Success of Failure

Adam Kankey  


Often times I have wondered how to most effectively learn a given subject. Throughout my schooling in various institutions most time has been spent “learning” the correct way to do something by an imitative process; Teacher writes on board… student copies teacher… student reports the teachers information back in one medium or another. The process repeats itself constantly and “learning” takes place. However, in life you cannot always have a teacher to show you the proper way before you have to perform… sometimes you must think for yourself.

Perhaps successfully passing test after test is great for ones ego and pleasant demeanor. But is true learning taking place if you do not have to fight for it? Isn’t everything worth having hard to get? I have heard similar statements before but often discarded them because I assumed they did not relate as much to my life as they did to others.

Many things had come easy to me in times past; grades in school were often high, accomplishments at work well appreciated, and very little fighting was involved. Either lucky from birth or abnormally gifted were the only explanations at the time. Some would then say things began to go downhill. At this point I realized that while breezing through topics in the past couple of years holes surfaced in my learning at an alarming rate. Suddenly those individuals that had to work to get through the classes previously were getting higher grades than myself and understanding the material at a higher level. Thinking to myself “This cannot be I am not an average student! I’ve always been above average!” As time passed I became more removed from the “learning” and had greater concern with playing catch up.

Looking back at the last few years, I have realized that ego played a large part in many situations. I couldn’t accept that the individuals whom I tutored in past would be targeted for questions that I could not answer. These people had to struggle early on to grasp understanding but in doing so had learned the topic to a higher level than myself.

My training in Kobudo followed a similar set of experiences during the same time period. When I first began I had a passion for learning that is hard to describe. As I “learned” technique after technique I developed a thirst for more. I took notes and set them aside, took more notes and set those aside. Before long I had a lot of notes and fewer skills to perform them. Sure I could stumble through them, but I did not have the higher level of understanding and precision that others possessed. This became immensely apparent when preparing for my Shodan testing. Working with higher ranked members of my Dojo (Jinenkan GiYu Dayton) they continually pointed out small imperfections in my movements and technique. Few of these I had noticed or tried to correct prior to their spotlighting. Sensei Sandhu and the other highly skilled blackbelts worked hard with me on these points and I finally had not only “learned” these movements, I had truly learned them.

While perfection is far from tomorrow’s goal, always try to make the best of what training time you have. Do not let your ego get the best of you. Consult with others and pay attention to your own technique. If errors are big enough for others to see, they are plenty large for your body to feel. Be your own worst critic and always question what you are missing even if you think you have learned something fully.