Learning versus Potatoes, Eggs and Coffee Beans
A student complained to her instructor that she was finding it difficult to do handle the intense training. She said she worked hard, but just as she improved at one thing, she had to learn something new.
The instructor took her next door to a restaurant where he filled three pots with water and placed on a hot stove. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed some hard potatoes in one pot, some raw eggs in the second pot, and some coffee beans in the third pot. Then he and student sat and waited. The student grew impatient and complained, but the instructor told her to be patient.
After a few minutes, the instructor took a potato from the first pot and placed it in a bowl, took an egg from the second pot and placed it a bowl, and scooped some liquid from the third pot with a cup. Turning to the student, he asked. "What do you see?" "Potatoes, eggs, and coffee," the girl replied. "Look closer,” he said, "and tell me what you see." She did, and noted that the potato was soft, the egg was hard, and the liquid smelled like coffee.
“What’s the point?” asked the student. The instructor explained that the potatoes, the eggs, and coffee beans had each faced the same adversary—the boiling water. However, each reacted differently. The potato faced the adversary strong and hard, and came out weak and soft. The egg faced the adversary weak and fragile, and came out strong and hard. However, the coffee beans faced the adversary as beans and changed very little. Instead, they changed the adversary into something new and wonderful.
"Which are you?" the instructor asked the student. "When you face an adversity, how do you respond? Are you similar to a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?” When faced with adversity, do you become weaker, or harder, or do you change the adversity into something new and wonderful?
Learning versus Making Soup
When making soup, as the cook adds ingredients, the first ingredients put into the pot settle to the bottom. To make good soup, the cook has to stir the ingredients occasionally. When adding new techniques to a student's training regime, the first techniques the student learned tend to be forgotten. Similar to a good cook, a good instructor needs to stir the pot by continually having the student practice even the most basic of techniques. Soup is best if it simmers over time. Techniques get better if they are practiced often over a long period of time.
Learning versus Plateaus, Peaks, and Valleys
During their journey through Taekwondo, students will reach plateaus, achieve peaks, and experience valleys. Students start their journey from a valley where they know nothing about Taekwondo. Students will reach plateaus in their training where no progress is apparent. If they persist, they will travel over the plateau and continue their climb until they reach a peak in their training. However, during a journey, reaching one peak only means you must transit more valleys, experience more plateaus, and climb more peaks. The good thing is that as they progress, the valleys are not as deep and the peaks are not as high. If the journey ever reaches level ground, it will be over, and so will their progress in Taekwondo.
Learning versus Learning a Language (1)
Even before you learn to speak, read, or understand a language, you probably already knew something about the language. From hearing others use it or seeing it used, you probably picked up some characteristics of the language and may even be able to communicate in the language enough that others know what you mean. As you start studying the language in detail, you learn its letters, structure, and punctuation, and you discover its numerous dialects. You learn a martial art in much the same way.
Learning versus Learning a Language (2)
Just because you know some words does not mean that you know the language. You still have to learn the grammar, punctuation, and syntax. If you decide to learn a language, you must decide how you want to learn, on your own or with others, or with a private teacher or in an organized class. In evaluating these questions, you find that if you try to learn on your own from books, videos, DVDs, and such, you will not have anyone to correct your mistakes, reinforce your efforts, or to encourage you. A self-taught language may not be understood by anyone but you. The same things are true in learning Taekwondo. Self-taught self-defense may lead to serious injuries if not properly done and it may be even be deadly to the user when it is actually used. Studying language with others allows you to help each other and gives you some comparison as to how well you are proceeding. The same is true with learning Taekwondo.
Like a language, Taekwondo has its own terminology, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. You learn the correct terminology for techniques so that you will be understood anywhere in the world Taekwondo is practiced. Taekwondo's syntax comes from learning the way techniques are performed, the order they are performed, when they are performed, and why they are performed. Taekwondo's punctuation is the speed, tempo, and rhythm of its techniques.