Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Patterns, practice, and peculiar obsessions

Hi,

[Today's email has been written by Rakshith]


For most of us, the incredible speed and agility of a martial arts master seems thoroughly unattainable. But is it really? These masters have simply trained so much that they have reached the point of fighting intuitively. You too can get this good at any skill – but how?

As the cliché goes, practice makes perfect. Any technical information, from patterns to strategies to techniques, can feel like natural, instinctual intelligence if you practice and apply them enough.

For example, growing up, I was fascinated by Chess. Over time, the fascination developed into an obsession. I spent countless hours reading, playing, and studying Chess. Every chess beginner learns that the pieces have numerical equivalents – a bishop, for instance, is worth three pawns. At first, players will count the equivalents in their heads, but this eventually stops once they manage to improve their skill level. What happens? Well, something that was once seen mathematically is now felt intuitively. And once certain patterns become intuitive to you, that’s when the fun really begins. Skilled chess players are able to play with patterns, making small adjustments to confuse their opponents and gain advantages.

One fundamental pattern or principle in chess is centre control, whereby a player who dominates the middle of a chessboard has a strategic advantage. But, if you’re a practised professional, you can win even when all your pieces are along the sides of the board, having twisted the classic centre control pattern to your advantage.
This kind of practice that Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson calls deliberate practice, frees up your conscious mind. When you don’t have to remind yourself of how certain patterns work, you can zoom in on different details.

I have been wondering how to encourage deliberate practice among learners post a training program. How can learners develop habits that they will obsessively follow? From my experience with Chess, I believe gamification can provide an answer here and we are experimenting with a few ideas at Gentle Bamboo, though that’s the subject for another email or three.

What do you do to encourage your learners to engage in deliberate practice after they attend your training program? I look forward to your emails.

Deliberately looking for answers,

Rakshith