One of the best teachers I have ever had and still have is Contrast. Seeing the errors and mistakes others make and adjusting as best as I can, has helped avoid countless problems.
Yes, there are some brilliant mistakes that are exclusive to yours truly. More than I care to admit at times. However, most mistakes are universal in origin; that is, we all make them, albeit it in slightly different forms.
One particular situation stands out this year. I saw them in a seminar and anticipated dramatic progress. After all, I kept hearing how many seminars and classes they took. It seemed like they took a class from everyone around.
Much to my surprise, the skill levels were average. In fact, other than learning a few tricks and memorized phrases from the master instructors, all was the same. It was eye opening to say the least. Metaphorically speaking, it reminded me of when one spreads butter over toast. It just keeps getting thinner and thinner until there is nothing but scraping. In other words, lots of tricks and memorized movements, but no depth.
It was also a brilliant lesson — Get a teacher or if you have one, stick with them.
I knew this, but there was the part of me that wondered if perhaps I was missing out on something. This question was answered quickly, reinforcing the need for steady teaching.
Here are the reasons why:
- You cannot see you. You have one perspective – your own. It may or may not be accurate. A great teacher seeing what you are doing. They see that which you cannot see and are able to make the micro-adjustments needed. They also know you – habits, patterns, tendencies – and can make adjusts that others simply cannot.
- Habits take a while to make or break. It is commonly repeated that habits take 21 days to make or break. This is not accurate. If you read the literature, habits take 60-66 days. 2 solid months. That is. . . 2 solid months of regular training from an expert that is able to see and correct your mistakes. Seminars are great, but they simply do not provide the ample and needed time and one-on-one instruction needed. They are an addition, not a primarily way of learning. Ditto for DVDs.
- Your teacher knows more than you. Otherwise, you would be the teacher. As such, relying on a trusted teacher is and has been the most effective way of learning any new skill, be it Systema or anything else.
- History. The greatest of the great all had teachers. No one bounced around from seminar to seminar or school to school and became great. Or skilled. Or even competent. Our minds and our psyche are not built that way.
- People will go to what is exciting and what is dramatic. Or easy. However, doing the “grind” of regular practice with a great teacher will push you in new and different directions. These new directions are tough and need continual changes and adjustments. Only a teacher can provide this feedback accurately. This is the way that progress is made. Slow and steady.
- Quality, not quantity. There was a block of time when I became obsessive. I took classes, private lessons and as many seminars as humanly possible. It was fun. It was lively. It also was a total waste of time and energy. I learned so much that I learned nothing. In other words, there was so much information presented, but it was never applied. It was at this point that I slowed down and became mindful of what I was being taught. This was a far cry from what I was doing and a much, much better approach.
There is undoubtedly a boatload of other reasons but these rank at the top.
I am most fortunate to have such brilliant teacher, ones that I have stuck with, been loyal to for years and will always be grateful for having them in my life. 90% of what I have learned in Systema is a direct or indirect result of my regular W. Palm trips. Now in my 9th year, I am learning more than ever.
Thanks to great teachers!