Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And yes, you really can learn karate at home, all alone by yourself.
Mind you, home training isn’t the same as working out in the dojo. At the dojo you’ve got a scheduled time to attend, an instructor to teach you, and a roomful of classmates also sweating and learning alongside you.
But often there’s no dojo to go to, no one to train with, no one to teach you anything new. Life happens. We move. Jobs change. Illness or injury interrupts our training. Work or family get in the way. Or we just get fat and lazy and don’t want to (or can’t) drag ourselves off the couch to get out and train the dojo way.
Whatever the reason, the result is the same. First the practices stop. Soon the passion fades and our attention is diverted elsewhere, perhaps never to return to the discipline we once loved.
But for some, that love never dies. The fire is always smouldering inside, waiting for a chance to fan the flames and pursue the mastery of self once again.
Beginners — white belts, we call them — have even more of a challenge. For they never had the dojo experience, or the benefit of a qualified sensei sharing the finer points of a kata or training partners to spar with. So they have to try to get what they need on their own as best they can.
I always felt, and told my students, that knowledge and proficiency are acquired over time, through persistent effort and determination built on self-discipline and achieved moment-by-moment through full focus on their practice. Do your best now, next time, and every time, constantly striving to improve, and you’ll get there.
This is the concept Japanese call kaizen, which is their term for the pursuit of perfection through continual self-improvement. This is the attitude students must bring to the dojo to get better, but it is not limited to the dojo. It is available to all, even at home.
To effectively learn karate at home (or anywhere else for that matter), the aspiring karateka must first cultivate the ability to set their minds to a task and see it through. The task is to learn karate. It can be attained only by making a place for it in their lives and schedules that takes precedence over nearly all else, and establishing the habit of DOING IT over and over and over again for months and years, and then doing it some more.
But life doesn’t always go like we plan. Stuff happens. It’s easy to justify not working out. Reasons are everywhere. But training in karate is a habit, and like all habits, once broken it’s not a habit any more. The interruption — or more precisely, the failure to practice whatever the reason — becomes the new habit.
I always trained three days a week, two were to stay where I was, and the third was to get better. Off days were for lifting and running. And inevitably there was always something I was working on while watching TV in the evenings. My wife looked at me like I was nuts. Maybe I was.
Beginners don’t need to keep such a schedule, but eventually they’ll settle into one of their own once the karate bug bites them. They just need to know that it’s the doing of the little things, like the repetition of drills, combinations and techniques, and the regular performance of kata and other movements, that will help them develop the proficiency they want.
All they need are the materials and program in which to apply that effort and keep it interesting and growing without getting stale.
We’ve tried to create that for them here. We’re primarily a self-training site for now, but we’ve assembled and/or created the materials necessary to take them wherever they want to go, if they’ll but put in the effort to get there.
And for current practitioners who want to expand on their dojo training, or past ones who want to get back into it and feel the flow once again, we’ve got stuff to help you grow in softness, power and best of all, to build yourself inside and out.
If you’re looking to train from home, whether you’re a white belt or black, I invite you to check out our Digital Dojo. It may be just what you’re looking for.