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Finding Errors -- A Banyan Tree

Sometimes I will point out an error to a student. Many beginners react with sadness because they were conditioned in school or childhood that an error is bad -- therefore they feel bad.

But I try to explain that when I point out an error, I am doing my job (as a Sensei) and also doing them a favor.

Let's take an example. Let's say that I am having a problem with my computer. Something is not working right with one of my programs, say Windows or my virus protection, or any number of programs. A problem in one program can affect many other programs and functions.

When I call a computer technician and ask for help, I am asking him to find the error and fix it. When he does identify the error, I am happy! I might even owe him money.

Because of the computer technician's expertise, my problem is solved. Should I be sad? Should I react with a sour face? Of course not!

A Karate student naturally has many errors. It is natural. No one starts out doing everything correctly and no one avoids all bad habits. We all make mistakes.

When your Sensei or a senior corrects you, you should be very grateful. One error down!

I am going to borrow a parable I read in a religious book (I am not trying to be religious here).

A great Karate master observed the movements of two of his students. The first student was the most senior in the dojo. Everyone expected him to be named the successor of the master. The second student was the newest, only 12 years old. This all took place outside under a magnificent banyan tree with spreading branches that blocked out the sky.

The master spoke to the senior student first. "Your kata was excellent, however, I noticed 10 errors."

The senior student was furious! He knew he had made no errors. He was worthy of being a master himself. He ripped off his gi top and stormed off, never to be seen again.

The master then addressed the new student. "Son, look up at the banyan tree. You made as many errors as there are leaves above you."

The student jumped up and started dancing!

"Why are you so happy?" asked the master.

"Sensei, the leaves in the tree, although many, are finite. With your guidance, I will work on them one by one, and even if it takes a lifetime, I will surely eliminate them all!"
You should celebrate the identification of each error. If you work on each error, one by one, you will surely eliminate them all.


Charles C. Goodin