When learning anything new, be it martial or any movement art, there is a great model for progressive skill development. My first wing chun instructor Sifu Johann Sasynuik taught me this when I was a teenager learning non-classical gung fu at his school. I have adopted these three steps to learning in my school because I find they best represent the methodology that I appreciate and wish to instill in my students. I figured I would share them all with you. They are (in important order):
- UNDERSTAND what you are trying to do
- PRACTICE slowly and correctly
- TRAIN for speed and/or power or intensity
Too often students rush to get to number three without the the proper understanding or mechanics to do so. Learning is not a race! With a little patience to grind out some proper mechanics first, the result of competent movement will actually come faster then if one has to spend time correcting mistakes later. Training for speed and power without proper mechanics is recipe for physical compensations, injuries and just plain sloppiness. With haste comes mistakes, and this is reinforced by the old military sharp-shooting adage of "slow is smooth, smooth is fast".
Fixing hastily trained patterns is a time waster for both you and your instructor. If there is a shortcut to learning martial arts, these steps are it.