Sunday, October 3, 2010

Restricted freedom

How do you restrict and free a student?

This question came about in September, after teaching students in Wingtsun, as well as students in undergrad.

Whether it is kung fu, music, or any task requiring a new skillset, how do we approach learning it or teaching it?

The goal
We know that there is an ideal goal, the “finished product”, as Sifu Ralph mentions, also stated in his recent blog post. As a new student, at first, we imitate. Later on, we then try to understand. This analyzing and applying phase may last months or years. We are then also influenced by experience, before even attempting our own expression.

At some point, in any career, we might be called upon to teach. When we are teaching, we no longer feel that foreign sensation that a new student feels while learning new motions. So, how do we empathize and understand what a new student has to go through?

We want to teach a foundation and base to start with, and thus restriction comes into play. Yet, we also want to allow freedom of expression. Is this done at the same time, or sequentially?

Know your boundaries
Bruce Lee, who was influenced by various philosophers, from Confucius to Krishnamurti, is often quoted as follows:

“Using no way as way, having no limitation as limitation.”

A less commonly heard quote of his is “From form to formless and from finite to infinite”

Two seemingly opposing concepts. The “from” and “to” imply a chronological teaching method. Might they exist simultaneously though?

At the beginning we might need restriction. Learning the rules. Boundaries. Foundation. Structure. In the end, we would like to achieve freedom without form.

In between the two spectrums, perhaps freedom starts to exist within the confines of a defined restriction. Simultaneously.

Going back to the initial question. How do you restrict and free a student?

I started this blog entry in September, and I realize now that there is a flaw in my questioning. Before thinking about “how” in a practical sense, there is something else to think about, either at first or at the same time. Besides “how”, there is also “why” and “when”.

Why do you restrict and free a student?
When do you restrict and free a student?

Before becoming formless, we have to understand, explain, and experience form.

Practically speaking
Yes, it was time for another philosophical interlude. How about something a little bit more practical?

When learning anything new, think about the “why”.

Obviously, there is still much more to learn. Kung Fu is a long journey!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hmmm, sounds like teaching/learning surgical skills to me