Speaker: Kyoshi Rahul Agarwal- A 5th-degree black belt in Karate
Facilitator: Madira Popat, Digital Entrepreneur
Compiled by: Suzanne Khan
Date: 14th May 2020
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the world, uncertainty is growing amongst people and not only does the virus seem to evolve but public opinion about the outbreak also keeps shifting rapidly amidst the news of the spread of the virus. The mortality rate of COVID-19 seems fairly low but we are seeing increased confirmed cases adding to the whole count every day. With no abatement to the disease at the sight and a vaccine and a cure is missing. The amount of news being spread about COVID is unprecedented and everyone is tuned into the news 24×7 and are sharing these articles on social media and panic is increasing. People are worried and justifiably so being in lockdown is making us feel isolated as well. Work from home has stressed job security, pay cards, and managing both work and housework. In this kind of situation, it is hard not to panic and hence it is of utmost importance to build resilience in these tough times.
Talking about resilience and ways to build resilience, Mr. Rahul said that one word which can sum all of this is OSE, which means to have patience. We use it very frequently in our Karate class and I think everything we want to do or we are going through emanates from one’s ability to have patience. These are unprecedented times. A lot of fear has been created and it also pushes your mind to work out to move out of that fear. ‘Sweating peace so that you don’t get involved’ totally sums up our lives right now. If we have patience or control within us, we would be able to think clearly and act accordingly.
Talking about Karate’s importance and its link with resilience and patience, the speaker stated that Karate is looked at as a physical activity but we don’t see the other dimensions. When we talk about martial arts from an arts point of view, it generally takes years and years to reach that level of perfection and that point is again shifting because when you read that level you get to know that there is more to learn. When you are actually doing martial arts, it helps you develop patience because there is no endpoint in your journey in this field and you always strive to go further and further. Even as a black belt you have to begin all over again.
Talking about spiritual elements in the field of karate, he asked the audience members to close their eyes so as to feel and experience the spiritual aspect of the art. He talked about it from defining life’s purpose. Spirituality is the source that brings patients in every individual. It is something that keeps us going every single day. Karate helps maintain spirituality through the process of teaching and secondly through individuals who later on become teachers and start teaching other individuals without expecting anything in return.
The capabilities of karate cannot just be restricted to our tough times but it can also translate very well into everyday life and can help us discover ourselves and a lot more about our capabilities and potentials as well. Even through difficult times Karate can be trained and can help individuals grow physically, mentally as well as spiritually. We stretch one aspect of life so much that it breaks the other aspects. People are working on mental aspects but not on physical aspects and this is something which should be done and karate helps in that.
Talking about how educators can translate education into physical health for adolescents in schools and even during these times using Karate, Mr. Rahul said it is a really sensitive area. Numbers, subjects all that will happen what most important is instilling character in an individual. Later in life, we don’t use the subjects but the ability to think or develop or character development that happened in school. Karate exactly does that, it builds character whether it is about respecting others. In everyday life, we are competing with individuals and there is no question of respect in karate there is respect among competent. There is also discipline development in Karate. As an educator, we should collate with character development and focus majorly on that.
Talking about ways to deal with fear and anxiety, Mr. Rahul said that the element of fear is going to be there. However, all of it comes back to taking responsible actions such as using sanitizers and necessary precautions. This also involves holding other people accountable and questioning them but this happens rarely in India. We should not accept this as a part of our culture. While we take the right actions, we should also hold others responsible for the same. So a cultural shift is what we can expect from the ecosystem and directions that we need to follow as individuals.
Talking about motivating kids to join Karate, Mr. Rahul said it’s all about experience and nothing is stronger than experience. Parents should make the child visit the class and experience it and feel it on his or her own but only after the lockdown ends. There is no good or bad art but what makes them good or bad are the instructors. If the instructors use harsh language or not a very good language then it can be turned into a bad art but it can happen otherwise as well. One has to look at all these aspects when choosing a center. Don’t choose it blindly. Be cautious of it.
In conclusion, Mr. Rahul said it’s not about learning the basics but actually about appreciating the art and getting there. Karate is more than just physical and sadly not many people get to see this. The conversation was an opportunity for him to share his ideas and insights on the art. He hoped that the audience was able to see it from that perspective as well by going beyond the physical aspect and much more. All of us need to have patience in the current times. We instrumentate the strong spirit, and downs keep on happening in life, and what makes the difference is how we keep strong, how we manage our emotions and take responsible actions.
In some time, turnaround is going to be positive for all of us.