It is a well-known fact that sport plays a vital role in people’s lives. Although there are a lot of ways to keep one’s body fit, I have been always fascinated with the ones that teach how to defend myself or those who are in trouble. The movies that include martial art scenes have been always among my favorite ones. Since childhood, I have been admiring the actors, whose gracious moves were turning the fight into a true art. These were probably the main reasons why I decided to attend karate class. Apart from being considered mainly a self-defence discipline, this karate class provided me with other valuable benefits, which included, among others, improved physical and mental health, concentration, awareness, stamina, partner work, and non-violent conflict resolution. To tell the truth, during a couple of first lessons, I felt a little bit discouraged as my awkward moves were far from those which I used to observe on the screen. Also, the level of my flexibility was no better than of an old oak tree. However, I am very grateful to my teacher who kept repeating that nothing could come without continuous work and if we wanted to see the result we had to practice not only at the lessons but also at home. These words returned my confidence, so I started to work as hard as I could.
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Jumping ahead, I must say that after having taken this course I realized that karate gave me many valuable physical and life lessons. Before talking about the advantages of this class, it should be noted that the specialists divide the benefits of martial arts into the following categories: “self-defence, health and fitness, character training, mind expansion and spiritual development”. One can say for sure that karate prepares the young person for future life. It builds the character and instills those traits that are necessary for a worthy and a successful individual. As for me, first of all, karate practices significantly improved my appearance as well as physical health. I have obtained a good shape of the body; there appeared abs and muscles on my arms and legs. A correct posture is also worth noting. I became considerably stronger as now I can lift much heavier things than before. Secondly, this class helped me to maintain a good mental health. I noticed that karate lessons significantly reduce stress and bring positive emotions. This practice helped me to improve my self-confidence and the ability to communicate with others more openly. Besides, I found many new friends at this class with who we can share the same interests and a fighting spirit. It is not a secret that Eastern people are very anxious about their health. In this respect, karate promotes good physical and emotional well-being. It is an excellent means of respiratory diseases prevention as breathing exercises are an integral part of every single lesson. Among the numerous health benefits of karate, it is important to mention that physical exercises considerably increase the state of the cardiovascular system, which, in turn, decreases the possibility of heart failure. According to the specialists, systematic training raises “the pulse rate and oxygen characteristics of the heart and lungs over an extended period”. The most important change that happened to me within this course is the increased level of concentration. We have been taught that during the lesson everybody has to forget about all problems or things that need to be done and focus 100% of attention to the class activities. This method proved that it is possible to reach a success only if to completely concentrate on one thing at a time. Thanks to this technique, my academic performance increased greatly. It is vital to mention that karate classes helped me to increase my stamina as well as willpower. In the beginning, I could not catch my breath after running less than one kilometer, however, now I feel pretty well when walking the whole day in the mountains. Due to this course, I have also become a calmer and less impulsive person as the karate system promotes a willpower that “is considered important not only for enabling the student to continue with arduous training but also for improving personality and performance inside and outside the training arena”. Apart from that, I understood that the ability to listen attentively plays a big role in succeeding in this or that activity. Paying attention to the teacher’s words saves time and accelerates the progress. It is needless to say that the major aim of this class was to teach us self-defense. We have been taught that the main aim of karate is to deflect the attack, not to get into it. I can say for sure that this class made me better aware of my surroundings. As a matter of fact, no one knows when and where he or she can be attacked. However, the course teaches to be ready for such situations all the time. In case it happens, the person usually gets shocked or confused but good fighting skills help to clear one’s mind and take the situation under control. At the karate class, we learned the basic techniques necessary to protect ourselves or other people in danger. During this course, I gained proficiency in Taikyoku Sandan kata. It is one of the most fundamental katas that introduce the beginners to the primary aspects of the karate system as well as teaches them a new hand technique (chudan-uchi-uke) and a basic back stance (kokutsu-dachi). Another thing that I learned from this course was the importance of a partner work. When exercising in pairs, the main aim is not to show your superiority or strength over a partner but to help each other to master the fighting skills. Partner work leads to deeper understanding of the learned techniques and the ways they can be applied against the opponent. Apart from being a system of fighting, karate promotes non-violent conflict resolution. The idea that learning martial arts contribute to aggressive behavior does not correspond to reality. In fact, I acquired an important skill of a peaceful and non-violent conflict resolution. Our teacher always emphasized the importance of avoiding the physical forces as much as possible. The whole system is based on the observance of discipline. Etiquette and cultural behavior are the primary aspects of the students of our class. Karate is a complete system of physical education, as it pursues all aspects of the person’s development, including ethical and volitional qualities. It is no wonder that the popularity of martial arts grows every day. It offers to people affective, cognitive and behavioral characteristics, as well as promotes morality, non-violence, and enlightenment. In other words, this course helped me to discover myself and my hidden potentials. It made me a better and more mature person that knows now how to set the goals and reach them. In conclusion, it is important to say that the benefits of martial arts are not limited to the gym. On the contrary, they open new possibilities, which a person did not experience before due to fear, diffidence, timidity, or infirmity. This course helped me to start trust relations with other people, increase the level of physical fitness, acquire new communications skills, and feel more confident in the academic and social environment.