Karate’s Connection to Happiness
While the pursuit of happiness may not be the primary reason for choosing a martial arts program, it might very well be a by-product of your practice, and budo “bliss” could be be closer than you think.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the body, mind and spirit are inextricably linked and emotions impact your health. Seismic shifts whether “good’ (new job, marriage, birth, home), or “bad” (unemployment, divorce, illness, death) affect your physical, psychological and spiritual well-being, and reconnecting to “happiness” can be challenging.
Over the past forty-four years, Northern Karate Schools have received countless anecdotal reports from students and staff expressing the joy and even, euphoria, they experience when training.
In addition to aligning the body, mind and spirit, martial arts practice promotes physical health, vitality, stress-management and a more positive outlook on life as students develop confidence and learn practical protection skills and coping techniques. These gains are the result of two primary factors, or “connections”.
Connection to self. There is significant evidence supporting the mood-altering benefit of budo-based programs. Numerous studies featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) show people who engage in mindful activities report a reduction in psychological stress. In fact, after only six weeks in a body-mind program, subjects exhibited diminished stress, anxiety and depression. Additionally, exercise balances the brain chemical serotonin – a natural ally in combatting depression. At martial arts schools, students practice “moving meditation” that enables them to tune-out the noise of modern life and tune-in to themselves. They are connected to themselves in the present and acutely aware of what truly defines happiness, rather than distracted by materialism, mired in fear and insecurity, or sidetracked by the future or past.
Connection to community. The dojo (place of the way) transcends gyms, CrossFit® facilities, or spinning and yoga studios. It’s a place where experienced teachers and fit, humble and generous students care for one another. Additionally, we are tribal by nature and need to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Enjoying recognition and reward with others as we celebrate belt and rank advancement makes us happy and more likely to achieve our goals. Facing challenges alone can be daunting, but as a member of community, even the impossible seems within reach.
Whether your aim is to become a world-class Karate champion, professional martial arts teacher or recreational practitioner, happiness might be just around the corner…at your neighbourhood NKS.
(Hanshi’s Blog is intended for informational purposes only and isn’t as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a medical condition, please consult your healthcare provider.)