Karate training allows the individual to become intimately familiar with the limits and capabilities of not only their bodies but their mind as well. By knowing the body, the karateka is able to know exactly what techniques they can execute, how fast they can execute the techniques, how strong the technique will be when executed, and at what effective distance they can execute the technique from. Knowing one's mental limits will also dictate what level of pain and fatigue can be tolerated. Self-discipline teaches the karateka what their physical and spiritual limits are. Through self-discipline the karateka is able to push themselves beyond the limits of the average person. They become the masters of their own bodies and minds.
Every individual body has it's own unique characteristics of strengths and weakness. For one, flexibility and strength in the legs means that kicking may be a strong point for this karateka. A strong upper body may make punching and hand techniques more effective for the karateka. On the other hand, many women have less upper body strength than men do and should adjust their techniques accordingly focusing maximum strength on their opponent's weakest areas. Lack or limited flexibility in the legs means a person should restrict their kicks to heights that one can deliver effective kicks to.
Often times the build of the person determines the speed at which the technique can be delivered but this is not an absolute. Usually a thinner, smaller person is able to deliver techniques at a faster speed. There are many larger fighters that have an unusual gift of speed uncharacteristic of their size. By the same token there are many smaller fighters that do not have natural speed. By knowing how fast a technique can be delivered will determine whether a technique can be delivered in any given situation based on the opponent confronted and the opening that is either presented or created.
Strength is another issue. There are two components in the generation of power. Energy can be generated either through speed or through muscle mass and power. The faster the movement using a lighter limb will be able to generate just as much energy as the stronger heavier limb and body that is moving at a slower speed. Combine the heavier limb and body with the faster speed and you have yet greater energy being developed. Knowing the amount of energy or power you can generate allows you to know the effect of your offense or defense against your opponent. Through training, a skilled fighter knows exactly how effective a punch or kick will be against an opponent based on an assessment of the opponent's physical and mental strength. From a defensive standpoint, a skilled karateka knows exactly how much energy and commitment must be given to a specific defense. Too much energy and commitment means that the karateka may over compensate or over-commit to a defense which will momentarily leave an opening in one's defense. Too little, will result in an ineffective defense.
Distance that a technique can be delivered from is determined by the combination of the length of the limbs and the strength of the legs. The longer the limb the more reach a person has. The longer reach means that the karateka does not have to get their body in as close a proximity to their opponent to deliver a technique. The farther away a technique can effectively be delivered the less chance you have of the opponent delivering a counter technique against an attack. The strength and length of the legs allows the karateka's footwork to get them closer to their opponent with a single step or lunge. A skilled karateka knows exactly how far any given technique can be delivered from based on the knowledge of their leg strength and reach. The karateka in sparring constantly "works for the distance". This is the distance that they can effectively deliver their attack and then recover back to their defensive distance which is just outside of their opponent's reach. Often times the "zone of delivery" is also the opponent's zone as well. Once the zone is entered and if the size of the zone is the same for both opponents, the person delivering the technique first will usually prevail. This is why it is important only to enter the zone when delivering the technique and then immediately exit the zone back to a defensive position. This is why it is important to know not only the size of your zone but the size of your opponent's zone as well. A larger or faster opponent often will have a zone larger than your own. To stay just inside the edge of this opponent's zone means he can deliver a technique to you, but you may be out of range to deliver a counter attack. Therefore, when fighting a person with a larger zone it is important to stay just outside of the opponent's zone and enter only when you are trying to attack or lure an offensive movement in for a counter attack.
Mental limits are necessary to be known and are equally important as the physical ones. In many ways the physical ones influence the mental limits. Pain is a factor in this. When the karateka is hit, the degree of pain the mind and body can tolerate will determine whether the fighter can continue. If a blow disables a limb either permanently if broken, or temporarily if a muscle is hit or joint sprained the level of pain that can be tolerated will determine at what level the karateka will be able to continue to fight. Mental toughness, which is developed through training, will enable a karateka to take a debilitating blow and continue to fight.
Fatigue is another factor. It is said that the body only utilizes a small percentage of its capability at any given time. This means that when the body tires and the fighter no longer is able to fight or move, it is usually the mind that gives up first. The level of fatigue that the karateka can tolerate and still continue fighting is well known to the individual. Hard training will constantly bring the karateka to this boundary and he / she will become intimately knowledgeable when the body is nearing this zone and exactly how much exertion is necessary to reach this zone of exhaustion. This is important because like a fuel gauge on an automobile, the karateka must gauge how much fuel a technique uses and how long the energy has been expended for. Based on the situation the fighter can then pace himself or herself to continue fighting for the duration of the conflict. Too much technique delivered too early will leave the fighter out of fuel and vulnerable to attack end the end. Too little technique and power leaves the opponent able to continue fighting. The amount of energy delivered must be gauged on the strength and endurance of the opponent and the situation you are confronted with. In tournament, are you fighting your first match with a dozen matches left to follow? It would be unwise to expend too much energy on a much weaker opponent early on. Too much energy expended leaves no fuel left to confront the most skilled fighters later in the tournament. On the street, are you fighting a single armed or unarmed opponent or are you fighting multiple armed or unarmed opponents? Knowing your limitations in this case can mean the difference between life and death. Maybe you are a better runner and your best defense may be a quick exit.
Knowing your limitation will assist you in your survival. Not knowing your limits can result in a quick loss in a tournament or it can get you killed on the street. Knowing your limits will assist you in your survival because you will know when to run from a situation and when to fight. Fighting when you should have run greatly decreases your chances of survival and a long life. The best solution is to avoid confrontation, situations, and places that are likely to get you into trouble whenever possible