We’ve all heard of the 10,000 hours of practice to master something. But did you know there are actually four things that you also need before you hit an expert level?
Welcome back to Oracle Labs.
Today we look at a fascinating podcast from Veratasium that outlines what else we need to do to become a killer at whatever we’re trying to achieve at an expert level. In our case, becoming an unstoppable Jiujitsuka on the mat.
The four parts are:
1. A valid environment.
What this means is that the space in which you wish to become an expert must not be a place of random events with no continuity, structure and expert guidance. Rather this space must produce a set of actions and events that are predictable and consistent to a degree. Jiu Jitsu fits this bill because we know the rules of the game. Whether it’s ADCC, IBJJF, EBI or just your academy, we know the rules that we live by. In BJJ, you’re never expecting to be punched or kicked while practicing at the academy. Nor are you expecting to suddenly break out your guitar and drums in the middle of a roll session in your garage with your buddies.
So what would be a ‘non-valid environment’ then? The podcast didn’t say, but I would hazard to guess, it might be a friend’s basement or shed and you’re all trying to learn jiu jitsu by yourselves (as beginners) using only youtube as your guide. Hey, don’t get me wrong. Nothing wrong with learning by curiosity and buddies, but we’re talking about becoming experts in under 10 years here. And yes, basement/shed wrestling is an awesome way to peak your interest, have fun and get started. But after a while maybe consider launching into something more rigorous and structured, preferably with a knowledgeable coach.
2. Many reps.
This is the one we often hear about. The infamous 10,000 hours coined by Malcolm Gladwell. This is still a valid statement and much has been written about it. So no need to go into it here. The only point is that it is just ONE of the FOUR parts required.
3. Timely Feedback
This one is important. After the event or actions have been completed, you have gotten feedback asap on what you did or didn’t do correctly. Maybe it’s a video review with teammates, or with your coach (who may be using a web tool to monitor your progress). Whatever the scenario, be sure to review the details and learn from your mistakes. As it has been aptly said before…
“fail fast, fail often… and learn from your mistakes”.
4. Deliberate practice.
Here’s the part that is often overlooked, skipped or just plain hated on by practitioners. Deliberate practice. This is when you review something you just learned, and drill it … to death. And I mean, to death. Like hundreds and hundreds of reps. Muscle memory only works when those muscle fibres, your neuromuscular system and brain neurons have created a strong neural pathway of links. It’s is often said:
“fear the man who has repeated one technique 10,000 times vs the man who has practiced 10,000 techniques one time”.
At Oracle Jiu Jitsu, we pride ourselves on using this science-backed system of learning. Why wouldn’t you? A typical day may look like a series of techniques a particular week, followed by drills of that technique the following week, then another technique the following week, followed by more drills. We’ll often at this point, test out the hypothesis by holding shark tank sessions. This is a great way to cement ideas and truly lock in muscle memory. If it’s not working at this point, well, we need to go back to the drawing board and either retool or drill some more. This is the Oracle way.
All the best in your practice!