Karate Thoughts Blog


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Like Religion

A Sensei once told me that the way a person does and understands a kata is a bit like a person's religion. We should not give our opinion or offer corrections unless we are asked to do so.

Even if it seems obvious to us that the person is doing the kata or interprets the applications incorrectly, we should be respectful and remain silent -- unless asked. Even if we are 100% certain.

It does not matter if we are right. What matters is that we are respectful of the other person's understanding and interpretation.

And I always try to keep in mind that what is right in my style/system might be wrong in another style/system. What appears to be wrong to me, might be correct to another person.

But even in my own style/system, I try to be careful about offering corrections, particularly with visitors. I will try to clarify with them if they are visiting to merely train or if they are visiting to learn. If the person is a student of another dojo, I will usually ask his or her instructor if it is permissible to me to offer corrections, particularly if the instructor is my senior in rank or age.

My own Sensei is very sensitive to these issues. When I train with him, he often prefaces a correction by "You might try it this way". He never says, "That is wrong!", even if it is obviously wrong. And I have to say that my errors tended to be pretty obvious!

I also try to keep in mind that my own views about kata and their meanings have changed a great deal over the years and decades. We are all at different points in our Karate journeys.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin