How do you learn?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Supra Vijai, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Recently I was involved in a thread which was discussing different personality types in Martial Arts and what types of arts each type may be attracted to etc. This is along the same vein. What is your learning style/personality?

    I'm a mix of visual and tactile. I can pick up most things if I watch the technique being shown just once or twice but find I learn the little things when it's done to me.

    I love being used as the demonstration dummy in the middle when the class is shown a technique. I don't know if it's a sign of masochism, a desire to be the centre of attention or something else (on a subconcious level) but conciously it's a case of when a fellow student does a tech on me I won't feel anything even close to how it feels when the instructor does it - and that's with him being very very gentle. Plus I have weird joints so he seems to be the only one who automatically adjusts to get the desired effect.

    How about the rest of you guys and girls? Do you learn by watching, verbal explanation, reading about it, having it done to you or something else? How many of you enjoy having the techniques demonstrated on you?
     
  2. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    It's a good question. I learn by doing, which is usually how it is taught in my dojo.

    Sensei explains what he wants us to do. I follow the idea, but it doesn't sink in.

    Then he demonstrates on someone, usually a senior black belt. I might get an 'aha!' moment, but I still haven't done it yet.

    Then we try it and sometimes (often), it turns out that I'm not doing it the way I was just shown. So Sensei corrects me and I do it again, and again, until I'm doing it correctly. Then lots of repetitions to nail it down.

    A month later, I'll do it again and most likely do it wrong again, requiring more correction.

    Eventually, I get it locked into my muscle memory and begin to do it correctly most of the time.

    Others may learn differently, but that's how I learn.
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Answering the question in the OP, I'm a visual learner, but Bill's hit the nail on the head. We all ultimately learn by doing.

    The biggest challenge in training is facilitating the transfer of theoretical knowledge into practical, applicable skill. For example, I can tell you how to change the oil in a car and you might understand the process at a theoretical level.

    I can show you how to change the oil in a car, and you might understand how to change oil at a level where you could actually describe it to someone else.

    But can you actually do it? Hard to say. You don't know until you actually try it yourself. Have to do it, and that's where a lot of martial artists fall short, having never actually applied their art (IMO). Martial Arts stands alone as the one physical activity where it's okay to allege training experts in something they don't actually ever do. To become a golf pro, you have to get off the driving range and play a lot of golf. Most martial artists never leave the driving range.

    Also, it's common to mistake competence with expertise. To continue the analogy, just because you can change the oil on your car doesn't make you an expert on changing oil. The guys at Jiffy Lube, who do it all day every day are experts. Those guys have seen not only your car, but every make and model on the road, in every condition. They can not only foresee and address unexpected problems, but they can also teach others.
     
  4. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    Trial and error. In roughly a one-to-one ratio, in my case. :)
     
  5. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    Kinaesthetic. Most times I can't watch and learn, I need someone to maniuplate me so I can feel my body working the way it should.
     
  6. Blade96

    Blade96 Senior Master

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    watching and doing.

    so visual and kinesthetic leaner

    and ya i like having techniques demonstrated on me

    If someone just explains without demonstrating, I'm like huh? Then i see the demonstration and then I understand it :) Then I do it and understand it even more
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Mostly visual, and of course you can't truly learn a physical skill without doing it, but I don't think that is the same as being a kinesthetic learner.
     
  8. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    A good instructor should cover all three areas of learning: explain it for the audio learners, demonstrate it for the visual learners, then run drills for the kinesthetic learners.
     
  9. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Great replies guys :) Visual definitely seems to be the common factor across the board. I agree that Kinesthetic learning isn't used in it's ideal context within something like MA but it's still a large part, whether it involves you doing and action again and again and again as Bill said or having it done to you as Carol said. I'm with Carol in that I learn best by having it done to me. I pay attention as much as possible to where I felt pressure, where I felt pain then try figure out why (usually with a lot of questions) and apply it to my training partner when I have a shot.

    Also I'm not talking about expertise or anything close. Just getting the basic technique. For example I can apply a Muso or Musha Dori fairly competently to most people with a minimum of fuss but I have no doubts that my foot placement or weight distribution or what not may be not be great. Does the other person feel the lock? Yes. Did I do it with flair and technical perfection? Hell no.. and that's why I'm still a student ;)
     
  10. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    I'm going to see if I can expand on this, if you don't mind Supra. To begin with, I'm going to give some insight into the way I teach things, based on how people tend to learn things, as sometimes people (I've noticed) may think they learn one way, but they actually get more out of another method or approach. Then I'll answer your question as it pertains to me. Cool? Okay, here we go.

    As Balrog said, teachings should ideally encompass all three major methods of learning (visual, audiotory, and kinesthetic), although to be frank, audiotory is the least of these by far. Kinesthetic is the way to go.

    Of course, in order to go through a lesson in a kinesthetic way, there needs to be a frame of reference first. That means it needs to be explained, shown or both. Often when demonstrating a technique on a student, they need clarification afterwards, as they didn't see what I was doing, and are unsure of how to achieve it. So the initial "learning" takes place with verbal explainations ("I just shift off to the side and drop to avoid the strike... at the same time, I deflect upwards with a forearm block, then shift my weight forwards and strike the side of the neck with my thumb" etc etc), which is coupled with a demonstration of the actions on a training partner. When required it is also demonstrated without a partner for clarity as well.

    Then the techniques are performed solo by everyone in a circle (which is so everyone can see another person for reference) as they are called through. The description on the first one is detailed, the second less detailed, and removed for the last run through. That's the kinesthetic learning (solo) for everyone. That is then followed by the partner training, during which people get more individualised attention... and that most often takes the form of a multi-faceted teaching (explaining that this is why you hit them there, showing them where you hit them, then hitting them so they can feel it... seems to get the point across pretty well!). So that's how I teach.

    Now, as to how I learn, well, that's the three R's... Repetition, Reality, and Resistance! Train everything as if it's real, ensure that it works against resistance, and repeat over and over and over.... and over..... and over..... and over..... and really that's the way it should be (most of all the repetition part).
     
  11. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Thanks for that detailed breakdown. Also serves to highlight just how much an instructor has to think about when taking a class. It's not just a case of walking in and saying something one way and expecting everyone to get it.

    As my instructor though could I ask if I seem to be accurate in my assessment of how I learn? You mentioned sometimes the student may think they prefer one way but in reality it's another.
     
  12. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah, that's pretty much how you get it... and, so you know, that would apply to about 90%+ of people there.

    When it comes to these arts, I always prefer to be the guy in the middle, being demonstrated on as well. You get to feel things that those watching are unaware of, for one thing. But on a slightly deeper level, this art is taught through the method of Isshi Soden, which is a method of learning from "one heart to another". It's almost an osmosis form of learning, you learn by being in close proximity to the art, by being exposed to the movements and actions by being a part of them. This is why just watching videos just doesn't work as actual training, really.
     
  13. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    I've never heard that reason for why learning off videos is a bad idea. Maybe because most of the times it comes up it's from someone with no real training so that sort of deeper explanation would mean nothing to them?

    Good to know I'm on the right track with the learning style (have been making a list of what I think my strengths and weaknesses are as we discussed so that I can look at the how and why behind it and use that to improve where I'm struggling) so thank you :asian:
     
  14. Burnse

    Burnse Yellow Belt

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    I'm tempted to say all of the above, but heavier on verbal.
    I find putting it into words helps me with the movement, and if it involves an explanation so much the better. As I watch and listen to a demonstration I say to myself the main points like posture and target. I talk myself through the actions, sometimes with complete nonsense. For example, in one of my recent classes the only way I could remember a sword kata was with this sequence of words: 'seigan, threaten, block, topple, swing, dominate, mushin'. Then it's repetition until it feels right and the words fall away.
    Sometimes that verbal walkthrough can't be formed until I have a reason I can associate with the actions though. For example, 'swing' in that kata is 'swing so they don't get up'.
    My memory is pretty poor so if I understand why I'm supposed to move there or hit that spot I'm more likely to remember it, or at least find that memory through reasoning.
    "I cut at these points because that's where the gaps would be in their armour."
    "If I stood like this while wearing armour I'd fall over."
    "I scream creep because I'm a girl, it's a social stigma and it identifies me as a victim."

    A little bit of pain certainly helps you remember a target, but I don't think enjoyment is the word I'd associate with it.
     
  15. MJS

    MJS Administrator Staff Member

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    Nice topic. :) For myself, visual is a huge plus, in addition to hands-on, both having the technique done on me, as well as performing it, if thats whats being worked on. Katas....small parts, a little at a time, working on it and then taking another chunk.

    This is what works best for me. :)
     
  16. sgtmac_46

    sgtmac_46 Senior Master

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  17. Supra Vijai

    Supra Vijai Black Belt

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    Haha nice. I never woulda thought of that to try remember Karamenagi :) I tend to be more Seigan, "oh you want to stab me? no you don't!" and so on
     
  18. sgtmac_46

    sgtmac_46 Senior Master

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    I actually learn very well from video, as I have to learn general concepts before I can learn specific techniques........watching a video of a given system of instruction several times before I take an actual class in it helps me understand the concepts, then I can work on the physical techniques once i'm in the classroom.

    If I get thrown in cold I get overwhelmed because if I don't understand the general guiding principles, I don't see where the techniques fit together, and I can't learn that way........i'm definitely a holistic/global learner.

    But, then, i'm an ENTP and we're all holistic/global learners.
     
  19. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    It depends on what I'm learning, and what stage I'm at - when I first started, I was a visual/kinesthetic learner (see it and do it) - but now it's more auditory/visual (hear it and write it down). It's been 24 years since I started, so it's kind of hard to remember - but a lot more of it is understanding and applying theory; when I started, I was just happy to remember the general movements I was supposed to be doing.

    Videos, like books, are great references - aids to memory. But there is no feedback when you learn from a video such as you would get from an instructor, and like any other reference source, videos can contain errors - both issues can lead to errors in performance that become ingrained and hard to eliminate. I use videos - of others (reference) and of myself (objective feedback for practice) - as training aids, but not to learn new techniques or tuls; I much prefer learning those from my instructor.123
     

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