by Amber Sperling

I’ve been training in martial arts for two years now. The style I practice is called Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu, a style of Karate-Do which originated in Okinawa from the desire for self-
preservation. I study under Kyoshi Pike and Sensei Middlebrook in guidance of the WSKF, formulated by Hanshi Grant.

In karate, we fight ourselves, our mirror image. We don’t fight one another, but we train for the unexpected. In karate you learn to find peace with yourself, and to protect yourself from harm, by avoiding putting yourself in harms way. What does this mean? It means to treat your body like a temple, by not consuming poison, not partaking in risky business, not thinking devilishly, or engaging in destructive activities. Avoid mischief, live peacefully, and if danger crosses your path, you will be prepared to protect yourself and others.

Karate is a weaponless art of self-defense; it has helped me improve my coordination, balance, agility, ability to anticipate the unexpected, and most importantly it has helped me become a better person by instilling the attributes of self-discipline, morality, and respect, both for others and for myself.

One of the aspects of karate I enjoy is the constant battle for self-improvement. You can practice a punch a thousand times over but there will always be something that could be improved. This is not meant to be daunting but eye opening. As the world is large and vast, and although you may think you know everything about it, there is always something you are missing. Are basic movements are practiced daily for muscle memory, instinct, and to improve on what we have learned. Our system offers a never ending learning process. A system that you can conquer after a few years of training is not the system you want to be involved in; you want to study a system that has much to offer.

We do not partake in competition to measure our skill; we progress by helping each other grow as a family. Although there is no competition, Karate-do physically and mentally challenges me. A system that endorses competitions, as a focus, is merely a sport and should not be considered as the art of karate-do.

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