Picking faults...

When you watch someone doing karate, do you notice when they make a mistake, or notice when their technique isnít quite right?

Most of us do notice things like this when we watch others training, and I believe that there are two types of people.

One type will see the faults in others and think "I can do that better than they can", using it to make themselves feel superior in some way or fostering resentment because they perceive themselves to have greater ability than the other person, despite that person having an equal or higher grade. Now of course sometimes this may be true but it would be foolish to assume that outward ability is the be-all and end-all. For instance, the other person may have had to work much harder to get to where they are, spent longer on preceding grades, and may still be there when you move on to the next grade. They may also know a heck of a lot more than you. This is not something you can see from the outside. It is unimportant in the greater scheme of things - your only competition is yourself. Unless you're participating in a tournament. But even then while you may be aiming to beat the other competitors they will also be aiming to beat you, which may mean beating the performance you gave at the previous tournament. So in effect you are still competing with yourself as you also have to beat your own previous performance.

The other type see the error; some will check that they are not making the same mistakes themselves, some will try to provide constructive criticism and feedback in a courteous and friendly manner to help the other work to improve and develop their skills, some will do both. And some will just yell out "Oi!! You *****ed up that bit!!" And not everyone will take kindly to criticism. Oh they might smile and acknowledge (and swallow their tongue) when the teacher corrects them but should anyone else have the audacity to criticise...

When you see a mistake, what do you do? Do you first think "Ha! Mistake!" or do you think "Mistake... hmm, how do I..."? You can be the former but lie and say the latter. You're only lying to yourself because I don't care!

If you ask me to look for mistakes I will tell you. If I ask you to look for mistakes I expect to be told. No sugar required. Someone I respect and consider a mentor once said something like "I'm there to teach karate. If you want a lollipop you're in the wrong place."

Donít find fault in others. Instead find the "potential for improvement" in both yourself and others and you will not only improve your karate skill but may even build some friendships in the process. You might even learn something - now wouldn't that be a shock!

- Mick Todd