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Criticism

These are stories.

A student visited his Sensei with a long, sad face. "What's the matter?" asked the Sensei.

I was practicing kata in the park and this old man came up and said that my Karate is terrible," answered the student.

"That old man is wrong," commented the Sensei.

"So my Karate is good?" asked the student.

"Your Karate is excellent," replied the Sensei, "it is just that you do it terribly."

You see... the Karate is good.

Same story with a different twist.

A student visited his Sensei with a long, sad face. "What's the matter?" asked the Sensei.

I was practicing kata in the park and this old man came up and said that my Karate is terrible," answered the student.

"That old man was not very considerate," commented the Sensei.

"He should not have said that my Karate is terrible?" asked the student.

"No," replied the Sensei, "he should have explained why."

It is easy to criticize someone but to offer constructive criticism takes effort.

Same story with a different twist.

A student visited his Sensei with a long, sad face. "What's the matter?" asked the Sensei.

I was practicing kata in the park and this stupid old man came up and said that my Karate is terrible," answered the student. "I wanted to punch him in the nose!"

"That old man is my Sensei," commented the Sensei.

One minute someone is an old man that you want to punch in the nose, the next he is your Sensei's senior, his own Sensei. Sometimes a person who criticizes you is a friend or compassionate senior.

I often feel that my own performance of "my Karate" is terrible. As soon as I feel that I am improving a little, I am dissatisfied and uneasy. I feel that I have to work harder. Nothing will hold you back more than complacency or feeling that you are pretty good. The best Karate instructors I have ever met are far more demanding of themselves than they are of their own students and other people.

If an old man (or woman) tells you that your Karate is terrible, you should thank him politely and ask him (or her) how you might improve.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin