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Celebrate Mistakes

Our society has moved toward an educational system that promotes test prep and regurgitation of information. Teachers prepare students to take tests by showing only the material that is on the test so that the students get it right and score well. This creates students who only want to be shown what they need to pass. They are afraid to take chances and be wrong.

Unfortunately this attitude is too often seen in martial arts training also. Teachers who show series of memorized movements and students who only want to know what they have to learn to earn their next belt. Why?

To be blunt it is easier. Teacher and students can move around doing “the exact same steps” and pretend that they are learning and feel good about themselves. No one wants to be wrong but mistakes are the basis of all learning.

If you have been through the To-Shin Do instructor program you know people are so sensitive to being wrong teaching concepts like PCP are used to help students progress despite their reluctance to be wrong.

Too often when students do make a mistake they verbally or mentally scold themselves, “I did that wrong”, then they start over again and usually make the exact same mistake. This is because psychologically they have balanced the scales: mistake, reprimand.

The real cost of training this way is that you are programing yourself to believe that you can’t do it. Instead you should be exploring why it’s not working, searching for other solutions, finding possibilities, creating new goals and then trying again with the new target.

The easiest way to do this is, instead of reprimanding yourself when you make a mistake, take ownership of it. See your mistake, chose to do it again wrong, in fact make it worse each time by choice.

When you own the mistake this way, by choice, you then have the power to choose to try something different instead of repeating the same mistake over and over again. The process of embracing your mistakes, understanding why it is happening and trying alternatives until you get the outcome desired is the true educational process.

In our dojo I have begun to ask everyone what’s not working for them in this drill or kata. Then as a group we explore that mistake, working to find an answer. When we do find the answer, we celebrate the mistake and the person kind enough to share it with us. They gave us the gift of a learning opportunity. From a very selfish perspective this is one of the reasons I love teaching. I get to share in all my students’ mistakes, which allows me to learn even faster.

Let go of the fear and celebrate your mistakes.

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