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Take your medicine.

One spoonful, or two?

When I was young my mother always use to give me a good dose of cod liver oil whenever she thought I was not looking that well. She told me that no matter how much I disliked it, the medicine was good for me. To this day I still do not like the taste of cod liver oil. But, she was right. Taking my medicine when I needed it actually worked.

Today I see many students practicing in the dojo who could use a good dose of something. To me their basics, and their kata, do not look all that healthy. Yet, class after class they still avoid taking the medicine that they need to get better. A good stance, proper posture, completed techniques, just to name a few. All those things, that if taken to heart, and applied in the appropriate measure, would help the students basics and kata look so much better. However, in spite of constant reminders in class, or in one on one lessons, many students still fail to practice what they have been taught.

As a result, their present level of understanding remains unaltered, and their personal progress continues to be much slower when compared to that of their classmates. The simple fact of the matter is that for these students, the message is not sinking in. Yet, in spite of this fact, they are often the ones who feel they are ready to learn a new kata. All the while not realizing, or not willing to admit, that they are still struggling with the katas that they claim to know.

I imagine that from their prospective since they can get from point "A" to point "B" in their kata, why not move on to the next one. Perhaps this is because most of these students have been brought up in a fast food, fast cars, cell phone, computer driven, I want it now world. They are simply in a rush to learn as many katas as they can. The only problem with that is, there is no fast way to learn a kata well. 

So, whose fault is that? Their Sensei's? Theirs? In the end karate like many things in life it comes down to, what do you want to know, and how well do you want to know it. Once they decide the answer to those two questions, it is simply a matter of applying themselves. 

After all, if their sensei takes the time to provide them with the information they need, then it is up to them to take the knowledge that they have been given and apply it in the proper manner. A simple medicine really, but one which so few students seem willing to swallow on a consistent basis. The sad part is that so many students get frustrated, and quit, rather than simply putting in the extra effort needed to succeed. 

So the next time you think you know your kata well enough to learn the next one, ask your sensei if you can get up and do it in front of the whole class. And when you have finished the kata, if you or your sensei found any flaws in your performance, then take the advice my mother gave me, take your medicine. If you do you may find that the health of your karate will improve to the point that your sensei will take notice. In which case he, or she, may just take it upon themselves to start teaching you the next kata in line.

As I have said before, knowledge comes to those who seek it. Knowledge however, only remains with those who apply what they what they have been taught, correctly, and on a very regular basis. Understanding any kata takes time. It takes patience. In fact, it may take you a lifetime. However, in the end you too may come to understand what the words "I know that kata", truly means.

Remember: "Patience and perseverance, both are a requirement for success.