/ is the only way to mastery through training?

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French Erick - on 11 Feb 2019

From another thread, with an eminently sensible answer " get training".

Does anyone teach themselves nowadays? I accept that getting a course could potentially (but not necessarily):

1) avoid dangerous pitfalls

2) curtail the lenghty learning process (which I am not sure is that great?)

3) avoid bad habits and associated repetitive injury

I am a self taught skier/boarder/telemarker, climber (although partners taught me a lot), and canoist (WW). I think of myself as fairly competent (although very rusty with all the slidy stuff) and safe.

Have we, as a society, completely lost trust in ourselves in reaching mastery, or do we want the shortcuts or what?

I should add, this is me wondering. I'm thinking about getting a WW water safety course to see what "knowledge gap" I undoubtedly have.

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Andy Hardy on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

I think the answer to your question lies in the cash/time balance. To teach yourself to ski, you must have had plenty of time (not the typical 1 week a year most do). 

(I do sometimes wonder at threads on here from people asking about "multi pitch" climbing as if it were somehow massively more complex than climbing >1 pitch)

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AlH - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

Great question Erick. Lots of things to take account of. Learning needs to be effortful, if you go on a course and get spoon fed you have been done few real favours. A good coach will help create a good environment for you to learn rather than for them to teach if you see what i mean.

I'm self taught initially but now offer training for a job. I find many people are time poor and want to accelerate their learning or to get some confidence that what they are doing is "right" (there are lots of "right" ways to do things IMHO) or that they aren't missing something crucial out.

There are also people who do come wanting a shortcut to competence... I think its a bit symptomatic of our society today... a fast food, entitled approach. They are bombarded with the media and the X Factor (don't get a job just be 'naturally talented' for your short cut to stardom). They are often surprised when I say that to develop they need to stop paying me any more money (at least for a while) but to go and have some of their own adventures and to learn the next bits themselves!

(Off out to manipulate the constraints of the learning environment on Aonach Mor now).

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BnB - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

As a pretty competent skier since youth, I taught myself to snowboard at the age of 40 without difficulty and with satisfactory results. But to reach my full potential, I enlisted on an advanced skills clinic with the former British Olympic coach and the difference it made to my understanding of the discipline was profound.

Lack of talent prevents me from reaching great heights, but I can confront the most challenging terrain (black mogul runs on a snowboard, anyone?) with a full arsenal of competencies that highlight the benefits of expert tuition.

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Doug on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

you say 'although partners taught me a lot' which I think is an important point. Like you I'm a mostly self taught skier (my few lessons were after I'd been skiing for many years), learnt by going out with friends. But some of those friends were ski instructors & although they were not teaching me, having good style to follow, plus the odd useful tips all helped.

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1poundSOCKS - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

> Does anyone teach themselves nowadays?

Given the amount of information available on the Internet these days, it's probably not that common. People who want to improve would need a very extreme sense of self reliance to ignore it.

> Have we, as a society, completely lost trust in ourselves in reaching mastery, or do we want the shortcuts or what?

Isn't it obvious that building on hard won training and injury prevention strategies over the last few decades is a better way to improve than starting from scratch? People who train tend to want to climb harder, not make the process more protracted and difficult than it needs to be. In the past, especially before the internet was widely used, information wasn't as easy to find.

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Billhook - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

Defintely NO... 

Mastery can be gained by experience, although a little training at the start may avoid you making stupid mistakes ....

The one small problem with training (and I was a trainer once).  Is that you get taught what is common practice - at that time!.  Even if its excellent training provided by experienced, skilled and qualified staff it still won't necessarily mean there is not a better, more effective way of climbing, canoeing or achieving better results.  

Most, all (?) of the innovators in climbing, canoeing and most other things, became innovators because they broke the traditional mould of doing things. 

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philhilo - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

Not massively so when you have plenty of single pitch experience in different areas, rocks,terrain. However when I see,

'have been climbing indoors for about 6 months, want to go big walling, can someone take me out for the day and show me how', then the reaction is go on several courses, and do a lot of climbing over several years. Familiarity is a lot of it. 

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deacondeacon - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to Andy Hardy:

> (I do sometimes wonder at threads on here from people asking about "multi pitch" climbing as if it were somehow massively more complex than climbing >1 pitch)

Where? 

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Ben Sharp - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

People have different learning styles as well so it's not necessarily one being better than the other. I learn much better by reading about something and then practicing it than I do learning from someone else (in general anyway), but then I'm a bit slow sometimes so going at my own pace works best for me!

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LastBoyScout on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

I'm self taught for a few things, but generally accept that there are definitely things you can get better at a lot quicker with some instruction.

Most sports have gone through some sort of evolution of people learning by trial and error and, if you've got the time/money to go through the same process, then you'll inevitably get to the same place in the end.

However, and I'll provide a couple of examples to illustrate the point, it's definitely worth it, and cost-effective to get qualified instruction, as that'll save you a world of pain, as in points 1, 2 and 3 you made.

1 - Tried teaching myself to windsurf once and spent a lot of time falling in the water and not very much time actually sailing, but couldn't work out why. Then I did a 1-day beginner course and it was a revolution - there was 1 specific thing I'd been doing wrong with the sail and changing that made all the difference to getting going and not falling in.

2 - swimming. Thought I was a pretty good swimmer over short distances, but always got tired on longer swims. Entered a long distance race and thought I'd better get some technique coaching and that was undoubtedly the difference between finishing and an embarassing DNF.

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cb294 - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

Like you I am a self taught skier, climber, and canoeist, but in none of these disciplines do my skill level even come close to what I know about judo, where I had decades of supervision by competent coaches (still continuing long after I started training others). This despite taking part in these sports for a similar number of years/decades (but of course not hours per year!)

Unless you have ridiculous amounts of talent (or are able to transfer skills from other disciplines), there is simply no alternative to structured training and instruction if you want to go beyond a certain skill level. There is a limit to what you can teach yourself, maybe less so in disciplines like mountaineering that are - relatively speaking - not so hard technically (i.e., it is usually not a lack of technical skill that shuts me down, but a lack of fitness). Also, mountaineering is strongly dependent on experience, which to an extent requires making your own mistakes. You usually learn more climbing a mountain like Mont Blanc on your own than with a guide.

That said, I think standards are sliding in many fields in our current societies. In my main sport (judo) I regularly see new black belts and many of them have not the slightest idea about what they are doing (compared to, say, 20 years ago).

They want the big bad black belt as a status symbol, but are unwilling to put in the necessary hours and years to actually master the sport. Unfortunately most clubs are so desperate for members that they let this slide. For similar reasons, in most federations the colour belts are now split (e.g. orange-green), supposedly so that students have regular and outwardly visible documentation of progress. This is sold as positive reinforcement, which may make sense for motivating children, but IMO even beginner teenagers would profit more from a lesson in patience.

I strongly believe that this a side effect of "generation smart phone".

CB

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deepsoup - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to cb294:

> They want the big bad black belt as a status symbol, but are unwilling to put in the necessary hours and years to actually master the sport. Unfortunately most clubs are so desperate for members that they let this slide.

Or, to put a contrary POV: perhaps they're taking a more authentically Japanese view of 'shodan' (meaning, literally, 'beginning step') - that there's nothing big or bad about a black belt.  It indicates what you might call a serious beginner, someone who's got a decent grasp of the basics.

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cb294 - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to deepsoup:

I know I need to keep learning after Shodan (in fact I am only now going for Nidan, as I had different priorities in the last 30 years), and of course I have kept improving my knowledge and understanding of the sport while losing my competitive ability due to age, but that is beside the point.

20 years ago the requirements to reach your "serious beginner" grade definitely were much stricter, we witness the same kind of grade creep you see in schools, universities, and trad crags....

I accept, though, that grade progression has traditionally been faster in other MAs such as, say, Shotokan karate, while in Judo (at least traditionally) a Dan grade was rather exceptional in the under 18 age class.

CB

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Mal Grey - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

I'm similar, in almost all my "sports" I'm self or peer taught;

Climbing. My brother showed my how to tie on and belay, then me and my mates just went off with very little kit (bought between 3 of us on a tight budget) and tried it out. I'd actually say we were pretty careful. Watching other people was probably the closest to instruction I had.

Mountain biking. Just went out and did it, and 25 years later, I'm a middling rider and will never be any better. I'm pretty sure some lessons would have made me quite a bit better, but am no longer bothered about trying harder stuff. I think this is one where technique isn't necessarily obvious to me.

Canoeing. Almost entirely self-taught, but with some absolutely spot on hints and tips from the folk I paddle with. Mostly, though, my ability is down to time spent on the water, something I've been lucky to find a lot of.

As for the WWSR course; just do it! I think this is slightly different, in that it takes you way out of what you could comfortably do on your own, or with mates of the same experience base, in a (fairly!) controlled environment. In particular the swimming and rescue parts are much more intense than what you'd normally encounter; or they were on my course on a cold Feb day in rather high water. It taught me masses, it also taught me something about my own abilities in water (middling swimmer at best) and things like just how quickly you get tired in a long swim. I wrote it up on SOTP: 

http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/forum/showthread.php/48000-WWSR-%E2%80%93-Wet-Welsh-Swimming-and-Roping

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DaveHK - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

Mindset is the important thing if you want to teach yourself. Specifically an analytical approach, a willingness to spend time thinking about your performance and a readyness to accept and apply criticism.

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nastyned - on 11 Feb 2019
In reply to cb294:

>For similar reasons, in most federations the colour belts are now split (e.g. orange-green), supposedly so that students have regular and outwardly visible documentation of progress. This is sold as positive reinforcement, which may make sense for motivating children, but IMO even beginner teenagers would profit more from a lesson in patience.

> I strongly believe that this a side effect of "generation smart phone".

Hmmm...I did judo as a kid 40 years ago and there were lots of different coloured belts with sub-grades then! I also have doubts about the value of such things, but it's not new. 

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French Erick - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to Doug:

> you say 'although partners taught me a lot' which I think is an important point. Like you I'm a mostly self taught skier (my few lessons were after I'd been skiing for many years), learnt by going out with friends. But some of those friends were ski instructors & although they were not teaching me, having good style to follow, plus the odd useful tips all helped.

"Self taught" meant without formal instructions, as most of these activities are best enjoyed in company. I did spend a good amount of time WW canoeing on the river Thurso a few years back due to lack of time/partner.

I have been lucky with my partners in all sports- all had things to share (a few have become instructors since).

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French Erick - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

> Mindset is the important thing if you want to teach yourself. Specifically an analytical approach, a willingness to spend time thinking about your performance and a readyness to accept and apply criticism.

true- but many people are not great at self analysing movement due to lack of spatial awareness. I have always found that difficult personally- visualisation isn't my forte and as a young freestyle skier/boarder I needed repetitive crashes whilst other thought it through and could get the same result with half the attempts.

Some bad habits in my skiing have never changed despite being made aware of them (sodding elbows!)

But what about the process of self teaching- you are very much of that school. But would you think that an activity with more objective danger (see paragliding/freeskiing) necessarily warrant a course? Would you do what I have seen you do with 2 disciplines in the last decade and do it all on your own?

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French Erick - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to AlH:

> Great question Erick. Lots of things to take account of. Learning needs to be effortful, if you go on a course and get spoon fed you have been done few real favours. A good coach will help create a good environment for you to learn rather than for them to teach if you see what i mean.

I hear you Al. I did not see spoonfeeding as the main issue though- more that experience cannot be replaced. Some mistakes need be made. And time is almost the only way to make those experiences (unless luckily independently wealthy!).

> There are also people who do come wanting a shortcut to competence... I think its a bit symptomatic of our society today... a fast food, entitled approach. They are bombarded with the media and the X Factor (don't get a job just be 'naturally talented' for your short cut to stardom). They are often surprised when I say that to develop they need to stop paying me any more money (at least for a while) but to go and have some of their own adventures and to learn the next bits themselves!

So there is this pervading idea that you can buy experience then? Is there this idea that knowledge can only be bought as opposed to found though fumbling?

> (Off out to manipulate the constraints of the learning environment on Aonach Mor now).

How was it? You know I have never been on the west face! I need to get there at some point.

BTW, it has been too long. We're due a day out!

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DaveHK - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to AlH:


> just be 'naturally talented' for your short cut to stardom).

I have a friend who quite often makes dismissive comments about people being lucky to have natural talent for an activity. It really nips my tweed as it ignores the massive amount of hard work and sacrifice many make to progress in their sport. It's also a convenient excuse for poor performance when the real reason is an unwillingness to commit the time and resources.

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AlH - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Exactly.

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DaveHK - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

> But would you think that an activity with more objective danger (see paragliding/freeskiing) necessarily warrant a course? Would you do what I have seen you do with 2 disciplines in the last decade and do it all on your own?

I think it depends on your starting point. I didn't start from zero with the ski touring thing (and I'm still a pretty shocking skier!) I knew a lot of the basics from skiing a bit as a kid and I had lots of mountain knowledge. It's easy to underestimate how much of a head start that gives. When I started skiing I already understood snow and mountains so it was just the skiing bit I had to come to terms with

If I was starting a new activity that involved a whole new element (air? water?) I might well seek out instruction.

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cb294 - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to nastyned:

Didn't exist in Germany in the 1970s, first I have seen them was in the 2000s,

CB

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galpinos on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

I think in many things most people can self teach to competent but rarely to mastery. My skiing had plateaued and it was only some structured sessions in gates that gave me the breakthrough from the dead end of "experienced beginner" to competent and the path to expert (though I never reached that level!).

As per this image, though it doesn't relate to sport, I think it's relatable to most learning processes

https://daedtech.com/pics/ExpertBeginner.jpg

Post edited at 09:22
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French Erick - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to galpinos:

> I think in many things most people can self teach to competent but rarely to mastery.

And yet, the precursors of any sport had to invent it all...which I accept is taken into account when you say "rarely". 

Indeed, few great athletes now came from nothing, either born into it or accessed instruction.

But all have worked hard regardless to talent as DaveHK says.

The hard working plodder almost always win over the lazy/not hard-working talented:

https://www.google.com/search?q=le+lievre+et+la+tortue&safe=active&rlz=1C1GCEB_enGB758GB758&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjh57v1iLbgAhWsyYUKHVjrAFIQ_AUIDigB&biw=1024&bih=662#imgrc=FRCyd80O3Uu2IM:

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galpinos on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

The key words were most and rarely. I agree that some will, but not that many of us fit into that category.

With regards to creating new sports or sports still in their infancy, then the change of achieving "relative" mastery through self taught progression is higher, but standard of "mastery" is obviously lower.

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wercat on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to French Erick:

Self teaching can mean some lucky escapes, not even in the outdoors.  Like the time I was at school when I was trying to repair an old tank radio in a hut well away from anyone else on my own  and got a 600 volt jolt from the power supply that made me jump across the room ...

If you will fiddle with the transmit receive relay armed with a screwdriver while the set is running !

Post edited at 11:31
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French Erick - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to galpinos:

You are right. Mastery would need to be defined more precisely.

I probably think of it more as "proficiency" with "competency", "knowledge" and "safety" as opposed to "high performance"

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nastyned - on 12 Feb 2019
In reply to cb294:

Interesting, definitely did in England in the 1970s! BJJ seems to be heading that way too as the club I'm currently training at is now doing various stripes for each belt. Don't think they've added any extra colours yet though!

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