Hi my lovely readers, welcome back to another blog by yours truly. But bear with me please because this one is going to me very different, informative, fun and video-packed!
As you all may know by now, I am an elite athlete of martial arts, meaning that I dedicate a great portion of my life to practicing karate and competing in tournaments. Getting to where I am today was certainly not easy, but today I’m not going to talk about the hard aspects of it but rather in today’s blog the topic of discussion is all about introducing this sport to those who are unfamiliar with it.
Usually, when the name of karate comes up, people often think of the movie “Karate Kid,” and although some portions of the movie and it’s teachings does apply to karate as well, but really the characters practice Kong Fu which is a Chinese practice of martial arts and fighting styles that actually predates Karate. Karate itself was founded by the Ryukyu Kingdom later conquered by Japan. So now it is considered a Japanese sport. No wonder why Tokyo 2020 Olympics is the first to vote in favour of permitting Karate as an official Olympic sport! I think my generation is very lucky indeed and although I’m still young, but I have a dream to make it to the Olympic team 2024 or 2028.
Now back to explaining what Karate is all about. The sport is commonly divided into Kumite (sparring) and Kata (individual and group performances). Another way of thinking about kata is more like a dance of martial arts. It incorporates speed, correct timing, correct postures, right stances and breathing into the performance. The are many different katas, but for World Karate Federation approved competitions, there are certain ones that are allowed, and other that are not. Katas come from different styles of karate. The main ones are generally Shotokan, Shito-ryu, Goju-Ryu and Wado-ryu.
But before we get too in-depth about karate and it’s many styles, I’ll keep it simple for you all to avoid further confusion. And yes, it is complicated. But just know this, those who practice this sport for many years, earn their way up to achieving a black belt by changing belt colours throughout the years. It is not earned easily and the higher your rank, generally the darker the belt. As for competition belts, one would wear either blue or red, depending on which the opponent is wearing (red vs. blue). Instructors are also ranked according to experience, expertise and years of practice. There is a hierarchy involved in this system.
But do you all know what is great? Everyone is expected to respect each other! This is what I love about karate. It doesn’t teach to go out and beat people up! No! That is absolutely the wrong impression. It rather focuses on teaching respect and a way to defend oneself. The word karate itself means “Empty Hand.” It is indeed just that, no weapons used. It was old styles of fighting but much less full contact is involved than Kong Fu for instance.
Benefits of Karate:
- Increased Mental Focus and Concentration
- Improved Stamina
- Improved Balance – Connection to Core via Trainings
- Improved Posture
- Improved Self Esteem
- Develop and Practicing Self Respect and Respect for Others
- Improved Physical Strength
- Learning Self-Defense
- Following Discipline and Rituals
- Improved Breathing and Learning to Meditate
As for me, I practice both kata and kumite as an athlete which is not often common for elite athletes as they choose either/or. Competing in both disciplines feels like an entirely different sport at some points, although a lot of the techniques are the same. Very professional world class kata or kumite athletes usually develop very different muscle masses and body forms. It does affect the physique of a person and let me tell you it’s a lot harder than it looks. The number of injuries, popped bones, and pain involved is a lot more than anyone can guess. But that’s the nature of it. If I wanted to be a ballerina, I would. I’m not, and getting punched in the face
and punching others too to be fair is nature of the sport. I’m used to it by now.
Here, I’m sharing with you all some of my personal practice videos as well as moments I have fought on the mat. I do have a lot of videos to share but these ones in particular are a few of my selected choices. As a Junior National Team member of Karate Canada 2017-18 I ranked fifth internationally in my age division for Kata (among 43 competitors) in Youth World Cup 2017 and second in kumite (among 35 competitors) for the same event.
The following video post was made about my Journey to Karate Canada Nationals this year and the Ontario Team Trainings. Enjoy!
Aside from practicing at my home dojo Kan Zen Kai, I do have a personal trainer Mohammadreza Nikbakhsh (as seen in the above videos) who gets me physically fit and ready for important competitions. He is a multi-time Provincial as well a National Champion in Karate. It is no surprise as he is also a member of Team Kanzenkai.
We are lucky enough to be trained in the “House of Champions” club. It is the nickname given to our dojo as over the years it has produced many National/International and Pan Am champions/medalists. And let me tell you, our trainings are by no standard considered to be “normal!” Our instructors literally push us to the limit, everyone of us regardless of age, so that once we compete in tournaments, everything just seems easy in comparison. Everyone comes out of the dojo exhausted, sweaty and in pain. If you don’t, it means you haven’t trained, as simple as that. So gaining abs here really isn’t a big surprise as most of the older guys and girls do. This is my life 3-4 times a week. And imagine I train for kata on other days. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t been walking around with blisters on my feet. So girls, next time you see me walking in heels, know this. I’m in pain. Kidding,
Our coach/instructor or in the language of karate “Sensei” is Sensei Nassim Varasteh who also happens to be the Senior National Coach of all of Team Canada, 2x Vice World Champion, 5x Pan Am Champion as well an Youth Olympic role model for 2018 (Buenos Aires, Argentina) appointed by the International Olympic Committee. I know I’m lucky, as team member athletes from all over Canada train under her watch and sometimes fly all the way to Toronto to be trained by her. She is my idol. It was an honor for me when she came to watch and support me in the Miss Teen Ontario 2018 pageant. She always has my back in everything I pursue. Read news about her, here!
The following video is of me while I’m in action during kumite matches:
I am also thankful of my personal trainer for kata, Monika Klisara from SKIF dojo who helped me with improving my technique, speed, power and stances last year. She is a Senior National Team member of Karate Canada, one of the best adult kata athletes in Canada and a Multi-time Provincial/National Champion. Watch some of my kata trainings from last year below:
The following is some of my moments as I was in action during the Kata Competition of Croatia 2017:
In the end, I wish to say that everyone should really consider learning martial arts, most especially karate as it has many benefits for both the mind as well as body. It does make one an all around better person and you don’t necessarily need to compete in this sport as most people choose not to. It is entirely optional. However, being as competitive as I am, I can’t resist continuing along this path. But now that you all become familiarized with this sport, so why not join and I will be happy to assist any first timers.
By yours truly,
Mahta – Miss Teen Newmarket 2018
Up Next… My Daily Routine. Check back soon!