Karate is an activity that is truly international in scope. People from varying backgrounds practice it in virtually every country in the world. Men, women, and children of all ages can be found in many karate clubs wherever you go. Why are all of these people doing karate? Well, there are many possible reasons.
In my experience, the main reason people seem to start training is that they want to “learn how to fight” or “learn self-defense.” However, there are many other reasons that one may begin and continue their karate training. Some of these reasons include improving your physical fitness, strength, and flexibility; improving your coordination; increasing your self confidence and fostering a positive self image; developing discipline; or improving your posture. Some people join simply because they want to meet new people or belong to something.
Whether or not some, or even all, of these reasons are valid reasons to participate in karate is certainly debatable. However, issues related to karate and its role in self defense, exercise, and character development are in themselves topics for detailed articles and will not be debated in any real depth here. For now, the only thing that I will say at this time is that I think karate can help with many of the above. Under the right conditions, karate can help you learn self defense. It can help you to get in shape. You can certainly meet new people doing karate. However, I also think it is important to recognize that possible benefits such as the development of character and self discipline have much more to do with the individual than anything karate will provide.
The main point to be made at this time is that the reasons one might begin and continue training in karate are tremendously varied. While it is certainly possible to find many similarities in terms of why individual people practice the activity, each person should have their own reason for practicing karate. In other words, the purpose of karate is something that you have to decide for yourself. Today, I don’t think it is reasonable to say that it has only one true purpose. Your answer may be different than mine, but that is perfectly acceptable. What’s most important is that you recognize exactly why it is that you are doing karate and then ensuring that you train with that particular goal (or goals) in mind. It’s important that you take the time to consider why it is you actually do (or want to do) karate and what it is you are looking to get out of it.