The Knowledge Barrier

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Zoran, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    A while back I wrote this on my wall in facebook, "Don't let what you know get in the way of what you could learn."

    I was thinking how at times our own knowledge gets in the way of learning something new or different. As we spend years/decades training and learning, we sometimes become more rigid in what we believe is the "correct way", or our way, of doing things. So when an idea comes along that may contradict what we already know, we resist it instead of looking at it objectively and weighing all it's pros and cons before making our decision on the idea.

    Which makes me think of something else I often say, "Do you want to be right or do you want to get better?"

    Often when something comes along that contradicts what we may already know, we feel threatened by it. As if it may invalidate everything we have learned and done before. So we spend time arguing against the idea to defend our view of our martial arts world or we dismiss it, based on what we already know.

    Of course presentation matters. Presenting an idea on it's own merits can go a long way to how people will react. However, if you start by trying to invalidate another idea, or saying mine is better than yours, it will degenerate into a pissing contest rather quickly.
     
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  2. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    What also happens, and it is most apparent in some recent threads here on MT, people aren't prepared to accept "unknown" unknowns. They are familiar with their own field of training and they can accept that they may not be training all that they know another school is training. But, for some unknown reason they maintain that if they have not seen something, then it not only doesn't exist, but it categorically must not exist anywhere else. That becomes one of the biggest barriers to learning that I have come across. Three examples that spring to mind in karate are bunkai, vital points and ki.

    I have seen karateka at very high levels ignoring what could be called "common practice" elsewhere. They prefer training what they know rather than stepping outside their comfort zone, admitting their need to learn and getting on with it. The irony is that these advanced guys would pick up new knowledge very quickly. :asian:
     
  3. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    Things like ki/chi can not be reproduced consistently so it would be difficult to measure. Looking at it objectively will often lead to the conclusion that there is not enough data to support the existence of ki/chi. Part of being objective is not leaving everything to faith. Now on the flip side, exercises like Qiqong and Tai Chi have been known to have positive effects on health and the traditional practice includes the concept of chi. Although not enough to objectively support the existence of chi, it may suggest the visualization techniques used in those practices may be a part of what makes the exercises effective.
     
  4. K-man

    K-man Grandmaster

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    But isn't that exactly what we are talking about? I have experienced what I understand as Ki. It can be reproduced, time after time, and it is possible to learn how it is used. If anyone in Australia wants that same experience, it is available to them to feel for themselves anytime. (Obviously it is available for all to see but it's understandably difficult for some people to come all the way to Australia.) How they categorise what they feel is up to them. People question whether Ki exists because they have not had that experience. Now you can argue 'til you're blue in the face as to it's existence or otherwise. You can try to measure something that can't be measured, you can say, it's just biomechanics, you can say it's all in the mind. Or you can feel it and say, as I did, "I want some of what he has!" To ignore it, or rationalise it, or simply deny it because you haven't experienced it first hand for yourself, will be one of the biggest knowledge barriers you will come across. I can not rationalise it, I can't explain it, but I can't deny it either. Sounds like a rant, but I'm pretty passionate about my training. :)

    So I ask, what is it about Ki that fires people up. It is exactly as you wrote in the OP.

    Just so! :asian:
     
  5. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I agree with your first bolded line with no reservation. The second I am not so sure of. I think I know what you are trying to say. But I was always taught to make a technique work. I was taught what was felt worked for most people, and would for me if I applied myself. But I was also told to make sure I could make the application of the technique work for me if the way it was being taught didn't. Of course one must be careful not to just say at the beginning, that something doesn't seem to be working so I have to figure out some (perhaps inferior) way to make it work other than what I was taught (the better way).

    As to gi, if you can harness it, that is your proof. There may be some way to scientifically quantify it, but I don't think we have the science to do it now. I know a lot of people don't believe in it. So be it. Their loss.
     
  6. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    It is not about any specific idea you may feel has merit or doesn't. It is about a way of thinking that allows you to question your own beliefs as well as those of others. It is being able to come to conclusions NOT based on feelings and personal interpretations.
     
  7. jasonbrinn

    jasonbrinn Purple Belt

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    Preaching to Choir brother....preach on!
     
  8. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Jason, you might want to take note of the end of Zoran's post, there....

    The presentation of your argument without actual arguments accompanying it was the issue. Not that you were saying something different, that you weren't backing anything up.
     
  9. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    Absolutely.

    Let me take a personal example on being objective. In the primary system I am involved in, there is a large focus on hitting power. What I have learned through the years is that what feels right or strong may not be the most effective method of striking (I tend to divide things in categories of ineffective, effective, more effective and most effective). For example, I am punching a shield that a partner is holding and every hit knocks him back a couple of steps. It feels really good and you visually see the effect and probably looks impressive from the 3rd person view. Now I change my delivery method (method not relative to the discussion) and I hit that shield and my partner says "oof". Feedback from my partner is that he felt that hit go through the shield yet from my 1st person view, and a 3rd person view, it didn't look or feel as effective because my partner barely moved more than small step back. Looking at it objectively, I have to come to the conclusion that the second method will deliver more damage due to penetration regardless of how the first method felt to me.
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    overall some good points tho I think there are some limits to it as well. This final bit tho I think is particularly important. Presentation is crucial in getting the message across, and regardless of how it is presented when the message is "Do it THIS way and it is very very good," often the message received is: I don't do it THIS way, I do it a different way, so you are telling me that my way is no good. That's a problem in perception by the recipient, but it does cloud the issue and contributes to disagreement.

    There is another issue at play here as well. Often a method that works really really well needs to be adhered to strictly. If the method is mixed with other influences then it actually does lose its effectiveness. Another method that ALSO works really really well may simply be incompatible with the first method. They need to be kept separate, or they both become less effective. So one may choose to reject the new method in the face of evidence that it works really really well, because what they are already doing works at least as well, and is something they have already developed and are very comfortable with. In that case there may be no reason to switch horses in mid stream, but others may see it as being beholden to something else and rejecting that which might be an improvement.

    Personally, I believe in my method completely. I understand it, it makes tremendous sense to me, and I have embraced it. I would be unlikely to embrace a different method, even if someone can show me that it works well. To embrace the new method would mean to throw out all that I've worked on, all that I believe in, to start over for no good reason. In that case, it would be akin to chasing the flavor of the month. So I won't do it. I've found what is a good match for me. I know that other things out there also work well, but they aren't such a good match for me so there's no reason for me to chase after them.
     
  11. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    No it won't! You don't know what you're talking about! :)

    Seriously though, you make some very good points. However, I agree with Michael's point that just because something may work doesn't mean that it is something that should be done. Of course, we are both coming from a traditional MA background where the system, ideas, and movements are all integrated into a cohesive whole, and external movements can't be integrated into the system without a very deep understanding of the underlying principles. An understanding, I might add, that I probably won't achieve given how late in life I started.

    No, it isn't. The thing that gets people fired about about ki is that it is very like religion, based on faith. Since ki cannot be scientifically quantified, any talk of it is asking people to have faith in something they cannot see or even prove exists. I've seen many good conversations about aiki, but these conversations generally avoided directly talking about ki manifestation, and instead talked about movements and reactions. Everyone is happy to discuss movements and reactions, but many are not comfortable with invisible faith based discussions. The thing that I've noticed though is that those that are true ki believers are very much like their religious brethren, they want to preach about their faith. This causes further discomfort in those with no direct experience with ki, and so they resist harder because they aren't interested in being converted. Thus, you end up with the pissing contest which the OP referred to, usually because of the presentation of the information.
     
  12. Jenna

    Jenna Senior Master

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    +1 I like your FB status line.. it is to paraphrase a lyric you will know shared with me by wise counsel.. "God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of"
     
  13. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    Please note that nowhere in my original post is there anything about adopting or accepting an idea or method, only the process of objectivity. To the traditionalist's argument that it may not fit into the cohesive whole of the system, I do believe things like that should be considered on a case by case basis taking into account your personal level of understanding of the system.
     
  14. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Why not do all three; work on not using feelings and personal interpretations, but still allow use of feelings and personal interpretations? My feelings and personal interpretations are just that, mine. They have great validity to me. But I can still allow myself to be impersonal as far as that will take me. I just don't want to be constricted, which that approach will eventually do.
     
  15. Kenlee25

    Kenlee25 Green Belt

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    This concept also applies to life itself, and it is exactly What Nietzche addressed in his superman theory. According to the superman theory, there are some men who will rise above all they were taught and all they "know" to be true to eventually become a complete individual with their own thought. If they end up becoming exactly the same, it doesn't matter, because they chose that path. ( this is an extremely basic definition of the theory ).

    In martial arts, we all need to become superman rather than rigidly stick to our initial teachings without first questioning and testing them. I've been dong that over the past 2 years. I took the time to completely deconstruct, analyze and reconstruct my martial style completely. In class sure, I'll do exactly as my instructor says, but on the street or sparring with friends, even sparring in class I do things differently, use different moves because I have learned what works best for me and what is mechanically great for me. Much of it is still TKD, but I also pull a lot from other things.
     
  16. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    When gathering information, knowledge, and generally trying to achieve a greater understanding, objectivity should be used first so the new information is not colored by personal bias. Once that step is complete, then adding personal feeling and interpretation is fine. I do not advocate removing personal expression from any equation, only putting it in a more productive order.
     
  17. Zoran

    Zoran Black Belt

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    Of course it does. You will find that it is much easier to change a part of your life, in this case martial arts, then to try to change yourself in all aspects of your life. Once that smaller part of your whole self changes, it tends to have a domino effect. Just as negative thoughts and behavior in your job (as an example) will tend to seep into your whole life (family, friends, martial arts, and etc). This is why so many martial artists will often say how martial arts has had such a positive effect on their life.

    A little off topic on my part.
     
  18. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Perhaps something to be aspired, but difficult to achieve, or so I think. Still, I don't deny objectivity certainly has its place.
     
  19. Black Belt Jedi

    Black Belt Jedi Blue Belt

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    I know how that feels. Since I got Black belt and started teaching at my Sensei's dojo, I went through his own method of teaching. I like to teach students in ordely fashion to better understand what they are doing with the techniques being taught. I would teach the beginner two person drills, it can be either self-defense or ippon kumite for at least a week and then go through Kihon and kata, the single person drills. The result of how I introduced the program to the students, they picked things up pretty well. Some of my collegues and students liked the order on how I teach. It tends to work for all ages. And that's how the Okinawans trained.

    They learned self-defense techniques and then record them into dance rituals or set patterns in order to memorize the principles that were passed down from their teachers. How I teach had been an influence of my research from the works of Patrick McCarthy, Iain Abernethy and Michael Rosenbaum to name a few. When teaching adult students self-defense on their first day of class. I would teach them anything. In those times people are looking for a crash course in self protection, especially in these perilous times, so why hold them back due to belt ranks on what they should learn and what they shouldn't learn at their level? And there are a few of my collegues are against my views, and they prefer to teach students the reverse influence, 3K format, it's just because they are worried that they can lose students from information overload, and worried about their finances like typical business folks. On the other hand, I thought that the 3K format is obsolete in those times.

    I came to the conclusion if you go by the dogmatic, narrow view of belt ranks too much, the students will most likely lose interest in the training and quit. If you teach the students in the wrong order, they will get confused and most likely quit.
     
  20. grumpywolfman

    grumpywolfman Black Belt

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    Zoran,

    Good post - it reminds me of something that was spoke to my H.S. graduation class (1990), "you stop growing when you stop learning."123
     

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