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BradderzH
BradderzH's picture
Training Motivation and confidence loss

I've stopped training and I'm debating if I should ever go back. 

I started Karate after finding myself in a few situations where self defence and confidence would have been useful. Now, I've made it to black belt yet still feel that if confronted in a situation that could end with me getting hurt, I'd do nothing and end up on the floor.

In other words, I still have no confidence in my abilities, especially when physically applying my techniques. I even get nervous during bunkai.  

I've read into some self defence books including some of Geoff Thompson's work. Something that worried me is the "3 second fight". Why spend all this time learning all these different techniques when most fights are over in an instant? Especially when teachers profess that their art is "traditional" and for self defence.      

I've never had a fight and never even been punched and I never want to! But I can't help but feel disillusioned with Karate...in my club we've never even sparred. The closest we come is pad work and controlled bunkai, and that's not often. A lot of focus is placed on kata alone. 

This is not an attack on Karate, I love it. I'm just wondering if I am practicing for the right reasons. I feel like I'm losing my way a little. I STILL don't feel like i'm getting what I need from it.

Any advice?

Anf
Anf's picture

Why not try a couple of other clubs or even different styles entirely?

My main style is a form of karate but ice also dabbled, albeit certainly not to anything like an expert level, in aikido and more recently tai chi (the slow version, not the martial version).

What I find is that the all teach more or less the same techniques, but with very different emphasis. As long as you keep an open mind and don't try to make one fit the others, I think you will see your karate in a different light, to your benefit.

Re getting punched. If your training partner is not trying to hurt you (and if they are, I'd fund a different club) then it really doesn't hurt that much. I think the fear of getting hit or thrown to the floor is worse than the actual event. I personally don't give much value to sparring, on account of it being totally unrealistic outside of sport. But it does get you used to being hit. If you are worried, ask first, what level of contact does a club practice. Ours is light contact. You get the odd very rare accident where someone might step right into a punch for example, but I've never seen anyone need first aid or anything. A decent club will have at least one good instructor keeping folks safe, and at least one qualified first aider with a full kit including ice packs, just in case.

I don't know if this helps, but I personally have injured myself more in training mishaps than I've ever been injured by a fellow student. The worst sparring accident I've ever had involved my partner and I both going for a roundhouse kick at the same time. Our shins met. We both had to sit out with ice packs and I had a sizeable bruise for a few days. That kind of thing is rare in our club because it's light contact, and it was just pure bad luck that we both chose the exact same technique at the exact same moment. Had one of us blocked the other's kick instead, it would have just been another pain free uneventful session.

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

Hi BradderzH

I think you need to be honest with yourself, what you expect from Karate. Karate have many faces for some it is a way to keep fit, self development, kata, bunkai, sport or self defence. When you decide what you want from karate rest is easy just find a club that helps you training in a way you want. There is no point being stuck and do something that it is not your way. As ANF suggested take a tour around different club as seew aht is closes to your heart.

Kind regards

Les

JD
JD's picture

Hi BradderzH,

First off... I admire the fact you have the confidence and self honesty to write a post where you're questioning something you've trained and dedicated yourself to, the fact you are able to stand back and study outside the box, questioning whether what you do is useful for what you want, is something most 1st dans in your position choose to ignore because it's ''Too much hard work''... digging beneath the surface to better what you do, instead of skimming over it obliviously, is what allows things to evolve to be more efficient and effective.

Most people who join a karate club have no experience in fighting and don't know what to expect, not knowing what's good or bad, what's right and wrong, so a person assumes whatever the Sensei teaches must be gospel. Then one day (usually after sticking at it for a while) a pupil starts to question and wonder... ''What am I actually learning?'' (by now even maybe teaching) a pupil can't blame themselves, because they know no different.

Does this mean it's all been a huge waste of time and you should leave your club? You feel deflated and should 'lose confidence'?...NO!

Absolutely not sir! Regardless of what you've learnt and been taught, you're a Karate ka, you have stuck at it (unlike most) and made it to 1st Dan, be proud of that achievement, see what you've done up to now as a good foundation to start tayloring your Karate towards what you want... which is obviously more self defence orientated Karate, that's the reason it was orginally created! So you're on the right track!

Browse this website for more practical application material of what you already have invested in and ''love''... Karate! Geoff Thompson also has some great stuff to learn, as does content from the British Combat Association. 

''Never had a fight and i never want to'' - That's a great mind set to have and a good thing!

''Do nothing and end up on the floor'' - You'd be surprised how you'd react, if you've never had a fight... how would you know? Don't jump to the worst scenario, chances are it'll never happen. 

90% of fights are avoidable, there's so much you can do to prevent confrontation from happening in the first place using what karate calls ''Zanshin'' (awareness) knowing your surounding and not letting yourself be put in a bad situation is most of the battle!

Verbal dissuasion - Being able to talk an aggressor or potential threat down and calming the situation through converstaional control/technique. There's plenty of professionals out there willing to show these concepts, techniques and way of thinking. These 2 non-physical attributes will be worth their weight in gold once mastered, more useful than physical defusion of a volatile situation and will greatly lessen the chance of you having to fight or 'be punched in the face'.

As for the 'Sniper shot' or '3 second fight' as Geoff calls it, yes that can happen if you master the 2 things above coupled with some solid punching work... and I mean SOLID punching, but not all fights end that quick, a lot become messy and last a short while... all depends on the enviroment and scenario.

Ultimately, if you're looking for more practical Karate in the very slim chance your avoidance and verbal dissuasion doesn't work, look for a club or Instructor that teaches Karate for it's orginal purpose - civil combat and defence against life's muppets! Sparring is something I recommend, even if it's ''touch contact'' fighting, this teaches you distance, footwork, evasion, fitness, explosiveness, control and is great fun!

Remember... there's more to Karate than just being able to protect yourself, to put things into perspective - you play football... you play tennis...you don't play Karate, you DO Karate... it's a way of life! Enjoy it for what it is and just add some more pragmatic techniques to your existing Karate arsenal :)

Hope this helps, keep kicking arse and I hope you get your motivation back soon...

All the best,

JD - Rei!

Chris R
Chris R's picture

When I wanted more from my karate training than what was being offered to me at the dojo, I left and trained somewhere else (not in karate). In that other training I gained skill and confidence through doing things that the dojo did not offer me. Then after taking that break from karate, I decided to go back to the dojo and apply what I had learned. That was the beginning of my journey towards learning the practical side of karate, which will hopefully end up being a lifelong thing for me. If you lack confidence in hitting and being hit, I would suggest cross training in some kind of a combat sport. I don't think there are any downsides to gaining this experience (apart from maybe losing a couple of brain cells), and in my opinion it could be helpful for you. Combat sports are not a simulation of a self defense situation, but if your issue is based on being nervous about contact/fighting, then that is one way to face that fear head on. This might not be suitable or ideal for you and I completely understand if that is the case, but it is one of the things that helped me so I thought it was worth sharing. Don't worry if that doesn't suit you, as there are definitely other things you can do instead, as others have suggested. Good luck with your training, and don't stop ... Even basic kata and kihon is not useless, and you will probably thank yourself one day if you keep practicing (I regret not maintaining my kata and kihon practice during my "break" from karate).

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

BradderzH wrote:
But I can't help but feel disillusioned with Karate...in my club we've never even sparred. The closest we come is pad work and controlled bunkai, and that's not often.

To back up what everyone lease has said, it seems clear you are training at wrong kind of club. A total lack of sparring / live practise is a major issue. However, it’s not “karate” that is the problem, it is the way your club approaches it and the fact that does not match with your goals.

BradderzH wrote:
This is not an attack on Karate, I love it. I'm just wondering if I am practicing for the right reasons.

It seems there are some elements of karate, as practised in your club, that you love, but the lack of practicality in the wider approach does not fit with your personal reasons for practising. It would probably help if you could identify what it is that you love at the moment? You then need to find a group that has those aspects you love, but also approaches things practically. It need not be a karate club either. There may be another art in the locality where the approach is better suited to you.

BradderzH wrote:
I still have no confidence in my abilities, especially when physically applying my techniques. I even get nervous during bunkai.

A good club will build confidence by slowly doing drills that allow you develop skills in a measured step by step way. Without any testing it’s not surprising you have little confidence; because confidence comes from repeated successes. Nerves are also normal, but they tend to diminish when confidence at a given task increases. The right group will be able to sort that for you. You need a group that engages in live practise.

BradderzH wrote:
I've read into some self defence books including some of Geoff Thompson's work. Something that worried me is the "3 second fight". Why spend all this time learning all these different techniques when most fights are over in an instant? Especially when teachers profess that their art is "traditional" and for self defence.

The three-second fight is just one of a number of situations. Geoff also talks about the ambush, the match fight … and if mishandled the three-second fight can expand. We aim to end things quickly during the dialog stages … and that would be the three-second fight … but we need back up skills should that not be possible, or if facing another kind of violence. I’ve trained with Geoff extensively gaining both instructor qualifications and dan grades from him. I feel confident his answer to your question would be, “Because the three-second fight is not the only kind of fight”.

BradderzH wrote:
I STILL don't feel like i'm getting what I need from it.

And I don’t think you ever will at that club. A total lack of life practise, and infrequent pad and bunkai work is never going to give you what you want. Such training will never produce practical skill.

BradderzH wrote:
Any advice?

Research all the clubs in your area. Go try out a few classes. Find the one that gives you the things you love about what you already do … but that also has a self-defence focus that includes live practise in a structured way. Karate – and indeed the martial arts generally – does not begin and end with your current club.

If you go to a restaurant and the food is no good, then why would you keep going to the same one hoping the food will eventually improve. Just go elsewhere and get the meal you want.

I’d strongly advise trying a different club. There will be a club where you find the training enjoyable and productive and in line with your goals. You just need to look for it.

I hope that helps.

All the best,

Iain

JD
JD's picture

Damn Iain's good at this posting business! Spot on advice from someone who's actually been taught by and trained along side Geoff Thompson.

Where else can you vent your concern and have a reply like that off a top Martial arts expert? 

Brilliant stuff, bloody love this site!

Rei 

BradderzH
BradderzH's picture

Thanks to all for the informative and well constructed replies.

I like Karate becuase of how much infomation can be found in the katas. What frustrates me is never getting the chance to apply them in live situtions...I'll never get confidence or the skills I want training this way.

I'll take Iain's advice and try some other clubs. Thanks again all!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

BradderzH wrote:
Thanks to all for the informative and well-constructed replies.

We are here to help! :-)

BradderzH wrote:
I like Karate becuase of how much infomation can be found in the katas. What frustrates me is never getting the chance to apply them in live situtions...I'll never get confidence or the skills I want training this way.

To run with a much used analogy … at the moment, it seems like your training allows you to “look at the pictures in the recipe book” but it does not permit you to actually follow the recipes, cook the food and enjoy the aromas and tastes that result.

I would defiantly look for a club that encourages karate with depth and texture. You’ll love it! Let us know how you get on.

All the best,

Iain

Paul_D
Paul_D's picture

BradderzH wrote:

I've read into some self defence books including some of Geoff Thompson's work. Something that worried me is the "3 second fight". Why spend all this time learning all these different techniques when most fights are over in an instant? 

If all you ever praciticed was two or three pre-emptive strikes you'd be effective in the moajority of SD situitons, but you be bored out of your mind after 6 months of training.  We don't practice all these different MA techqniues because we need them all for SD, we pratice them becasue it's inetersting.  Training for the street 100% of the time would be rather dull.

BradderzH
BradderzH's picture

Paul_D wrote:
If all you ever praciticed was two or three pre-emptive strikes you'd be effective in the moajority of SD situitons, but you be bored out of your mind after 6 months of training.  We don't practice all these different MA techqniues because we need them all for SD, we pratice them becasue it's inetersting.  Training for the street 100% of the time would be rather dull.

Yeah, I've encountered this problem recently. I tried out a filipino boxing club last week, and it was very street focused. We covered the fence, verbal dissuasion and other self defence techniques. While useful, I do feel like it would get boring after a while. It's also quite expensive for just one hour sessions once a week. I'm not sure if I should try it for a while or just keep looking! Thanks for your reply!

Bob Davis
Bob Davis's picture

Hi BradderzH

Now this may be a silly idea but there are a lot of us on here teaching the sort of thing you appear to be looking whilst holding on to your karate roots.

Why not give some idea of location so we could point you in the right direction?

All the best

Bob D.

..and (whilst it may seem like a shameless plug) if you are in the UK I have a 3 day camp coming up early May weekend where we have a lot of instructors teaching a variety of styles and practical approaches. We typically have attendees from Shotokan, Goju, Wado and even the occasion TKD or Aiki practitioners. Might be a way of getting an idea of the sorts of things on offer in a relatively short space of time, and perhaps do a bit of networking.