Building Confidence Through Karate

By Sadie Fowler

Bill Taylor’s Bushido School of Karate aims to build much more than physical strength
at its two locations, which serve hundreds of local residents. The school’s growth, and the support it has received from Murfreesboro, is something about which Bill Taylor is proud.

Bill has a life-long love of karate and has been the driving force behind the 40-year-old school with the goal of teaching both children and adults important life skills that go far beyond the chopping block.

Sure, kicking, punching and sparring certainly build strength, but Bill says his true passion is developing others’ confidence and attitudes.

“The biggest room in the World is the room for improvement,” he said. “At our school, we believe children who are involved with a professionally run martial arts school do better in school and in life. I believe in this with all of my mind and soul. I have people coming up to me all the time telling me how glad they are to have taken karate. That means a lot to me.”
Bill has yet to meet someone who can’t do karate. He’s says one of the common misconceptions is that it’s only for kids. Although kids certainly benefit tremendously from his program, so do adults.

“Anybody can do karate,” he said. “I’ve worked with blind students, people in wheelchairs or people with other mental or physical challenges. Everyone has their own journey and everyone can do this. I’ve not met the person yet who can’t do karate.”

Upon walking into Bill Taylor’s Bushido School of Karate one won’t find a traditional gym atmosphere. Rather, they’ll see what’s called the dojo, known as “a place to study the way.”
One skill his students learn, and this ties in particularly well with school aged students, is attitudinal in nature. For example, kids learn they must do well in school if they want to advance in karate.

“A lot of people are not aware of the attitudinal improvements we try to make,” he said. “Most of the schools are aware that before a student can test for a belt I need a letter from the school giving approval … So, if ‘Johnny’ wants to test for his brown belt, he has to be doing well in school before we let him test.”

The karate school breaks its children’s programs down into two general age brackets. Kids, ages three to six (not in first grade yet) can attend the school and parents can expect them to learn how to punch and kick and block, and more.

“Our primary focus is confidence and working on their listening skills,” he said. “Most kids at this age have been with Mom or Dad and we are their first exposure to something outside of that so we try to work on their listening skills, helping the shy child gain confidence and things like that, while they’re still having fun.”

The junior program reaches ages seven through 12, and one thing that resonates well with this group is goal-setting. It takes about three to four months of work to advance toward the next belt.

“To a three-year-old, three months seems like an eternity, but to a nine-year-old, they are at an age where they can start visualizing what earning that belt means,” he said. “Also, I don’t know any better way for one to learn how to do a good handshake and look someone eyes, and to talk in a voice that exudes confidence … You know, we’ll be out there (practicing) and I’ll say, ‘Hey, man, come on now, give me some eye contact.’”

Testimonials from the school’s impact on children are plentiful, with one parent going as far as saying in an online review that they saw an immediate difference in their shy son, who was also suffering from some bullying. Upon enrolling their son, they said he became more confident, his grades improved, his athletic ability in other sports soared, and he became more respectful.
“They say the school has changed his life,” Bill said.

The level of commitment one can expect is not unrealistic. The school suggests beginners come two days a week and more advanced students might aim for three days. Practice time at home is also much more realistic than one might expect. If your child is five, Bill recommends five minutes of practice a day at home. If they are 10, it’s 10 minutes.

“I know your hours are limited so we take a more realistic approach,” he said.

Bill Taylor’s Bushido School of Karate has been open since 1973. In the early years, Taylor says they had 25 to 30 students. Since the mid-80s, they’ve opened two locations and now have hundreds of students.

“We couldn’t do that without the support from the Murfreesboro community,” he said. “To me, I never go to work. I go to karate. I go to train. This is something I love doing.”