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My One and Only Karate Lesson

I know absolutely nothing at all about Karate. I am about to prove that.

I had only one Karate lesson in my life. Actually, it was my young son who had the Karate lesson. I was along as part of one of those “Dad and Son” programs.

Apparently, I was not particularly good at my first Karate lesson. I did not know that until the Sensei (I just had to Google that term) called me to the front of the class to demonstrate the Kata (I just Googled that also) to the class. I thought that I must be doing pretty well. So, I proudly showed the class how it is done. When I finished, he announced to the class that I had just demonstrated the wrong way of doing it. I think that I was supposed to thank him for his guidance. I didn’t.

I now know that my reaction should have been to be grateful for the correction. However, my emotional response at the time was more along the lines of, “if I wanted to be embarrassed in front of a group, I could have gone back to high school gym class.”

So I quit. Unfortunately, my son did not get to learn Karate either.

I know. I was immature. But human.

Years later I had an absolutely brilliant articling student who made a great impression on me by thanking me every time that I provided constructive criticism of her work. (I subsequently married her and I no longer get thanked for criticism, but that is a whole other story.)

It could be that my articling student was just more mature than I was back in my Karate days. More likely, I provided the criticism in a more constructive way than the Sensei did.

There is a lesson in here somewhere. I will leave it to you to work out exactly what it is. It could be (as lawyers have been known to tell their students and juniors) that people should develop a thicker skin and put up with abuse. Or it could be that if you want to teach effectively, you need to do it compassionately. Or something else.

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