K is for Kata

I don’t have much talent when it comes to athletics. I never tried out for team sports. I avoided teams for fear of letting my teammates down. I wasn’t good enough anyway. Besides, I preferred individual sports like skiing, swimming and running. When I was diagnosed with depression, I was told to do yoga. The exercise and the meditation would be good for me. I gave it an honest try, but yoga was too slow for me. It left me alone in my head for too long. Never a good idea.

I had given up on the exercise and meditation for help with my depression until I discovered karate. It was perfect for me. Karate has lots of bonuses for the average person. It’s a good workout, you learn self-defense and discipline and it improves mental outlook. There are added bonuses for people with depression. On a bad day, you need something to engage you. Karate can do that, it gives you reasonable goals that you can advance toward and achieve. This, in turn, improves your confidence.

I got all of these benefits from practicing karate. I also learned to do something I was never able to do before….meditation. Not the kind of meditation you are thinking of though. It’s kind of a moving meditation. Kyokushinkaikan was the style of karate I did. This style incorporates kata. Kata are detailed choreographed patterns of movement, kind of like a dance, but the moves are blocks, punches and kicks. These kata required dynamic movement, speed and strength. Once you learned them it was like a form of meditation. My body memorized the movements and I was moving too quickly to think about anything else. Finally, I found a way to turn my brain off and truly relax. It was wonderful. I was kicking some depression ass!

Have you noticed? I’m saying was. I got up to the level of brown belt in Kyokushinkaikan before I had to stop. I started graduate school and it kind of sucked up all my time and money. I’m slowly forgetting the moves, but I still run through the kata as best I can when I need to clear my head. It still works. 🙂

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