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When You Do Something Right

You are at the dojo following along, practicing Karate.  All of the sudden, the Sensei yells out, "Good!  That's right.  Nice movement!"  He is talking about you.

Now what?

You might feel good that you have done well.  But what did you do well?  Why did your Sensei compliment you and draw your attention to a particular movement?  What did you do?  How did you do it?  How did it differ from the way that you usually move?

Can you duplicate the correct movement?  If you were performing a kata, does the same movement appear elsewhere in the kata?  If so, you can also correct those movements?  Does it appear in other kata?  Do other movements share the same or similar mechanics?  Can you apply what you learned to those movements?

Perhaps you should speak to your Sensei to better understand what he did.

But certainly you should think carefully about what happened and continue to work on your movements.  Don't waste time or energy patting yourself on your back.  Your Sensei's intention was to help you improve.  Praise by itself is pretty meaningless unless it results in improvement.

Improvement requires hard and constant work.  You are the only one who can do this.  Your Sensei cannot do it for you.  No one can, except you.

Praise is designed to help you work in the right direction.  Working in the right direction is up to you.

This is the biggest problem I see in students -- failing to capitalize on improvement opportunities.  It is hard to improve if you just keep doing the same things the same way.  When your Sensei indicates that you have done well, you have to build upon it.  Your Sensei might light the match but you have to catch on fire!


Charles C. Goodin