Karate Comfort Zones

by Sensei David S. Hogsette

Comfort zones are curious thing. We all like our comfort zones: our personal space in the car, with our radio/i-pod presets and environmental controls. We like our living spaces and work spaces just so. And we like to maintain a comfortable personal space. These comfort zones are perfectly natural and good in themselves.

But what about comfort zones in our karate training? True, we must develop “go to” techniques that fit our bodies and defensive philosophies. Our karate should “fit us.” We should be comfortable in our gi and in our techniques. For example, I like some distance between my attacker and me. I like to work to the outside so as to nullify half his body or to make it more difficult for him to attack me with that other side. I like to smash and get out of there (Hulk…SMASH!!). That is my karate comfort zone.

But, I may not always be able to maintain my comfort zone. The self-defense situation isn’t totally up to me. There are things I cannot control, namely, how the attacker is responding to my defense and the environment in which I’m attacked. I may be bum-rushed, I may be backed into a car or wall, or I may be taken down to the ground. In other words, I may be taken out of my comfort zone, real quick. Then what?…

That’s why my sensei is encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and to train other contexts and techniques. He likes to fight in close. He likes to close the gap. He likes to work the inside. He likes to apply a myriad of joint locks. That is the total opposite of me. And, so, he forces me into my red zone, that which makes me terribly uncomfortable. Why? Because he wants me to learn to work in contexts not optimal to my go-to techniques, because, God forbid, some time I may be forced to fight outside my comfort zone.

Thanks sensei!