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Being Like Someone Else

These are corollaries of my last post.

  • If you try to move exactly like someone else, you will fail.
  • If you try to teach someone to move exactly like you do, you will fail and so will he.
For a student, the objective should be for you to learn to move in a way that is optimal for you.

For a teacher, the objective should be to assist the student to learn to move in a way that is optimal for him.

Of course, beginners need to learn basics.  Optimization takes place after a student has learned a fundamental set of basics.  I would call this "basic" phase undifferentiated Karate.  At this phase, everyone moves the same.  Here, the same is a good thing.

Once this phase is reached successfully (this might be at the nidan or sandan or even higher dan level), the student begins to tailor his movements to himself.  He makes his Karate fit him so that he can move optimally.  His Karate is differentiated.

Undifferentiated Karate is like stem cells.  Stem cells can basically become any cell in the body.

Differentiated Karate is a unique thing.  Is the the basic package tweaked or adjusted to the student.  The student develops a focus and emphasis, and this pushes the movements in a certain direction.

Here is the interesting thing:  Most Karate schools are teaching undifferentiated Karate because that is all the instructor knows.  Students learn basics for their entire Karate careers, maybe for several decades.  The punch, kick, and block of a beginner is the same punch, kick, and block of the master.

Kishaba Juku allows a wide range of movement as the student progresses in Karate and seeks the optimal way to move for him.  Imagine an illustration of evolution from a single cell organism to a human being.  There are so many different phases, but they lead to a certain result.

Karate is an evolutionary process.  It is a progression.  Being a single cell organism is appropriate for a beginner and for a certain amount of time.  But the time comes to evolve.  That is not a bad thing -- it is a natural thing.

And as I mentioned in my last post, excellent Sensei did not get that way by trying to copy someone else.  Once the student learns the basics well (and I mean well), it becomes a personal process and progression.  Excellent Sensei become that way by learning the basics and then working hard to optimize them for themselves.  The result is a unique interpretation of Karate.

We should learn to copy that process, not the specific end result.
  • If you try to move exactly like someone else, you will fail.
  • If you try to teach someone to move exactly like you do, you will fail and so will he.
Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin