How Martial Arts Can Improve Your Focus

How Martial Arts Can Improve Your Focus

When you think of martial arts, what comes to mind? Is it kicking and punching, jumping and the occasional shouting? Is it controlled breath, proper posture, balance, and accuracy? Oftentimes, martial arts encompass many of these things simultaneously, but towards a goal. For some, that goal is a sense of safety through self-defense technique. Some simply want to attain a level of fitness. However, martial arts almost always offer something that people don’t necessarily expect: focus. This month at Karate West, we celebrate the Life Skill of focus. It’s no secret that the ability to properly focus our efforts is an invaluable skill. When we set our minds to accomplish something, it is focus that ensures we see it through to the end. Without this skill, our actions might not amount to much at all. Although anyone can make use of learning the benefits of proper focus, those benefits increase exponentially for those who have learned it at a young age. Some parents might worry that enrolling their children into martial arts could encourage violent behavior, but it’s actually just the opposite! Martial arts aim to teach self-defense, but more importantly they teach responsibility and control. To correctly execute martial arts, one must perform with precision, controlled breath, proper posture, and balance, all of which are vital elements to focus successfully. Like many physical activities, martial arts require that its students command multiple elements simultaneously in order to continue seeing improvement. Of course, that doesn’t come without regular concentration. We never expect that a beginner student to be able to perform a kata after his/her first session, but through...
Positive Attitude and Its Effects on Your Health

Positive Attitude and Its Effects on Your Health

One of Karate West’s favorite Life Skills is that of a “Positive Attitude.” This is for a variety of reasons. Not only can this life skill be incredibly influential and encourage success over the course of your life, but there are a variety of health benefits that have been linked to it as well! At Karate West, we promote self-defense, as well as personal fitness and growth. As part of our mission to help all of our students find the best in themselves, we’ve decided to emphasize the importance of positivity to the quality of your health. With this month’s blog, we will explore just how significant a positive attitude can be on the quality and longevity of your life. Heart disease is a major killer of adults throughout the world. That’s why one study conducted in 2013 decided to focus on hospital patients affected by the disease to test its hypothesis that there may be a direct effect on the heart in those who expressed more positive attitudes. Researchers analyzed 607 patients, and out of those patients, those who expressed more positivity had a lower risk of death for up to five years. However, as patients who remained positive were also more likely to exercise, researchers were unable to identify positivity as the direct cause of prolonged life. It was concluded that the combination of these factors may have resulted in the patients’ healthier living. It’s no secret that regular exercise has a wide range of benefits. Our April blog post on the importance of fitness explains that it can provide us with lower blood pressure, stronger bones...
A History of Shudokan Karate

A History of Shudokan Karate

Soon, Karate West will be hosting a Japanese Shudokan Masters Seminar event, during which 10th degree black belt masters Ishida Hanshi and Miyachi Kenji Hanshi will be teaching two different kata. With that event in mind, we thought it would be an appropriate time to explore the historical development of our school of karate. Kanken Toyama’s Okinawa Seitou Karate-Do, also known as ‘Shudokan’ in America, was originally developed by Kanken Toyama when he opened his first dojo in Tokyo on March 20th, 1930. When he established the school, it was called Shu Do Kan, which literally translates to “the hall for the study of the way of karate” or more figuratively translates to “an institution for cultivating the way.”  Thus, its establishment was to discover a more natural and right way to live through the methods taught in karate. While Shudokan is commonly accepted to be its own school of karate today, Toyama-san never claimed to have invented something new. He was originally a student of Ankō Itosu, the man famed to be responsible for the development of modern karate. Toyama-san always felt that what he taught was merely an extension of Itosu-san’s original form of karate. He once wrote on the topic that “the exquisite skill of karate that is based on self-protection does not need to contain several different ‘styles,’ but a combination of what works or is effective.” As a result of this position, Toyama-san never appointed a successor when he passed away in 1966, ultimately causing the school to take many new forms. Today, Shudokan karate has developed into a school primarily made up of two...
Fitness Done Right – Young to Old

Fitness Done Right – Young to Old

At Karate West, we celebrate life skills that are most deserving of our attention each month of the year with our Twelve Months to Personal Power. With the nice summer weather quickly approaching, we’ve chosen to recognize April as Fitness month. In honor of that ever-important habit, we thought we’d tell you a little about why getting active is so paramount to lifelong success for children and adults. We take pride in teaching children the merits of quality fitness because those lessons learned early in life will resound with healthy habits far into the future. You may be thinking, “but my child is already active. They hardly ever sit down.” While it’s true that children are naturally disposed to be more active often while running, jumping, kicking, and playing all on their own, that does not necessarily mean that they will be as energetic later in life. At Karate West, we teach that although there are benefits in one exercise session, a healthy discipline in maintaining regular exercise habits is far more beneficial. By establishing those habits early in life, the results can be astounding including a lower risk of blood pressure, stronger development of muscles, bones, and joints, as well as various social and mental advantages. Amongst a higher capacity for learning and self-confidence, those who exercise consistently  will also show reduced risk of depression and anxiety. With all of that said, it’s important to make children want to be active. Physical activity should be something that they find fun. If your child can associate exercise with something that engages them, it will become an activity that they...
The Dangers of Too Much Screen Time for Kids – And Why Parents Must Get Their Kids Active

The Dangers of Too Much Screen Time for Kids – And Why Parents Must Get Their Kids Active

Sleep Deprivation There are many dangers of too much screen time for kids, among the most concerning, is sleep deprivation.  Any of us that are addicted to our screens know this. It is a constant struggle to put down the screens and allow our minds to drift off to sleep. But how does this affect kids? If you, as an adult, don’t get enough sleep, you’re apt to be less productive at work and may have trouble holding up your eyes as they grow ever heavier throughout the day. However, sleep deprivation is detrimental to children’s developing minds and bodies. The average child requires 10-12 hours of sleep every night; however, the average child only gets 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep deprivation in children can lead to obesity, short attention spans, crankiness, lack of decision-making skills, lethargy that leads to poor performance at school, and health problems. Why does screen-time get such a bad rap? The blue light emitted from the screen is interpreted by the body as a signal to wake up. So if a child is interacting with a screen at night, instead of feeling sleepy when it is bedtime the child is more likely to be wide awake, even long after the screen has been shut off. Obesity Another one of the dangers of too much screen time for kids is obesity. Screens make you sit. The struggle to keep kids active these days is real! Especially when there are so many screens tempting them to sit and stare for hours. Children have the natural urge to run, jump, and kick, and when this...

Chris Chen

My black belt really makes me who I am today. I tend to be a fun and open guy, and I think that through my training at Karate West, I was able to become more confident about who I am. My black belt also serves as a reminder that I can overcome anything that I put my mind to, and it motivates me to be the best person that I can be. Getting my black belt also taught me how to discipline myself. As I prepared for my black belt test, I learned that there is no gray area to fall between after the test; everything is strictly black or white (pun absolutely intended), and I learned to discipline myself in order to accomplish what I want to do and succeed. And that is what my black belt means to...