One major epiphany I’ve had as of recent in the subject of the learning process has helped not only my own struggles on the mat but as well as the struggles of my teammates and students. That idea is, as I put it, “Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards”. Now it may sounds over simplified or even too Confucius-y for some people but it’s something I have been toying with for some time. Just like in the classic video game "Frogger" you don’t win by sprinting across the street but by carefully dissecting the oncoming traffic and patiently waiting for the right opportunity to safely make it across.
There seems to me to be one major way of thinking for this, it is in trying to take on too much (Technique) too soon, so coming back to the basic’s and once you again cross path’s with the original technique you are better equip to handle and learn it correctly. The basic idea of “Going Backwards” can be implemented into many different branches of the learning process.
For example, when I was having trouble with my lead hook, I was over rotating and finishing the punch well past my target, leaving me exposed to strikes. I had to “Go Backwards” and dissect my hook until it was just my arm carving through the air, slowly, by itself until my body mechanics matched what I wanted. Then I could start rebuilding the rest of my body little by little around the now “fixed” punch.
The problem I’ve found is that most of us are either too stubborn or proud to be able to not only admit the problem but take the time to fix something we thought we had already learned. Being honest and subjective about our own skills and technique can be one of our greatest assets as a martial artist.