectly correct to say that Karate helps me strive toward whatever my purpose in life may be: it give me tools beyond the physical.
If life imitates paddling up a river that takes a number of skills and tools, perhaps karate is the oar that gives you the push you need.