The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Thursday, May 07, 2015

10,000 Hours Is Only a Start Towards Martial Arts Excellence

Here is yet another article bringing clarity to the "10,000 Hour Rule" make famous in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. 

The article is a review of the book Focus, by Daniel Goleman, who is also the author of several other great books about Emotional Intelligence.

Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.

...
The secret to continued improvement, it turns out, isn’t the amount of time invested but the quality of that time. It sounds simple and obvious enough, and yet so much of both our formal education and the informal ways in which we go about pursuing success in skill-based fields is built around the premise of sheer time investment. Instead, the factor Ericsson and other psychologists have identified as the main predictor of success is deliberate practice — persistent training to which you give your full concentration rather than just your time, often guided by a skilled expert, coach, or mentor. It’s a qualitative difference in how you pay attention, not a quantitative measure of clocking in the hours. Goleman writes:
Hours and hours of practice are necessary for great performance, but not sufficient. How experts in any domain pay attention while practicing makes a crucial difference. For instance, in his much-cited study of violinists — the one that showed the top tier had practiced more than 10,000 hours — Ericsson found the experts did so with full concentration on improving a particular aspect of their performance that a master teacher identified.

Goleman identifies a second necessary element: a feedback loop that allows you to spot errors as they occur and correct them, much like ballet dancers use mirrors during practice. He writes:
Ideally that feedback comes from someone with an expert eye and so every world-class sports champion has a coach. If you practice without such feedback, you don’t get to the top ranks.

The feedback matters and the concentration does, too — not just the hours.

Additionally, the optimal kind of attention requires top-down focus. While daydreaming may have its creative benefits, in the context of deliberate practice it only dilutes the efficiency of the process. Goleman writes:
Daydreaming defeats practice; those of us who browse TV while working out will never reach the top ranks. Paying full attention seems to boost the mind’s processing speed, strengthen synaptic connections, and expand or create neural networks for what we are practicing.

At least at first. But as you master how to execute the new routine, repeated practice transfers control of that skill from the top-down system for intentional focus to bottom-up circuits that eventually make its execution effortless. At that point you don’t need to think about it — you can do the routine well enough on automatic.
...


4 comments:

Zacky Chan said...

"Instead, the factor Ericsson and other psychologists have identified as the main predictor of success is deliberate practice — persistent training to which you give your full concentration rather than just your time, often guided by a skilled expert, coach, or mentor" 110% agree. Not easy to find I suppose, great teachers to watch us, time to practice, and full energy to focus ... but it certainly is the recipe. Thanks for sharing!

Rick Matz said...

That's the recipe. The ingredients are difficult to acquire.

Compass Architect said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Compass Architect said...

(updated)
Agreed w/ Mr. Chan.

Traditionally, fixed/static frame of Taiji, BGZ and XYQ emphasized the practice of deliberation in the first stage of training.

Whether the teachers really accentuate it is a different story.

#
I know too many martial artists who have practiced 10,000+ hrs and still perform their sets like they are in their first year of training. Besides possessing poor bio-mechanical motions, they have inadequate understanding of applying IMA principles to their practice.

Some of their instructors just passed them for the obvious reasons.