Karate As A Form Of Discipline For A Simple Life

You may not want to hear this, but minimalism and simple living take discipline. Have you ever wondered why it’s hard to unclutter and keep your life and space simple and free? It’s a discipline. And discipline takes time. My daughter and I practice karate. Karate teaches the discipline needed for simple living.

Annie and I have been karate training off and on since 2010. I’m currently a green belt and Annie is a brown belt. We’ve discovered that as we get higher in rank, we have to train more. And training more takes more discipline. 

Discipline Is Key To Minimalism

Over the years, I’ve met many people who want to become minimalists. But they can never really take the leap. I understand. I’m not a true minimalist myself. There are some things I find too difficult to give up. But I do keep my home and my life fairly uncluttered and simple. And that takes discipline. 

You don’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to get rid of everything I own and become a minimalist.” That’s a fairy tale. You do, however, make a conscious decision to make daily choices that lead to a simpler life. It’s like any habit. It takes time and effort.

How Karate Teaches The Basics Of Simple Living

If you’ve ever practiced martial arts, you know that there are important rituals and ceremonial components. Each time we train at the dojo, we bow in. We bow when we enter and exit the room. And we bow in respect to our sensei

Each time we bow, we are recommitting ourselves to the discipline it takes to keep learning and improving. Then we spend an hour or two practicing the same katas and techniques repeatedly.

It takes this same kind of discipline to live minimally. Each day, as in karate, we must recommit to the lifestyle. I think of making my bed in the morning as a form of bowing in. It rekindles my desire to keep things neat and uncluttered. Then throughout the day I repeat behaviors that help me continue to live simply.

The Simplicity Of A Black Belt

I used to think that earning a black belt would be full of complications. It’s not. The key to earning a black belt is simple. Just keep training. I don’t know if I’ll reach the level of black belt. But I do know that minimalism requires the same kind of discipline. Just keep training. 

I’m not an extreme minimalist. I’m more of a pragmatist. I like to weigh things out and live practically without excess. But as the years go by, I find myself slowly becoming more and more minimalist. Why? Because I continue the discipline of minimalism. It’s that simple.

Note: I wrote this post before I was diagnosed with polycythemia vera in June. In July, I decided to take a break from karate. I may continue in the future. I also might take sword lessons. Annie is still going strong and received her brown belt yesterday.

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James Ewen
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