This observation, that I am learning Martial Arts slowly, actually goes back to 1967-1968. I was in a type of Ed Parker Kenpo school at the time. What martial system I was studying doesn’t matter, however for I found ‘slow learning’ was being done in every martial art being taught.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t learning and having a ball. Heck, Martial Arts made life worth living, and the rite of passage is not equaled in other method in life. But, as I have said, I was learning pretty darned slowly.
The process of learning slowly was described to me as being on a plateau. I would earn a belt, be given new material, and then study that new material for half a year, and be bored with that new material after the first month. The instructors knew what I was going through, and justified it by giving it the label plateau, and telling me it was part of the learning method.
Somebody shows me a move, I practice it a dozen times, and then I can do it. I don’t have to think about it, and don’t really understand why I am supposed to practice something I know. And pretty much everybody is like this.
Intuition is how a human being learns, and human beings are the fastest learners around. Yet, in a karate school or any other martial arts school, they are asked to memorize random sequences of moves, and then draw connections that don’t, for the most part, exist. No wonder learning is becomes tedious; no wonder people drop out.
Think of it this way: you are asked to memorize an algebra sequence, a trigonometry formula, learn negative addition, and then you call yourself a mathematician. Doesn’t look too smart, does it? Yet that is the way the martial arts are given to people.
Well, of course, they originate in nations which did not have logic, let alone broad public education, let alone an interest in the latest and greatest modern method for learning. Doesn’t mean their arts aren’t great, they can be phenomenal, but they are slow. The method used to teach is just slow, you see.
There are alternatives to this random memorization of tricks…if one is to be willing to admit that the old methods are antiquated, and that they can learn fast, and that it is okay to learn at a faster rate. We are our greatest natural resource, and it is time to undo the restraints, throw away the wheel chairs…and get the lead out. After all, you don’t want to keep learning the martial arts at a snail’s pace, do you?