Structure your learning

Being a martial arts practitioner isn’t easy. Particularly if it’s a highly technical and full-contact sport like Jiu Jutsu. There’s so much to learn that people often spent their entire lives to master the art.

I picked up the art again earlier this year and have been thoroughly enjoying it. So much more than the first time I tried it 6-7 years back. There’s so much to learn! Your head just keeps spinning, both figuratively and physically when you’re rolling (sparring) with a training partner.

But since I’m a passionate teacher just as I’m a student, I can’t help but draw comparisons to studying a martial art and achieving mastery. Both require your to learn or practice more and do it often. The other advice that I love to share is to structure your learning even if it’s unstructured at the source.

What do I mean by that? Well, I didn’t join a Jiu Jutsu beginners class but a regular one with a mix of students at all levels. You can tell the initial days weren’t easy as I couldn’t figure out what’s what and how are things done. I didn’t even know the basics and had to ask the usual rookie questions.

Thankfully, the force is strong within the brotherhood and I got over the phase but again I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And that’s the most common challenge faced by many practitioners. So, they look elsewhere, mostly YouTube videos or online schools that offer a little more structure following which everything begins to make sense.

Likewise, no matter what you are trying to master (marketing, sales, psychology, business, or whatever fancies you) don’t forget the power of a linear structure. It’s always better to start from the bottom and work your way up than the other way around. You’ve got to have a solid grasp of the foundations on which everything else can be built.

The sporting world is a testimony of the fact that linear progression works. Almost every elite athlete got to where they are by working their way up. The same applies to you regardless of your athletic ability. You can’t shortcut your way to progress. It’ll bite you back in the well, back.

Some of my coaching clients often get frustrated with the discovery process we go through during my time with them. They want answers to the questions only they would know. And they want it now! My question to them is simply, “what logical sequence of actions do you think make sense here?” The response is often their ticket to see themselves out of their biggest, baddest, and gravest challenges.

That’s learning at the highest level of self-awareness. You don’t have to have a coach for that. A reasonable presence of mind should do the trick. Ask yourself where might be the logical starting point of progression and where are you right now. Work your way up from there.

That’s how learning is done.

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