Back to the coach approach, most IMA classes seem to follow the god-coach approach. Hence endless arguments about so-and-so’s approach vs. so-and-so’s approach. What is real? What is correct? How do you know? Getting sucked into the “in 30 years I’ll be good” idea. The false assumptions of lineage beliefs and bickering. My master is better than your master. We are basically like 5 year olds saying “My dad can kick your dad’s ass.” This problem is terrible mostly in taijiquan circles but most likely due to heavier student volume and general public awareness. The resolution that people sometimes say (when we grow up a little for a fleeting moment despite the ease of online flaming) – who cares since it’s your art and whether you can do it – is basically the same thing as the puzzle-development idea, but I like the analytical approach of this article better. It clearly articulates this intuition people have on learning and coaching theory.

I think this problem is also why we instinctively (in a society with democratic ideals) rebel against the “traditional” and keep seeking some words of wisdom that brings the great (presumably) lessons out into the open in ways we can understand. Some questions on the god-coach approach raised by the puzzle-development approach are – what approach fits you? what is it missing that you should look at? Is copying a master’s path really appropriate – can we attain what Einstein attained through studying the same physics? Can we attain what Michael Jordan attained from studying the same basketball? More on that problem and the lineage problem in the next post…

In the meantime, another usual solution from the “buyer side” is to cross-train, essentially learning from many god-coaches. That seems necessary but not sufficient for the overall arts’ evolution. It is somewhat hit or miss depending on the individual who cross-trains as it requires the individual to become knowledgeable enough to know how to build the puzzle after getting different pieces from different god-coaches that are not necessarily compatible. It is also really inefficient from a market dynamics point of view, requiring every student to try out various teachers. There needs to be something better. I’m not sure how that could happen. It seems some genius like Kano but from the IMA camp has to come along and revolutionize the educational approach, and then that approach has to become a worldwide standard over 2-3 generations. It seems incredibly unlikely given the current state of things and the “my dad vs. your dad” problem. Even if it could happen in mainly just one country then go slowly from there as with sambo, it’d still be amazing, though. Another idea some people have is on push hands as sport. I’m ambivalent about that idea, but that’s also another post…

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