Thursday, February 12, 2015

How to learn

This is coming from Sycra's latest video, the 5th in his Pointy Chins series where he's detailing his growth over the last few years and how he's accomplished it:

He's been doing essentially the multiple reiterations method I did for designing swords, only he's been using it to find his own particular approach for figure drawing and shape language.  Basically whenever he realizes he's not very good at something in particular - like drawing the body from a certain angle or in a certain pose, he then launches into drawing it for a few days, over and over, making slight changes in his method until it starts to look good.

And I love the thing he said at one point - that when he feels defeated and just wants to throw up his arms and say "Oh crap - I can't do this!" he instead thinks "I'll bet Sinix can do this.. " and that spurs him to further effort and often breaks him right through the block. It's a sort of self-shaming through imaginary competition, so he doesn't actually compare notes with the other person, but he imagines the humiliation of it and also the triumph he would feel in being able to surpass him, or at least how good it would feel to NOT suffer that humiliation. This is what I call competition/camaraderie - it can either be explicit, done by literally comparing notes with somebody, or implicit, by using an imagined version of them, which seems to be just as effective (maybe more so because the real person doesn't always react the way you imagine he would, and you might not be able to get in contact with him when you want to).

He mentioned a book called The Art of Learning that I considered getting, but according to the Amazon reviews it's more of a biography about how this one guy learns and doesn't really go into much detail about how you can do it except in the introduction. But the author is both a chess champion and martial arts black belt who says when he encounters a problem he doesn't see it as an obstacle but as a potential boost instead. It's good to learn where your weaknesses are so you can then work on them more. He also said when he is learning for instance a new punch he practices it until he's got it down perfectly before moving on, where-as the less proficient practitioners just get it good enough, and then the kicks good enough, and the blocks good enough, etc. Practice via repetition, but making sure you've got the correct form worked out rather than practicing bad form. Until you've got it perfect. Then move on to the next thing. And a few days  later, practice that former move again for a while, drill it to keep it from fading out of your memory. You have to keep doing that with each thing you learn until it's embedded firmly in your subconscious. And even then you can't let your skills go unused too long or they get rusty and you need to practice for a long time again to get them up to par.

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