With so many choices available for martial arts training it can get overwhelming to pick just one. Karate is a martial art that should be considered and is arguably one of the best martial arts around.
Karate is a good choice of a martial art because it provides self-defense capabilities alongside physical and mental development opportunities. Karate has a great community that is friendly towards beginners of all ages and has somewhat lower barriers to entry than other martial arts.
In this article, I’ll cover several reasons why karate might be the best martial art for you. Keep reading to learn about all the benefits so you can make an informed choice for your martial arts training.
Why Karate Is the Best Martial Art
Karate is a relatively balanced striking-based martial art that uses both hands and feet for self-defense.
Traditional martial arts like karate have changed over time to emphasize discipline and character development. These are traits that aren’t typically built in everyday modern life. Karate teaches its students to have both mental and physical discipline, and this has great carry-over to other areas of life.
1) Karate Has a Lower Barrier to Entry Than Other Martial Arts
Adults often feel like they are too old to start learning martial arts. They worry that they will be the only adults in the class or they will not be able to keep up with younger students.
Karate is the perfect martial art for adults because it has a lower physical barrier to entry than other martial arts. You do not need to be in top physical condition to start karate, and you will not be the only adult in the class!
The entry point is accessible to everyone and the possibilities for growth are limitless with karate. So, it is very easy to start but will always include lots of challenges to keep you interested and motivated for your next visit to the dojo.
2) You Gain an Amazing Community When You Join a Dojo
In most cases, you will gain an amazing community of friends who support your martial arts journey when you join a dojo.
These friends will help you to improve your techniques and will be there to encourage you when you need them most. Studies show that friends who work out together are much more likely to achieve their fitness goals and continue to maintain and progress.
Since sparring is something that requires trust and respect, dojos are inherently a place where close bonds form into tight-knit communities.
3) Karate Can Improve Health and Increase Life Expectancy
In addition to the social benefits, research has shown that socializing can positively affect health. Research has shown a strong correlation between having close relationships with better cardiovascular health, brain function, and increased life expectancy.
Not only will you live well by practicing karate, but you are also likely to live longer as a result.
4) The Teachings of Karate Benefit Other Parts of Your Life
The benefits of karate are not just in your body or within the dojo.
One of the foundational principles of karate is to “put karate into everything you do”. This doesn’t mean being ready to throw a punch at any time. It means incorporating the discipline and teachings of the practice everywhere outside of the dojo.
For example, karate can help to improve focus and concentration. This will help you work faster and more effectively across other areas of life.
For parents, karate can give you a shared activity for connecting with your child, especially if you start your kid in karate at the right age.
Additionally, some of the holistic benefits of training karate can translate into keeping your state of calmness and remaining patient even on challenging, stressful days.
We are often on the go, in a rush, and crunched for time. Karate is an avenue of learning to allow your mind to slow down and decompress, which will allow you to react in ways that serve yourself and the people around you better.
5) Karate Has a Useful Unique Blend of Techniques
What makes Karate unique from other martial arts is that it focuses primarily on using empty hands, meaning without weapons but includes grappling and both punches and kicks. This makes karate a great choice for those who want to learn basic self-defense.
Karate is a great way to defend yourself because it teaches you how to use only your body as a weapon. You will learn how to strike with your hands and feet and how to block and evade attacks while managing distance.
This can be beneficial if you are looking for a workout or training that does not involve as much close contact with others like you would see in martial arts like judo or BJJ. It can also be beneficial since you are developing skills to fight from some distance away.
However, it is still a good idea to learn grappling skills if your goal is to have a well-rounded self-defense skillset. Pairing karate with judo or BJJ is a good idea if self-defense is your primary goal.
Additionally, if you work in any professional or formal setting, the risk of showing up visibly black and blue is less. This is because karate trains in drills and with light sparring instead of having full-contact sparring where movements can get uncontrolled.
6) Physical Benefits of Training Karate
Karate is a full-body workout that can tone muscles, improve flexibility, and help you to lose weight. Not only will it build muscle and increase your strength, but it is also a great cardio workout that does not feel like a workout because it is enjoyable and done in a social setting.
There are many benefits to exercising regularly, and karate is an excellent way to get that physical activity in. Just a few of the ways it can benefit your body include:
- Reducing your risk of heart disease.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Helping to control blood sugar levels.
- Improving mental health and mood.
- Boosting energy levels.
- Promoting healthy sleep.
- Aiding in weight loss or maintenance.
These are just some of the benefits of regular exercise. Karate will include all of these, plus added accountability by the community that you are joining.
7) Mental Benefits of Training Karate
Karate is not only a great way to get physically fit, but it can also train your brain to work better and faster. A key element of karate is meditation, which has been shown to have numerous benefits for brain function.
Since doing meditation on its own can sometimes be challenging for many individuals, having it baked into karate classes can allow students to reap its benefits without needing to dedicate specific time to meditation.
Meditation helps improve focus, concentration, and memory. It can also reduce stress and anxiety. When you take time to consistently and frequently quiet your mind to all of the thoughts that plague us throughout the day, it has been shown that the brain can actually begin to respond faster and more clearly when you are not meditating.
Since karate combines physical movement with meditation, it results in the same benefits but makes it easier for most students without a background in meditation to get the benefits. This combination results in a greater sense of proprioception and the ability to respond to your environment with ease and grace.
The benefits of meditation can come in handy at work, stuck in traffic, and in other stressful situations that we encounter throughout our life.
What Are the Strengths of Karate?
The strengths of karate are its core principles, which teach discipline, respect, and focus. It also helps build confidence and self-esteem when practiced consistently. Students often find their overall mental and emotional well-being improves over time from the structure and discipline it offers.
One of the core principles in karate is that “spiritual development is paramount; technical skills are merely a means to an end”. In other words, we engage in the physical practice of karate to become a more fulfilled and complete person. The point is not to learn to hit well –the point is to live well.
Building up your well-being while getting physical exercise and basic self-defense in a welcoming martial arts community can improve so many avenues of life at the same time that it seems like a no-brainer to pick up karate as a martial art.
Is Karate Effective in a Real Fight?
Karate can be effective in a real fight, but you ideally need live sparring training. Karate teaches useful techniques that are sufficient for a real fight if you have trained them under stress. Even without live sparring a karate student will have a leg up over somebody with no training at all.
There are limits to how much karate will help in a self-defense situation. Without live sparring against a resisting opponent any combat system is going to fall apart in a stressful situation. Getting that stress inoculation factor and practicing at full resistance is crucial to making it applicable for a fight situation.
Karate and many other traditional martial arts teach de-escalation alongside readiness, and this really is the best option even if you have strong fighting skills. Physical confrontations have a loser and tons of risk. Avoiding the fight in the first place negates all of that.
If you want your karate to stand up to a real fight situation you need to pair it with grappling as well as sparring against a resisting opponent. It never hurts to be prepared as long as you realize that fighting should be a last resort.
Karate is an excellent martial art that is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. It provides a lot of benefits but has a particularly strong self-development slant that helps everybody from kids to adults an opportunity to develop fitness alongside physical and mental attributes that can help them excel in other areas of life.
Since it is a traditional martial art and does not typically have live sparring as a part of everyday training, it does have some limits in terms of making you the best possible fighter, but choosing a supplemental martial art that includes more live sparring training or getting more live sparring training under a karate ruleset greatly increases its effectiveness for self-defense.
For more check out How Often Should You Train Karate?