The Learning Cycle – Something Every Beginner Should Know!

When we start something new, there can be a lot of uncertainties and fear. This is a normal feeling, but wouldn’t be nice to have some idea of what to expect as we explore new challenges? So I thought I would share something that someone told me a long time ago about learning something new. There is a process that we all go through when starting on a new journey. It is a 4 step process that’s called the Learning Cycle.

#1 “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

– This when you walk in the door and maybe even your first class. You have no idea what everyone is doing and you have no idea how to do any of it. This is normal. Everyone feels this way at first. Our job as instructors is to quickly help you move to the next step. It will happen much sooner than you think.

#2 “You Know What You Don’t Know”

– In this step you are starting to see what is going on and understand what you should be doing. The problem is you are having trouble recreating it with your body. Again, this is totally normal! Go slow and very deliberate. Don’t feel like you need to rush. The more time you put into slow, mindful practice the sooner you will move on to the next step!

#3 “You Know What You Know”

– When you reach this step it is a very exciting time! You are recognizing the techniques and are able to do them on command with relative ease. You are keeping up in class. Your movements may not be perfect but you know how to fix them on your own. In short, you have gained some confidence in you training and can really start to dig in! You will spend most of your time in this step.

#4 “You Don’t Know What You Know”

– This final step is when you just start “Doing It!”. You don’t have to think about it to much and as Bruce Lee once said, “I don’t hit. It hits all by itself.” This when you are in class and things are just happening. You are thinking less about the individual technique and more about where and when it fits in.

“You should always be in the process . . . “

When I learned this, it helped me to understand where I was in my learning process and that it is ok (and essential) to be there. Sometimes, I moved fast through a step. Maybe even in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, I have spent years in a step because it was difficult for me to grasp or just because I enjoyed this part of the process. The important thing to remember is that everyone goes at their own pace. Don’t compare yourself to the other people around you. Compare yourself to where you were that last time you got on the mat. That is all that matters. The other thing that really help me was knowing that I should always be in one of those stages if I am learning something new and challenging myself. I hope this helps you like it helps me. Have fun and enjoy the learning process.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination!”