Recent studies have shown that eighty percent of the U.S. population is stressed about finances and that money issues are the leading cause of divorce. From this overwhelming feeling of financial malaise a new ailment has been identified – Money Anxiety Disorder, (M.A.D.).
Getting M.A.D. comes from fear; you’re afraid that you might lose your job or that your income (or your spouse’s) might be cut. M.A.D. also develops from a feeling of helplessness or lack of control over your financial destiny. When you’re afraid, anxious and off course, all of your power sources: your mind, body and spirit, become weakened and out of balance.
The study of karate and other similar martial arts can provide a way to lessen your stress, boost your strength, find your balance, and gain control.
After I had back surgery (16 years ago), I read that karate was a wonderful physical rehabilitation method because it strengthens and stretches every part of your body. Shortly thereafter, I was at a pre-school function for my youngest child where a friend was raving about a karate school and sensei (teacher) that her son loved. So, the next week I took that first step and paid a visit to the dojo, (school or “place of the way”).
One saying in karate is, “on your journey, the first step is the hardest“. When I became a student, I was given a white belt, which signifies a new and clean beginning, and I began a journey that I’m still following, one that has pushed me through four more surgeries and a divorce. Sixteen years later I have a second-degree black belt. The black symbolizes the years of work, sweat and dirt. I have also become stronger and more flexible (mentally and physically) and have attained a sense of balance in my mind, body and spirit.
Karate, meaning “empty hand,” is an art of self-defense that requires constant practice of blocks, kicks, punches and forms (kata). In order to successfully perform these moves you must have focus and power in your breathing, in your mind and in your body. Karate moves are very circular and graceful – fluid like water. Of the four elements: earth, fire, air and water, water is the most powerful. You must practice these moves thousands of times until your muscles remember them and your mind is clear.
With time, concentration and practice you become stronger, centered and more self-confident. During your practice in the dojo you’re moving, sweating and feeling the endorphins, and your thoughts are on one thing: Karate. As each punch and kick grows stronger so does your confidence and balance. Just like in the movie “The Karate Kid”, when you become committed to the study of karate you gain mastery over your self and acquire the ability to handle whatever comes your way. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, short or tall, Karate will teach you how to focus and move so you can use an adversary’s own force against him (or her). Think of Mr. Miyagi and the seemingly effortless way he subdued his younger adversaries by re-directing their negative energy.
In martial arts, sparring is a way to practice your skills and techniques against an opponent within a regulated space. It gives you experience in anticipating enemy moves and defending yourself against various types of attacks. Sparring perfects your ability to act and react to a variety of punches and kicks, and teaches you to recognize behavior patterns and devise a plan to overpower your opponent, all within the span of a few minutes.
These skills and techniques can also be useful when you’re battling financial hardship and stress. First take a look at what you’re facing and understand what your options and resources are, (thankfully not in a few minutes). Then design an action plan that will bolster income, lower expenses and give you more control over your finances. When you have confidence and a plan, the unknown is less scary and stress levels go down.