The Courage to Start


The most difficult part of starting a karate (self-defense) class or any other exercise program is taking that first big step out the door. Taking that first step takes an inordinate amount of courage and will power.


It won't be long until another New Year rolls around and we will be thinking of stopping smoking, watching our eating habits and losing weight, or have a grand plan to get ourselves in shape. Losing weight is easy, all we have to do is stop eating. The problem is that it seems to be easier to gain the weight back, as well as add a few pounds. Losing weight usually makes us feel good and it does satisfy the martyr in us.


For a few weeks we actually step out that door and go to class on a regular basis; then we start to skip a class now and then, telling ourselves that we are too tired or that we don't have enough time. A time honored excuse is that we are just not interested in that program anymore and we are onto something new, which we will not finish. Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, this will destroy any good exercise program. Examples of our best excuses, which we use, are "my back aches", "my ankle hurts", or the best one is "my old tennis injury" or "my old football knee". The next big excuse is that we are getting to old, which to most starts somewhere around the age of thirty. Why don't we admit that we are just plain lazy and stop making excuses.


Of course, none of our get-fit plans last for more than a few weeks. ( I believe that most people that sign up for a fitness program last on an average of 45 days). I know that in my over 50 years of studying some form of martial arts (fighting art) that only one in one-hundred people that begin a class will stay long enough to obtain a legitimate black-belt rank. Many schools give them out just to keep students. The unfortunate aspect of those schools is that these students are being deceived.


The sad thing is that we have fallen into a trap of believing that physical activity is the province of the young and fit. We see athletes that are "old" at thirty and believe that we are done before we ever begin. Suddenly, without warning we will be overweight and out of shape. It is not the aging of the body that stops us; it is the aging of the soul. We can be fit at any age if we do not let the soul age and die. If you keep the soul young, keeping the body fit will be a great side effect. You can't see it and you can't feel it, but over time, if you let it, the soul will become just as unwilling to exercise as the body. If this happens we are totally lost.


Everyone should seek out their own reason for keeping the soul and the body fit, but if we want to be healthy and happy, each of us must find that reason; not just for ourselves, but for our children, family and friends and our own everyday happiness. We must set an example for those that will follow us.


Sensei (Jerry) Fitzpatrick