Once I was struggling with a peculiar throw.
In theory, I knew how I needed to move my arms, position my hip, and where to turn.
But it just didn't go.
I couldn't position my sparring partner properly, whenever I lifted my hip he just slid off, and I felt weak and unbalanced in my movement.
Sensei answered my questions patiently.
On the third training I asked for corrections again, and he replied – Have you tried it a thousand times?
Of course I haven't.
Maybe thirty times, but surely not thousand.
So I focused on repetitions.
I thought deeply about what is not working and what is working, about true meaning of each movement, about difference between what has happened and what I thought would happen.
And after three months I got it.
Thinking and practice became one.
Technological developments in recent two decades have spoiled our brains.
We can just look up whatever question we might have, and find answers from experts to anonymous practitioners.
There are dedicated websites like Quora and Stack Exchange, online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, countless professional and personal blogs... Add to that a deluge of conversations on social media.
What question, then, couldn't we possibly find an answer to?
And herein lies the trap.
Most of the time it is not about the answer itself, but our ability to execute or perform that answer.
Just because we feel we intellectually comprehend something does not mean we are magically able to do it as well.
Pick any cookbook you have on your shelf.
It is unlikely that a recipe that you haven't done before will turn out to be a great success – unless it is very similar to something you've done many times, or purely consists of moves you've done repeatedly.
And in case it does turn out well, how much is due to deliberate skill and how much is due to circumstances and luck?
Convenience is a powerful design principle, one that can win markets.
But there is no convenient way to experiencing.
And there are rarely convenient failures.
On improving practice
Good thinking is important, but it must be linked to your practice!
And whenever you struggle with new task, skill, tool, method, whatever, remind yourself that it takes a number of repetitions before you become good.
And if you feel that you are great after a few repetitions, then ask yourself if you are being slightly delusional. Perhaps you are at the beginning of the Dunning-Kruger curve.
Improving is simple, but difficult.
Think about what you do, why you do it, and with what purpose.
Then do it.
Then think about what happened, why, and how can it be different or same.
Then do it again.
Then think again.
Exercise common sense and caution.
Congratulations, you are getting better.
Please let me know to which address should I send you the invoice.
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