Perfect practice verse high repetition sculpting?

Jared Traveler

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As a western trainer who has taught martial arts, firearms and tactics, my background is in getting people to practice skills perfectly the first time. So that they never build bad habits.

Then I moved to Thailand and began learning Muay Thai. I quickly figured out this was not how Muay Thai was taught here at all! In fact they were more than happy for me to do a vast amount of things wrong. Stance, balance, guard, elbow position, chin position all wrong. Every strike I did incorrectly at some level at first. Yet they smiled and let me have fun doing it wrong. Even giving me lots of thumbs up. I thought I was doing good because they were not correcting me. Wrong!! They knew I was doing it very wrong.

Over time, they slowly, slowly, slowly corrected my mistakes. Slowly fixing my foot placement, hand position, striking surface, movement, a 1000 little things.

At first I was secretly upset, thinking, "Why didn't you give me more specific instructions in the first place?! Why have you let me practice this incorrectly?! What else am I doing wrong that you are not telling me!?" I felt like they were waisting my time in some ways. But they didn't think of time the way I did. To them, they had time to fix me, and it was okay.

This so so radically different than how I was taught to teach people!!! But you know what, over time, they fixed so much! I can watch videos of me doing Muay Thai in the beginning and now, and it's clear I have gained a ton of skill.

How could this be? It flys in the face of western thinking regarding proper training. They literally gave me just enough info to do it wrong, let me do 1000s of reps incorrectly. But I can't argue with the results. My kids and I have all improved dramatically.

The best part is, because we were not trying to hit every detail from day 1, we were always relaxed and having fun. It has caused me to rethink traditional western wisdom regarding insisting on perfect practice.

Instead of perfect practice, the method here is water over a stone. Over a long period of time, continually poring water, the stone smooths out.

I now think that both methods work, but for the more relaxed approach, it takes high reputation instructions, and an experienced patient coach. But less talking meant a lot more reps.

But I definitely have enjoyed learning through a more relaxed mindset, with a slow approach to perfection. I feel like it has created a much more relaxed/effortless skillet.

There was nothing haphazard about it. But it was far different from wester instant gratification, expectations, and short term goals. A much slower, but more enjoyable progression of discovery, and skill development.

Thoughts on this? Your experience?
 
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Damien

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There's certainly something to be said for not trying to get it perfect first time. There is generally too much to correct. But the core ideas and maybe one or two corrections at a time. You need time for those corrections to bed in. But equally you don't want to spend too much time doing it wrong, because it does ingrain those mistakes into your muscle memory.

Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Looking at something more minute, but still a physical skill, like guitar, teachers generally say best to practice right and slow, than wrong and fix it later.
 

Jimmythebull

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Reminds me of a conversarion I had with this man. He learned first WT in Germany & moved to Hongkong. He told me He was asked to demonstrate his WT. The Chinese laughed at him. He said at first I never knew what I was doing for years in Germany was wrong. They then showed him why it was wrong & he told me he then understood.
 

Gerry Seymour

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It's my experience that beginners simply cannot do some things correctly. They don't understand the thing well enough to recognize what they are seeing, so mimick it in ways that are relatively close. With skills like that, giving them time to get used to the basic motion is useful. Then, when they don't have to think about every single piece of what they are doing, you can start correcting them progressively closer to the goal.
 

Jimmythebull

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It's my experience that beginners simply cannot do some things correctly. They don't understand the thing well enough to recognize what they are seeing, so mimick it in ways that are relatively close. With skills like that, giving them time to get used to the basic motion is useful. Then, when they don't have to think about every single piece of what they are doing, you can start correcting them progressively closer to the goal.
not just beginners because i織ve met people in karate who perform Katas but really don織t know how to break it down into real life actions. Just performing movements over & over again but ask them about the techniques & they give a (w)vaig answer
 

JowGaWolf

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As a western trainer who has taught martial arts, firearms and tactics, my background is in getting people to practice skills perfectly the first time. So that they never build bad habits.

Then I moved to Thailand and began learning Muay Thai. I quickly figured out this was not how Muay Thai was taught here at all! In fact they were more than happy for me to do a vast amount of things wrong. Stance, balance, guard, elbow position, chin position all wrong. Every strike I did incorrectly at some level at first. Yet they smiled and let me have fun doing it wrong. Even giving me lots of thumbs up. I thought I was doing good because they were not correcting me. Wrong!! They knew I was doing it very wrong.

Over time, they slowly, slowly, slowly corrected my mistakes. Slowly fixing my foot placement, hand position, striking surface, movement, a 1000 little things.

At first I was secretly upset, thinking, "Why didn't you give me more specific instructions in the first place?! Why have you let me practice this incorrectly?! What else am I doing wrong that you are not telling me!?" I felt like they were waisting my time in some ways. But they didn't think of time the way I did. To them, they had time to fix me, and it was okay.

This so so radically different than how I was taught to teach people!!! But you know what, over time, they fixed so much! I can watch videos of me doing Muay Thai in the beginning and now, and it's clear I have gained a ton of skill.

How could this be? It flys in the face of western thinking regarding proper training. They literally gave me just enough info to do it wrong, let me do 1000s of reps incorrectly. But I can't argue with the results. My kids and I have all improved dramatically.

The best part is, because we were not trying to hit every detail from day 1, we were always relaxed and having fun. It has caused me to rethink traditional western wisdom regarding insisting on perfect practice.

Instead of perfect practice, the method here is water over a stone. Over a long period of time, continually poring water, the stone smooths out.

I now think that both methods work, but for the more relaxed approach, it takes high reputation instructions, and an experienced patient coach. But less talking meant a lot more reps.

But I definitely have enjoyed learning through a more relaxed mindset, with a slow approach to perfection. I feel like it has created a much more relaxed/effortless skillet.

There was nothing haphazard about it. But it was far different from wester instant gratification, expectations, and short term goals. A much slower, but more enjoyable progression of discovery, and skill development.

Thoughts on this? Your experience?
You can't fix everything at once. To do so makes everything more difficult to learn and teach.
Small and consistent gains and improvements is the way to go. Much better than a teacher telling you that everything you do is incorrect.
 

skribs

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As a western trainer who has taught martial arts, firearms and tactics, my background is in getting people to practice skills perfectly the first time. So that they never build bad habits.

Then I moved to Thailand and began learning Muay Thai. I quickly figured out this was not how Muay Thai was taught here at all! In fact they were more than happy for me to do a vast amount of things wrong. Stance, balance, guard, elbow position, chin position all wrong. Every strike I did incorrectly at some level at first. Yet they smiled and let me have fun doing it wrong. Even giving me lots of thumbs up. I thought I was doing good because they were not correcting me. Wrong!! They knew I was doing it very wrong.

Over time, they slowly, slowly, slowly corrected my mistakes. Slowly fixing my foot placement, hand position, striking surface, movement, a 1000 little things.

At first I was secretly upset, thinking, "Why didn't you give me more specific instructions in the first place?! Why have you let me practice this incorrectly?! What else am I doing wrong that you are not telling me!?" I felt like they were waisting my time in some ways. But they didn't think of time the way I did. To them, they had time to fix me, and it was okay.

This so so radically different than how I was taught to teach people!!! But you know what, over time, they fixed so much! I can watch videos of me doing Muay Thai in the beginning and now, and it's clear I have gained a ton of skill.

How could this be? It flys in the face of western thinking regarding proper training. They literally gave me just enough info to do it wrong, let me do 1000s of reps incorrectly. But I can't argue with the results. My kids and I have all improved dramatically.

The best part is, because we were not trying to hit every detail from day 1, we were always relaxed and having fun. It has caused me to rethink traditional western wisdom regarding insisting on perfect practice.

Instead of perfect practice, the method here is water over a stone. Over a long period of time, continually poring water, the stone smooths out.

I now think that both methods work, but for the more relaxed approach, it takes high reputation instructions, and an experienced patient coach. But less talking meant a lot more reps.

But I definitely have enjoyed learning through a more relaxed mindset, with a slow approach to perfection. I feel like it has created a much more relaxed/effortless skillet.

There was nothing haphazard about it. But it was far different from wester instant gratification, expectations, and short term goals. A much slower, but more enjoyable progression of discovery, and skill development.

Thoughts on this? Your experience?
I think there's a balance. It is quite impossible to give people enough information to do everything perfect without any reps. There are a few reasons:
  • There are so many details, you can't remember them all at once. Getting corrected on one detail will make you forget another (unless all the other details are burned into your memory).
  • You fine-tune your muscle memory over repetitions. You are going to be very sloppy even with "perfect" technique from the start, because it's movements you are not used to. These will get better over time.
  • If I were to go over every detail of a technique, I could spend 10-20 minutes talking about it. Or, I can spend 30 seconds talking about it, and give you enough information to do the gross movement, and then figure out which details you need in order to work on.
  • Some things your body figures out over time, because it realizes you're being inefficient at what you're trying to do.
With that said, you also don't want to go too long before correcting a student. I was real upset with my Master when he corrected my crescent kick. Not because he corrected it, but because it's a kick I'd been doing since red belt, and he waited until I was a 3rd degree to tell me I'd been doing it wrong for years. My Master leaned very heavily into reps over doing it perfect from the start. But in my opinion, sometimes hit bad habits too late.
 

jks9199

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I doubt you truly concentrated on getting everything perfect. That doesn't match any of my training -- firearms, defensive tactics/control tactics, or martial arts. You had a "day 1" level expectation of performance. Maybe that was a proper stance (firearms or martial arts), or proper fist and reasonable path for a punch, and so on. Then on "day 2", you built on that, and made it better. Tightened the shot group, concentrated on smoother trigger press or reset, better synchronization of the body, etc. And so on. The analogy I often used with students was building a road. Roads start by marking the path and removing trees, rocks, etc. and then the roadbed is graded, and so on, until the final layer of pavement and road markings are put in place.

And then there's a tendency in some groups not to bother to teach "outsiders" properly until they've stuck around long enough to be deemed worthy.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Thoughts on this? Your experience?
A: I have drilled this 1000 times. What do you think about my move?
B: Your hand and foot are not coordinated.
A: I have drilled this 2000 times. What do you think about my move?
B: Your elbow and knee are not coordinated.
A: I have drilled this 3000 times. What do you think about my move?
B: Your shoulder and hip are not coordinated.
A: I have drilled this 4000 times. What do you think about my move?
B: Your mind and body are not coordinated.
A: ...

Trying to put advance level training requirement on someone who just starts the beginner level training is not reasonable.

If your student has 100 errors, you may help him to fix 1 or 2 errors in 1 day. If you try to fix all 100 errors in 1 day, he won't remember anything.
 
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drop bear

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I think this goes in to the timing vs technique debate.

Let's use tennis as an example today.
 

Gyakuto

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Speaking as a neuroscientist (I specialised in motor control, as it happens) Id suggest that it is impossible to learn a motor movement correctly/perfect from the very beginning. Would you expect to be able to train someone through the process of juggling by giving precise teaching points? Can you teach a person to throw a piece of clay into a perfect bowl by precise instruction, holding their hands etc (Ghost style). No.

Our nervous systems are designed to refine movement through trial and error. Very, very, incredibly simply (!) the motor cortex sends commands to the muscle to produce a movement. The basal ganglia and cerebellum provide the motor cortex with feedback on whether intention and action are the same. If not, they will calculate the error and suggest the best course of action to the motor cortex to bring the intended action closer to whats actually happening. This error correction can be very fast for simple movements - hitting a nail with a hammer is tentative at first often with a bashed thumb! But blow-by-blow it gets more and more accurate until you can swing from way behind your back and still hit a tiny nails head! Thats cerebellar learning! But complex movements can take much longer to perfect and require a lot of repetition, attention, correction and further repetition as new neuronal pathways/synapses are formed or pruned away.

So, get the overall, rough movement and refine over time.
 

isshinryuronin

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Speaking as a neuroscientist (I specialised in motor control, as it happens) Id suggest that it is impossible to learn a motor movement correctly/perfect from the very beginning. Would you expect to be able to train someone through the process of juggling by giving precise teaching points? Can you teach a person to throw a piece of clay into a perfect bowl by precise instruction, holding their hands etc (Ghost style). No.

Our nervous systems are designed to refine movement through trial and error. Very, very, incredibly simply (!) the motor cortex sends commands to the muscle to produce a movement. The basal ganglia and cerebellum provide the motor cortex with feedback on whether intention and action are the same. If not, they will calculate the error and suggest the best course of action to the motor cortex to bring the intended action closer to whats actually happening. This error correction can be very fast for simple movements - hitting a nail with a hammer is tentative at first often with a bashed thumb! But blow-by-blow it gets more and more accurate until you can swing from way behind your back and still hit a tiny nails head! Thats cerebellar learning! But complex movements can take much longer to perfect and require a lot of repetition, attention, correction and further repetition as new neuronal pathways/synapses are formed or pruned away.

So, get the overall, roungh movement and refine over time.
So, in non-neuroscientist speak, we learn by doing. Re: MA, a lot of doing. Did I get it right? :D
 

Gyakuto

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So, in non-neuroscientist speak, we learn by doing. Re: MA, a lot of doing. Did I get it right? :D
Partially. lots of doing, but not mindlessly. One has to self-observe, actively evaluate, adjust ones movements, make things awkward and practise through that awkwardness.

To many people just repeat the same thing over and over like reps at the gym and do not progress as a consequence在ecause its easy. I have been guilty of this and its nothing but laziness!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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So, in non-neuroscientist speak, we learn by doing. Re: MA, a lot of doing. Did I get it right? :D
Going through the elementary school 5 times won't earn you a PhD degree. You want to grow tall. You don't want to grow fat. For each level of your training, you want to train different things.

For example, you learn how to:

1. beginner level training - use force against force.
2. intemediate level training - borrow force.
3. advance level training - interrupt your opponent's attack during the initial stage.

Can you skip 1, 2 and jump into 3? Can you skip elementary school, junior high, and jump into senior high? I don't think that's a good idea. One foundation is built on top of another foundation.

Other examples are:

1. beginner level training - 1 step 1 punch (single punch).
2. intermediate level training - 1 step 2 punches (use punch 1 to set up punch 2).
3. advance level training - 1 step 3 punches (use punches 1, 2 to set up punch 3).

1. beginner level training - 1 step 1 punch (static punch).
2. intermediate level training - 2 steps 1 punch (dynamic punch).
3. advance level training - 3 steps 1 punch (running punch).
 
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geezer

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Ive literally trained and coached thousands of professionals over a few decades and i have never seen perfect practice.
Well, if anyone were truly capable of perfect practice, then they really wouldn't need to practice at all. Improvement is incremental through continued practice and correction ...both correction by a teacher and through self-correction.

The old saying is that some see the leaves on the trees, others take in the whole forest. I'm a forest rather than the trees kinda guy. I have to get the general idea first and then gradually work out the details. The guy I've been training with the last dozen years or so is the opposite. Perfection in details and a lot of rote drills ...to the point where his students can perform endless numbers of complex drills and are "technically perfect"(at least by his standards) but functionally they are, well ...lacking. They miss the synergy that comes from putting the whole package together.

In recent years I've distanced myself somewhat from this methods and work more on my own. It seems to be working out better for me.
 

Steve

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Well, if anyone were truly capable of perfect practice, then they really wouldn't need to practice at all. Improvement is incremental through continued practice and correction ...both correction by a teacher and through self-correction.

The old saying is that some see the leaves on the trees, others take in the whole forest. I'm a forest rather than the trees kinda guy. I have to get the general idea first and then gradually work out the details. The guy I've been training with the last dozen years or so is the opposite. Perfection in details and a lot of rote drills ...to the point where his students can perform endless numbers of complex drills and are "technically perfect"(at least by his standards) but functionally they are, well ...lacking. They miss the synergy that comes from putting the whole package together.

In recent years I've distanced myself somewhat from this methods and work more on my own. It seems to be working out better for me.

In the context of this thread, Im a proponent of a little training and a lot of application preferably in conjunction with some coaching.

I guess my point is, this idea of perfect practice is counterproductive. I have spent decades trying to reprogram people from new hires to executives to accept that mistakes and failure are an essential and welcome part of the learning process.
 

skribs

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Partially. lots of doing, but not mindlessly. One has to self-observe, actively evaluate, adjust ones movements, make things awkward and practise through that awkwardness.

To many people just repeat the same thing over and over like reps at the gym and do not progress as a consequence在ecause its easy. I have been guilty of this and its nothing but laziness!
But also sometimes you need to just do those reps. It's a balance of time spent on instruction, quality of reps, and quantity of reps.
 

Jimmythebull

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But also sometimes you need to just do those reps. It's a balance of time spent on instruction, quality of reps, and quantity of reps.
Sometimes it's simply a bad instructor.
Sometimes people take longer to learn than others.
 
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