How many times have you been faced with a situation that had you feeling 2 feet tall?  Maybe it was a  big presentation at work, or maybe you were freaking out because you suddenly found yourself in a crowded room of strangers and had no one to talk to?  Whatever the scenario, as adults we are often nervous-facial1-300x199thrust into situations which take us outside our comfort zone.  And lets face it, some of us are better outside our comfort zone than others.  I am often asked by people whether or not Karate training can actually build one’s confidence.  Many adults find themselves searching for methods to help them build their confidence and inevitably, Karate training will come up in their research.  So does it actually work?  Can you really rely on Karate to help you become more confident?  Lets explore this topic.  Karate training is a very personal journey.  It’s not like baseball or other team sports where you openly compete with another group of individuals.  In contrast, Karate training puts you up against yourself.  Students who train will begin to put themselves under a microscope to learn who they really are – and not just in a physical sense.  A huge part of Karate training includes mental conditioning.  You are moulding your conscious slowly over a long period of time.  When you practice Karate, a good instructor will know your limits and play within them but will challenge you in small, specific ways.  A good instructor should set you up for success and as you succeed your confidence will build.  Here is a really small example.  Let say you are nervous speaking in public.  One of the ways you will begin to conquer your fear is by working on your public speaking skills during class (in very small, controlled ways).  Your instructor can begin to teach you simple Japanese terms and have you repeat them (along with the rest of the class.)  Then eventually, the instructor will have you counting through Kata and basic technique for the rest of the class.  In these small ways, you begin to become comfortable with speaking in crowded rooms.  The changes are so small at first, that you don’t even realize that it’s happening – and that is exactly the point.  A skilled instructor should be empathetic and know your limits, while working within them to challenge you.  Eventually you will conquer your fears.  But it does take time.  In world bent on selling you one-stop fix alls and fad solutions that just simply don’t work – Karate training has been tested time and time again over generations.  It’s effective and it works on everyone – but it does not work over night.  Believe in yourself and believe in your training and you will become more confident – believe me.

Sensei Pennell.