Handling mistakes

Imagine yourself performing a technique. It can be a solo kata, or it can be paired exercise where you are attempting to throw someone or put a lock on them. But you make a mistake. You fluff the technique and the person remains standing or the weapons end up in the wrong place. What do you do? Beginners typically go,
“Oops, let me try that again.”
Those who are more advanced have probably learnt that rather than persist, move on to something else because now your opponent has an idea what you are trying to do and will resist you.

Whatever level you are at, what do you after it’s all over?

  • Do you dwell on the mistake?
  • Do you think about what went wrong and how you can improve it next time?
  • Do you shrug the matter off?

A few weeks ago our visiting Iaido instructor mentioned that we shouldn’t dwell on the mistakes. Instead, he suggested, each time you start a new technique begin it from afresh, unhindered by the thought of what went on before. If your mind lingers on the mistake than it becomes a bigger issue in your mind and you are more likely to repeat it.

Now I don’t think he meant ignore your mistakes. My sword cutting technique has got very sloppy of late, and so I have been practising that slowly, with thought to what my hands and arms are doing. Rather than think of what I have done wrong I am instead trying to concentrate on what I can do right to make the cutting more effective.

Another suggestion from my Iaido instructor was finding a momentary pause within yourself before starting a technique. If you like a shorter version of the small meditation we do before and after class. Use that moment to clear away those thoughts of what you are doing wrong, calm your mind and then wholeheartedly enter into the technique.

Yet again this seems such a simple idea when I type it out, but it’s a tricky thing to put into practice!

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