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Guest Post: Karate, No Discrimination

This Guest Post is by one of the adult yudansha in our dojo (Hikari Dojo), Peerawut "Peter" Kamlang-ek.

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Karate, No Discrimination

 I learned this from my Sensei, seniors, and the students in our class.

I believe that everyone who wants to practice Karate can practice Karate, and that it is not exclusive to a certain race. I am Thai and I used to live in Thailand for 9 years.  One of the first things that people who are a little bit interested in martial arts would ask me when I mention that I am Thai is if I practice Muay Thai? I say no but I practice Karate

When I grew up in Thailand I heard that I could do a Muay Thai kick because it is in my blood -- well that is far from the truth! I would have to practice in order to do that. I know that such statements might help push someone to believe in themselves, yet I feel that sometimes people are too fixated and use their ethnicity, place of origin, or affiliation with certain places to make them feel like they are exclusive to a certain martial art...sometimes it might make them feel like they are better for that reason. Unfortunately, they might try to push other people away if they are not part of or affiliated with a certain group.

First of all, I don’t believe that anyone will be better in Karate unless they continuously train… plain and simple! I am sure that the statement can be true in every other martial art. Secondly, who’s going to tell me that I can’t practice Karate because I am not Japanese or Okinawan? They probably can try but I respectfully won’t listen. If my Sensei is OK with me practicing Karate at his dojo and I try to improve my character every day, that’s all I really need to continue practicing Karate. I practice Karate because I enjoy it, I believe it is a good thing, I respect my Sensei, and all of the students at our dojo.

In our recent class Sensei mentioned that he feels that he is part Korean also because his daughter-in-law is part Korean and so is his granddaughter. Sensei's second son, who is the head of our dojo, recently married his wife who is also part Okinawan. Sensei also says he feels as if he is part Okinawan. Sensei’s wife is Filipino. He also says he feels part Filipino. Last but not least, he says he feels that he is part Thai because I am one of his students, “don’t mess with Thai people!” he said jokingly... Thank you Sensei.

Does everyone get the idea?

I believe Sensei’s point is that we can all learn to respect each other and can learn from each other as long as we have good intentions and want to practice Karate. All of Sensei’s children practice martial arts and are very good, but he never tried to stop any of us from trying to be very good also and never excluded us from training with him

There shouldn’t be any discrimination in Karate and I am sure we can apply this idea to other things in our lives.

If I ever have the opportunity to teach and say something at the end of a diverse class in the future I want to tell each student, “Hey your girlfriend is Korean, you’re Thai, your mother is Chinese, your kids are part Thai/Chinese, your close friends are Hispanic, Caucasian, African, and Middle Eastern, but we are all Karate students, we work on our character every day, and we try to be good people! So it really doesn’t matter because there is no discrimination in Karate.”

Respectfully,

Peerawut Kamlangek