Doughjo Boys

Let’s be honest, how many doughjo boys do you see practicing Karatedo? You know what I’m referring to, right? Those Karateka are in good shape? Factor in what you want (age, diet, co-morbidities, etc.) and then ask yourself, “how many of them are fit?” That is, do they have the requisite strength, flexibility, and stamina to perform Karate-do to a satisfactory level? If you’re even a little bit honest with yourself, I’m guessing you answered: (1) you see a lot of doughjo boys in the dojo, and (2) they don’t have an adequate fitness level to perform Karatedo to an acceptable standard.

Over the years I’ve had a few students come to practice and rattle off a litany of reasons why they can’t (or should I say won’t) do certain calisthenics, stretches, conditioning exercises, or techniques. Granted, in some cases there are good medical reasons for this, but for the most part it’s just BS! They can’t do any of the exercises simply because they’re in deplorable physical shape! Needless to say, they soon find the door. Now before your start accusing me of being an evil slave-driver and forcing students to do a full range of exercises you need to stop right there. That’s not what I’m asking them to do. I’m asking them to do a portion of the exercises, go at their own pace, and to modify them accordingly. Yet even with these changes, their fitness level stops them dead in the water. As a teacher it can be frustrating, as ironically, these same exercises would start them on the path of improving their general physical condition and allow them to do Karate-do competently.

So why are Karateka in general in such terrible condition? That question is too big for this blog to answer (no pun intended) as there are a host of complex, interacting factors that are at play. However, let’s talk about something that is fundamental to us all and entirely (I hope) controllable – diet – what foods you put into your mouth every single day. Here is a great little info graphic from Wellington Grey blog of the percentage of people over the age of 15 years that are classified as obese (i.e. a body mass index over 30) throughout the world.

Skim through the graph and find your respective country. Find it? What’s the percentage? Are you part of that percentage? You’ll notice that among English-speaking countries that the USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand are the highest, while the two lowest countries are in Asia, Japan and Korea. Gee, do you think maybe this huge difference has something to do with the quality of food and how much of it their eating? Of course! Take a look at this blog post showing the difference in fast food portions from the 1950s to the 2000s in the US. The increase in portion size and corresponding calories is staggering. Now I don’t think I have to tell you that obesity is correlated with cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and a whole host of nasty, life-shortening medical conditions. Diet is a relatively easy thing to fix. So what’s stopping you?

So, no more excuses. Don’t be doughjo boy! Instead, aspire to be a student or teacher who is fit, strong, and skilled in Karatedo. Can’t do it? These men would tell you otherwise. These men have old school Karatedo strength.

Higa Minoru
Higaonna Morio
Toyama Seiko