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Guest Post: Karate: Teaching is Learning

This Guest Post is by Cael T. Goodin, a shodan in the Hikari Dojo. The third son of Charles C. Goodin, he is a freshman at the University of Hawaii.

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Karate practice was every Tuesday and Saturday at the Aiea Taiheiji. I was four years old when I first put on my Karate gi and was ready for practice. I stood there in line like a soldier waiting for his orders. My sensei came forth and we all bowed to him and immediately class commenced. Warming up was always first then came punching and blocking, then kata usually followed, then finally we would do some paring off drills or even kumite/sparring. The black belts in my class were all so much better then the lower ranking color belts. I always wanted to become a black belt so that I too could be good like them. My older brother Charles was a mere green belt and already he moved better then most black belts did. It was then that I realized that the belt color did not matter, but it was indeed the person under the gi that was the in control of how good they were or weren’t. Charles was always teaching people and I would sit there on the side watching him. As time progressed Charles was showing great improvement in his Karate, whether it was punching, shuto, power, or even his raw speed. I then realized that it wasn’t that someone was there coaching him to do the right things to get better, more it was him questioning himself constantly as he taught newer people which made him improve so much.

Finally the years passed and I was seventeen. My father had opened his own dojo about 9 years earlier. I was now a black belt eager to teach new people. The thought of me being able to teach brought a smile to my face. The first time I had to really teach someone I was so clueless. I stood there in front of them not knowing what to teach them. I finally made up my mind to teach simple punching and blocking. As I began to analyze the new student’s movements I stared at them with a puzzled look on my face. I knew that something was wrong with the way that they were moving yet I just could not decide how it was supposed to be done the right way. I finally murmured out what I thought was right but a couple seconds later I began to question myself whether I was really right or not. Puzzled, I finally had to ask another black belt how they would do the movement. Embarrassed that I had to ask for help from another person I stood there and hoped that the new student did not think that I was junk. So with the proper form of the movement I showed the student how to do it, but just as I thought I did not need any more help I found myself questioning whether the next move was right. For the first six months of being a black belt it seemed like a constant cycle of me questioning myself whether I was right or wrong. For the longest time I thought of myself as a really junk teacher who really couldn’t teach, but as time went no I started to develop my own answers to if I was right or not.

I was now teaching every class and any age group. My students ranged from ten year old children to sixty year old men. Teaching such a broad range of ages, I began to learn that you have to approach people much different from each other. In some cases I could be the goofy teacher who is constantly looking for a laugh but keeps a strict demeanor about myself yet in other cases I have to be a slow teacher who teaches step by step and breaks down the movements to the simplest form there possibly is. One thing that I always keep in mind is that I know that I might not always feel like teaching, but in the end it is what makes you grow not only in Karate but in general as a person; because in life you will not always get what you want and sometimes you will just need to suck it up for that time being and just do your best. Through my Karate experiences thus far I have really learned that in order to really begin to understand what you are doing you have to eventually teach others. By teaching I feel that I have personally grown far more then I would have grown if I was just being taught, whether it was doing a movement the correct way or just learning to be a little more patient I feel that I have grown.

Respectfully,

Cael T. Goodin