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Old 11-13-2012, 07:33 AM   #8
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,182
Re: Some partners talk too much and even want to do the technique for me!

George Donnelly wrote: View Post
I'm sure it's well-intentioned but it gets distracting and frustrating. I feel like I need to have at least some space in which to find my own way. If uke is doing the technique for me, what am I learning, after all?
I'm going to be a bit of a devil's advocate here. I suspect you're talking about individuals who have "green belt syndrome" (from karate -- "No one knows more about karate than a green belt. Just ask one."). They have recently picked up a few clues, and are eager to share them with the world. But it's also possible that these people are your sempai, that they're seeing something wrong that they can help with, and that they're expected to help you in this way.

So...what are you learning? A lot, potentially. Someone "doing the technique for you" is another form of demonstration -- one in which you get to feel the technique.

When I trained as a ski instructor, and again as a whitewater kayak instructor, we were taught about four different learning styles that people use when learning a physical skill: the doer, who learns best by trying to do the technique; the watcher, who learns best by watching someone else do it correctly; the feeler, who learns best by being guided through the technique and feeling what the correct technique feels like; and the thinker, who learns best by understanding the theoretical basis for the technique. People seem to start out with a preference for one of these styles, and some people are really strongly locked into one style, to the point where they actively resist other modes of learning. The most successful learners are those who can use all four learning strategies, because they simply have more learning opportunities: when they see a demonstration, when they feel the technique, when they try to do it, and when they hear an explanation of it. Have you ever seen someone who always watches a demonstration with glazed eyes, and then inevitably turns to their partner and says, "All right...what are we doing?" That's not necessarily someone who is just spacing out and not paying attention: it's possibly someone who has never developed the skill of learning by watching.

Anyway, that's a bit of a digression. In your case, I think your best course of action is to look at your own question: "How am I supposed to learn?" You're supposed to learn using whatever opportunities are available. If you lack the tools to learn from the opportunity that's presented, you can try to change the situation, or you can try to expand your capability to learn in it. I'm not saying that as some kind of smarmy pollyanna-ish "Everything is a learning opportunity" platitude crap, either -- in any given situation, I think you have to make a judgment call. Maybe this is a situation where you can rein in your impatience and try to learn in a way that's less comfortable (for now)...and maybe it's a situation where you just have to say politely, "Can I just try to work through this? I think I'll learn it better that way." I have to use that line once in a blue moon, and I've never had it fail to be respected. Remember, the people trying to help you have probably not been taught how to teach in any systematic way; most likely, they're just trying to help you in the way that they themselves learn best. But if you find yourself using that line frequently, that's somewhat troubling.
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