It was my first summer camp. I was a sankyu. No air conditioning, no set schedule, meeting dozens of new people. I'm standing on the mat late one evening when the senior instructor in organization, Shihan Chad, along with the senior instructor from my school, Shihan Sam, come up and look at the knot in my obi.
"See, that one's right, it's a square knot and the fold is on the left," Shihan Chad says.
Now, I knew it was supposed to be a square knot. I knew my gi top was supposed to be closed left over right. I did not know there was a correct direction for the knot in the obi.
So I said, "Just lucky, Shihan."
Wrong reply. Shihan Sam has not forgotten. Because, as he reminds me from time to time, I should have known. Whether anyone ever told me or not, if I had been attentive to details, mindful, I would have seen that he and the other instructors always tied their obis the same way.
And even if I had not, I had the opportunity to be mindful to the situation, and once I had been told my obi was correct, I could have said, "Of course, Shihan, that's the way I was taught to tie it by Shihan Sam."
I could have even said nothing.