Karate Motivation

What motivates people?  When it comes to the science of why, three concepts are consistently found: Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery.  Many pursuits, when done well, can fulfill all of these criteria.  Karate is particularly well-suited to fulfilling these concepts.

The clearest motivation for karate is Mastery.  Most people begin learning karate because they want to learn martial arts, and often continue in it to increase their knowledge and skill.  The opportunity to get better is enticing to people.  Even after achieving Shodan, students realize that there is more to learn, and are hungry for that knowledge, so continue training.

Autonomy is less clear, since the rank-ordered structure of the dojo implies that there is little autonomy.  Autonomy can’t be granted in the realm of, for example, what moves go with what counts in kata.  But autonomy can come during paired exercises and during teaching opportunities.  In our dojo, when I ask a student to teach another student, I don’t often tell them, “And do it this way.”  The teacher has the autonomy to decide how they feel the information is best communicated.  As the student increases in rank, they gain progressively more autonomy.  A teacher should be able to trust the students to wield their autonomy responsibly.

At first glance, Purpose is not clear in martial arts.  The goal of training is often given in the context of Mastery.  For some, there is not a higher Purpose.  At Athens Yoshukai, the Purpose we provide is social responsibility.  Students feel they are a part of a community- not only our dojo, but the larger WYKKO.  I hear the word ‘family’ used with Yoshukai, and I think many students see the Purpose as their contribution to this family.  As a free school with an emphasis on traching, our students also feel a strong Purpose of spreading Yoshukai and martial arts knowledge.

Students should be exposed to all these elements of motivation.  This will keep them motivated to stay in Yoshukai so they can continue to develop as students and people.

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