Sunday, November 23, 2008

Side-by-Side Learning (or Smoke and Mirrors)...

I have come to realize that not only am I a visual learner, I'm a conditional visual learner!
I would get very frustrated when I learned something in class, for instance a kata, and then went home with the illustrated instructions and couldn't figure it out alone. Now, I can read those diagrams very well when I already know the kata and just have a "brain fart" and need to reference a forgetten piece of the kata. But if I'm still in process of learning, the drawn diagram is useless to me.
In the year-plus I've been practicing martial arts, I have just now come to the conclusion that I cannot learn something from someone who is standing directly in front of me, facing me! Just recently, I have started asking Sensei and other instructors if they would let me stand next to them - at their side - and let them show the new technique to me from that angle. I have found this to be very beneficial. Things that did not "gel" with me before in "mirror image" are actually clicking in my mind now.
For instance, in our eskrima class on Tuesday nights, many times, the instructor will show a drill to us from "the other side of the fence" other words, he stands directly across from me, facing me and makes the attack, telling me what to do to counteract it. Not working very well for me. Seems to be just fine for others in class, but not me. I ask if he'll let me stand side-by-side with him and show me the move I should be doing in that manner and - drum roll please - I can follow!
I have never noticed anyone else in class who needs their instruction to be done in this manner. (Although I will be paying more attention in the future now that I've wrapped my head around the problem I've been having.) But I'm just curious if any of you have this problem as well? And if so, do you have any tips for dealing with it other than the obvious of asking the instructor to show it to you standing side-by-side?


CrimsonPhoenix said...

I have the same problem too, though on a lesser degree I would say. It frustrates me when one of my instructors is teaching me something new and facing me. When they're teaching a form, they tend to stand beside me as we walk through it together.

I'm a very visual learner too and so when we're doing some kind of drill or whatnot and the other person is standing in front of me facing me -- I have to visualize in my mind what they're doing. The mirror image makes me react slower, so I try to visualize their position as if our position was reversed and then counteract if that makes sense.

Hope you get this worked out! I'll let you know if I find out anything that helps, and if you'll let me know if you find something that works for you, that would be great!

Chris | Martial Development said...

I don't think you have a problem. Gathering information from multiple angles is always a good idea. Maybe the people who decline that opportunity have a problem?

Perpetual Beginner said...

It's very common, actually. Going side-by-side is a little harder on the sensei (it's harder to see what's going on), but in my experience consistently easier on the student.

Never be afraid to ask for information in the way you process it best. You're the one learning it, after all!

(Okay, for the first time ever, the word verification is an actual word - mental. This is scaring me.)

Martial Arts Mom said...

Wow - I feel a little better now. I have weapons class (or stick class as we lovingly call it: )I won't feel so bad, knowing others have the same issues. (And like I said in post, I plan on watching others to see if they seem to do better side-by-side too.

Dragonfly said...

I too have that problem and I also try to do what CrimsonPhoenix said by in essence trying to imagine myself in the other person's shoes. I also try to talk it out to myself - Ok they have left foot forward and right hand grabbing my left hand and so forth. In cases where we are watching two people demonstrating, I will move my position in the room so I am facing same way as the person I will be trying to imitiate for lack of a better word (defender or attacker).

Michele said...

Interesting post. When there are young children in the class, they always want me to stand in front of them like a mirror. They usually position themselves in this manner. Adult students seem to prefer looking in the mirror or standing next to the instructor.

We all have different learning styles. It is important to recognize how we process information. When I am teaching, I vary my approach (standing the same direction, standing in front, etc.) In my own training, I prefer to stand next to the instructor.