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  • Ray

On the curse of competency

Did you realize it? The best, the most talented in each field often are the worst teachers possible due to a strange phenomenon: the CURSE OF COMPETENCY.


Imagine this scenario: millions of children go into training camps in china for respective ways they can win glory for their country. For example, wushu.


Do all of the million continue with their training regimes throughout the course of their youth to become national champions or even world champions? No, natural selection occurs, and the best remains.


The product of this regime is a small elite group of extremely kinesthetically-intelligent species of human remains. They learn really quickly, and often without much instruction. They JUST. NEED. TO. TRAIN.


While they might not struggle to teach basics, they might struggle with highly advanced movements (from the perspective of the student) that seem very natural to them. Usually its 1 step for them: "Just do until you succeed".

Unless they are trained to break down movements into modular components, it's likely they aren't aware of the process that occurs within their body- and how damaging some of the processes could be for people who are not as strong/conditioned as them.



I was reflecting on the younger days of learning wushu. And when I wanted to learn butterfly twist, my coach ( who's one of the top tier athletes in china) told me it's just a butterfly kick and add a twist. While I could cognitively understand what that meant, my body couldn't act on the command of "butterfly kick" and then "twist"



Butterfly twist, executed slightly differently
Ray's butterfly Twist


But I knew of people that could learn a backflip in 1 min by commanding their body to jump, lean, and tuck. (Sung Min, that's you and please let's train together soon.)


If you could do that, you have something I would call "genetic supremacy".


But 90% of the population does not.


Empathy


I don't like to wear our values and shake them around for people to see, but I feel this simple trait of Empathy reigns superior over the competency of coaches.


Empathy, a trait that THT coaches hold dearly, allows us to step into the shoes of the student and feel whatever difficulties one is facing when learning a skill.


But just having this soft skill is pointless if we can do nothing about it, right?

That is where competency comes in. Competency comes in after Empathy.


I'd dare make a claim, that kinesthetic intelligence is a meta-skill that can be learned over time.


Once we can step into the shoes of the student, we can begin diagnosing root problems from symptoms.


You could almost say that our THT approach to things is like a computer program, filled with lots of "If...Else" statements.


If a student cannot jump well in backflip {

    is the problem a strength issue ?{
    
        if it's a strength issue, the answer is conditioning {
       
            does the problem lie within core engagement ? {
                    fix the core engagement with appropriate exercises}
                else {
                    the problem lies in difficulties in generating power through triple point extension .
                    
                    fix triple point extension through appropriate exercises
        } 
            
        
    else { it's a coordination issue , fix the coordination through drills }

If the above syntax is a little confusing, not to worry.

We are basically illustrating our thought process when accessing the problems that student face, and the appropriate strategies to address those issues.


There exists another factor, which is regarding fear. We also have methods to address this, but this will be a topic for another article.


Our Strengths as a tribe


I believe our strength as a coaching team lies in finding insights from the interrelation amongst different mental models and drawing them together to make things work better.


For example, we approach teaching backflips with physics- knowing how forces work on a pivot allows us to derive the best method to jump, as well as tuck. But more than that, we are able to pinpoint exactly which sets of muscle groups are responsible for generating the respective sets of movements. Combining it with the heart of empathy and an algorithmic approach to problem-solving, you can expect a good experience for almost all our classes.



To bring the best experience and the highest quality of instruction we can provide for students, we are open-sourcing our research for you to read. However, the articles can be highly technical, so proceed with caution.

We are never fully satisfied with our approach and are obsessed to find out ways we can do things better. Eventually, we hope to have a facility to conduct experiments to be able to produce a learning system with statistically significant results, to remove our biases on certain methods, and lastly let data speak for itself. ( The other mental model that we would like to explore would be biology and statistics)


Conclusion


While Tricking is an extremely niche sport in Singapore, I find that it is worthy for me to use my life to build structures to keep this flame of passion for movements alive- and for me to pass this flame to you.


If you're bored with current fitness alternatives and to keep fit for fitness sake, you are very welcome to come join us on our journey to teach 1000 people in Singapore a backflip.

You're invited to sign up for a trial below:)




I'd like to end with a quote from Mr. Annoying Lover of Wisdom (Socrates):


It's a shame for one to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which one's body is capable of.


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