Monday, April 8, 2013

Drilling for Skill

In martial arts we have two person and solo exercises called drills. These usually focus on one part of a technique, or a certain kind of movement or action. In two person work you are either trying to get the skill of defense, or an offensive skill, or a controlling skill. We drill these exercises until they becomes second nature, or intuition, or become a skill. I call this " getting the skill from the drill." We practice and exercise, analyze, research ,roll up our sleeves and work and drill ourselves until something miraculous happens: we reach our goal and now are able to do and understand what was in the beginning an awkward mystery. I've heard that it takes 21 days to either make or break a habit. In martial arts, and in all movement arts really, it takes 1000 repetitions to attain mastery. For me that idea of mastery is when the external drill becomes my internal skill.

We all know how to use a dictionary. Now we just go right to the letter of the word we are trying to look up. We have that skill. When we were first learning about using a dictionary we had to drill the alphabet and probably even sang the A B C song. Think about it. We no longer need to sing that song because we have the skill of the alphabet and can apply it freely and easily when looking up a word. This simple truth applies to every drill or every skill. Sometimes the boring, monotonous, repetition is the only path from being an outsider to becoming an insider, or a master. In George Leonard's book, Mastery, he says "learn to love the plateau." The plateau is the time and energy it takes to get the skill from the drill.

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