Martial Arts Depth Learning

Sometimes people ask me why I want them to spend more than just a little time on each new lesson in our Dayton Quest Center martial arts school. Why all the review and repetition? “Hey, look! I’m done! I’ve got that one down already! What’s my next lesson?” an exuberant student might shout out.

Well yes, you can imitate what you were shown. But you need more than imitation performed under best of perfectly encouraging circumstances to fully develop a skill you will need to rely on under the worst of circumstances.

Your path to success in self defense martial arts – or meditation for inner authenticity, or any form of personal development for that matter – is similar to the process of learning to walk.

When you were a baby first learning how to walk, you started with a few small steps aided by a sympathetic guide who cared about you, most likely your parent or grandparent. It was probably scary at first, part adventure and part hard struggle. You held tight to chairs, tables, and anything else in reach. You worked awkwardly at moving yourself forward. Of course you fell, but you got back up and tried again.

You were “learning to walk” – one big challenge – but you were accomplishing that one task on several fronts of development.

You were learning the mechanical actions of how to walk

You were learning how to find and maintain balance from moment to moment as you constantly changed your position in space and time

You were conditioning your muscles for the eventual strength and coordination needed to perform the work of holding yourself upright and moving yourself away from your current position

You were teaching yourself the bigger process of how to learn and grow by way of working at it

It is also possible that you were learning an attitude about how effective you were as a learner, based on the responses of those around you who already knew how to walk

Now re-read those steps again and this time think of your latest challenge in your martial arts training hall.

Add to the list, “You were learning how to judge when that skill is just the right thing to put into action.”

Wow. There is so much happening beneath the surface activity of attending class and learning the day’s lesson.

Building success in the study of martial arts is like learning how to walk. It is something you work towards and it begins with one step followed by another. You accumulate martial skill over time. You do not acquire it in a lesson.

Be patient with yourself. Believe in yourself, and your right to success. Believe in what you are doing, and its power to take you to success. Believe in the example set by those who offer to assist you, and the proof of your potential in their success. That’s how you keep progressing towards mastery.

3 comments to “Martial Arts Depth Learning”

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  1. Thanks for putting this information up. I read through it 3xs so far and found different meanings each time.
    Since I’m a White Belt, the first couple of times I go through the process of learning something new, it’s always in the back of my mind “Did I get this right”? Then I go home and practice and I think, “Did I forget to pivot back?”, “Did I raise my arm that time?”, “Why doesn’t this seem to be working the way it did in class?”.
    I’m glad our instructors do come back to the same material. I get a chance to correct, ask or see the How and Why.

  2. As someone entering year 17 of training, I find that even the “basics” have new lessons to teach me. I often take the white belt class on Tuesday nights, not to teach, but to try out ideas and concepts that I’m working on for my own personal development inside the relative comfort of exercises I’ve done before countless times. I don’t have to focus on the raw mechanics of the exercise, leaving me free to work on the newer ideas and material within the “basics”.

    We’re never “done” with a piece of material. There’s always more to see if we’re ready to look for it.

  3. Hmm. Sometimes though you can be blinded by the illusion of seeing.

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