The Art of Winning Blog

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Learning and Martial Arts

Sometimes Facebook has an amazing gem of insight on a random morning. I wanted to share it one of this with you today. Chapel Hill ni-dan Kim Stahl shared an article on learning, along with this comment:

"The premise here is great, not that it applies only to children. Adults learn better this way too. Real success, and real failure. Which is why I feel so strongly about martial arts training. Done properly, it's really easy to tell when you've gotten something and when you haven't (if you have good training partners who don't pretend, and good teachers who tell you the truth). There's nothing like NOT getting a stripe on a belt, or having to try a couple of times to get that brown-black belt or higher, regardless of actual performance, to build perseverance."

In my own training, I've found that struggle is a good thing. It pushes me past 'cherished limitations' and into new vistas of learning. Sometimes I feel bad for students for whom the early lessons are so easy because I know they aren't yet building the perseverance skills that will get them through the challenges.  As a teacher, I push my students to the height of their personal potential, not some arbitrary standard. Of course, there are minimums that must be met but there is no maximum. I think this confuses a lot of people who expect that if they can do a standing front roll on day 1, they should automatically test into a higher level. I disagree. I expect that student to refine and improve turning that standing roll into a silent, stealthy arrow that makes movement easier and effortless. If a student can knock a target back on their first day, I'm excited. Now I can work with them on nuances of bone alignment for targeting. If a student can barely impact a target on day 1, I'm excited. Now I can work on nuances of bone alignment for keeping their body safe when striking. I believe that whatever your base level of skill, you always have something to learn--if you are bringing your full self and engaging in the learning process.

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