All Black Belt Candidates MUST submit an Essay prior to the Exam

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My Karate Experience by Ayush Bhandari

Karate means ‘The way of the empty hand’ in traditional Japanese and was born in Japan. The martial art originates from an Indian Buddhist monk, Daruma, who journeyed to China during the sixth century A.D. The influence of Chinese Shaolin monks kick-started the development of Karate as a means of self-defense. When Japanese ambassadors came to China and brought back this method of self-defense, they adapted it and improved on its techniques within Japan. Over the years Karate flourished throughout various parts of the world and only in around the 19th century became the Karate we know today. In our diverse modern world environment when one says Karate, thoughts of breaking wood, people yelling doing fancy movements or fighting in competition come to mind. This however, is not what the renown Martial Art is about. Karate is not only a sport or a mechanism of defense; it is an art as well. To me, Karate is a way of self - defense, a method of mastering one’s control over mind, body and feeling. It is both a mental and physical discipline. Through experience I know the difference of competitive Karate as a sport to that of Karate as a means of protection. Karate has taught me various aspects of life and by doing it I have proven myself in the eyes of others, but more importantly to myself. Through Karate I have learnt the importance of perseverance and commitment to something. I have been doing Karate for 7 years now and it has been hard sticking with the art and keeping to it. In my early years I absolutely hated this method of defense and thought it was a waste of time. With my parents’ encouragement and through my personal dedication to the art, I stuck with it through thick and thin. If I had quit then I would be a very different person right now not only mentally but also physically. Today I am confident that Karate has taught me a lot about myself and made me a much more controlled and self-assured person. I have the confidence and know that I can defend myself fully from any threats and dangers that many people constantly live in fear of. Practicing this art has made me much more flexible, agile, coordinated and calm. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today in other aspects of my life, if it hadn’t been for Karate. Vigorous training of blocking, kicking, punching and many other attacks and defenses has made me much faster in acting, reacting and dramatically improved my hand eye coordination. Karate has given me considerable self-discipline. Being a global citizen with a culturally diverse perspective I have received an international experience of Karate. I began my training in Singapore where I started Karate as a sport rather than a method of defense. Winning many different Kumite and Kata competitions my roots in this art was firmly set. As time progressed I achieved higher belts, passing my grading once with a double promotion due to my skill in performance. At the end of my time in Singapore I achieved a Maroon belt, this in the Goju-Ryu style of Karate was two away from Black Belt. Moving to India, due to my father’s job, was hard as at first I was unsure whether to continue Karate let alone if I could find a teacher. Through perseverance to the art I continued and discovered a school that practiced a similar style of Karate. They accepted me being the belt I was, two away from black that to them, was Brown One. Continuing with this style of Gojo-Kai Karate, also geared towards competition, I represented India in a World Tournament in Holland in which I did very well in Kumite going further than any other child in my team. I also trained very hard to get my first Dan Black Belt. For this there were a series of tests that included continuous fighting with multiple opponents, performing Kata’s and communications and a tough physical challenge. This included running 14.5km and swimming 400m. This was held the day of my birthday and out of children of all ages I finished first in both of these challenges. Three years later, I changed schools to an English boarding school, Malvern College. Finding a teacher was not easy but once we did, I was very happy to have found a good and inspirational teacher. I began my training with Ultimate Karate with Neil and found his style of teaching and way of karate to be exactly what I wanted to learn. He taught very well, with an environment that was easy to thrive in. One major adjustment was that we trained in a different style, Wado Ryu. I found this to be quite beneficial as it gave me a larger scope for my knowledge of Karate. Another difference I noticed was that it was much better as we began training more in the art of self – defense rather than that of competition. This helped me cope with school life on more than one occasion as adapting, if not settling into boarding school life, is not easy. I have trained three years with Neil from this date and can proudly say I have come very far under his guidance. I have increased upon my knowledge of defense and I am confident that I can repel an attack coming from anyone. Learning not only fighting techniques but also close quarter fighting that have proved to be very useful. The uses of pressure points, locks and disables have been invaluable. Even though I know all of these dangerous techniques, I avoid a fight if I can, as it is better to walk away from one than engage in a fight. This has been difficult especially during my second year at the school but through focusing on Karate and help from Neil and Scott, I have succeeded in mind over matter. Ultimate Karate has taught me many things, and I feel that I am more than ready to advance to the next stage, taking my martial art to a whole new level.

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