Ko Gaku Shin
(Keep your mind open, to learn)
(From Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura's book Karate - Technique and Spirit)
We must never stop learning and studying. There so many specialists here at Seido, from many professional, technical and artistic fields. Even within your own special field, you know that you must constantly learn in order to stay up-to-date. As you continue to learn and become expert in a certain field, you will discover something interesting: The real expert, or master, in a given field learns more and more about subjects that are outside his or her own field. Your learning and studying should never stop, and it should know no boundaries.
There are different attitudes toward teaching and learning in Japan as compared with the United States. In Japan, for example, the karate master might take on very few students, if any. He would show a student a technique just once. It would then be the student's responsibility to pay attention and remember the demonstration, to practice the technique over and over, to understand it, and to learn how to apply it. The master had given the student the opportunity to learn, but it was the student who must take the responsibility for learning. He or she, the student, would really be the teacher.
The modern attitude is quite different. The karate master in America might demonstrate a technique many times, and he might even help the student by holding an arm or a leg and guiding it through the movements. Here at the dojo students are shown a technique and some might say, "Okay, now I know that one. Show me the next one," or they might go up to a sempai (senior student) and say, "How do I do this technique? Show me." This is not a good attitude. This is not why we have sempais in the dojo.
Sempais are not here just to show or tell students how to do certain techniques. A sempai does not attain his or her rank just for knowledge of techniques, but rather for their experience. In this dojo, rankings reflect more than just knowledge of karate.
There is no substitute for repetition, constant practice and self-discovery. Ten people might explain to you how to do mae geri. You might practice it a thousand times. Suddenly, one day you execute it properly and you instantly realize what you must do. You gain understanding and confidence from learning this way. Now the technique can become a part of you. You have made the discovery. No one "gave'" you the answer. You found it. This is the way we should always seek to learn.
Our own inquiry, experience, and experimentation are the keys. This applies to our professions as well as to karate. Also, some people feel that when they learn a technique, then it somehow belongs to them. This is a selfish attitude. We are all here to learn from each other and to help each other. We are here in the dojo so that we can grow together.