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Someone Better

Sometimes we meet Karate students or students who are better than us in one or many ways. Actually, when we are beginners just about everyone is better than us. As we gain experience over the years, we become more advanced. Even when we become instructors, we can still meet others who are better than we are -- in many ways or even in just one.

Personally, I am very happy when I meet such a person. Why would I want to learn from someone who is not better than me? I would not like to learn mistakes. A better person presents me with a golden opportunity to learn.

I am not intimidated by a person who is better than me. Intimidation usually reflects insecurity. Why should I be intimidated by someone who is better than me? He may have studied longer or more intensively. He may be more physically gifted. Learning is not a contest.

If someone is better than me, it gives me an opportunity to learn. I should be excited by that prospect, not bothered by it.

There is no shame in being less advanced than someone. The shame is in thinking you are more advanced when you are not.

I find that advanced Karate people tend to evaluate each other. Am I stronger or is he? This can take place in an instant, and may well be wrong. But martial artists want to know where they stand. I am not talking here about rank or titles, I am speaking about ability.

The issue of who is "better" is not straightforward. One person may punch harder, another may grapple better, another may be more agile. There is not just one measure. A person who can punch hard may have a difficult time getting a punch off when he is being choked. And a good grappler might not have the opportunity to use such skills if he is kicked in the groin first.

Even a person with a strength might have a weakness. And even a person who appears weak might have a strength that you might not see. So judging other people can be a very tricky thing.

There is another issue. Some people hide their strengths. They may seems perfectly ordinary, but they are not. Unless you are very careful, you would misjudge them.

I know some people who are good at this. I do it to some extent. For example, it is possible to move in a way what has good results but blurs mechanics. The movement will have speed and focus but it will be hard for a casual observer to understand how you did it.

I also know people who make mistakes on purpose. You might think that they don't know their art very well. But you would be misled by the error. If a person can move exceptionally, what they do is of little matter. How they move is what counts. If they miss a movement or change it, this might just be a trick to distract people who are attached to form.

Sorry to ramble. If someone is better than you, it presents an opportunity to learn. It is a time to be very focused and observant. Don't miss your chance, and don't be misled or tricked.


Charles C. Goodin