Let’s face it – Karate isn’t about arranging flowers. We get hurt. Now that I’m older, I’ve discovered I don’t heal in ten minutes like I used to when I was a kid. More like ten days! I’ve come to realize I have an obligation to heal myself. When I’m sick or injured, I often feel I must keep bulling through my normal routine when in fact, it’s better to do the opposite and rest.
If I truly love Karate, I mustn’t ruin my body by trying to be brave and work through the pain. A little time off makes me even more eager to practice and learn! Unseen hurts of the psychological variety need to be dealt with too so that I don’t drag emotional baggage into the dojo, where it doesn’t belong. In the end, if I take time to heal myself, I’ll be more effective at healing others.
Huh? Wait – Karate is about taking people apart, right? Well, yeah, and accidents do happen. I’ve just started training in CPR and First Aid as required by my new job. If an emergency situation arises I am under obligation to start healing others. Fortunately, emergency situations are rare even in Karate, so I won’t have to fulfill my obligation to help with physical healing very often. But our obligation to heal isn’t limited to first aid. There’s another kind of healing all karateka are obligated to participate in.
Karate is also about building people up. This is a form of healing. If you don’t believe me, just ask the kid who recently discovered she can pack a powerful punch. She doesn’t fear being pushed around by the playground bully anymore, and indeed she’s gained so much self confidence that the schoolyard bully is backing off. That is healing. When we take the time to teach her, to spar with her, to tell her that her punch is amazing, we are healing her. It’s our duty to heal where we can.
Our obligation to heal can be extended even further. Pick up trash. Smile. Plant a tree. Donate. Say something kind. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Volunteer. Karate gives us the discipline we need to reach beyond ourselves. Let’s use that ability to heal our world one small corner at a time.
So there you have it. We are under obligation to heal ourselves, others, and our world. Yes, we are learning to maim and kill. But we’re also learning how to build and heal. Let’s not lose sight of that.