Team development

Mastering the Mind: The exciting partnership between Insights and Kanzen Karate

This year, Insights are delighted to partner with Kanzen Karate, as a sponsor of the World Karate Championships 2023 in Dundee, Scotland…

“The very essence of martial arts is the thirst for knowledge and the truth about ourselves”- Frank Shamrock


In elite sports, there are many factors that contribute to performance: Skill learning, physical learning, technical learning, performance development, the list goes on. However, in addition to these core elements, athletes have to embrace ‘world class coaching’ and a ‘life change’ to commit to the elite level.

A central and fundamental building block that enables performance success and life shift factors is the concept of ‘Understanding Self’.

Only by knowing yourself you can you effectively respond to the diversity of challenges that world class sport presents.

Karate, the ancient marital art form originating from Okinwa, Japan, has captivated people across the world for centuries, with its graceful, yet powerful movements. However, beyond its reputation as a means of self-defence, karate holds a profound connection to the realm of awareness.

For centuries, martial arts practitioners have emphasised the importance of mastering the mind along with the body. Through consistent training, Karate practitioners learn to block out distraction, maintain mental clarity and concentrate on the task at hand.

Deeply rooted in the principles of self-awareness, regular practice of karate enhances mental awareness and the ability to stay present in daily life.


Insights x Kanzen Karate

Over the years we’ve worked directly with coaches, sport psychologists, performance directors and athletes.

We have seen first-hand the truly transformative nature that awareness can bring not only to the workplace, but also the pitch, court, gym or training ground. That’s why this year, we’re delighted to be partnered with Kanzen Karate, and sponsoring the World Karate Championships in Dundee.

Both Kanzen and Insights are rooted in the local Dundee community, and we’re delighted to give something back to this amazing, impactful charity making such a fantastic difference through sport.

Check out our video to hear our executive team discuss what this partnership means to Insights…


This partnership is special as Kanzen Karate and Insights have purposeful, united values. At Insights we are truly committed to making a positive difference in the world. Similarly, Kanzen are committed to building better lives through karate.

“In working with the group from Kanzen Karate, even at such an early age, it was obvious to tell that they are stronger by being together and working together. It was refreshing and inspiring to see how a competitive energy could be used to build and promote as oppose to take down and destruct.” – Marcus Wylie, Head of Culture at Insights



Exploring the link between awareness and karate

Ultimately, Karate’s focus on self-awareness stems from the recognition that true mastery extends beyond physical prowess. It is about developing a deep understanding of oneself, fostering personal growth, and cultivating a sense of mindfulness that permeates all aspects of life.

By honing awareness, Karate practitioners embark on a transformative journey that not only enhances their martial art skills, but also enriches their overall well-being and sense of self.

What lessons can we learn from this mind-body connection when talking about the wider world of sports?


Awareness as a transformative journey in sport

At Insights, it’s no secret that we champion the power of awareness, and the success that this can bring to both teams and individuals.

However, the principles of Insights Discovery extend far beyond the board room.

When we talk about ‘teams’, we don’t just mean ‘teams’ in the workplace, we mean expanding our skillset so that we can apply awareness to all aspects of life.

In the world of sport, understanding one’s own strengths, weaknesses, motivations and communication preferences can significantly impact an athlete’s understanding of themselves and their performance potential. In fact, it often forms the basis of sports strategy.

To that end, the learning that flows from Insights Discovery includes so much that can be taken into the world of both individual and team sport:

  • Knowing who you are and how you respond to external stimulus
  • Building relationships with team mates, competitors, coaches, sports psychologists, performance directors, nutritionists, and everyone else who is along for the journey. Being able to share who you are as an athlete and how to get the most out of these relationships
  • Understanding in which environments you thrive, and which environments are a challenge
  • Performance under severe pressure and knowing how you could respond and react in the key moments
  • Building purposeful team performance to achieve success and then to sustain success
  • Recognising unique qualities and potential blind spots as a means to leverage strengths and proactively address areas for improvement

The core message of Insights Discovery is to understand who you are, and to better understand those around you, is fundamental in a sporting environment.

In fact, this understanding informs all aspects of performance. For example, when it comes to the role of a performance coach in sports, this awareness is reciprocal: it’s not just about what the coach can give the athlete, it’s about understanding what the athlete needs from the coach.

Just as the mentality and mindset of those who practice Karate plays a crucial role in their overall performance and development, it’s important we also champion this awareness to allow for continuous learning and growth.

“In the martial art of Karate, for instance, the symbol of pride for a black belt is to wear it long enough such that the dye fades to white as to symbolise returning to the beginner state”- John Maeda, The Laws of Simplicity

To everyone competing at the World Karate Championships in Dundee this week, we wish you the very best of luck, from everyone at Insights!