There are many different ways to learn things, books, tutorials, teachers, tutors, videos and video courses. But if you break it down far enough, there are essentially only two ways of learning. Learning from failure, or learning from others. Learning from failure can be hard, as it’s easy to be dejected by the failing and become unwilling to move forward and learn from it, but the lessons learned can be some of the most memorable, and valuable you learn in life.
Nothing Teaches You To Keep Your Hands Up Like Getting Punched In The Face!
There’s a saying in martial arts(or sports fighting) circles that goes something like this:
“Nothing teaches you to keep your hands up like getting punched in the face.”
Whether you’re sparring or fighting, chances are if you drop your hands you are going to get punched in the face. Especially as a beginner. And as a beginner, the first few times you spar you’re going to drop your hands.
Drilling on bags and shadow boxing in proper form helps a lot, but with the added stress factor of someone actually punching and kicking you, you start to revert back to old bad habits. You wing punches. You bring your head back and your chin up. And you leave your hands down or in front of you when you throw combinations.
If you spar someone who is at your level or more experienced, you are going to get punched in the face. Not too hard, hopefully, but hard enough to remind you that your hands should be in between his/her fists and your face. Nothing says keep your hands up like a bunch of nerves sending pain signals from your nose, or cheek or even eye socket. And then when it happens again, and again, it adds up and teaches you a lesson quickly that is hard to learn without actual practice.
But of course, martial arts or fighting is not the only area where you can learn from failure.
Failing And Learning
Today when I was experimenting on the theme I’m creating for my writer’s site, specifically making a page template with a completely different layout, I made a pretty big mistake. (For those who understand this is what I did: Instead of just using the body class to qualify all the items I wanted to change the CSS for, I edited every single Class and ID, including those from the header.php file.) Basically I edited a lot of code unnecessarily, that now needs to be changed back. Before that I made a few smaller mistakes, and got stuck a few times, having to go and seek out solutions after messing around for more than 30 minutes.
While this seems like a terrible way to learn, and I’ll admit that it’s not too time efficient, what these mistakes become are lessons. Lessons that usually stay with me much longer than something I just read about in a guide and implemented quickly, or borrowed from another theme or website.
Best of all, failing in this way motivates me to get better and learn more and come back and knock things out of the park. I think this might be a development that has happened to me after I started doing martial arts. Something about sparring against someone and getting your ass demolished (especially when you’re almost 2x bigger than them) makes you want to improve your skills. And it seems like that mentality is transferable.
Now I’m not saying that these two are mutually exclusive, far from it. I think you get the most out of either form of learning when you compliment it with the other form. As in don’t JUST practice by yourself, learn from others. And don’t just learn from others, make sure you practice and experiment by yourself. Learning from others helps you get the tools you need faster than you’d get there by yourself. Experimenting and using those tools, helps you internalize and remember them much better than if you just read about, listened to or watched someone else do things.