Why do I take karate? For some reason it's a question I've been getting a lot lately. "Because it's hard" is my usual answer. Which gets a lot of blinks, but it really truly is the answer.
Before karate, challenges in my life mostly came in two flavors. There were the things that were easy, and the things that were impossible. Standard schoolwork was easy. There were a few classes in college that I floundered in, but for some reason (that I couldn't figure out at the time) they all ran to impossible, rather than merely difficult. As it turns out, the two classes I did flounder in were classes I was woefully unprepared for without knowing it - such that in order to actually understand what was going on, I would have needed to take an entire other class first - in one instance, two other classes. There was really no such thing as challenging, but still doable. When in physics I was top of the class by some improbable number, I envied the lady who was #2 - because I was where I was by fluke. She was where she was because she earned every point of her average. She went to both sections of class and both sections of lab. She studied her heart out. After the first test she asked me to tutor her, and we met for an hour twice a week from there on out. She hadn't been in school in twenty years and she had no aptitude for physics, but she worked and pushed and stretched her limits until she was top of the class - except for me. So I envied her - and I felt guilty, because she had earned that #1 slot, but she didn't get it.
Outside of schoolwork, life frequently ran to the impossible. Cope with the predatory teacher? Impossible. Dealing with depression. Impossible (funny how that pretty much disappeared when my metabolism got straightened out). Getting myself organized? Impossible (still haven't figured that one out).
But karate isn't any of that. Karate is hard. I have to show up to classes and bust my butt to learn it. My brain may pick up on the ideas quickly, but that doesn't translate to what my body does. Only hard, repetative work puts karate in my muscles and bones instead of just in my head. It's a challenge to concentrate on where every finger and toe is. It's a challenge to push my body and reflexes to be quicker than they want to be. It's a challenge to stop analyzing my fights in the middle and relax into mushin. Karate challenges me every day. It makes me work. It makes me stretch my limits. Where I am and what I become in karate isn't a fluke, not of genetics, nor of experience. What I am in the dojo, I earned.
And that's why I take karate.