Monday, December 14, 2009

A Good Coach

My sensei Pat Nakata will sometimes remark that he does not teach in any of his classes, but everyone is welcome to train with him. Or, he might say something along the lines that he is not a karate teacher, but a coach. I always used to think these were odd things to say. Recently, Sensei has been emphasizing that we be proactive in correcting each other during our training, especially since we have some newer members training with us.

In a typical class, we will normally execute each kata about two or three times. If there are more than three of us, the students will usually rotate out one at a time. This isn’t meant to be a break; the student who is not performing kata is expected to make on-the-spot corrections verbally and/or physically. However, these corrections must be done succinctly and accurately so as not to disrupt the flow of the kata. Just like in a fight, there is no time to “think” and the correction must happen naturally. This requires as much engagement and concentration as performing the kata itself. There is no time for putting things gently or diplomatically, it just has to be done.

This rotation happens regardless of how long people have been training. At the bare minimum, it provides an opportunity to see how it is supposed to be done for those who are still learning the kata. Of course, if some of us are doing kata incorrectly, it can also show how NOT to do it.

I sometimes find myself seeing someone requiring correction, yet have difficulty making the correction quickly or adequately. This usually means I do not understand the technique or concept well enough myself. Then there are other times when I explain something and then Sensei will have to interject and correct some (or all) of what I just got done saying. Either way, it aids in identifying my own weaknesses as well.

With this class setup, not only must I constantly work on improving my own karate, but also the karate of others, which then theoretically should improve my own… and so on. If I “go easy” on others and just let their bad habits slide, I will not be doing anyone any favors. Correcting, watching the corrections of others, receiving corrections and correcting oneself are all necessary to become a good coach. Maybe it’s not that odd after all.



dsomers said...

Hello, I tried sending a message through e-budo, but dont know if you got it. I'm planning on making a trip to Hi. and would love to visit you, and Nakata Sensei.

Bujutsu Blogger said...

I will send you an email. Thank you for your interest... I am nothing special (and I say this not out of humility, merely stating facts), but I will talk with Nakata Sensei.

dsomers said...

Thank you for your reply.

David Somers