How Long on Average Does it Take for Wing Chun to Become Second Nature (Unconscious Competence)?
How long on average does it take for Wing Chun to become second nature (unconscious competence)?
Answer: Great question! I was just looking into something like this. Not necessarily for Wing Chun, but to get competent/proficient/expert in anything. Here are some things I've found and use, or will use soon...
The rule of thumb I've found is you need 1,000 hours to be proficient/competent in a skill.
Doing the math:
That works out to about 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for one year.
If you can fit in more hours or add one or more days, it would take less than a year. Vice-versa.
It also has to be correct and self-correcting to avoid picking up and training bad habits.
For unconscious competence like you ask?
That would be closer to highly competent or expert level.
I would expect something like that to take more than 1,000 hours, especially if you're starting from scratch and not some kind of martial arts genius.
If it helps, I heard Bruce Lee formally trained Wing Chun for only four years.
But we can suspect he put in those 4 hours a day, 5 days a week and probably much more.
One little mental hack you can try is "teaching"
I'm not saying you teach someone if you're a total newbie. You don't even have have to really teach anyone for that matter.
Something I recently discovered is teaching to the wall. The explanation given was to help someone quickly learn a subject in an academic setting (in school).
But it could also be applied to a career, if you have to learn new material to stay current.
The instructions didn't say anything about learning a physical skill like Wing Chun, but I think it could work, and at least worth experimenting for six months or a year.
Here's the general idea in an academic/mental setting:
-- You read one page, then you "teach" what you just read to your class.
> > This class is imaginary.
> > You probably want to find a quiet room where you can have some privacy.
> > Get emotional when you "teach". Get excited, swing your arms around, raise your voice, pace around the room -- make a spectacle of yourself (it's okay because you're alone in private)
-- Repeat until done.
I don't have the exact figures in front of me now, but when you read something you retain about 30% (or less if it's new or difficult material), when you write it down (like taking notes) you retain about 70%, but when you teach it you retain about 97%.
I haven't figured out how to hack this concept for learning physical skills, but I would start out pretending to be a sifu teaching a class (emotionally).
i.e. Hold your fist like this, pak sao like this, make sure your hitting hand goes over the top of the pak sao hand. Keep your elbows in, travel down the center line, etc.
The reason why this technique works, at least with mental material: if you can't put something into your own words, it's because you don't get it. And once you can put it in your own words, you got it.
Here's another tip:
Pick one move at a time and do it exactly the same way over and over again. Choose a number, 100 times, 1,000 times, etc. (Do it on both sides, right and left - I like to start with my weak side first).
In the beginning this can be tedious. But who cares. You want Unconscious Competence, right?
One move, one step, drill it.
When you get to class make sure to ask sifu for corrections and help you polish up.
As you get better one move turns into a series of moves (or
whole forms), like a pak sao, lap sao, punch (with the half-steps to get into range)
I did a variation of this when I first started.
Now, many years later, I pick up new moves or combos pretty easy. And it's because I drilled in the basics so they're "nearly" automatic.
Do it s-l-o-w.
Slower than you think, slow motion slow.
There's some research out there that found doing a physical move slowly, but accurately, builds muscle memory faster.
So much so that when you do it faster, or at normal speed, your body executes accurately.
It had something to do with leaning without stress. The slowness aided focus, which really drilled and reinforced the movement.
Drill the move over and over again, but do it slow motion slow.
Bottom line, if you can't do it right slowly, you're never going to pull it off at full speed.
Put all these tips together...
There are more tips out there. I'm always looking for an edge.
But if you train smart and with an edge or two, you'll either cut your time down from 1,000 hours, or you'll be much further ahead at 1,000 hours!
P.S. If you don't have much time to invest every day or every week (I don't) just remember that the journey of one thousand miles starts with the first step...
Get started now.
P.P.S. Here are few more links that may be helpful when you're ready for them:
6 Advanced Wing Chun Tips
Is Half an Hour Enough to Train Martial Arts?