There are no losers in karate

 
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There are no losers in karate

Karate competition season is in full swing and competitors from across the state made their way to the NSW 2019 State Championships on 16 March. Athletes have trained hard to reach this point and for many, their time on the tatami may end after 1 minute if unsuccessful, but for others who win their rounds they get the opportunity to continue competing until they either get knocked out or win. 

What struck me was the sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie and that win or lose, competitors conducted themselves with pride and sportsmanship. PDK athletes often found themselves competing against each other in medal rounds and it would be easy to think that this would create a sense of rivalry. PDK has produced some fine athletes but there is no hostility between club members, just a sense of shared enthusiasm and support.

I see this in training, when kids work together and willingly help each other, even though they may end up facing off against each other in competition. 

What is it about karate that creates this sense of community and connection?

I like to think the dojo rules (‘dojo kun’) are there to bring out the best in our members by asking us all to seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor, refrain from violent behaviour and respect others.

Dojo rules don’t ask us to be perfect, they ask us to seek perfection of character, recognizing that perfection is a process we continuously work towards. We refrain from violent behaviour, even when we spar, because we understand that violence not only harms others, it diminishes us as individuals. We endeavor because we know that in sport, as in life, hard work is a solid basis for success. We show each other respect because we know that when we show respect we recognize the worth of others but we also recognize our self-worth. We are faithful, because we know our commitment to each other raises us all and makes us all better as a group and individually.

On Saturday at the NSW State Championships, I saw our PDK athletes honour the dojo rules with their sportsmanship, hard work and commitment. Our medal winners and non-medalists all displayed courage, respect, commitment and passion – and this what karate is about: it is about creating a sense of community and by abiding by a code of conduct that not only recognizes the worth of others, it brings out the best in ourselves.

There can be no losers when athletes conduct themselves in such a way.

 
 
Ricky Rigor