Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Never Ending School

My biggest beef with karate schools is that there is no ending. Don't get me wrong I love learning. I've made it an essential and enjoyable activity in my life, but if you're teaching a skill at some point the teaching needs to stop and people need to start thinking for themselves.

At any school, academy, college or university, there are classes and one takes them to learn a skill. Once the skill is learned, the classes stop. It's possible to carry this very far until one receives their PHD or equivalent degree, but then the formal instruction ends and self learning begins. This is reasonable.

A karate school on the other hand does not operate on this premise. A karate school is designed to make the students attend classes for as long as they are able. It's not uncommon for people that have been studying karate for 20-30 years to still attend classes on a weekly basis. All the kata have been learned and hopefully the applications have been learned but they keep showing up. In the context of a social activity this is awesome. In the context of learning a skill this is terrible.In any other skill if you've been taking classes for 20-30 years and still need to attend classes regularly than you suck. Have you ever heard of anyone taking piano lessons for 30 years? Probably not. They might study for 30 years, but they aren't paying their music teacher for that entire time.

It's possible for a karate student who has trained for a couple of decades to be more competent and more knowledgeable in karate than his instructors and still be paying those instructors for classes. I call this a scam. Like having your chakras realigned by a crystalagist every week to keep your chi flowing.

A person shouldn't have to practice karate for four years just to start learning. It takes five years to master a single kata and two years at the most to become competent in that kata.Why spend four years learning what amounts to dance routines and then spend the rest of your life trying to train out all the bad habits you picked up in those four years.

Karate is a concrete skill. It is physics, anatomy and movement combined to cause harm or prevent it. It is nothing more than that.