Friday, May 2, 2014

The 10,000 hour myth

Have you heard about the 10,000 hour "rule"?  The myth that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to gain mastery in any field of practice?  Recently I read an interesting article on why this is indeed just a myth.

The article introduced how science has shown that it is not massed practice but spaced, interleaved and varied practice that helps one to improve with better and lasting results.   The basic gist was that if you "cram" or just do the same thing over and over again, you'll forget it easier and learn it less thoroughly.  If you work on something a little now, and then do something else and then come back to the first thing later, you'll remember it better.  It feels like you are not learning it as well in the beginning but by forcing your brain to work harder to remember and recall with less practice, you remember it better.  Ah, forget my summary, go read the article yourself. (Ditch the 10,000 hour rule!)

So the idea for here is to train smarter, not more.  It made me think about our practice.  We have two practices a week.  To me that just does not seem like enough. Not only does it not seem like it is frequent enough, but 90 minutes on one day and two hours the next leaves me full of questions and doubts that need attention.  Sensei comes, class starts, class finishes, sensei leaves.  There is no free time within the practice where we could ask each other or the sensei questions.  To a certain degree this is just bad luck for us, I think.  The sensei has to drive two hours to get here.  Class finishes at 8 pm and he has to drive 2 hours back. There are no adults practicing but me.  There are actually two other adults but they never come to practice and they are no better than I.  The other members (children) are too busy playing tag and while I can grab one of them for some questions and instruction, I can't hold their attention long.  They just want to have fun.

Each practice does have the same elements.  Perhaps too much the same.  But at the same time, our sensei often introduce things that we don't practice often. Like a combination block to counter that we rarely do.  Or a new kata that we rarely do. This variation and spacing out of the practice may be a good thing.

I still feel like it's not enough, however.  I need a lot of help with the basics. But I have very little time to practice.  I must get my lazy butt out of bed in the morning or I'll never get more practice in.