Monday, June 10, 2013

No onions.

Imagine you go to a restaurant and order a burger.  You tell the server that you don’t want onions, you’d like cole slaw instead of fries, no onions, sesame seed bun, no mustard, and no onions.  The burger comes and…you get onions.  It’s great if you got fries and the right bun and no mustard, but it’s pretty obvious you didn’t want onions, right?

At the dojo, our advanced karate students are required to maintain a training log.  This can be anything from new ideas that came up to self-reflection, but should definitely incorporate the comments that they get from the black belts.  Imagine, dear reader, that you were keeping a log of all the comments you got from your instructors.  If you grouped them together, which ones would be take up the most space?  Those are your “onions”; the ones you need to work on the most.

I mean it makes sense, right?  But often our brains don’t think of it that way.  Imagine you get comments #1 #2 and #3 one day, #2 #4 and #5 the next, #2 #6 and #7 the next, and #1 #2 and #8 after that.  A lot of people would see the issues like this:

     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Ok, that’s 8 things to work on, right?  Yes, but if you look at the frequency of those comments and list each occurrence of them, you’d get a list that looks more like this:

     1 1 2 2 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Which one needs the most attention?  Obviously comment number 2, right?  And listed that way, it’s really obvious.  While it’s not usually that easy in practical terms, if you grouped your comments down like this over time, I’d bet you real money you’d see the priorities clear as day.

On the instructing side, it’s definitely not fair to expect someone to fix something without giving them the proper tools.  If I tell you that you need to “use your lower body more when you move” over and over, that’s not helpful.  If I say “you need to engage your hara more to generate momentum” or “you need to keep the weight off your heels”, now that’s a tool you can use.  AFTER you have tools like that, THEN the comment about “use your lower body more” can be a reminder.

So think about what people tell you again and again.  Tackle the ones you hear about the most because there’s a reason you’re hearing them so much.  And if you can’t figure it out how to fix them, ask what you can do to make it better.  No onions!

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