The Phases of Learning

This article is a placeholder list of information but serves as the initial help all students need to train smarter, better, easier, etc.

So here’s some questions. As a student, where is it that we learn how to learn? Interesting question. I think that when we become a student that has the understanding of how-to-learn, it can enhance the way we actually go about it.

There is this study called pedegogy, where teachers take on the dicipline of practicing to influence student’s learning. As a martial arts teacher, I am most definitely interested in developing better methods. Here are some of my findings on observing students and myself learn. They are currently divided into eight sections listed below.

The Phases of Learning Martial Arts

1. The Base and Foundation 

To get started in martial arts, a student must be open and coachable. To be otherwise, in my opinion, is contradictory to being a student. That is the true base and foundation to any skill you wish to develop. Period. Not sure how else to describe it but that is it. Accepting new information with the risk of affecting or influencing your beliefs would essentially be the first challenge. Pass this challenge and you’ll be primed to unlock unlimited potential.

2. Single Basic Technique

Our first technique will always be one to remember. As small as it may seem, it is a life changing experience. Every teacher is different and every single one has opinions on which technique is technique number one. In any case, it is a single basic technique designed for situations not yet known to the student because knowing the dynamics first would create unneeded worry. Let’s just start from a basic and get good at that with focus and attention. Don’t get too carried away with the abundance of details. They will be addressed in the next section. For now, grow your basic with the intention to internalize.

3. Reference Points

What I’ve discovered is that the first techniques are actually reference points to situations. These situations should be treated like hubs for options. My teaching method always has a reference point in mind and we work from there. Practice with these in mind and it will make future lessons easier to absorb.

A sign of a good student is to question the reference point to get as many options as possible so that a solution can be decided on that suits their skillsets and attributes. But there’s a catch. That’s only when they have internalized a few single basic techniques and an unknown time has been served building these skills.

I know that sounds unfair to say since we’re only at phase three but here’s what to consider. The questions can only be asked one at a time so to give internalization the chance to take place. Don’t allow too much intellectual pride obstruct the connection mind and body must make. Time and purposeful effort are factors here. 

4. Breaking Technique Down and Revealing the Objective

A creative mind can mold the technique to his or herself. We are of different sizes, shapes, preferences, etc. There is no single way to handle situations. We all wish there was but the truth is that there isn’t. Better is to see how the technique was created under a circumstance. Find the reason why it is more efficient and the technique will no longer exist. Only its objective.

Naturally, we are all looking for ways to make accomplishing objectives efficient; ergo the definition of technique. When we find out what we want to do in the most efficient way possible, the technique actually reveals itself. Its like reverse engineering. Or what history likes to call, learning from past mistakes.

5. Practice

This phase is quite simple and one of my most favorites. It is self explanitory. The problem is the willingness to do the work. So how do we gain the desire to practice? We have to own why we practice first. That makes the work feel like less and the results feel like more.

6. Bridging the Objective to a Technique Dynamically

As I write this, I read the name given to this section and thought it is a long winded way to say Spar. I think the term spar is too simplified. It kind of hides what is happening in the activity. Especially when ego gets in the way.

When you spar, I’d like to offer a question. What are you trying to do? Depending on your answer, a certain catalog of techniques will appear. When your objective changes, so too does the catalog. The new problem then becomes choice and knowing current capabilities. If you’ve practiced your reference points deliberately, sparring becomes a physical game of chess that has no turns. It’s just creativity in motion. Artistry immerges.

7. Identifying the Reference Points in Flight

In the last point of section six, this phase describes recognizing reference point in the microfraction of time during sparring. Train the mind to observe while in flight without letting your guard down. Study the energy given; the intent, the intensity, emotional content, the strategy against you, your strategy against them, etc. Learn how to anticipate the common responses, expected responses and desired resonses. When you get this down, then move on to the final phase.

8. Speeding Up Decision Making

You made it! You’ve made it to the new problems that need action. When you are good at identifying the reference points but still feeling like there is no progression, then that means you may be suffering from one ore more of these suggested issues.

  • You are wrestling with too many technique catalogs.
  • The urgency in your objectives changes too quickly.
  • Not wanting to make a mistake from the uncertainty of success.
  • Imagination of being dominated because you tried.

There are many more. Those are just a few. In any case, the solution is very simple. Just pick one but do it with the intention of going for it. Don’t try. Trying is an excuse. When you use the word Try, that has an undertone of expected failure that you’re comfortable with. This mindset can be improved with the activity of going for it. The parts that need work will reveal itself. Take that back to phase 4 and 5. You’ll find purposeful training there.