Thursday, July 19, 2012

Helpful mistakes

On Wednesday nights in the dojo, we have been holding a kumite (sparring) class after the regular class.  Being that it's a 30-minute session right after a 100-minute workout, it's an ass-kicker at times.

Tonight, while driving home, I took stock of the many matches I had during the kumite class and how I pretty much dominated my opponents (without being a jerk about it).  But then it it me...what did I learn from all of that?  Did I get any better?  Something was missing.

Sure, I was able to practice timing, targeting, distancing, strategy, etc., but I didn't feel like anything pushed me to get better.  My sense of "victory" felt hollow.  And then something else hit me...when I'm sparring someone better than me, I'm forced to get better!  Being decidedly better than everyone I faced in the class didn't do me any favors.  I don't like to get hit repeatedly or have my attacks be ineffective, and having my weaknesses exposed - to myself moreso than my opponent - is humbling.
Even though it's nice to come home without bruises, they make for a great reminder about what I need to improve.

My senpai (senior student) used to win our engagements 9 out of 10 times when I first started sparring.  Now it's more like 7 out of 10.  And that's because I learned from my mistakes, somewhat painfully.  I was tired of getting spun around and hit in the kidneys, so I made sure I didn't give him the option to do it.  I was tired of this, so I stopped doing that.  I got frustrated by that, so I started incorporating this.

In taiko, we rarely experience pain when we make a mistake, save for smacking yourself with a bachi.  It may not be easy to hear critique from someone who's seeing your mistakes, but if you're not being watched by someone who can see those mistakes, how are you getting better?  How can you tell?

The theme of a lot of my posts is to be aware of what you're doing so that you can fix it.  It's not always comfortable to find out what you might need to work on, but working on it both makes you a better player and it says something about your character as well!

1 comment:

  1. I remember my first year in taiko, I'd get angry when I was given critiques. It hurt when I thought I was doing something correct, but someone came over and pointed out that my perception of myself was wrong. It was frustrating, and sometimes no matter how much I worked on it, I was never good enough.

    My last year in taiko, I was a senior member and had taught most of our members when they were beginning. As a result, I think some of my members were intimidated and didn't want to anger me (because I had the authority to assign pushups - I only assigned pushups for being late). Unfortunately, this frustrated me more. Over the years, I'd learned that the hard work and attention to detail had eventually produced results. If I made mistakes and whacked my head with a bachi or accidentally hit the roof with a bachi because I wasn't low enough, I learned- and learned to fix my mistakes. If I had pulled out a fancy move in a performance, I probably would have failed and would have felt more embarrassed than if I messed up in practice. Now that people were saying I was good, or it was hard to point ou any mistakes, I got restless and knew that I wasn't improving as a taiko player. There were times last year when I wanted to join another group in addition to being part of my collegiate group so that I would receive this feedback and continue to learn. Part of it was selfish (self-improvement), but I also wanted to keep learning so that I could teach my group new techniques. Thankfully, this professional group nearby held workshops, and they were able to pick at my form and point out things I never would have realized through self-critique. It was refreshing when I found out I was making MISTAKES! I know that when I join a new group, it'll be a "painful" process of making mistakes and being told to fix things, but at least I can know that I'm improving.

    I just realized that a lot of your questions were rhetorical...