Sifu Greg Weir

Sifu Greg Weir

Junior Student’s Corner

Here’s a funny question for all you kids out there: Are you a Tree Learner or a Forest Learner?

Before you answer, some clarification would probably help.

A Tree Learner is a person who, when training a new form, wants to learn one move at a time. They work that move over and over again, until they’re entirely comfortable with it, and only then do they progress to the next. It’s as if they’re moving through a forest one tree at a time.

A Forest Learner, on the other hand, wants to learn the entire form as quickly as possible, then go back and smooth out each of the moves. In other words, they try to negotiate the whole forest as fast as they can, then go through it repeatedly to find the best path.

The technical terms for these types of learning are Analytic and Global. It’s important to note that neither is the right way. They are simply different methods for getting to the same place; that is, to the point where you know the entire form and feel confident doing all the moves.

Hopefully identifying which type of learning you tend towards will help you in class.

For Tree Learners I think it can be difficult if instructors and Leadership team members try to move you along faster than you’re comfortable with (I know that I’ve been guilty of that myself at times). I hope you’re aware that it’s perfectly acceptable to say, respectfully, to whomever is teaching you, “I think that’s all I want to learn for now.” No instructor is ever going to insist that you move faster than you’re comfortable with.

If you’re more of a Forest Learner, however, you should not expect your instructors to teach you faster than they’re comfortable with. Generally we won’t take you further in a form until you’ve displayed a basic level of competence with the moves you’ve already learned. That said, you can always ask a Sifu or Leadership Team member to take a look at your current form and—if all is good—perhaps they will take you a little further.

I don’t think a person is entirely one type of learner or the other. Most of us probably have aspects of both Tree and Forest within us. I believe I was mostly a Forest Leaner when I started Kung Fu, but became more Tree-like as I progressed. Maybe that’s true of everyone? Maybe it changes as you get older? Or perhaps as you move through the ranks, and forms get longer and more complex, your old strategies don’t work as well?

I do know one thing for sure: no one is getting through the Tiger-Crane form very quickly.

Happy training, everyone!