Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

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 ~

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Struggle to Learn a Martial Art

"Hold on to the hard things and your mind will open." - Kushida Sensei
When it comes to learning a martial art, some have natural talent and others of us have to struggle. Who are the luckier ones?

When learning something comes naturally to you, where you just have to see something and you pick it up right away, I don't think you have the opportunity to really learn it in depth.
It is when you have to stuggle with something, grapple with it, find that with every correction that you are making new and more wonderous errors (sometimes to the exasperation of your teacher), that forces you to realy examine what you are doing and why. It is that struggle that leads to understanding.

An old post at 24 Fighting Chickens by Rob Redmond illustrates this phenomenon far better than I could ever hope. Enjoy.


Journeyman said...

I agree that the struggle and 'figuring it out' is what ultimately makes it your own. I'll read the link.

Paul said...

I can imagine THAT didn't come natural to the author, but I suspect THAT did come natural to our late Bruce Lee (needless to say, each of us is as great as Bruce in our own way)....:):)

RunBikeThrow said...

The linked story was an eye-opener for me. I'd never really considered the difference between a champion and a master before. I have noticed that the best performers of a sport are not always the best teachers; Michael Jordan comes to mind. Conversely, the best teachers often were just average players, but to reach that level they had to work much harder than those with natural talent and thus they gained a much better understanding of the sport itself.

Rick Matz said...

Scotty Bowman was one of the most successful coaches in NHL history, but he never played in the NHL.

Wayne Gretzky was perhaps one of the greatest hockey players, but he was an unsuccessful coach. He couldn't grasp why others couldn't do what was so easy for him.

The Strongest Karate said...

I remember you posted a quote from a manager you used to work with about "hanging out with a problem" so that you can figure it out from all sides.

Seems like struggling with something like martial arts is ultimately a good thing.

Charles James said...

when it comes easy the person tends to make assumptions. The repetitive practice has nothing to do with ease of learning but rather encoding the basal ganglia or the lizard to act appropriately to certain stimuli.

The one's who have it easy tend to not focus on the essence of what they do, they assume because it was easy it will be there in the crunch.

The one's that are hard also depend on certain natural rules so if it is hard because it is complex then it is worthless but if it is hard in its simplicity then the repetitive practice encodes it over time.

Depends ya know on a variety of factors, etc.


jc said...

as a canuck, i like the hockey example. i have had first hand experience struggling at this sport while being a good coach. not scottie bowman good, of course...

Rick Matz said...

So many good comments. Thanks.

For myself, I believe that the struggle is ultimately good for us. The struggle forces us to try and understand what we're doing.