New practitioners of karate are in a state we call ‘unconsciously incompetent’. This means that they don’t understand how to perform the correct karate skills, and they don’t recognize that they are deficient. This is not a bad thing; it simply is where one starts without training and practice.
As instructors, our goal is to help you along the path for the following states:
As students transition to state number 2, conscious incompetence, they still do not know how to perform the skills correctly, but they have begun to recognize the deficiency. This is a step in the correct direction, because by understanding that you don’t know what you need to do, you can actively work on learning how to do it.
Next, the student goes to having conscious competence. After a longer period of training, the body becomes used to the moves it needs to perform, and you become proficient at it. The mind, however, still needs to think things though, so there is not necessarily the quick response that one would desire.
Finally, as time goes by, you become unconsciously competent. This means that you don’t need to think about the reaction, it comes naturally, and that reaction is the correct thing to do. At this point, you are an extremely effective fighter because you are well trained and knowledgeable, and yet you don’t have to think about what to do, you just do it. This is a particularly good state to be in on the street, as often trouble arises quickly, and you don’t have time to think you just have time to react. If you react correctly, the outcome will likely be a better than if you have to take time to think about what to do.