Feb 25, 2024

By Tshepo Motsoeneng, IJKA National Coach

I started karate when I was 15 years old. I am now forty and it is still going strong. I didn’t fully understand what it was it really about at first. I thought it was all about learning how to fight and I thought I was going to get beaten a lot in the dojo, but to my surprise all the senior students were concerned about my improvement, everyone wanted me to do better, and I gained a second family with my fellow students. I learned to accept criticism as a form of self-improvement and not to take negative feedback personally. I learned to accept failure as a learning curve. My sensei often used to say, “how many times do you think I failed my black belt, stop being cry-babies”. We learned to lose graciously, to accept that there will always be someone better than you, and to respect that person. And importantly, to win even more graciously!

I learned that hard work bears fruit in the end – it takes time to achieve excellence. Through discipline and determination, you are bound to be better in the end. Mental strength is the most powerful thing. A master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.

The more my karate improved, my personal life improved too. All the principles I was learning at the dojo I applied them in my personal life. No matter how tough the road may be, I never give up. Karate has taught me to acknowledge my own weakness, and not brush them off, but to focus on them and keep improving.
I am on my own personal journey of becoming a Chartered Accountant. It hasn’t been easy, I have had may failures along the way, but now I am almost at the end. It’s the spirit of karate that pushes me. The harder the road becomes, the more effort and hard work I put in.

I had the honour of being appointed the IJKA National Coach. My aim is to bring the spirit of not giving up to the team. If we allow our children to give up on anything that may seem hard, they will never accomplish anything in life. A life as a karateka enforces discipline on you and develops a strong mindset.
The future of karate is now bright. It is better than when I stated 20 years ago. The community has now grown, international competitions has increased, the number of people doing karate has increased, which means there are more people to share knowledge with and improve ourselves as human beings.