Thursday, October 6, 2011

That's not nice...

In karate, we have a drill called gohan kumite. This translates to "five-step sparring."

Two rows of people partner up. On each count from sensei, row 1 steps forward attacking the assigned area on their partner with the assigned attack. Row 2 steps back, doing the assigned block. This happens for a total of five times, then the roles switch. The goal here is to understand timing and distancing better.

One of the biggest mistakes the attacker can make is to be "nice" to the defender. This happens a lot with newer students. They may pull their punch or punch just off to the side in order not to hit someone who's a little slow. The attacker that purposefully misses the defender in order to be "nice" is actually doing the defender a BIG disservice.

By backing off or aiming elsewhere, the defender gets a false sense of their skill and learns bad habits. Making the defender really work to not get hit is the whole point of the drill! Really being "nice" means giving them an incentive to move faster, block quicker, and focus on technique.

So how does this apply to taiko, where most of us aren't trying to hit each other? (I said most, I don't want to know what some of you collegiate kids do...)

I want you to think of the critique you give others and what you choose not to say. Are there things that you don't tell someone because you want to be "nice" to them? Does keeping that critique from them make them a better player in the end? Or like the defender above, are you helping to instill a false sense of skill?

In previous posts, I've talked a lot about making comments and giving feedback. It all still applies! Just think about the next time you avoid making a comment in order to be "nice" to someone. Are you really helping them?

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