Failure: Pro's and Con's

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Utahblaine, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    UT Austin, Texas A&M, and the University of Houston were the cheapest university in US at that time (back in 1972, it was $200 per semester). I was in the University of Kansas at Lawrence. The tuition there was $650 a semester and I could not afford it.
     
  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I know exactly what you are talking about. That was exactly the way I prepared for my TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. The 1st TOEFL test that I took, I made A score. before I took my 1st test, I had taken more than 50 old tests. I could see my score increased among those old tests. But I won't call that "learn from failure". I prefer to call that "learn from success".

    How to learn from success? You start from easy test and gradually move toward difficult test.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
  3. DocWard

    DocWard Blue Belt

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    ^
    This.

    Kung Fu Wang,
    It is poor logic, fallacious, really, to conflate different types of failure. When it is said that "failure is a great teacher," it is meant, among other things, that there are more lessons to be learned from failure than success, particularly in a training or teaching environment. As was also mentioned, psychologically, there are specific responses from failure that don't occur from success, that allow for better learning.

    By contrast, the examples you give, of educational testing and the like, are not in the same category. By the point you are sitting for SATs, LSATs, GREs, or whatever, your actual learning should be behind you. Failing at this stage isn't going to open your brain to new information. This is particularly true given the fact that you will likely learn of the failure weeks down the road.

    When you speak of being stabbed as a failure, again, we're talking a different animal. Even if a martial artist performs a knife defense technique flawlessly, it is possible to be injured or killed by a person with a weapon. There are a couple of old clichés that I learned in the military. One, "I'd rather be lucky than good," is sort of a dark way of recognizing that even the best occasionally come up short. The converse, if you will, that "the more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in combat," recognizes that the best way to set yourself up for success is to not rely on luck, but to optimize your skills. This is done by training, and AARs (After Action Reviews). In AARs, in training and after actual missions, both successes and failures are looked at, so that we can build upon success, and learn from failure and try to correct it, hopefully before casualties are taken. But even then, there is that recognition that occasionally, "luck" does run out.

    Again though, your examples are far afield from what gpseymour and others were talking about.
     
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  4. DocWard

    DocWard Blue Belt

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    Still a different animal, but you are acknowledging that you "failed," many times, during those 50 old tests. You had to have "failures," that is, gotten wrong answers, each time. While you were using the positive aspects of increasing your scores in building your confidence, I have to assume that you looked at your failures/wrong answers to learn what your mistakes were. Otherwise, the tests themselves serve little purpose.
     
  5. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    During those 50 old tests. I also had "success," I have learned the best way to study English. I have learned patterns (principles) such as:

    - If I had had ... I would have had ...
    - Telephone book (not book of telephone, or telephone's book).
    - ...

    We may talk about the same thing. But I prefer to use the term "success" instead of "failure".

    Before I won my 1st US Shuai Chiao heavy weight champion (1982), I could already use my single leg to win 7 rounds in a roll in 1981 Chicago Shuai Chiao tournament (it was team competition). I like to think that I have accumulated many small success and finally reach to a big success.

    It's 1/2 cup full, or 1/2 cup empty logic. It's up to you which way that you may prefer to look at it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
  6. DocWard

    DocWard Blue Belt

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    Perhaps we are talking about the same thing, but still, regarding many aspects of what you have written, I will respectfully disagree. Again, by the time of the tournament, like the standardized tests, you have built up a high level of competence and preparedness, so that your failures were behind you and what you had built upon. By the time of the tournament, failure would mean not being champion.

    Certainly, your success in the preliminary rounds buoyed your confidence, as it should have. And while it may not be the case for you, in every sport I have ever been around, if the opportunity exists, participants often look at their immediately preceding rounds, and analyze what they could have done better. This goes beyond optimism vs. pessimism, or whether a cup is half full or half empty. When I shot trap competitively, I walked out believing I could win my class on any given day I was shooting. That confidence was based upon practice and my known ability. That didn't stop me from analyzing why I missed a particular shot, what I would consider my "failures," to look for patterns, or to figure out what I had done wrong. Without so doing, I would be likely to continue to make the same mistakes.

    I've never achieved perfection at a match, although I have come close to a perfect score many times. I did try to visualize the "successes,"-- the shots that felt smooth, looked right and exploded the clay targets-- and I did rely on my past successes in competition to give me confidence in the next. However, if I didn't analyze my mistakes, I might've continued to make them, even once I had reached a higher level of competition, because without analysis of them, they often times become habits that are much harder to break.

    So yes, perhaps we are talking about the same thing, but like history, those who do not learn from their failures and mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
     
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  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    But your brain didn't learn much from the right answers you gave. It learned from the things you saw on those practice tests that you had trouble with. That's the point folks are making. You're either ignoring that, or just playing semantics for some reason.
     
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Doc, at some point I'd like to talk with you about AAR's, if you don't mind. I'd like to learn more about how they are used. I know some sketchy details, but that's it.
     
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Philosophically, you are correct. But there's an element you're leaving out. We NEED to fail. And since failure is necessary, we NEED to learn to use it to our benefit. It's entirely okay if you don't look at it as failure (that's the philosophical view), but you still need it. If you only practice something you already know you can't possibly fail at, your progress will be slow at best, and likely will include some false beliefs.

    Saying "we learn best from failure" isn't a cup-half-full notion. In fact, I'd argue it's quite the opposite. At the moment a failure occurs, it's the way to take a positive view of it.
     
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  10. DocWard

    DocWard Blue Belt

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    Any time!
     
  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    We do JCR's (job completion reviews) which sound much the same. It is not about condemnation; it is about making adjustments and improvements if necessary. Learning from mistakes is a big part of life.
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    After I've finished my discussion of AARs with Doc, I'd like to catch up with you via PM about the JCRs you guys do.
     
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  13. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I would enjoy that.
     
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