THE TYPING MASTER

By: Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura – IOGKF World Vice Chief Instructor

In 2003 Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura, in a bid to explain traditional training methods and their benefits to young and beginner student, published an article called the Typing Master. This fictitious story captures the essence of walking the traditional path as opposed to the quick and easy path…

There were once two friends who were highly competitive.  Everything they did together became a contest.  Paul was a natural athlete with excellent muscle control and agility.  Jamie had slow reflexes and always lost at every competition with Paul.

One day they decided to take up typing, in order to improve their keyboarding skills, which they hoped, would eventually lead them both to promotions at their data entry jobs.  They discussed the matter and Paul came to the conclusion that would best improve his typing skills by self-study.  Jamie inquired of his friends whether they knew of a good typing teacher.  One of his friends told him of an old lady who had a reputation as an excellent teacher, however she was a bit eccentric and very strict.  Jamie decided that this time he would best Paul no matter what it took and sought out the old lady.  Upon asking her to teach him, the old lady replied “My method of teaching is not easy, I will teach you, but you must follow my instruction exactly and without question.”  Jamie didn’t know quite what she meant, but agreed to her terms.

Jamie’s first lesson consisted of being shown how to sit correctly in the chair and how to position his hands on the keyboard – that was all.  The old lady said, “keep your back straight, don’t let your back touch the chair, and relax your shoulders”  “ Don’t let your palms touch the keyboard”.  Then at the end of this first lesson she instructed him to only practice what she had shown him, and not to try new things by himself.

The next day the old lady showed Jamie how to type eight letters, using the four fingers of each hand.  The entire week’s lesson consisted of only typing these eight letters – over and over again.  She would instruct him, “Concentrate on the tip of the finger which is pushing the individual key”.  Whenever Jamie’s posture changed, she would rap his knuckles with a ruler she always had in her hand.  Each subsequent week she would teach Jamie several more letters, each time correcting him with a painful admonishment from her ruler.

One day Jamie asked his teacher if he could listen to music during his practice.  The old lady replied “No. During practice, do not listen to music, do not snack on foods, do nothing other than concentrate on your training”.

Paul, having begun his new undertaking on his own, sat in front of his typewriter and began typing using only his index fingers.  Relying on his natural manual dexterity and good eye-hand coordination to guide him. He worked daily at improving his speed and sentence structure. 

At the end of a month the two friends got together to test their skills against each other.  Paul easily defeated Jamie.  Paul had gotten much faster at using his index fingers after one month’s practice, Jamie on the other hand had only been practicing basic skills and his speed had not improved.

Six months went by, each time the two competed, Paul easily beat Jamie, who at this time was only practicing basics and had only progressed to typing a few words.  His teacher had him retype the same sentence over and over again.  Every time he made a mistake or compromised his posture the old lady would rap his knuckles with her ruler.

Paul’s typing skills had noticeably improved, he could now type as fast as any data entry clerks in their entire office.  Jamie was becoming quite frustrated and finally asked Paul what his secret was.  Paul explained “What I do each time I practice, is type various letters so that I can get used to the different types of documents and letters that we deal with on a daily basis at work”.  Jamie had enough!  He told his teacher that he wanted to practice the way Paul had been practicing or he would never get better at his job.  The old lady replied sternly, “No! What you need now is patience, and to follow my instruction.  Don’t question me, just do it!”  He was confused and felt defeated, but something in him made him follow her instruction.

Six more months had passed, Paul had been practicing very hard, and had developed his own style through his own method of practice.  Jamie was now typing at the average level of those in his office.

After one year had passed since the two began, there became a job available in their office for which a data entry proficiency competition would be held.  Both entered the competition.  Paul was incredibly fast with his unusual one finger technique, everyone was awed by his strange ability, and he won the contest, and scored a nice raise for himself.

Jamie was now beyond frustration, and again questioned his teacher as to why they were not addressing his data entry skills, and only repeating the same mind numbing exercises over and over again with no noticeable improvement?  This time the teacher did not reply.  She sat at the typing table and turned on the radio to the news station.  She began typing, the way she typed was beautiful, her movements looked like that of a concert pianist rather than a typist.  Her posture was perfect, her finger movements both graceful and smooth seemed totally effortless.  Several minutes later she removed the sheet of paper from the typewriter and handed Jamie the page.  On it was every word the newscaster had said since the radio had been turned on, without a single error.  Jamie was most impressed and decided from that moment to follow his teachers instructions without question.

Jamie continued his practice under the tutelage of the ‘dragon lady’, and he continued to lose to Paul at every friendly and office competition which was held – but he didn’t care anymore, he began to enjoy his typing regimen.  Gradually the old lady began to give him letters and documents, she would tell him “Type from your heart”, “You must feel the typewriter as a part of your body”, she told him “You may now begin practicing typing letters on your own”.

Two years had now passed, and the typewriter had become an extension of his body, he could now type the dialogue of the fast talking TV newscaster without even really listening, just by placing his hands on the keyboard and relaxing.  He could now understand the old lady’s methodology for practice.

Finally, one day after three years Jamie beat Paul for a job in an office competition and never lost again after that, in fact Paul could not even come close to Jamie’s new ability, as he had long ago reached a plateau in his typing ability.  Paul began to practice even harder than before but found it impossible to improve on his skill level.

Jamie quickly moved up the ranks in his company’s infrastructure and became a department manager overseeing 20 data entry clerks.

His typing teacher told him “There is nothing more to teach you now, you are free to go”.  Jamie thanked the old woman profusely, and continued to practice the way in which he had been taught even harder.  The Vice President of DATA ENTRY R US the multinational corporation which Jamie and Paul worked for recognized Jamie’s efforts and advanced skills and assigned him to the position of Regional Coordinator for Training and Resources for Eastern Canada.  Jamie’s new position involved overseeing the training of new data entry employees.  One day a very junior data entry clerk approached him and asked him if he could personally help him with his data entry skills.  Jamie replied, “My method of teaching is not easy, I will teach you, but if you really want to learn you must follow my instructions exactly and without question”.