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Backyard First

I have been working on my son's yard for over a year now. Just recently, I started work on the front yard. Until this time, I have only worked on the back and side yards.

You might wonder why I did the back and side yards first, which cannot be seen from the front of the house. My reasoning is as follows: if I worked on the front first and someone stopped by and said, "Oh, the yard looks nice," I would then have to explain that the back and sides are not yet done. But if I did the back and side yards first, and then did the front, and then someone stopped by, I could invite them to come see the back and side yards too. Then, the whole yard would be done, not just the part that is visible from the road (front).

A friend of mine said that there is a saying, "don't wave the flag while you are raising it." First you raise it then you can wave it.

When I teach Karate, I follow the same approach. In our system, the last kata a student will usually learn are Chinto and Kusanku. Of the two, to me Chinto is more advanced (but this is subjective). To me, these are front yard kata.

By the time I teach Chinto and Kusanku to a student, I want the student to have finished work on the back and side yards. By the time a student can perform Chinto and Kusanku, the yard should be complete. These are the finishing touches. If someone asked to see the rest of the kata that the student knows, they should be pretty good. He should not have to apologize for them being incomplete or poor.

Chinto and Kusanku are advanced kata. By the time a student learns them, he should already be advanced. He should be able to perform these kata in an advanced way.

As you can guess, I do not believe in teaching a student all the kata in our system by the time he is shodan or even nidan. It is better to do a few kata well than many kata poorly. Knowing many kata means nothing in and of itself. In fact, knowing too many kata can be a burden.

By the time a student learns the most advanced kata in a system, he should be able to do all the kata well. Advanced kata do not make students advanced. An advanced student can perform a basic kata in an advanced way.


Charles C. Goodin