College and Karate, by Sempai Kate Brehm

There becomes a time in every young grasshopper’s life when they must pursue their education. For me, that time has come. This fall I will be making the colossal jump into a college atmosphere. As such, I have pondered how karate will fit into my new life away from home.

My multi-weekly (at some points in history, even daily) trips to the dojo will regretfully cease. Karate practice will take a back burner to my increasing schedule and workload. I will not learn the new changes to our katas (though we all know they will eventually change back). I may even gain the freshman fifteen. However, I will not be quitting karate.

In the last few months I have realized that karate-do is no longer something I do or practice. It is part of who I am. I started training when I was six years old, and since then the lessons from the dojo have helped shape the person I have become:

Self-discipline, which was partially cultivated through karate training (the other part by my parents at home) will help me in my future studies. Or rather, it will be the element of my person that causes me to study in the first place. I can only thank the countless drills and stances for shaping that particular characteristic.

Being aware of your surroundings, an ability that no six year old possesses, was impressed upon me during my training. I am now able to enter a new place, transplant myself into a dorm room, without the fear of being surprised by other freshmen around the corner (shocked, maybe). The ability to be aware will hopefully guide me in making safe choices about parties, late-night adventures, and city excursions. If, however I do make a bad choice (as everyone does now and again) I have confidence in my ability to navigate out of a bad situation. This may be done by physical karate skill, but if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that talking your way out of a situation is just as brave and useful as fighting your way out (and perhaps more harmless).

It is these aspects of karate that will accompany me to college. None of this could have been learned without great role models, so I would like to thank my Shihan, all of the Sempai that have come before me, and every other member of my dojo family that has taught me about the world and the kind of person I would like to be. In this way it is impossible to quit karate, while at college or during any other chapter in my life.

5 Responses to College and Karate, by Sempai Kate Brehm

  1. Jon Hie says:

    well put Kate. We’ll miss you next year, and I hope you will visit us when you can.

  2. Gary Bloom says:

    Kate’s really hit at something: how discipline (working really
    hard at something for many years) in one area translates to discipline
    in another area.

  3. Emily says:

    Great article! I agree with my dad: we’ll miss you SO much, but we’re also have no doubt that you’ll use what you’ve learned in karate to be successful. Everyone’s really proud of you 🙂

  4. Leigh says:

    Nicely done Kate. We will miss you.

  5. Robin says:

    As I ponder Kate’s message about heading off to college I contemplate my on-going battle between education and karate. For me, the two have always sparred with each other to be king-of-the-ring. Karate K.O.ed its opponent for many years as I jokingly told people who asked me about my education level that I had enough years, blood, sweat and tears to have a PhD in karate if there was such a thing.
    It seems I tend to do things upside down though, starting karate when many people my age were finishing a Master’s degree. I didn’t start college classes until the year I earned my first nidan. I didn’t get serious about college until about the time I was earning a shodan in my third, (and current), karate system, and a nidan between college and a new career. Now on the verge of starting a master’s degree, I’m contemplating the marriage of the former combatants as I start my next level of education by trying to incorporate karate into my research studies and teaching karate at the same time.
    While I certainly do not recommend going about education the way I am doing it I’m pretty darn sure that if weren’t for karate’s “other lessons”: Sticking to something even if it’s really hard, keeping commitments, staying calm when facing scary things (or people), persevering in the face of difficulty, and that there is ALWAYS more to learn, I would never have earned any degree of any kind. The other lesson karate taught me is that with the support and assistance of others, pretty much anything can be achieved.
    Best wishes to Kate and the other karate ka who are starting their next level of education this fall!

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