Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The importance of teaching

Working with Evan at Pennsic.
Photo by Jen Hostetter
I strongly believe that an important part of any journey of learning is teaching. Passing on what you have learned to others is not just a good service... I have found it really helps me learn better.
This became clear to me when people would say "Wow! That was cool... how do you do it?", and I would go ".....ummm..."
I had no idea. How DID that shot work? I just... threw it. That's just what the axe DOES.
Teaching people... breaking shots, or combos, or just the basic technique of something... down so you can explain it to someone else gives you a better understanding of the mechanics of it, the physics behind WHY it works.
I have not always felt comfortable teaching. I am not a top tier fighter...  I lose as many fights as I win.... so what gives me the right to say "Hey, I know how this works, let me show you."?
I got over that. I am not showing people the way to do something... I am showing them A WAY to do something. I am saying "This is what works for me.", not "This is how it works, period.".
When I break down a technique with the axe, I tell people what I am doing, and where I picked it up. Sometimes, I am reinventing the wheel. I find out that Sir Smacksalot or Duke Flyingwrapshot was doing it that way well before me... and that's fine. Because until I figured out how to explain to my own body how it worked, I just wasn't going to get it.
So my two cents.... if you want to improve, you need to understand not just what others are doing... but what you are doing. The best way I have found... is to teach. Show others, because to do so, you need to break whatever you are doing down to it's component parts... and that will help you grok what it is you actually do. It can be enlightening.
I am hoping to have a video blog out soon with a couple of specific things I do, and why.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree that teaching helps with learning. The better you can explain something, the better you understand it and thus the better you can do it.
    I would also add that the SCA doesn't normally teach fighters how to teach, at least not the way that martial arts tends to. As a martial artist who is now a scadian fighter, I deeply appreciate those who can teach fighting well. His ability to teach me is something I value greatly in my relationship with my knight.
    Olaf, I have always learned a lot from you. Thank you for learning how to teach, and then teaching.