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"Not The Same"

Sometimes a new student in our dojo, when being taught a particular movement or kata, will comment "but that's not the way that John taught it to me." (John is just a make believe name in this case.)

To be honest, this really drives my sons and me nuts! The way we were brought up the dojo, students simply do not say such things. Students learn quietly and withhold most comment (because they recognize that they are beginners and should know their place). Such a comment is considered to be rude.

But the comment reflects an assumption about Karate -- that movements and kata will always remain the same and be taught the same. This is an incorrect assumption, however, it may be true in some schools.

In our school and style generally, there is not one and only one way to do things. As the student advances, he will learn many different ways to do things. When he was a beginner, he could only move like a beginner. But at each step of his advancement, his ability to move improves. At each point, the instructor will add to or modify the movements and kata. You could say that there are 100 ways to do things, and the instructor needs to know each of these, and when to introduce them to each particular student. It is a very individual process (not good for large, commercial schools).

A beginner should move as a beginner but an advanced student should move as an advanced student.

It is important for students to understand this. That way, when they learn something "differently," they will realize that this is part of a natural progression. They will not compare what they learned from John with what they are learning from Sally. John was right. Sally is right.

In fact, when the student learns something "differently," he should be happy -- it menas that he is progressing. In fact, if a student always learns things the same way, it might mean just the opposite -- that he has not progressed.

A bab has to crawl before he can walk. But a good parent knows when to help the baby take his first steps. Soon he is running.

Learning is a challenging experience. Sometimes when I learn a new concept, it takes several months for it to "set" in my mind. But I keep working on it until I get it -- or put it aside for a while if I gives me really bad problems. But I will keep working on it.

I always say, if my Sensei can do something then I should be able to do it too, if I am willing to work on it as much or more as he did.

Different is good.


Charles C. Goodin