The Learning Process
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

October 31, 2016, Kiev, Ukraine

All beginnings are difficult. All change is challenging. All learning is an ongoing process.

It becomes even more difficult when you have already mastered some art form. Now you begin a new field of study and you must go from being the master to being the student. Very few can do this.

None of us have trouble learning our first language as a children. We start with a few grunts that no one can understand. I still recall my nephew saying Taka puying when he wanted chocolate pudding. We then evolve to single words, No, Mama, out, etc.  But when it comes to learning a new language very few of us are up to the challenge.

Yes, at first you will mispronounce everything, and then only say a few single words, but that is the beginning.

It is the same with martial arts. 

People learn an art and then figure they want to expand, learn something new. But they forget that is in fact...something new. They forget that they must empty their cup in order to refill it with something new and interesting.

They come to a class very full. They are full of themselves and their previous knowledge. Any attempt to teach them can be seen as a challenge to their existing knowledge. Some will even try to teach others.

They do not understand the learning process. They do not understand that now they are in a new environment and they must take off their black belt and put on a white belt.

In order to help myself understand these sorts of situations I like to reverse it and see how I would feel. So I imagine that I have decided to study Mongolian wrestling, something I know little about. I fly to Mongolia and begin classes. After a few minutes I feel confused and lost, what do I do?

Do I walk up to the instructor and via a translator tell him that I have a better technique? Do I challenge him? Do I question his knowledge and expertise?

No, I would never dream of doing that. I would say to myself, wow, this is difficult, I do not understand where he is going with this but I came to learn. I must give it time. I must recall that everything begins with one step. As the classics teach us  "Begin at the beginning, and go till you come to the end: then stop.  (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)

New beginnings are not for everyone, only for the brave. But if you do choose a new beginning remember that you are only a beginner and you must start at the beginning.