Be Healthy

If you want to feel better, have more energy, and perhaps even live longer, consider the health benefits of karate training. The benefits are here for the taking regardless of age or physical ability. Karate training provides exercise on a consistent and regular basis, which helps to control weight, combat disease, regulate mood, increase energy, and more. Wow, that’s a tall order, right? But exercise does deliver on those things and more. The problem is not so much the exercise itself as it is the motivation to exercise regularly. Karate is great fun, is of great value for many reasons, and regular exercise comes along incidentally with the whole package.

I had gone to ‘regular’ gyms off and on for years. I thought I knew what a workout was until I started training here. By far, this is one of the most intense workouts a person will have, yet at the same time, it is fun and not ever boring. I have become 30+ lbs. lighter and have not felt this good physically in a long time.”

Karate practice consists of strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training. But that’s just one side of karate’s health benefits. Karate can have a terrific positive effect on a practitioner’s mental health and well-being. Karate practice is a great source of stress reduction. The total focus and effort required by hard physical training necessitates that the mind let go of anything else. This “letting go” is a great relief. The more we experience this effect through our training, the better we become at accomplishing this feat at will. Even for children, karate practice can be a welcomed, health, and safe outlet for emotional stress.

Be Strong

Strong is defined in The Merriam Webster Dictionary as “having or marked by great physical power” and “having moral or intellectual power.” The first two definitions together address physical and mental power.  One might say that in karate they are inextricably linked; for one without the other leaves something to be desired.  Certainly strong muscles, endurance, and speed may not count for much without the mental fortitude to act when necessary, remain quiet when prudent, or to persist when tested.

In our school we study Kyokushin karate – an arduous style of martial arts known for its full-contact fighting and its mentally and physically strong participants. You don’t need to be strong to start; we make you strong. Not only will you become physically stronger and faster, you will develop a strength of mind knowing that you can achieve what you perhaps once thought impossible. You will find a strength inside yourself that grows with every training – with every obstacle overcome.

Kyokushin karate has long been known as the “strongest karate.” Is this true?  Personally I think any karate style can be the strongest; as a style is nothing in and of itself.  Only its practitioners can be strong or not. That said, it is generally true that Kyokushin karateka (those who practice Kyokushin karate) work hard to live up to that reputation. The highest levels of competition are an elite practice and even the humble dojo (school) fighting is not for the faint-hearted. But does that mean you cannot do it?  Of course it doesn’t!  Most people come to karate because they have felt weak at one point or another, because they have had doubts and fears. But those that persist and work hard transform into people that you’d otherwise never suspect of ever having felt so.

This view of karate can be deceiving at first; appearing to be violent and reminiscent of the “cage fighters” seen on television and practiced by professionals.  However, our karate practice is also firmly rooted in and centered on personal development.  That development entails seriously practical matters such as real-life self defense, and at the same time development of mental and spiritual fortitude.  The greatest competition, after all, is against oneself, with the self of today pitted against those things about ourselves we wish to overcome or change.

“What about my kids?”

All of this strong stuff sounds good, “but what about my children?” you might ask.  “Can they do this?  I don’t want them getting hurt.”  We absolutely understand this concern. It’s the reason for this paragraph, after all.  Rest assured, students are never forced to do anything and safety is our first priority.  The instructors are parents; Sensei Bob has four children that have studied karate, and we all care greatly about our students’ well-being. Students are introduced to fighting very gradually, paired with experienced instructors that are committed to providing a fun and rewarding experience.

“What about me?”

While we are on the subject, all students are introduced to fighting gradually regardless of age.  And no one is forced to do anything they don’t wish to do. Of course it’s our wish to prepare every student for actual combat — real fighting.  But we also realize that people come to karate for different reasons.  Is it possible to study karate without any fighting at all?  Yes and no.  Certainly there are different levels of fighting that may be commensurate with a student’s abilities and fighting is part of our grading (belt rank) requirements. However, someone could train without ever fighting and still benefit greatly from the exercise and skills.  We’ve often found that students that start without ever intending to fight find that not only are they capable, but end up liking it as well.

Be Safe

Karate is for life. It benefits and enhances one’s life. It can be a lifelong pursuit — one that has lifelong rewards. Most importantly, and most seriously, it is a life-preservation art. Karate practice and the way of karate have benefits for life that have little to do with fighting. And karate as a sport can be lots of fun and very rewarding. But karate at its core must be about self defense; to forget this neglects the essence of this martial art. Self defense includes much more than fighting. For if fighting is the only way to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, we are in trouble.

Fighting is what happens when self-defense goes wrong.

Fighting is a last resort avoided at all costs. If there is anyway to prevent it, we do so. If we have no other choice, we fight hard. Period. No stone left unturned. Nothing is barred. It’s serious, for sure. And that’s why we do everything we can, short of fighting, to keep ourselves out of trouble.

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” — Sun Tzu

Self-defense training also addresses observation skills and awareness, tactical thinking, emotional response management, and preventative measures. These are things that apply to adults as well as children — just with different scenarios and tools.

Last, but not least, you are safe here at our school. We provide a safe environment for learning and growing.


In addition to all of the benefits that karate training bestows, one more gift might be the most valuable. Strong bonds are often formed with dojo mates. The shared experiences of trials and triumphs fosters feeling of mutual respect. You know what the other person has gone through. How can you not respect them and still respect yourself? This mutual respect is a fertile ground for true friendship. This is another way in which a dojo differs from a gym. There is a much greater interest in common success and consequently a great vested interest in each other.

That bond goes beyond the dojo walls as well. Relationships are forged among dojos, and a connection exists between martial artists that is also born of that common experience, goals, and philosophy. Many times we have had visitors from far away schools from around the world. The camaraderie was instantaneous. Soon after we opened our new dojo in 2009. We had visitors from The Netherlands. The following is a write-up from that visit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It is often the case that training with someone creates a bond that is hard to describe in words. One of the most interesting aspects of karate training, and Kyokushin in particular, seems to be the connections you share with others you have never before met. This, I suppose, comes from the shared understanding of what it means to train hard and to seek within yourself The Ultimate Truth.

Last night we had three visitors from the Netherlands who are in Connecticut for a short internship. Two of our visitors trained with us, one of which is a 1st Kyu brown belt in Kyokushin karate. It is amazing, if you consider the point, that someone can step into our school from the other side of the world and train as if she were a student here all along. Likewise, it is comforting to know that we would have someplace to train should we ever have the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands. This is true of places all over the world, where Kyokushin karateka and other martial arts practitioners are extremely welcoming of their fellow students.

It is a goal of this school to seek out such opportunities, and possibly travel to far away places, just to share in the simple yet wonderful thing that is karate training.

Both adults and children find that the dojo is a place they “belong.” Strong bonds and rich relationships are forged through hard training and nurtured with sweat. You’ll find many such relationships at the dojo; many of us have been close friends for years, in some cases many decades. When you come across an old dojo mate, you immediately recognize and appreciate that common bond.