It’s Not Ok To Make Mistakes, It’s Essential.
It’s not enough to simply do something, just because you were told to do it, question everything, understand how it works and why it works, or even why a technique doesn’t seem to work for you, because when we fully understand HOW something works, you will make it work better for you.
I have been teaching Wing Chun now for well over thirty years, and in this time have seen so many students who become disheartened after, ‘Not getting it‘, first time, or an area of their training, taking longer than expected for it to sink in.
Relax, this is normal, in fact, it is more than normal, it is essential.
I had a student once, over thirty years ago, who seemed to pick things up so quickly it was unreal, he almost had a photographic memory.
Within a few months he had a fantastic looking Siu Lim Tau and terrific footwork in both stepping and kicking, and by the six months mark he had Chum Kiu under his belt and was flying through the Dummy Form drills with ease.
I remember jokingly saying to him, “Keep this up and you’ll know everything in a year!“, unfortunately by the end of that year, quite the opposite occurred.
After twelve months had gone by, his Dummy Form was complete and he had the sharpest looking hand Forms I’d seen in a long time too, all three of them!
‘Quite a task we’d managed‘, I thought, until that was when I asked him (and the rest of the class of course), to partner for Dan Chi Sau, and it was at this stage that I realised, he was not good at this, at all.
‘How can this be?’,
Then it hit me, I had spent so much time focussing on what looked good, that I had not held him back enough for him to appreciate what all these moves were actually about, in essence, I had cheated him out of his mileage.
Luckily, after I explained this to him (very delicately I might add), and confirmed that non of this time had been wasted (as he’ll need these Forms one day anyway), he agreed to go back to the start, gain the deeper understanding, and take the time that was needed.
This guy continued to train for several years after this and gained Instructor level.
Now I am NOT saying that Wing Chun cannot be learned quickly, in fact, the very purpose behind the creating of the Wing Chun system was for it to be studied at a rapid rate and a short timeframe.
What I am saying however, is that you should not move forward until you truly understand where you are right now.
Oh, and you WILL make mistakes.
If the student mentioned, had not been so perfect in mimicking these moves (looking like he knew what he was doing), then I would have seen the signs earlier, therefore knowing where we actually needed to focus.
So you see, making mistake is a good thing, just as it is in assessments.
In our assessments (Gradings), everyone is watched as they run through the required moves etc. and marked and commented upon through a score sheet, this way allowing us to give feedback.
So wether you pass or not, this is a win/win, in that you will discover where you are in your journey, what you have understood, and what has slipped through the net (as it were).
Making mistakes is only a bad thing if you do not learn from them.
This is the same when playing Chi Sau, if an attack gets through and you discover how this happened, and so preventing it from happening again, then this is a good thing, but if an attack gets in and you simply get cross over this, or try to retaliate with force, then your learning stops, and there is only you preventing you, from moving forward.
So do train properly, of course try to get it right first time, BUT, embrace the mistakes and learn from them, this way you will always keep improving, never find a ceiling level (thinking you’ve learned enough) and continue onward to be a constant practitioner and ever growing teacher, of the Wing Chun art.
“The man who claims to know everything is a fool, for his learning has ceased”