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Mowing Weeds

I will admit here that I am an expert at something -- picking weeds. Let me put it this way... I individually paint nutgrass in my yard with a brush dipped in weed killer. That may sound crazy, but it works (and it is far better than poisoning the whole yard).

It is very important to pick weeds in the yard before you mow the grass. Otherwise, the lawnmower will simply spread the weeds and make things worse. The weeds that are cut will still have roots too. They will just grow back. Pick weeds first, then mow the yard.

I used to get upset at my children when they would mow the grass without picking the weeds. This showed that they were just in a hurry to get the job done.

How does this relate to Karate? Practicing kata is like mowing the yard. Pick the weeds first! You must work to eliminate your errors. Otherwise, every time you practice a kata, you will be reinforcing the errors and probably making new ones!

Of course, it is impossible to eliminate all errors in advance. We learn by trial and error. But working to eliminate errors should be at least as important as practicing the kata. Don't get carried away with simply doing the kata. Kata is good. Singing is good too, unless you are off key and get many of the words wrong!

Doing a kata 100 times is a waste of time unless you are getting better each time -- even if only by a small amount. One weed here, one weed there. Soon the yard is filled with nice grass.

I will tell you another thing I learned from yardwork. If your yard is filled with weeds, planting new grass won't help very much. The weeds are stealing all the nutrients and light from the grass. But if you gradually eliminate the weeds, the grass will become stronger on its own and grow into the little spaces you have made.

So the idea is to reduce and eventually eliminate errors to give good habits and proper form a chance to grow. Half of the job is doing right but the other half is not doing wrong.

This is why I train my students as I described in Finding the Error. This is a group effort to help students identify their errors -- and hopefully eliminate them. It is also a way for students to learn to identify errors in other students, and hopefully learn to also identify their own errors.

Pick the weeds before you mow the yard.


Charles C. Goodin