Thought for the Week (Aug 6th, 2001)
John Bottega, Sho-Dan,
Midtown Karate Dojo NYC
There are times in our karate training when we may wonder how we would
actually defend ourselves in the face of a real enemy. Fortunately for many
of us, we have never been in such a situation. But how would we perform?
Would our training manifest itself in a critical situation?
How do people perform under pressure? For many years, researchers have
studied this question. In the field of behavioral sciences, there exists a
phenomenon known as the "Drive Theory of Social Facilitation". According to
this theory, the presence of others increases an individuals' arousal, which
increases the tendency for that individual to perform his or her most
dominant response. If the response is well learned, then performance is
enhanced. If the response is not, then performance is impaired.
In karate, the presence of others represents the enemy. How will we response in the presence of a real enemy? We answer this question in one word - kata.
Kata is the essence of our karate. It is the preferred response that we
practice so it becomes second nature. We train our bodies and our muscles
and our minds to respond in the correct manner, so that when in the presence of others - of an enemy, our most dominant (and correct) response will
This is why we train. This is why we are corrected. Our kata teaches us the
correct way to respond, so it becomes second nature to us. Hopefully, non of us will ever have to use our karate in a life and death scenario, but we
train to be prepared. In the 35 years that my uncle was a NYC Policeman, he never had to un-holster his weapon in the line of duty. Yet, he trained his
weapon constantly. He trained his body and his mind to respond, never
knowing when he might have to use it, but he was always prepared.
So the next time you wonder how you would respond, look into kata for the