Anxious Black Belt

I’m very excited about publishing my book on the subjects of Karate and Anxiety. Below you can find an excerpt from the book. Please let me know what you think.

try.pngI started writing this book as a therapeutic exercise, to find out more about why I was suffering from a fear of the smallest things and to ensure that I not make the same mistakes with raising my own children as my father did with me when I was young. After talking about the idea of writing down my experiences with a few friends, they convinced me that I should write my story down in this book.

I’m not a writer, so forgive me for my lack of beautiful descriptions and poetic sentence. This book is about my fight with anxiety, how martial arts helped me to combat my fears and how it has taught me to become a stronger and more caring person.

It was a tough road. All of these experiences have led me to set up my own company, LB Posture Training, where I try to help other people improve their health and mental wellbeing and part of this business is Karate.

Karate can be used to help people who suffer from mental health issues, loneliness, and isolation. We provide group classes for adults from 18 years old, with our oldest student currently being 87 years young.

I hope that this book will help others to understand how difficult it is to live with anxiety, especially as I have only recently learnt that this is the condition that I have been suffering with.

I would like to show the art of Karate in a different light, not just a mere fighting system, but as a tool for improving one’s quality of life.

Karate has saved my life, and I am grateful for that. That is why I have decided to use it to help people around the world.

“Strong and Caring people are the pillars of society, and Karate helps to cultivate them.” Les Bubka 

For as long as I can remember I have had an overwhelming feeling of fear. I never imagined that this was something that I could change or erase, however I began to learn more about these feelings when I started to teach Karate for the charity, The Welcome Project. Here I met people who suffered from anxiety and other mental health issues.

It has become important to me to describe the ways in which I deal with these feelings. They stem from my childhood and have continued with me through adulthood. They have been with me on my journey to gaining a black belt in Karate and to becoming a person who is fortunate to teach all over the world, using Karate as a way of helping others.

In my opinion, the root of my anxiety can be found in the relationship I had with my father. He was a strict man who never showed signs of love to me or my brother and from whom words such as “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” were never spoken. Everything we did was scrutinised, never good enough or done incorrectly. This behaviour of my father turned the simplest tasks into unpleasant experiences, full of the fear of failure.

I have this clear memory of my mum sending me to a shop to buy some fruits. At that time in Poland it was not so easy to get fruits and other groceries as the communist regime had just fallen and democracy started to settle in.

I distinctly remember my mum telling me to go and get bananas, potatoes, and other groceries for the family. My memory of that event is that feeling of fear of asking people over the counter to buy a few simple Items. I felt paralysed. Luckily I found that a friend of mine was in the same queue and so I managed to convince him to ask a salesperson for my shopping. This type of fear of communicating with strangers has accompanied me to this day, but over the years I have developed coping strategies to deal with it. Now when I recognise this feeling creeping in I can reduce its impact on me via meditation and reasoning.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try, fear never leaves me. It is always lingering in the bottom of my gut making me worry that something bad is going to happen. I hope that my story will go some way to describe what people are experiencing when suffering from anxiety every day.

If you enjoyed this chapter and are interested in reading more, the book can be purchased from Amazon:

ANXIOUS BLACK BELT

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Les Bubka

Les Bubka is a dedicated practitioner of the way of the empty hand and has been for over twenty years. He is the founder of LB Posture Training, which incorporates the art of Karate with his personal training qualifications in order to help people.
Les has experience in running projects in association with mental health charities and other institutions, introducing Karate as a tool to help build confidence, self-esteem and physical activity to disadvantaged members of the community.
Les runs an inclusive club in Guildford (UK) where everyone is welcome.

Anxiety effects on Kata performance – Naihanchi

Hi all,

It was a while I joined in  conversation due to busy family life, last week I thought i will record some kata at the dojo.

That night was sleepless due to baby not well, day was not great either -toddler become a terrorist and did not cooperate at all, our baby girl was not well and grumpy all day. i was tired and frustrated, also my anxiety kicked in (which you can see on the clip, nervously looking around).

My perfect Naihanchi never happened, more I tried more mistakes I made. My performance dropped about 60% (personal opinion) best what I could do is to stop and let it go, with the plan to do better next time.

What coping strategies you guys and girls have i this type situations?

Kind regards

Les

Funakoshi’s Anxiety?

This article is just my speculation…

The other day I was going through one of Master Funakoshi’s books, “The Essence of Karate”.  In reading it one sentence really caught my eye,Funakoshi_Gichin

“As a child, I suffered from a very weak stomach until I started training in Karate…”

When I think about it, I too had a very weak stomach until I started Karate.  I know that there is no medical data that identifies for certain what condition Master Funakoshi may have had, but I know what was wrong with me.

A weak stomach can be a symptom of anxiety, self-doubt and lack of confidence, as it was in my case. Consequently, my theory is that Master Funakoshi also suffered with anxiety prior to him beginning his training at the age of 13 and that Karate helped him improve his mental health, leading to physical wellbeing.

“Once I started Karate, however, it would seem that my ailment was afraid of karate, as it disappeared, and I have not succumbed to illness for even a single day since that time.”

Funakoshi_Makiwara

Working with students who suffer with anxiety like myself I can see how Karate training and positive reinforcement from instructors can improve a person’s mental wellbeing.  It does this by boosting self-confidence and helping to emphasise self-worth through a structured progression.  Given my experience perhaps Master Funakoshi’s revelation that Karate cured his stomach weakness prompted him to promote Shotokan Karate as a holistic system of self-development and self-improvement as well as a martial art.Funakoshi_Gichin2

If my speculation is correct then I believe that this would be the first documented case of Karate helping to fight a mental health condition through structured training methods.  For me this seems quite plausible and would be seen as a positive demonstration of Karate practice leading to health benefits.

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Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing.