An Obligation to Heal

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.

Awww!  I know how he feels.
Awww! I know how he feels.

 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.

Author: Joelle White

I began training in Karate in June of 2014 after a 27 year hiatus.

4 thoughts on “An Obligation to Heal”

  1. Lovely article. Agree entirely. This is precisely why karate is such a good fit for me and it has made me even more the sort of person I am.

    I tend to err on the reckless side with injuries though….although I know I am going to have to be more patient… my turmeric though and with that and my wholefood vegan anti inflammatory diet I fortunately heal pretty quickly even at ahem 21 and a big bit 😉

    Like I said on my blog I can generally leave my stress at the door and work it all out in the dojo but obviously serious issues may need some work outside.

    I think the best part of dojo training is the spirit of everyone in the room and the supportiveness and encouragement and that this extends across everyone no matter what age / gender / religion etc.

    I have certainly gained personally in confidence both in and outside the dojo and I have seen it in my training buddies too.

    1. Hi, Rach! So glad you’ve found karate to be such a positive and uplifting activity! Thanks so much for stopping by, for your compliments, and for sharing your experience!

  2. Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head! We need time to heal, each in our own way. And we can help others to heal and our world to heal, too. We’re obliged! Karate heals me every time I practice or teach it! Well said, friend!

    1. Ossu, Sensei Andrea! [bow]
      Thank you so much for stopping by, reading and complimenting me! It’s teachers like you who make a big difference in the world 🙂

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