“You cannot learn anything if you already feel that you know.”
You might have heard it before that you should empty your cup before learning anything new, particularly when it comes to something like martial arts. This means, of course, that you rid yourself of preconceptions (how you think things should be) and start from the beginning, keeping yourself open and receptive to new ideas and teachings. This is such an important concept, I think. Everyone comes into the dojo (particularly guys) with their ideas of how to punch, kick, etc. and can easily fall into the trap of learning these techniques by reshaping or refining their existing notions rather than tearing those ideas down completely and starting from scratch learning these techniques. That is, emptying their cups. To truly develop you need to let go of these old, crude ideas and be willing to be a blank slate, be that empty cup that’s willing to be filled.
I think there’s a danger when someone goes too far with the idea of emptying their cup. These are people who have either emptied their cup willingly or been sort of beaten down into that state of mind. They are now docile students looking to be shown and told everything — step by step — that needs to be performed for a given move or counter attack. They become almost like robots in a way, awaiting the next command to spring into action. I see this pretty often, and not only with junior belts like myself. This is something that just about anyone from beginner to intermediate can fall victim to. I was doing it myself for a while until I realized that it wasn’t doing me any good. (more…)