Is now the time to try karate? Renshi Lisa thinks so!
Many of our customers wear Dragonwing girlgear (sports bra, spandex short or cami) under their karate uniform, which is called a Gi. Lisa’s daughter Jordan wears our sports bra and compression shorts under her Gi.
There are many types of martial arts, so Lisa recommends exploring a couple until you find one that fits your personality. I interviewed Lisa recently to learn more about her interest in practicing and teaching martial arts to people of all ages. Below are some excerpts of our conversation.
How did you get into Karate? A friend in New York invited me to an Aikido class 25 years ago. It was fun, so I tried a few different types of martial arts. Karate is the one that stuck! Today, my entire family practices karate: my husband is a 3rd degree black belt, and my children Jordan (18) and Nick (16) are both 2nd degree.
At Dragonwing, we’re all about empowering girls to be strong and confident in sports and life. How can karate help empower pre-teen and teen girls? Girls face body image challenges, bullying, and other stresses, especially beginning around age 11. They want to be their own unique selves AND they want to fit in. I use karate as a way to tell girls to be vibrantly you. Karate makes girls feel stronger and safer and improves their mental health.
I see it in my students: as girls gain confidence in class at the dojo, they take that confidence with them into the world. They learn more than physical skills; they gain mental toughness and the strength to stand up for themselves.
But isn’t karate a very standardized athletic activity? How can you make it uniquely you? Karate allows for a safe space to be strong, for big, strong, personal moments. Especially in sparing, karate can give you space to be you. You feel strong, capable, and proud. I think that applies to all sports. You can be completely different in your sport than you are at school or at home.
What are the benefits of karate? Karate is good for focus, agility, brain balance, strength, and community. Being part of the dojo community is so important during this time of social distancing. Practicing together, even when we’re physically apart, helps us feel connected to something bigger.
How do you recommend people choose a dojo? It’s about personality and fit. If possible, try a couple of different places and see which one works for you. There’s a lot of variety in martial arts so there’s something for everyone. At Bushido Karate Dojo here in Maine, our students range from 3 to 60 years old.
How can doing karate benefit athletes who play other sports? Karate is three dimensional: it helps with kicking and posture alignment, teaches body movement, and, at a basic level, releasing kinetic energy – what I call, the kinetic chain. When our body is well aligned, it makes the most efficient use of energy.
Karate also is great for cross-training because it works different muscles – or uses the same muscles differently – than your main sport. For example, we worked with a lacrosse team on how to roll, pull up, and still have the ball – all using karate movements!
Tell us about the free online karate class you’re offering? We’ve got a fun, high energy class every weekday (Monday – Friday) at 11 a.m. (EDT). Anyone can sign up on our website, Bushido Karate Dojo, scroll down the page, enter your information, and we’ll send you the link for joining the class.
How to contact Lisa