The Power of Why

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The Power of Why

Post  Chris on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:03 am

“Millions saw the apple fall, Newton was the only one who asked why?” - Bernard Baruch.

Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

It is all too easy to spend time becoming excellent at the wrong things. It is imperative to make sure that you understand why you are carrying out the training exercise you are completing and make sure you know what result the training exercise will have in your performance. Do not just become good at doing the wrong things well.

In every movement we make as human beings we conduct thousands of mathematical equations. Those equations include complex calculations of geometry, physics and physiology. These calculations happen in real time and they are all concerned with understanding WHY things happen the way they do so correct responses can be formed and hard-wired for efficiency.

We each have the ability to make very complex decisions with relatively little information. Simply crossing the road or driving our cars and remaining safe in doing so requires that we expose ourselves to learning and we hard wire the results of those complex calculations into how we move and how we train. We must learn from our successes but it is not enough to simply accept that success, we must also understand WHY we have been successful.

If a football player hits a free kick and scores. It is not enough that he accepts the goal and moves onto the next game simply hoping that he will reproduce the performance. In order to progress he must analyse WHY he was successful in that situation and almost as importantly, he must understand WHY he was not successful in other attempts. In line with all good principles of systems thinking, we must attempt to understand what we do not know just as must as we concentrate on what we do.

Through training and experiencing appropriate events the individual will develop an ability to pick up on what is happening around him. He will gain an understanding of the indicators which prompt the required response for success. This will allow for faster decision making and accurate responses to stimulus. At a very high level athletes almost appear as if they know what is going to happen before it does (the zone that many speak of achieving). This is truly nothing more than the brain picking up visual clues, memories and recalled analysis of past events which give an advance warning of what is likely to unfold. For a martial artist this may be the position of an opponents body, the planting of their foot or the grip from their hands which reveals how the situation is likely to play out.

The premier league goalkeeper Brad Friedal once made the statement that the averge person on the street would stand in Friedal's goal and feel that the football was the size of a marble and that marble had been fired from a gun. To a professional goalkeeper the ball is the size of a beachball and it moves at a speed which makes it possible for goalkeepers to put their body in the way. This difference in perception is a result of exposure, success and good training.

As coaches and as students who own our own development you must move beyond the questions of WHAT and WHERE. That will allow you to form nothing more than a response to a specific event and will force your development to be unnecessarily curtailed. Asking the "WHY" question allows for greater understanding and appreciation of the forces in play and speed development as an individual.

Practical methods for increased learning and development during training can include. Running a drill or technique and asking the student to explain what happened during the event. Have them explain first what happened and then have them explain in detail WHY the event played out as it did. Once they have understood the WHY of a succesful outcome have them drill that outcome (some sources advocate 50 at a time sets of perfect practice)

You should also ask the student after the session two questions. First ask them what they felt was their best moment during the session. Have them focus on that for a minute or two and have them again explain the "WHY". Then ask them what their biggest mistake or challenge was during the session and have them explain the "WHY". Take them to one side and have them work through an understanding of the mistake and then have them work through a successful outcome.

Remember your mistakes even when you are successful. Development is not just for students who have failed in the immediate event. It is also for those who have perhaps otherwise had a successful outcome in spite of their mistakes. This is where the true achievers shine. They understand that they may have done the wrong things right and they are more concerned with understanding that they are doing the right things in the right way. Do not simply accept success as being the end point. Objectively there is potentially a lot more to learn.

Finally, if you are having a bad session. If someone you train with cannot seem to get anything right, if you have a student who is struggling then don't allow them to hide from it. Shorten up the session and the techniques. Revert to material that has been successful in the past and build on a base of competence until confidence some back. Above all realise that log jam does not exist, there is simply bad training and a failure to prepare correctly by asking "Why" enough during training.

A very large part this article is a result of reading the thoughts of Steve Morris. That is what got me thinking about this stuff. If you get the chance the material he has on performance and systems thinking is top of the tree stuff. Also, have a read of Brad Friedal's book "thinking outside the box" where he talks about his perception and training as a professional football player.
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  FASD on Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:33 pm

Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

My year 8 social studies teacher had this on a poster on the wall..

Great statement
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Chris on Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:40 am

Just as an additional note. Practice is a word that can be used as a noun, pronoun, adverb and verb. It's a good idea to understand the context when talking about practice.

Learn which is which and what they mean. Lombardi was a smart bloke (as well as being good with a soundbite, I'm fairly certain he knew which was which) Very Happy
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Steve bungle on Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:10 am

Sleep
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Chris on Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:12 am

Turkish wrote: Sleep

Wow, such insight!
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Steve bungle on Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:49 am

Just being honest.
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Chris on Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:54 am

Turkish wrote:Just being honest.

If you have an opinion then state it. Plenty of ways to make yourself understood without acting like a five year old.

I don't have a thick skin, if you can find something you disagree with and can give good reasons for that disagreement then I'll happily listen and reassess what I think.

Alternatively, you can always start yet another "palms vs punching" thread and we can do the typical banal internet combat arts dance. Now that truly WOULD be fucking tedius and worthy of sleeping through.
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Steve bungle on Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:15 pm

Yes
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  David Turton on Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:34 am

Turkish

you are doing yourself NO favours here mate

silly childish comments will simply get you banned if you continue... good comments and debates will get you praised

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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Ade on Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:42 pm

turkish,your behaviour is breaking one of the fundamental rules of this message board.

http://selfprotection.lightbb.com/t8325-forum-rules You can work out which one for yourself.

So,to reiterate Dave's words,silly childish comments will simply get you banned if you continue... good comments and debates will get you praised
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Re: The Power of Why

Post  JTP77 on Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:29 am

Just joined the forum and have been looking into the posts here and felt that need to give an answer to this one. The post offered an excellent point of view about training and I like it. First of all sorry if my grammar or language is not entirely proper, but English is not my mother language.

This is just playing with words and meanings, but I often thought that perfect practice makes perfect and that is partly true. Now days I look it like this; practice does not make you perfect, perfect practice makes you better, but one can never be perfect, because it would mean that there is nothing to learn anymore.

The other point of view to this is that practice can’t be perfect. Reality is what we are looking for in SD training, but because there is no way to fully replicate reality in training, it can never be perfect. It is important to understand the realities of training and where it can take you at it’s best and also to always be critical about your training, make it better and foremost understand the mistakes in drills and exercises.

I agree on the emphasis of understanding why something is done or why something happens. It does not matter if we are talking about drills or techniques or reactions. The why is always important because if no one understands why certain drill is being done or what is the purpose of exercise or technique or why did he/she react in a certain way it is inevitably affecting the learning, and the effect is negative.

One final word about mistakes in training. The biggest mistake in my opinion is to abort the drill if mistake happens. Self-defense is about learning how to adapt to difficult situations. So learning to stop after a “mistake” is a mistake in itself. What I teach is that there basically are no mistakes, just poor decision and reactions to attacks or situations. One needs to be able to learn to cope after these mistakes and continue action. After the drill or exercise it is imperative to analyse the drill and ask the questions why and what...and this way to develop action.

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Re: The Power of Why

Post  Chris on Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:30 am

It's no problem at all if Turkish doesn't like what was written or how it was put together. No worries at all. Either disregard it or make comment explaining what you don't like about it and why.

The point of the piece is to give some ideas about development in training. Learning how to learn is key to that development and in this field is down to asking "Why" you have had the results you have had.

I also thought there were some pretty good specific ideas about how to handle training sessions in practical terms but hey, not everyone likes the same cup of tea.

I agtree with JTP completely that one very common mistake is to stop a drill because a "mistake" has happened. There is no such thing as a mistake in a very real sense when training. You simply get what you get as far as results are concerned and the key is in understanding why you have the results you have. Barring injury and dangerous behaviour there are no mistakes.
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