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More On A Poor Demonstration

When we see a poor demonstration of Karate, we have to ask ourself, "what level is this person?"

Beginners will naturally make mistakes. Even after 10 or 20 years, a student is still learning the basics. If such a student gives a poor performance, often the only thing needed is more more time and practice. We should say, "good effort... keep it up!" You would not criticize a cake for being undercooked when it has only been in the oven for 20 minutes!

But sometimes the reason that a person performs poorly is because they have always practiced poorly. Many years later, they become the instructor -- faults and all. In such a case, more time and practice are not what is needed. A cake with the wrong ingredients will not improve, even if you cook it longer.

Again, I am not saying that we should be critical of others -- if anything, we should be critical of ourselves.

It is hard for a Judo instructor to rise to a high level if he does not understand Judo. You cannot fake a throw. A poor instructor of Judo will always be thrown (quite easily) by a skilled instructor.

In Karate, it is possible for instructors to rise to a high level in isolation. Without contact with other seniors, faults are not corrected. Once a certain high level is reached, it is almost impossible for an instructor to correct himself.

One senior instructor here in Hawaii mentioned to me that it was better in the "old days" because instructors could not just talk -- they had to be willing to accept challenges. Just as in Judo, you cannot fake Karate techniques with a skilled opponent. You can either do it, or not.

When you correct a beginner, he is usually very grateful. We actually cannot correct a senior. It would not be appropriate. Even that person's senior might not want to correct him. It is a Catch-22 situation.

The important thing is to open to corrections -- to be willing to always learn and improve. As soon as we think that we "get it," we become fixed and frozen. It is like the Emporer's New Clothes. We will think we are magnificent, when actually our faults are plain to see.

We must always maintain a beginner's mind and heart.


Charles C. Goodin