Practise, practise, practise?

Not any more…

Have you noticed that, when you are learning something, teachers will tell you, show you, offer your all sorts of ideas and activities to do.  But do they tell you how to ‘convert’ all this information into actual skill?  Probably you have heard time and time again, that you just have to practise and eventually you will probably learn.  Practise, Practise Practise.

Isn’t that an odd thing?   Certainly it seems reasonable to say that you have to have a go at something to learn it.  This is where we get experiential feedback.  But why should we have to repeat many times?  And why do some people not need to repeat things many times to learn them?

Are we really so dull witted that only endless repetition will drum it in?

I don’t think so.  The problem is that we are taught information, but not how to implement it as changed behaviour

One of my teachers said, there is nothing more likely to inhibit a skill than repetition without a sense of reward.  And I have to agree.

Suppose you were walking across a frozen river.  Would you stomp out determinedly in a straight line staring at the far bank, and run back to the bank when you foot broke through the ice, to repeat the same hopeful but blind venture?  Probably not.

More likely you would take a tentative step, check to see whether any cracks appeared, listen carefully for any sound of cracking.  You would probably take each step with great care, paying careful attention to all your senses, and very deliberately choosing each landing place for your feet, carefully shifting your weight to avoid shock loading the ice.

This is how we need to approach learning.  When we practise something, we need be aware of the ground in front of our feet, and STOP when we hear  the ice cracking.  For it is that sound that we need to hear.  That is experiential feedback.

Applying this analogy to learning, the point where we need to stop is the moment we observe the slightest indication that what we want is not happening.

Consider something simple like opening a jar.  We have all experienced trying to open that jar of jam with a stuck lid, and embarking on a series of grotesque exertions in order to twist the lid.

The point at which I would stop is the point where the lid does not twist off.  For this is the point where I have undeniably been shown that my current behaviour does not work.  Then I use Apogenesis.

Almost invariably I can open stuck lids in a few seconds, not because I am particularly strong, but because in that few seconds I give my body the chance to learn to co-ordinate itself. The amount of torque most people are capable of producing with their hands is enormous, well in excess of what is needed to open a jar.  But where do you think all that power is going normally?  Yes, into those grotesque expressions, clenching of teeth, conflicting muscles, bizarre postures, holding the breath, exasperated noises.  Almost all of the body’s energy is being wasted, and hardly any is left to twist the lid.

When we practise a skill, we have to stop when our behaviour doesn’t work, and change it there and then.   We have to grab hold of the first signs of failure and use it.

So yes, we need practice, but precision practice.  With Apogeniks practice becomes exhilarating, not a series of demoralising repetitions of the same tedious wrong behaviour, but the reward of rising skill level and an exciting series of discoveries.  Once you discover that, you will want to practise your skill for hours, and come out of it light and full of energy rather than exhausted and frustrated.

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