Who would win in a real fight, a Judo person or a Karate person?

This is an interesting question and almost impossible to know because there are so many variables. First of all, it is highly unlikely that two well-trained martial artists would engage in a ‘real’ fight. One of the major benefits of martial arts training is character development. It may seem like a paradox, but the deadlier the fighter, the less he has to prove. And the more likely he is to work out his problems civilly.

Then there is the matter of size, skill and strategy. Let’s assume that our two fighters are men of equal size and skill. In order for the Judo man to throw the Karate man he must get close to him. So his strategy is to move in quickly and throw.

The Karate man would want to disable him before he reaches throwing range. Who is quicker? Who makes the first move? In a real fight anger is usually the motivating factor. It can make the fighter stronger, but it can also cause careless mistakes.

While we can’t answer this question conclusively, we can say that it’s a rare martial artist who hasn’t pondered it – so you’re in good company!

Did you ever have to use it?

Yes. Sometimes in the usual way, more often by ‘not using it.’

Shlomo, a green belt of considerable size and strength, tells the story of how he was attacked three times by the same man – a man who seemed to be mentally unstable. Each time he blocked the man’s punches and kicks, then pushed him away. Eventually the guy understood that he couldn’t goad him into fighting and went to pick on a more volatile candidate.

Rena, a student in our women’s self-defense course, was walking with a friend one night when she noticed that they were being followed by a man. She whipped around and held up her fists. “Watch out,” she warned, “I know karate.” The man ran away.

Which style is the best?

Each style is different, and each style has its own interesting characteristics. It really isn’t a matter of ‘better’ or ‘worse,’ it’s a matter of which style suits your personality and body type.

Most karate practitioners believe that their style is the best. This is a normal form of loyalty. And perhaps it is true – for that person.

When our friends want to begin karate training or are looking for a dojo for their children of course we recommend Goju-Ryu. But if there is no Goju-Ryu in their area we tell them to research all the local styles. We say, “Pay particular attention to the teacher and his or her credentials.

Watch a class. Notice how the class is operated. There should be an atmosphere of mutual respect and discipline, and the students should feel relaxed and comfortable.”

It is better to choose a martial art according to the teacher’s expertise and professionalism rather than by the style.

How do I motivate myself to show up for training when I just don’t feel like it?

You’ve had a long, hard day and you’re tired. You just want to chill out in front of the television and go to bed early. But it’s time to leave for the dojo. What do you do?

First of all, know that you are not alone. There isn’t anyone amongst us who is 100% motivated 100% of the time. Sometimes it seems like there are two warring factions inside of us. One is saying, ‘It won’t hurt to skip just this one class.’ The other says, ‘I really should go.’

It helps to remember this: The last time you didn’t feel like going and went anyway, you were glad you did! That’s right! You arrived at the class tired, but once you started moving you felt better. Your body started to produce endorphins. You learned a new technique. You slipped a punch in on that bigger guy and saw a look of surprise – and respect – in his eyes. You improved your kata, burned calories, forgot about all your earthly problems; you had a great class.

So the next time you don’t feel like coming, remind yourself: Once I get there I’ll be glad I went. If you’re the competitive type, tell yourself that some other guy is staying home tonight and you’re pulling ahead of him. One student, who attended six classes a week said, “I pay by the month. I want to get my money’s worth.” Figure out what motivates you and prepare a pep talk for yourself. You’ll be glad you showed up.

Why do I have to do Sanchin (substitute: Stretch/Kata/Makiwara)?

Each student comes to martial arts training with his or her unique personality, body type, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Often – almost always – there is some sort of resistance to a certain aspect of the training that is challenging or seems to go against the grain of your personality. It is this very aspect, the very thing that you don’t want to do, which will lead to your personal development both in and out of karate.

Each facet of karate is important. One student said that he had tried karate and did not like doing kata. He requested to train with us under the stipulation that he not be ‘forced’ to do kata. We suggested he look for another dojo because this was not something on which we were willing to compromise.

Your teacher has a perspective that comes with time and experience. He or she can often see what you need to develop more than you, yourself, can realize. Trust his opinion.