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Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

There is a progression towards mastery. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts miss the point, which is that the journey is the most important part of mastery, not some final destination.

The concept of shuhari is becoming quite well known in the agile world. It means roughly: “first learn, then detach, and finally transcend.”

I leave it to the Aikido master Endō Seishirō shihan to explain”

“It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shu, ha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows. In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation. Next, in the stage of ha, once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements, we make innovations. In this process the forms may be broken and discarded. Finally, in ri, we completely depart from the forms, open the door to creative technique, and arrive in a place where we act in accordance with what our heart/mind desires, unhindered while not overstepping laws.”

It’s in shu that so much usually falls apart.

Firstly, our western culture is so used to finding quick ways to make everything easier and more efficient that we often don’t put much value in practise and repitition. “Surely we don’t have to do something over and over again to fully understand it? That’s just ridiculous.” Until, of course, you actually practise something over and over again and realise the value it brings you.

Secondly, because we’re such newbies when in “shu”, we often think prematurely that because we’ve learnt a few things, we’re now in “ha” or (god forbid!) the “ri” stage. 3 cool new moves and grasshopper suddenly becomes all cock-sure and confident! It doesn’t work that way. There is so much more to learn before you can puff your chest out. And the interesting this is that when you’ve learnt so much more you’re far more likely not to puff your chest out at all. Humility will become a far more integrated emotional state.

There’s no rush to mastery. Patience will serve you well. Get the basics right. All of them. Only then will you understand why they were in the first place.

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