Top 5 Hobbies Every Karate Enthusiast Should Try 

karate man

It’s no secret that cultivating a certain degree of mindfulness is required in Karate (as well as in all other martial arts).

To the uninitiated, the martial arts may look like artful violence or a series of mechanical steps to avoid getting mugged–but nothing can be further from the truth. 

More than anything else, martial arts is a way of life. As such, the importance of mindfulness in its praxis cannot be overstated. 

Complete awareness of yourself and your environment not only allows you to stay focused; it also allows you to stay completely calm amidst chaos–something that’s crucial not only in active combat or self-defense, but also in life in general. 

Even in cancer therapy, studies have shown that increases in mindfulness are related to improved psychological function and, to a lesser degree, improved physical function. 

Different martial arts adopt different types of meditation techniques (of course, these may also vary from practitioner to practitioner) to improve mindfulness. 

In Karate, we practice what is known as Mokuso–a comprehensive meditation technique that helps in eliminating anger, fear, and other emotions that are detrimental to the craft.

While meditation may seem the most direct, it isn’t the only way to improve mindfulness. Moreover, focusing solely on martial arts (or any discipline) may give you tunnel vision and hinder your growth.  

Occasionally engaging in other activities not only prevents burnout; it also allows for muscle recovery. Moreover, akin to learning new languages, it also allows you to strengthen different neural pathways–improving your overall mental and physical health!   

Yes, you read that right. Your training doesn’t start and stop in your gym or dojo–you can work on your mindfulness (as well as on other aspects of your craft) by engaging in certain hobbies. 

On that note, here’s a list of the top five hobbies every karate enthusiast should try!

1. Diving

diving

One of the main appeals of diving has always been how it provides those that do it an escape from everything

The surrounding water and darkness drown out the world’s sounds above the surface and force you to focus on your breathing and movements.

That said, diving also entails risks. 

You have to know how to navigate the depths, monitor your gear (even before you go on a diving excursion), deal with underwater life, and remain completely calm in case something goes wrong.

One slight misstep can be fatal–this is what essentially qualifies it as one of the ultimate mindfulness exercises.

Not only does diving significantly improve your mindfulness, but it also plays a significant role in your recovery. 

Sure, it’s still physically demanding and can be extremely stressful when you’re still starting, but the surrounding water carries all of your weight for you, so it’s low-impact (good for your joints) while still being able to give you a full body workout.

Furthermore, just like katas in karate, diving requires you to learn to string together a particular set of maneuvers smoothly for you to be able to navigate the depths efficiently. The better you are at these maneuvers, the more energy you conserve. 

Once you get into a flow, you can allot more energy to stay mindful. 

2. Hiking

hiking

Hiking may be one of the most low-intensity hobbies on this list, but this is precisely why it is perfect for those who practice martial arts. 

Hiking is a highly accessible hobby. 

There are no intricate moves to learn nor sophisticated breathing exercises; there’s minimal risk involved; you don’t have to spend too much on gear (especially under ideal weather conditions), and you get to take in your surroundings at your own pace.

In terms of its physical benefits, hiking helps you improve your balance (essential in any form of martial arts), especially if you frequent moderate to highly technical trails. 

Since it’s a low-intensity sport, hiking is also ideal for muscle recovery. It doesn’t damage your joints and allows you to work on increasing your flexibility and range of motion. 

Since minimal risk is involved, you’re more likely to enter a flow state than a state of complete mindfulness when going on a hike, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use hiking as a mindfulness exercise. 

It is a conscious effort, but you can still choose to be fully aware of yourself and your surroundings. One surefire way of doing this is by tackling an unfamiliar trail. 

3. Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding isn’t just a fun summer water sport. It’s also a great low-impact sport ideal for all practitioners of martial arts.

There are countless benefits to paddleboarding, but more than anything, stand-up paddleboarding helps improve your balance. 

Make no mistake about it. This seemingly tame, family-friendly sport engages your core muscles and builds up your overall leg strength–ultimately improving your stability. 

Since the water carries all your weight, it’s also suitable for those recovering from joint problems. Moreover, being on the water helps to significantly reduce your stress levels.

Not unlike martial arts, paddleboarding requires a certain level of mindfulness and motor coordination (albeit obviously to a lesser extent). 

Once you get the hang of paddleboarding, you can try stand-up paddleboard meditation and add another layer to your mindfulness exercise routine. 

4. Kayaking

Kayaking

If you want to take a break from your martial arts training but still want to develop upper body strength, kayaking is probably one of the best hobbies for you. 

Not only is it ideal for maintaining overall fitness, but it’s also a great mindfulness exercise, as it requires you to be fully aware, especially when you’re maneuvering through tight bodies of water and paddling over strong currents.

While kayaking mainly develops the upper body and core strength, it does also help in strengthening your legs, as you’ll need to constantly use your legs when balancing or when you need to make those quick turns. 

As you’ll most likely encounter a variety of obstacles on your kayak route, as in martial arts, kayaking also trains your brain to do some quick problem-solving. 

Moreover, while kayaking does take you out of your comfort zone (especially when you’re on a particularly tricky route), it’s a low-impact, cardiovascular sport ideal for recovery. 

Cardiovascular activity accelerates blood flow to your joints and muscles, which helps reduce inflammation. It also helps develop your stamina and endurance without putting too much strain on your joints.  

5. Yoga

Yoga man

Perhaps the most obvious choice for cross-training among martial artists, yoga is beneficial for you regardless of what sport you practice (or even if you don’t do sports at all).

Much like hiking, yoga is highly accessible, and you technically don’t need any equipment to do it. Unlike hiking and all the other hobbies on this list, however, you don’t have to go anywhere to do yoga–which makes it the perfect complement to any sport from a practical standpoint.

Yoga is best known for improving your flexibility. The different positions and stances stretch the muscles and improve your joints’ fluidity–this significantly cuts down your recovery time and helps you avoid injury. 

Now, as big of a deal as that is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to yoga’s physical benefits. 

Yoga also strengthens your core and improves your balance. Yoga also improves your overall endurance as you have to hold certain poses for long durations. 

With its focus on proper breathing, yoga also helps to improve your lung capacity, allowing you to not only distribute more oxygen into your body, but also use it more efficiently.

While it has various physical benefits, with its emphasis on meditation and clearing your mind, doing yoga also helps you practice mindfulness.   

Final Notes on Hobbies

While this list of top five hobbies for karate enthusiasts is pretty comprehensive, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to hobbies that will help your karate. 

At the end of the day, the best hobby to get into is the one that interests you. If you see a certain sport as more of a chore than an actual learning experience, you’ll never be able to reap its full benefits. 

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Span Chen

Span Chen

I have been practicing karate for more than 6 years, and now at the sixth level (green belt) of the Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Kugekai. Though I haven’t earned my Black Belt yet, I am deeply passionate about my training.