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Making a Mistake in Kata

I am a member of the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai (Study Group). We have some pretty amazing members, one of whom is Sensei Angel Lemus of the Okinawa Shorinjiryu Toude Zentokukai.

A few months ago during one of our training sessions, Lemus Sensei performed a tonfa kata. About half-way through the kata he stopped, smiled, and said, "I'm lost." He started again and completed the kata with no problem.

We all had a good laugh.

Lemus Sensei could have easily covered up the fact that he was lost. We do not know his kata. He could have moved on and finished the kata and we would not known any different.

My point is that he was both honest and good humored. He did not get angry or irritated. He actually laughed, which made it OK for us to laugh too. And after all, each of us have gotten lost in kata. My favorite error is when I start one kata and end with a different one.

At our last Kenkyukai training, one of the members was performing a kata and appeared to get lost. Right away, Lemus Sensei said, "That's nothing. You should have seen me." Once again, we all laughed.

We have some pretty senior members in our group. Elder Sensei also come to observe. But we have a light atmosphere with the focus on training and learning from each other. Mistakes happen. What matters is that we learn from them and keep going. I like the saying, "fall down six times but get up seven."

In our group, if we make a mistake, we know that it is OK. And one of the first instructors to laugh and encourage us to go on will be Lemus Sensei. I consider him to be one of the most skilled Karate Sensei I have ever met. And his applications are truly amazing. He plays an attacker like a musical instrument.

So it is OK to make mistakes.


Charles C. Goodin