Friday, 30 April 2010

Knowledge or skill?

In our modern technological age, it can be argued that information is the new currency. Never has it been more important to be able to exchange information. It is something that as a society we have become addicted to. 24 hour media, internet, mobile phones, laptops, ipods - the world hammers us with information.

This is fantastic. I look at how quickly my daughter has picked up the internet and I predict that she will not know the meaning of "I don't know". Almost all the information in the world can now be obtained with a few mouse clicks. Everything is always on and always available. I remember when my parents had to use the local public telephone if they wanted to call someone.

There are some people who are wary of this technological revolution and fear information overload and social stagnation. I disagree. I really do believe that our increasing need for information will eventually drive the evolution of consciousness, which in turn will have a positive effect on our physiology.

But... (and there is a big but.) Knowledge is nothing without skill. Tell someone once, and as long as they are able to retain the fact in their head, they have acquired knowledge. Knowledge is easy to obtain.

But skill takes time. Unless you are a genius (and most people aren't), you have to do the same things over and over and over again. You have to make lots of mistakes - and every time you make a mistake, you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and either fix your error or learn how not to do it again. Is this tough? Yes. Can it be frustrating? Undoubtedly. But the rewards that skill brings to the practitioner are beyond description.

Gongfu (or kung fu) is literally translated as skill. So when you go to a martial arts class, be prepared - first and foremost - to acquire a skill. So have courage. Be prepared to make repetition your friend, boredom your enemy and skill your ultimate goal. Everything else will fall into place.

No comments: