Yesterday in class I spent a lot of time talking about deliberate practice, specifically in developing the skills of striking with a rokushaku bo, but it applies to every skill within the Bujinkan, and within life itself.

Previously I recommended all my students to read the book: “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise” by Anders Ericsson. Anders is considered the the world’s top expert on deliberate practice. This book really gets into the details of deliberate practice, and explains why people like Soke stated that you should learn something, then go practice on your own a thousand times.

In class I’ve explained many times how I would learn a new skill in the past. Spending every little moment I could working on one little thing until I “got” it, but then continuing to work on it to improve it. This is no different then any other sport, or skill. Professional basketball players practice all the basics, over and over again, because it’s within the basics, and within the small little skills that make up a bigger skill that makes the “advance” technique work, or I should say work in a way that it becomes effortless.

If you want to move like Soke, or your favorite Dai-Shihan, then it’s through developing those basic skills, not just by going to class, but through your time alone in deliberate practice.

With all that said, one of my students sent me an article about deliberate practice, which you can read here. But I’m posting highlights below.

Here is an interview with Anders, you may want to grab a cup of jo, and spend just under an hour listening to it.

  • For Hogan, every practice session had a purpose.
  • He reportedly spent years breaking down each phase of the golf swing and testing new methods for each segment.
  • Hogan methodically broke the game of golf down into chunks and figured out how he could master each section.
  • Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic.
  • Deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.
  • Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice.
  • “I discovered some of my faults, and corrected them.”
  • Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.
  • ‘It really doesn’t matter how long. If you practice with your fingers, no amount is enough. If you practice with your head, two hours is plenty.’”
  • Perhaps the greatest difference between deliberate practice and simple repetition is this: feedback.
  • Anyone who has mastered the art of deliberate practice has developed methods for receiving continual feedback on their performance.
  • Deliberate practice is not a comfortable activity. It requires sustained effort and concentration.
  • The people who master the art of deliberate practice are committed to being lifelong learners—always exploring and experimenting and refining.
  • Deliberate practice is not a magic pill.
  • The promise of deliberate practice is quite alluring: to get the most out of what you’ve got.