Unlearning Is the New Learning
28 November, 2018
I had high ambitions to learn how to do the Double Under technique with my jump rope. Two rope swings to every one jump. I gave it a whirl, for a year mind you, and quite unsuccessfully at that. No trick, speed, rhythm, power, cable size or weight could change the fact that I was outright bad. I became fixated on achieving proficiency in this skill, especially when hard work, determination, commitment, and fearless attitude proved ineffective.
Actions are taken
Things got interesting when a friend of mine delivered me the news of a local Double Under clinic. Their proposition was to help me unlearn how to jump rope incorrectly. Although I wasn't intrigued by unlearning anything, I needed desperately for someone to teach me how to do Double Unders. I and the 40 other people who showed up to the clinic were forewarned that we should expect to leave worse than when we walked in. That most people would walk out not even able to do many traditional (single under) consecutive jumps. My early disappointment led directly to defeat as I left the clinic after several hours of practicing deconstructed basics, technique, and muscle focus. I was consoled only by the fact that I wasn't alone in this vanquish. Still unable to give up on the task at hand, the following morning I tried again. To my surprise, the first attempt wasn't half bad. I was getting the hang of it, and the more I tried, the more consecutive Double Unders I was able to master. That's when it hit me, and this time it wasn't the jump rope leaving another painful welt on my leg. I had successfully unlearned the bad habits of flawed jumping.
My failure wasn't a result of poor conditioning. It wasn't a result of lack of desire or determination. It wasn't even fear of failure or pain. It was the simple fact that I needed to unlearn a skill that for years, I thought I had down pat. It never occurred to me that there could be anything wrong with my jump rope technique. The reality was, that it wasn't really that exemplary of a jump rope foundation, to begin with. Sometimes you have to take a step back from a skill and embrace the fact that it might need some reworking. You have to part with the preconceived notions of how something should come about. This allows room for a new skill to be learned. I now return my focus back to this unforgettable experience when I feel stuck trying to improve a skill or practice. In doing so, I recall the importance of doing a bit of unlearning.
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