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Enryo Suru

This refers to "holding back."

In Karate, we tend to be reluctant to correct or criticize our peers, and certainly not our seniors. When asked for our opinion, we will often hold back our true or complete feelings. This is because we do not want to offend or embarrass anyone.

Sometimes when we ask someone for their opinion, we will say, "no enryo" or "don't enryo." This allows the other person to speak more freely... but still they might hold back.

When we do state our thoughts, we often preface them with, "it really is not my place to say," or "I really don't know but perhaps..."

It is very difficult to be direct and we are always wary of offending others.

Westerners should understand this. It explains why some teachers from Okinawa or Japan say "very good," or "hai hai," when they really feel that our performance is poor, incorrect or lacking. If we assume that they have approved, we will be mistaken.

Visiting instructors are extremely reluctant to correct their hosts, even if they are considerably junior. And they will almost never correct a host in front of the host's students.

If we want their opinion, we have to affirmatively ask them to be frank so that we can learn and improve. We must ask them to correct us for our benefit -- and the benefit of our students -- and not hold back.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin