9 comments on “On Attaining Skill Proficiency…

  1. “The paradox of self-teaching is this: After gaining all the concepts, principles, tasks, sub-tasks, and subject terminology possible, the self-teacher still doesn’t know how to translate the intellectual information gained into physical performance that includes timing, coordination, and transition from one task or sub-task to another. You need a teacher to do that.”

    Many skills can be self-taught,things like SUT can not really be self taught because you need others to participate in the tactics you have learned.
    Just as an example,expert marksmanship can be a self taught skill,as can wilderness survival,land nav,combatives-to an extent-all the individual skills can be self-taught,it’s SUT/NPT tactics that have to be learned as a group,there’s no way to learn or practice such skills by yourself.
    The person who is self-taught can translate the intellectual information gathered into physical activity without a teacher,and can also translate the intellectual info. into transition from one task or sub task to another-without a teacher.
    People who are self-taught can also pass what they have learned on to others,then practice/train with others and translate the intellectual info into physical action.

    That said-everyone-without exception can benefit from taking classes from good trainers.
    No one knows all there is to know about a subject/skillset-you can always learn from others.

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by.

    As to your perspective, sure, many skills can be self-taught. The debate is in the complexity of the task being learned balanced against the desired degree of proficiency. Self-teaching, except in very, very, very few and rare cases will never equate to expertise in the skill in question. The example of SUT not being ‘self-teachable’ isn’t only because of the necessity of team members; it has to do with observation of the learner performing the SUT tasks and critique/correction of incorrect procedure, performance, understanding of tactics, leadership, team work, or movements. Same with most effective combatives. Sure, you can go get a video tape set or any book desired and learn to move in a way that’s similar to the book, but you cannot learn to fight as ‘self-taught’. (I’ll let the AI address the combatatives perspective as he’s the primary instructor.)

    I’ve watched people try to learn marksmanship, land nav, wilderness survival on their own for literally decades. Some do, after many epic failures, ‘learn’ in that they can perform basic tasks well. The great majority become frustrated and either learn some terribly bad habits/methods of performance. Again, this is the ‘double edged sword’ of the internet. While the Pandora’s box of information has been opened, which is great, other than read it (and possibly not get to the level of comprehension necessary to master the subject), they really don’t ‘learn’ a lot, especially in the ‘how to perform’ area. As stated in the post, the exception is the person who’s been well-trained in a given area and has either almost or has mastered it and can relate what he or she knows to the knew area of skill they want to learn.

    In regards to ‘passing along what they have learned’, yes, we would agree, to a point. Simply, effective teaching is not a natural act. Especially in a group. A good example that underscores this is the infamous ‘watchmen’ viral video with the ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann’ imitations masquerading as teaching.

    Good discussion!

  3. Gamegetter – I just saw that our PI answered before I could but this is what I had to say . .

    Force Multiplication: There are two reasons DTG is here – 1. To teach others to properly train the NPT skills they will need to protect their own loved ones, and 2. To train up individuals as force multipliers who can then further the protection of many families during hard times. So it’s quite refreshing to read this: “…. can also pass what they have learned on to others,then practice/train with others and translate the intellectual info into physical action.” I would offer though, that people that have been trained by professionals and taught how to teach will be much more efficient in the task you mentioned instead of those that are self-taught. I will also say that given the observations in last 10 years of citizens who are “self-taught” in the areas you mentioned – there are a lot of people that are going to try and impart knowledge to others and end up getting themselves and those “others” hurt. That’s based on 10 years of watching and participating with good, intelligent folks who’ve come to the field with what they’ve already taught themselves and demonstrating their skills. And I’m NOT saying don’t try and teach topics to one’s self. Prior learning is not only good familiarization but it helps spring board the pace of training when the students show up having done their homework. I’d like to also add that many many self-taught individuals have come up with interesting and useful innovations in the areas of land nav gear or survival tricks.

    On the other hand innovations in land nav gear do not equate to being given . . . say . . . an 8 digit grid coordinate, dropped off in completely unfamiliar territory, resecting your position, getting through some nasty terrain, diagnosing the difference between operator error a map that isn’t up to date, and having all of your team members come back without injury. And that is just a basic proficiency. I have yet to see a self-taught individual be able to do that – and I’m not saying those individuals don’t exist. I’m just going to echo the chief instructor and say when it comes to self-teaching, very very rare will be the person who can perform to the levels necessary in the topics listed (let alone to an expert degree).

    As always, the discussion and comments are much appreciated,

    – The R&D Guy

    I’ll post another combatives specific reply a little later.

  4. ” I would offer though, that people that have been trained by professionals and taught how to teach will be much more efficient in the task you mentioned instead of those that are self-taught. I will also say that given the observations in last 10 years of citizens who are “self-taught” in the areas you mentioned – there are a lot of people that are going to try and impart knowledge to others and end up getting themselves and those “others” hurt. ”

    I fully agree with your assessment,was just pointing out that some things can be self-taught.
    Notice that at the end of my comment,I also stated that everyone can always benefit from taking classes,no one knows everything about a subject,and can always learn something new.

    I was not trying to imply that people do not need training-as far as the things mentioned go-combatives,land nav,marskmanship-a person can learn the basics by themselves.
    However,most people do not learn enough,or as you pointed out develop some really bad habits that could end up getting others hurt-or even killed.

    The small group we have here benefitted greatly from a Ranger staff Sgt who taught us a lot of SUT stuff-some combatives-and some cool stuff like rappelling. I also learned some new things about land nav,as there’s a huge difference between using a topo map for hunting in wilderness areas,and using it to navigate the way a small unit would.
    Most of what us civilians know about land nav,marksmanship,combatives etc. are a lot different than military tactics/methods.
    Such as using milliradian rather than MOA for long range shooting.

    As I said,I agree that everyone needs to get some training from professionals-or you end up with small units like the idiots in the watchmen video.

  5. Yep, same page. I think you have a lot of great points. My purpose is to hit on the level of proficiency that can be attained through self-teaching contrasted against that attained through professional instruction. (not only the task, but how to relay the task to others.)

    Great discussion.

  6. “I’ve watched people try to learn marksmanship, land nav, wilderness survival on their own for literally decades. Some do, after many epic failures, ‘learn’ in that they can perform basic tasks well. The great majority become frustrated and either learn some terribly bad habits/methods of performance. Again, this is the ‘double edged sword’ of the internet.”

    My point is not that people don’t need training-it’s that if they can not get training for whatever reason, they can learn enough to get by as long as they go out into the field and put what they have learned into practice. Just reading the information will not do any good,you have to actually perform the tasks yourself,in the field.

    Those who attempt to use the “skills” they have learned from books or the interwebz will not be any good at any of them unless they practice in the field,make mistakes,and learn from those mistakes.
    Anyone can learn how to start a fire with a bow drill for example-it just takes practice. (and it’s one of the more difficult-and biggest pain in the ass- methods of fire starting)
    Most people can improve their shooting skills with practice,and can do so using info they have gleaned from books or the ‘net.
    Some develop really bad habits,or flinch as they pull the trigger because they are anticipating recoil,as they started out not holding their .300 Win Mag “sniper rifle” against their shoulder correctly,and/or didn’t hold on to the forearm of the rifle and got a scope cut,etc.
    Yes,there are a whole lot of problems with learning many skills by yourself,and no,not everyone can do it.

    As I stated at the end of my post-everyone can benefit from taking classes,no one knows all there is to know about any given subject.
    If I am teaching something to a class/group I would much rather have them read all they can on the subject,and if some of what they read and believe they have learned is BS-point out why it is BS,than have the class/group have little to know knowledge of the subject.

    I agree people need to get training,and get that training from those who are well versed in whatever skill set is being taught. There are some very good trainers out there,and there are a few “tacticool” -for lack of a better word- trainers who are teaching people things that would get them hurt or killed in an actual combat situation.

    I also fully agree with the train the trainer concept,it’s a proven method,works well,and allows more people to be trained in basic skills faster than any other method.

    Just an example of a scenario where a person does not need any formal training-
    I’ve hunted my whole life,spent a lot of the time hunting wilderness areas that were days on horseback or a week or so on foot from the nearest small town,yes,I learned things from other hunters,outfitters I worked for,and from books-I already knew what I needed to know about wilderness survival before the ‘net existed.
    I’ve never been the guy the sheriffs and USFWS rangers had to go look for-I’ve always been one of the guys looking for whoever is lost/missing.

    You have to know what you’re doing to hunt in those areas-people get lost and die every elk season-because they don’t know how to use a map and compass, they die because don’t know how to start a fire in sleet and freezing rain,or a blizzard,or know how to make an improvised shelter.
    The were three years in a row in Montana-(Bob Marshall Wilderness area)- having the sheriff’s and USFWS rangers show up at our base camp and ask us to help them find lost hunters.Only found them alive once. The guy we found alive stayed where he was,made a fire,made a shelter out of pine branches and aspen saplings-he was out of the snow and sleet,warm and dry-he was just hungry and tired.
    I’m sure there’s more I could learn-but there’s no doubt that I am capable of surviving in the wilderness.

  7. I would appreciate “hearing” what you think can be learned without an instructor in the way of combatives.
    I realize pretty much all of it has to be learned from an instructor,and a good instructor.

    I asked your opinion of a specific combatives course a while back,and you guys pointed out some things I wouldn’t have known to have looked for about the guys course descriptions etc. on his site-I picked a different guy as an instructor because of that,and after having run across a few guys who had taken the course I asked DTG’s opinion of-they all told me it sucked.
    So,thanks again for that one guys!

  8. I honestly don’t know that it is possible to “learn” combatives without an instructor.

    Anyone that I’ve seen that are lethal machines have had great instructors to show them the way.

    Anyone who I’ve seen get their clocked cleaned have been the type to watch an MMA match and think they’ve got it “down pat”.

    Even with a DVD series you technically have an instructor, he or she just isn’t immediately available for critique. The feedback from the instructor is a fast track to proficiency and what can be a valuable safety net from making big mistakes in real life.
    Here are the options in order of best return for time spent and proficiency achieved (dedication as a given).

    1. A personal combatives trainer – one on one instruction – that’s the pinnacle but it would be costly for most.

    2. A school – pick your poison. Gracie, Krav, Boxing? Don’t care for Krav, I’d go with boxing. The fundamentals of fighting are taught at a very fast pace: range, speed, timing, defense, cover, footwork, combinations, etc.

    3. A video series – DTG has one in their online classroom (so do others) – almost all of the modules are up. And it doesn’t have to be pretty with elaborate scenery either. It’s about learning to rip a bad guy in two. The video series needs to be functional and show the audience how to train the material, otherwise it’s just information. There is a metric ton of other instructors out there with great series.

    I will add though. Due to the lack of feedback from a live instructor in a video series, it’s absolutely critical that the dedication to training whatever it is, is off the chart. I’m talking training twice a day, eating, sleeping, breathing it, until your dreaming it and so on. And you have to have an equally dedicated training partner. Combatives are not learned merely on a heavy bag by one’s lonesome.

    As I’ve mentioned before, our combatives program focuses on the complete self-defense fighter. He or She has to be able to fight standing up, on the ground, with weapons, in the clinch and still be able to retain control over their personal protection pistol.

    I would definitely spend some time with a real live instructor, maybe some boxing, then some ground stuff. Get a training buddy. Expand the workshop by getting some video material into the mix once the base of fighting is understood and train, train, train, train, train, train, . . . did I mention train?

    The emphasis on dedication to training is there on purpose. It’s very easy to get bored or maybe life jumps in the way and one figures “well, I took a few classes, I’m good, it’s better than nothing”. That may be true, but better than nothing does not equate to proficiency. Proficiency is what wins fights and gives the confidence needed to being to win the fight.

    Hope this helps.

  9. I’ll be starting classes with an instructor in Jan. Plus I have a friend who’s taking the classes with me,and says he will start working out and training with me-heard that one before though from quite a few people,most end up backing out,don’t have time,don’t have money-whatever.

    This is the instructor…

    http://www.cooksgym.com/about/

    I know the guy,went to high school with him,and he was a neighbor way back then.
    I have a really busted up leg,which means I need some individualized training,Gary told he he’ll figure out some specific things for me to use after he sees what I can and can not do due to my past injuries.

    I get the train,train,train,train and train-it’s like do PT,do PT,do more PT,then do some more PT.
    I will never resemble anything like the fat slobs in the watchmen video !

    I recently got a heavy bag,made room in my garage to hang it,and have a big enough area cleared out around it so there’s enough room to do other exercises.

    I hunt-a lot-mostly bowhunting,so I am in reasonably good shape I am used to hiking around the woods and fields with a pack that weighs anywhere from 20-40# depending on the season. Besides hunting here-(Ohio)-I hunt in mountains-the W.Va mountains in the east,and the Rockies in Colorado and NW Montana in the west,and have since I was kid.
    Worked a few seasons for an outfitter in Montana-saw the flatlanders sucking wind after only a couple hundred yards of uphill hiking with just a daypack and rifle-swore back then i would never be one of those guys.

    Thanks for the reply and advice.

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