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TonyMc's picture
Why train?

I know many martial artists who just train and perfect their kata's/patterns and practise their applications endlessly. But they never enter competitions and they have never got into any altercations either.

When I look at them I start to question why they train, not that there is anything wrong in them training. Am I wrong to think that you must train to either defend yourself or compete, or am I wrong to think it's a waste a time if you don't do these things with your training?

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture


There are a lot of reasons for training in karate/martial arts and not all are related to competition or self-defense.

Spritual development as is seen in modern Budo i.e. Aikido, Kendo, Iaido and even karate-do.

Better health as is often associated with  Tai Chi, but goes as well for karate, judo, aikido, boxing and all others styles.

Historical and cultural interests as is seen with the Koryu Bujutsu.

Fun and recreation which applies to almost all fighting arts

Artistic value, often equated with forms/kata practice

There are many others too!

Best wishes!


Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

 Nobody "must" do anything...I train these days because I like to do it, I meet great people, learn new things all the time. Do I want my training to be practical..of course, to me that's part of the journey though, there is no end point.

It's important to know what you are trying to do with your training, always be willing to examine your motivations and reasons etc...but honestly, if you like it..do it, No real need to explain yourself to anyone minus the people you train with and yourself. As long as one is honest with oneself and dojo mates, it's all good.

One thing that Michael alluded to, the closer I get to 40, the more I am really starting to care and notice the health benefits, it's not just better cardio or anything like that either, you learn to move more efficiently, be more conscious of proprioception etc.. stuff that will make you a healthier, more aware person as you age.

Why is not having an end goal a 'waste of time" anyway? One day we will all be old and decrepit we will lose the attributes and abilities that allow us to compete, and perhaps even to defend ourselves effectively, then we will die. If that makes it a waste of time, then pretty much everything we do is a waste of time, as it all moves towards it's end anyway!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

There are many valid reasons to train outside of sport and self-protection. So long as we know why we are training and train in a goal focused way it’s all good :-) I did a podcast on this topic a little while ago:


All the best,


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I would say similar reasons to "Why have Car Insurance or Home Insurance"?

Its the What if, its the preparation, Training in Martial Arts, practicing Kata etc is being prepared for the situation even if it never occurs, at least one won't be left on a limb, in a situation and not knowing how to get out of it or defend oneself or ones family or friends.

Sports or competition Karate to WKF/WKA rules etc are the reason why Karate has lost its touch with what is was for. Unless you train Full contact or Daiko Juku, you're not preparing yourself either, but even these have rules too and as we all know, there's no rules on the street.

I was in the Armed Forces and some areas of the Armed forces would never see active service, So if this is the case Why join the Armed Forces if you're not going to go to war?

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Why train?  



Personal Challenge


Tau's picture

I would add that I thoroughly and completely disagree with Iain's podcast on the biggest secret. My argument is simple - it was no secret!

Yes, I train for all of the multitude of reasons that anyone and everyone will list. But the "Biggest Secret" is the primary one for me.

WadoChaz's picture

I train for many reasons, all listed above in previous posts but my main reason is because I enjoy it and its something I've always done. I originally got into Karate around the age of 8 because I wanted to be a Power Ranger, Around 10 I wanted to be Batman. Im 27 and would be lying if I said this was no longer the case!

For me its just a way of life, I get to go to my club and train with my mates, I practice my kata because I enjoy the benefits both health and fitness related and because I love to try and break them down and study the bunkai more and more as I get older and a little more experianced.

I also like knowing that should I ever find myself unfortunate enough to be in a situation where these skills are needed then I am better prepared to handle it.

But mostly its the Batman thing.

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

One of the things that happens a lot in life is that people want to know "why" do you do this or "why" do you do that. 

Can people not train just because they want to?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Leigh Simms wrote:

One of the things that happens a lot in life is that people want to know "why" do you do this or "why" do you do that. 

Can people not train just because they want to?

Actually.............................. What a solid Post, OSU!!!!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Leigh Simms wrote:

One of the things that happens a lot in life is that people want to know "why" do you do this or "why" do you do that. 

Can people not train just because they want to?

Sure they can … but I would say that it’s important that the individual knows why they "want to". That way they can be goal focused from a practical perspective. Also, from the “do” side of things a little introspection about why the individual enjoys the things they do increases self-knowledge.

Whether a person chooses to share their motivations is a personal choice. It also does not matter if they can clearly articulate their reasons for training to others. Important that they know for themselves thorough I would say.

All the best,


karate10's picture

I train simply for me to become a better individual....My knee injury from a car accident a couple years back may left me as a reminder, but  it can't hold me back in what I love to do and that is to practice Karate....Osu!!!