By John E. Hughes
People have built-in feelings and perceptions regarding Karate training, exercise, and the ability to learn. Most Americans are brought up to want to succeed quickly. Karate is an art that is taught using a number of methods. Some dojos test the student at regular intervals, fees are paid and the student is promoted. In others dojos, the student signs up for a certain length of time and at the end of the contract, the student is granted the promotion. Also, there are training methods where the student trains and when the level of proficiency is attained, the student is promoted. The traditional art does not guarantee promotions. It does promise to help the individual improve physically, mentally, and emotionally; if the student trains properly.
Training methods are learned at the hands of a qualified Sensei, who’s attitude, encouragement, and teaching methods help the student to identify the skills, abilities, and values needed to learn. Motivation is the heart of learning and is dependent upon the purpose for learning. The nature and extent of the desire to learn will influence the degree of motivation. The degree of student motivation will determine the extent of personal involvement and help to create the persistence to overcome difficulties and frustrations.
Motivation and learning are experienced intrinsically and extrinsically. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual. The incentive may be to gain prestige, approval, or promotions. Intrinsic motivation is derived inside the individual due to the enjoyment of the art for its own sake. The individual derives enjoyment, relaxation, physical benefits, challenges, and an expression of “Self” from the study of the art. Intrinsic motivation does not depend upon what rank a person is but upon the values and abilities that the individual achieves.
To learn, a person must be patient. To learn, a person must know that there is something to be learned; knowledge to be gained. The person must add enthusiasm and the will to learn. Karate is a progressive art. One starts training with the basics and then proceeds through kata. The ultimate goal is for the student to gain understanding of how one’s body, mind, and spirit may be strengthened. To this end, direction and guidance are added by the Sensei, while motivation and dedication are added by the student. With continuing effort and desire, the student will be guided to understand what is required to become a “true” Karate student, who is a credit to the art.