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Guest Post: Until I Get It Right

This Guest Post is by my friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata. Nakata Sensei is the head of the Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Association in Hawaii. He was a student of Chosin (Choshin) Chibana in Shorin-Ryu, and also studied Ryukyu Kobudo under Sensei Fumio Nagaishi. When he was a young man, he studied Wado-Ryu Karate under Sensei Walter Nishioka.

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Until I get it right

My neighbor's daughter is 8 years old. She has been playing the piano for just about a year. During the course of the year, we were amazed by the progress she has been making. The other day my daughter-in-law being impressed with her piano playing, asked her how long she practiced every day? She responded, "Until I get it right." Wow! Until she gets it right. There were no time limits. It was until she got it right. This 8 year old girl already knows what it
takes to excel.

Imagine if we approached our Karate training in the same way: Until we get it right. We practice and never seem to improve. As Snaggy (the late Bob Inouye) used to quote the legendary basketball coach, Bobby Knight, "Practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent." We must practice correctly and in the right way. It is a matter of focus and awareness.

We are made aware of our mistakes and we try to correct it by training harder. We see students who have been training for 20 years and are still making the same mistakes from their first year of training. They trained hard from the time they started, but they accomplished 1 year of training repeated 20 times. We should not only look at training harder, but practice until we get it right.

My mother would remind me about doing things right and I would respond, "Yea Mom, you already told me that a thousand times." She would come back with, "Yes, I'm going to tell you this a thousand and one time and maybe this time I'll get through to you." So, rather than just training, practice to get it right and maybe this time you will get it right.

How do you know when you get it right.? There is the concept of "Shirimasu" and "Wakarimasu". Shirimasu means I know. Wakarimasu is I understand. Someone may explain something to you, so you have knowledge: Shirimasu. Understanding though comes from empirical knowledge or experiencing: Wakarimasu. When you practice and work on getting it right, and when you do get it right, you will know. You now understand. Then you realize the value of "Until I get it right."

Pat Nakata